Friday, May 4, 2012

Travel Notes: Tropic Living Below Nature’s Chirping

There are seven, some say eight, types of geckos living in Hawaii. Since being introduced in the 1940s, the Common House Gecko ( Hemidactylus frenatus ) has pretty much taken over.

Two fat ones are living in the fluorescent light fixture over my mother’s dining room table. When the lights are on, we can see them through the opaque glass, their fat pink bellies and slender tails and lizard feet— along with their poop and remains of insects they’ve fed on.

My mother understandably wants them out and the fixture cleaned out.

“Most homes in Hawaii welcome geckos,” writes Linda Pascatore in The Gecko, "because they eat insects like ants, mosquitos and roaches. Geckos are very vocal creatures. They make a clicking sound that sounds almost like a person saying, “Tsk, tsk, tsk”, which can be heard at night. They also make repeated chirping sounds at times. Another sound heard is the tapping as the gecko holds its prey in its mouth and hits it against the wall, window, or ceiling to kill it. Here in Hawaii, the occasional gecko poop, eggs found stuck inside printers, and strange night sounds are all well worth the service the gecko performs by eating household insects. Geckos also eat fruit, nectar, and pollen. They will lick up juice with their long tongues.”

My mother wants them out of her house. It is unnerving to hear the “tsk, tsk, tsk” called out overhead during dinner.

According to Explore Biodiversity, “Geckos are one of the few reptiles or amphibians that are notorious for colonizing islands. Part of the reason for this is that some geckos have the amazing ability of parthenogenesis. In essence, this means that one gecko, who successfully made it do an island can produce unfertilized eggs that later become a whole clan of female clones!”

These Common House Geckos aren’t, however, parthenogenetic. There are males and females and the males are territorial; they will also eat juvenile geckos of their own species and other species.
The difficulty with getting them out of the house is that there are two of them and they will no doubt leap out of the fixture in opposite directions when I remove the glass . If we’re lucky, maybe they would scurry up a wall, using those special toepads with thousands of tiny spatula-tipped setae which allow them to climb walls and hang from the ceiling.

 On a wall or on the window, there would be half the chance to capture them.

If we’re unlucky (which would most likely be the case), they’d scurry under the furniture or into the kitchen under the refrigerator or into the bedrooms.

My mother wants them out of the house. It’s tough living with Nature chirping overhead.

--Mike Sato


  1. Where I come from, What Mamma wants, Mamma gets! Good luck!

    (It's raining here this AM!)

  2. What a wonderful problem to have!