Qld museum wants your geckos

IF THE chirp, chirp and click, click of a gecko often interrupts your Sunday siesta then you are just the person needed for a Qld study of the tiny lizards.

Qld Museum is undertaking research into how far the gecko has spread throughout Australia.

Since the Gecko Survey was launched during Science Week 2009 researchers have heard from residents in NSW and the Northern Territory.

The most common species appears to be the Asian house gecko and the museum’s learning programs officer, Katherine Griffin, says they are found in Qld, northern NSW and Darwin.

Also known as Hemidactylus Frenatus, the Asian house gecko is native to South East Asia and the Indo Pacific. Originally living in trees, they now thrive in houses and work buildings.

“It is thought the Asian house gecko was brought to Australia in shipping containers,” Ms Griffin said.

They have been in Australia since at least the 1960s and were first found in suburban Darwin, according to the Qld Museum.

It was not until the early 1980s they started showing up in terminals around the Port of Brisbane. In the 1990s the museum received numerous inquiries from areas where geckos had not been seen before.

They are now common between Coffs Harbour and Torres Strait and have also been seen through the Kimberleys, the Great Sandy Desert and Central Australia.

Some researchers believe the Asian house gecko is Australia’s only introduced lizard, however others say the morning gecko (Lepidodactylus lugubris) could also have originated off-shore.

Ms Griffin could not say whether the introduced geckos were having a negative impact on the Australian environment.

That question, she said, was one of the main reasons the museum was studying the prevalence of geckos in regional areas along the east coast of Australia as well as inland.

Research however, states Asian house geckos have replaced dtellas and the zigzag velvet gecko, both native, in Darwin and Townsville. There have also been recorded confrontations between Asian house geckos and the native robust velvet gecko in Brisbane.

Along with Australia, geckos thrive in the Americas, the Pacific and Madagascar. They are considered the most invasive reptile species in the world with the broadest distribution of any lizard.

More will be known when the results of the Gecko Survey are released during Science Week in August.

Ms Griffin says although she is not a herpetologist (someone who studies reptiles and amphibians) she is encouraging the public to engage in science and help enhance the knowledge of geckos.

ASIAN HOUSE GECKO FACTS
  • Their tails are fragile and can easily be broken and replaced
  • They produce small clutches of only two eggs
  • During the day they hide in dark, sheltered areas including in rock crevices and behind bark
  • Some live in homes because lights attract insects, there are photo frames, furniture and air-conditioning units to hide behind and because there are flat wall surfaces to easily climb
  • They are more “talkative” than native house geckos with a louder call that is more frequent and heard both during the day and night

Source: Queensland Museum ( www.qm.qld.gov.au/)



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