Asian House Gecko

Hemidactylus frenatus

Identification: Head and body length: 6 cm. Total length (including tail): 11 cm. Pale pinkish-brown to dark grey, with mottled patterning. Individuals can vary in appearance based on their level of activity and light exposure (dark with pattern by day; pale and patternless at night). The Asian House Gecko is very similar to the native Dtella, but can be distinguished by a series of small spines or tubercules along its back and the edges of its original tail.

The toes of Asian House Geckos are all clawed.The inner toes of Dtella, are clawless..

More readily identified by voice rather than appearance - a loud and distinctive "chuck-chuck-chuck".

**Habitat: ** Originally a tree-living species, Asian House Geckos now thrive in human dwellings and on buildings where they catch insects attracted to artificial light sources.

Distribution: Initially confined to the urban coastal regions of the Northern Territory and Far North Queensland, Asian House Geckos have shown amazing adaptability and resilience and are now distributed south to Tennant Creek (Northern Territory), west to roadhouses in the Great Sandy Desert and in all Queensland ports from Cooktown to the Gold Coast. They have also been recorded in the Kimberley region of Western Australia, and have been intercepted in cargo and caught in buildings on Norfolk Island. The species appears to be continuing its progression southward with individuals captured at Broken Head, NSW, in 2004 and a reliable report of an established population at Coffs Harbour.

Status: Common

Notes: Only introduced gecko in Australia. The Asian House Gecko is Australia's most successful invasive reptile.

Diet: Asian House Geckos are generalist predators, eating a large variety of prey, including insects, spiders and other small lizards.

Impacts: Once considered to be a benign invader limited to urban areas, recent studies have shown that, as in other parts of their colonized range, Asian House Geckos have displaced native geckos from the house gecko niche. They have spread into, and become established in considerable densities, in bushland habitat in the Northern Territory and in places such as Mon Repos Conservation Park in Queensland.

Reproductive cycle: Female Asian House Geckos lay two eggs approximately every four to six weeks. The large, white eggs are sometimes clearly visible through the body wall of a gravid female's underbelly. In the tropics, the geckos breed year-round. However, in sub-tropical and more temperate areas their reproduction appears to take on a seasonal cycle and they do not breed during the winter.

While there are anecdotal reports that the Asian House Geckos may be parthenogenetic (not requiring males to breed), there is no scientific evidence to support this. However, experiments have shown that females have the capacity to store sperm for up to six weeks.

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