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Handful of nocturnal lizards found on the islands

By Staff | Apr 22, 2020
SCCF Tokay gecko
SCCF Flat-tailed gecko

With most people spending increased time at home, many overlooked wildlife species may suddenly attract attention and questions about their identities. For instance, consider the lizards that are commonly found around outside lights by doors, garages and decorative landscapes.

The Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation reported that the nocturnal lizards most often observed near these lights are geckos. The geckos found in the local area are nocturnal and have toepads for climbing surfaces, even hanging upside down on ceilings. On Sanibel, there are three species of exotic geckos, plus a fourth that has only been documented on Captiva.

The largest of the exotic geckos is the tokay gecko. They are a gray-blue color with reddish dots on them and can be 12 inches in length. The loud mating call of the species sounds like “to-kay.” Tokay geckos are common on the east end of the island in neighborhoods, but are also found in various housing communities throughout the island.

The most common species is the tropical house gecko, aka woodslave, followed by the Indo-pacific gecko, both which rarely exceed 4-5 inches. These house geckos look very similar in appearance (appearing white or gray at night) although one originates from Asia and the other from Africa. The Indo-pacific gecko is parthenogenic, meaning that they are an all-female species that lay viable eggs. Both species feed on invertebrates (mostly insects) and are commonly seen hunting for insects near lights at night.

Another gecko species is the flat-tailed gecko, which was documented on Captiva in 2017. As of yet, there no reports on Sanibel of this species, which is one of the most common house geckos in its native Southeast Asia.