Adults are 4 - 5.5 inches in length (10 - 14 cm) including the tail. Head-body maximum length is 2.5 inches (6.4 cm).
A small gecko with sticky toe pads and large eyes with vertical pupils and no eyelids.
The snout is relatively long and thin, longer than the distance between the eye and the ear-opening (similar to that of a fox, which explains the name Fox Gecko.)
A single saw-tooth row of enlarged, spine-like scales along the lateral edge of the tail.
The skin is smooth, but not shiny.
Color and Pattern
Generally brown or gray in color, sometimes marbled with darker brown.
Darker in the daytime, becoming pale and almost translucent at night.
Small whitish dorsal spots of varying sizes and shapes.
Sometimes there are faint crossbands on the tail.
The belly is often lemon-yellow and the underside of the tail is sometimes pale red.
Hatchlings are 7/8 - 1 inch in length with a distinct pattern and dark crossbands on the tail.
The best way to differentiate these two species is the skin: the Indo-Pacific Gecko has smooth skin, while the Mediterranean Gecko has conspicuous large bumpy tubercles on the skin. The Indo-Pacific Gecko also has a yellow belly while that of the Mediterranean gecko is pale but not yellow.
Comparison with the similar Common House Gecko - hemidactylus frenatus
The Common House Gecko has been found in the wild in California, but it is apparently not yet established in the state.
"The Indo-Pacific Gecko may have small tubercles restricted to its dorsum or dorso-lateral rows, and the Common House Gecko has only small or no tubercles, whereas the ... Mediterranean Gecko have enlarged tubercles across the back. ... In the Indo-Pacific Gecko, spines are only found along the sawtooth edges of the tail, however in the Common House Gecko, rows of enlarged spines encircle the tail."
Life History and Behaviors
Activity is almost completely nocturnal.
Hides in cracks and crevices and underneath ground surface objects during daylight.
Sticky pads on the toes allow this gecko to climb vertical surfaces. They are often seen on walls of building around outside lights where they wait to jump and catch with their open mouth nsects that are attracted to the light.
Eats a variety of invertebrates including insects and spiders.
Reproduction and Young
This species is all female.
Reproduction is by parthenogenesis - the development of unfertilized eggs.
One individual is capable of establishing a new population.
Eggs are laid in pairs in dark places such as crevices, moist soil, and in crevices.
In California, this species is associated with human development, mostly found on buildings with outdoor lights.
This gecko is native to South and Southeast Asia, the East Indies, and many South Sea islands, including Northeast India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Myanmar, Thailand, the Malaysian Peninsula, Southern China, Taiwan, the Philippine Islands, Indonesia, New Guinea, new Caledonia, Polynesia, Fiji, Western Samoa, Vanuatu, the Cook Islands, and Tonga.
Established in Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Texas and California, and in the Bahamas and Costa Rica.
Documentation of this species in California was first published in
December 2015. (Gregory B. Pauly and Glen S. Yoshida. Herpetological Review 46(4), 2015.) The authors do not mention the source of the introduction, but they do say that the evidence suggests that the introduction is recent, having been first observed in 2015.
So far (as of 4/20) my searches find that this gecko has been seen only in Los Angeles, Orange, and San Diego Counties.
* A population was found in Torrance, Los Angeles County, where it has been observed active during every month of the year since 2011. This population is apparently confined to one house lot.
* A population was found in Lake Forest, Orange County where adults and juveniles have been observed since 2009. This population was found in an area spanning eight house lots.
* A population was found
in the city of Orange in Orange County in July 2014 by Anthony C. Huntle.
* A population of H. garnotii has been documented in a third county at a residence in University City in San Diego County. Residents reported seeing them at the location since 2015-2016. (Herpetological Review 49(4) December, 2018)
* Pictures of a gecko found in Vista, San Diego County, that I presume to be H. garnotii, were sent to me in 9/19.
* Pictures of this gecko were sent to me from Huntington Beach in 4/20
* iNaturalist records show them from Anaheim, Irvine, and Santa Ana. (Accessed 4/20)
I have also received reports with pictures of alien geckos that might be this species from Los Angeles, Anaheim, and Palm Springs but the species has never been confirmed.
Los Angeles County
Between Rancho Palos Verdes and San Pedro
West of San Pedro
San Diego County
Estimated world range of Hemidactylus garnotii, including areas where it has been introduced.
This gecko is a very successful invader. The ability of a single lizard to start a new population and the species easy adaptability means it could become widespread in California. However since it prefers warm climates, it may be limited to the southern part of the state. It is not known what impact it might have on native wildlife.
Introduced into Hawaii, the species has apparently been pushed out of urban areas by another alien gecko, the House Gecko, but continues to be found in most other habitats.
Dumeril and Bibron, 1836
Dumeril and Bibron, 1836
Meaning of the Scientific Name
Hemidactylus - half fingered (hemi = half, daktylos = toe or finger)
garnotii - in honor of French naturalist Prosper Garnot
The following conservation status listings for this animal are taken from the November 2020 California "Special Animals List" and the November 2020 "State and Federally Listed Endangered and Threatened Animals of California" list, both of which are produced by multiple agencies and available here: https://www.wildlife.ca.gov/Data/CNDDB/Plants-and-Animals. You can check the link to see if there are more recent lists.
If no status is listed here, the animal is not included on either list. This most likely indicates that there are no serious conservation concerns for the animal. To find out more about an animal's status you can go to the NatureServe and IUCN websites to check their rankings.
This is a new species to California, so there are no status listings yet for the state.