Turkish gecko (Hemidactylus turcicus)
|Also known as:||Mediterranean gecko, Mediterranean house gecko|
|Synonyms:||Gecko meridionalis, Gecko verrucosus, Gecko verruculatus, Gecus cyanodactylus, Hemidactylus exsul, Hemidactylus granosus, Hemidactylus karachiensis, Hemidactylus parkeri, Hemidactylus puccionii, Hemidactylus robustus, Hemidactylus verruculatus, Lacerta turcica|
|Size||Length: up to 10 cm (2)|
|Weight||3.5 g (3)|
Classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List (1).
The Turkish gecko is a pale reptile, with a slightly pink translucence to its skin. Its body, which is covered in numerous small bumps, is speckled with brown patches on the back and banded with brown rings on the tail. Its feet are unique among geckos by having adhesive pads, to aid climbing, which do not extend to the toe tips, hence the scientific name Hemidactylus, meaning ‘half-finger’ in Latin (2).
The Turkish gecko is common across the Mediterranean and Aegean basins, being found as far west as the north coast of Morocco and southernmost tip of Portugal and as far east as Jordan, Turkey and Egypt, where its range extends for many miles inland down the River Nile (1). A subspecies Hemidactylus turcicus lavadeserticus occurs in the black lava desert of Syria (4).
This species is widespread across both mainland and island coastlines, from rocky hillsides and scrubland to salt marsh. It naturally inhabits rocky areas such as cliffs and caves, but the Turkish gecko has also adapted to human development and can thrive on the inside and outside of buildings, in walls and crevices (1) (5).
Much is still unknown about the biology of the Turkish gecko; however, like most geckos, it is nocturnal and feeds on insects and spiders (5). Sexual maturity is reached at quite a young age, at around eight months, with females producing clutches of two eggs up to three times a year (6). It makes use of its exceptionally adapted adhesive feet and long claws to climb everything from rock surfaces to building walls (5).
The Turkish gecko appears to be coping well in an increasingly human-altered landscape, thanks primarily to it being able to find similarities to its natural habitats in the urban environment, such as walls and debris. The only potential future threats come from increasing disruption from tourist resorts and capture for the pet trade (1).
Few conservation measures currently exist for the Turkish gecko, although it can be found in a number of protected areas (1), and it is listed on Appendix III of the Bern Convention, a convention that aims to conserve the wild flora and fauna of the European Continent and their natural habitats. Those species on Appendix III are protected, but may be exploited in accordance with certain regulations (7).
To find out about efforts to conserve reptiles in Europe see:
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- Nocturnal: active at night.
- Subspecies: a population usually restricted to a geographical area that differs from other populations of the same species, but not to the extent of being classified as a separate species.
IUCN Red List (March, 2010)
- Arnold, E.N., Burton, J.A. and Ovenden, D.W. (1992) Collins Field Guide of Reptiles and Amphibians of Britain and Europe. Collins, London.
- Saenz, D. and Conner, R.N. (1996) Sexual dimorphism in head size of the Mediterranean gecko Hemidactylus turcicus (Sauria: Gekkonidae). Texas Journal of Science, 48(3), 207-212.
- Yildiz, M.Z., Gocmen, B. and Akman, D. (2007) New localities for Hemidactylus turcicus (Linnaeus, 1758) (Sauria: Gekkonidae) in Anatolia, Turkey, with notes on their morphology. North-Western Journal of Zoology, 3(1): 24-33.
- Vogrin, M. and Miklic, A. (2005) The Turkish gecko Hemidactylus turcicus prefers vertical walls. Turkish Journal of Zoology, 29: 385-386.
- Selcer, K.W. (2009) Life history of a successful coloniser: the Mediterranean gecko, Hemidactylus turcicus, in Southern Texas. Copeia, 4: 956-962.
Council of Europe: Bern Convention (November, 2009)