The common house gecko (Hemidactylus frenatus) (not to be confused with the Mediterranean species Hemidactylus turcicus known as Mediterranean house gecko), is a native of Southeast Asia. It is also known as the Pacific house gecko, the Asian house gecko, or simply, the house lizard. Most geckos are nocturnal, hiding during the day and foraging for insects at night. They can be seen climbing walls of houses and other buildings in search of insects attracted to porch lights, hence their name “house gecko”. Spread around the world by ships, these geckos are now common in the Deep South of the United States, large parts of tropical and sub-tropical Australia, and many other countries in South and Central America, Africa, South Asia, and the Middle East. They grow to a length of between 75–150 mm (3–6 in), and live for about 5 years. These small geckos are non-venomous and harmless to humans. Medium to large geckos may bite if distressed, however their bite is gentle and will not pierce skin.
A tropical gecko, Hemidactylus frenatus thrives in warm, humid areas where it can crawl around on rotting wood in search of the insects it eats. The animal is very adaptable and may prey on insects and spiders, displacing other reptiles.
Like many geckos, this species can lose its tail when alarmed. Its call or chirp rather resembles the sound “gecko, gecko”. However, this is an interpretation, and the sound may also be described as “tchak tchak tchak” (often sounded three times in sequence).
In Australasia – CKI, Northern Territory, coastal Queensland, coastal Northern New South Wales, South Australia and Western Australia.
House geckos in captivity
House geckos can be kept as pets in a vivarium with a clean substrate, and typically require a heat source and a place to hide in order to regulate their body temperature, and a system of humidifiers and plants to provide them with moisture.
The species will cling to vertical or even inverted surfaces when at rest. In a terrarium they will mostly be at rest on the sides or on the top cover rather than placing themselves on plants, decorations or on the substrate, thus being rather inconspicuous.
House geckos are also used as a food source for some snakes.
In many countries, Hemidactylus frenatus is an introduced species that is considered a pest and even a “serious threat species” to local wildlife. While the impact of the Asian house gecko has not yet been closely studied, there is evidence that this “generalist predator” can compete with native gecko species for resources and perhaps replace them, especially in urban areas. Asian house geckos have transferred disease-carrying mites to native species.
Geckos are considered poisonous in many parts of the world. In Southeast Asia, geckos are believed to be carriers of good omen.
In Yemen and other Arab countries, it is believed that skin diseases result from geckos running over the face of someone who is asleep.
An elaborate system of predicting good and bad omens based on the sounds made by geckos, their movement and the rare instances when geckos fall from roofs has evolved over centuries in India. In some parts of India, the sound made by geckos is considered a bad omen; while in Bangladesh and Nepal, it is considered to be an endorsement of the truthfulness of a statement made just before, because the sound “tik tik tik” coincides with “thik thik thik” (Bengali:ঠিক ঠিক ঠিক) (Nepali:ठिक ठिक ठिक), which in Bengali and Nepali means “right right right”, i.e., a three-fold confirmation. The cry of a gecko from an east wall as one is about to embark on a journey is considered auspicious, but a cry from any other wall is supposed to be inauspicious. A gecko falling on someone’s right shoulder is considered good omen, but a bad omen if it drops on the left shoulder. In Punjab, it is believed that contact with the urine of a gecko will cause leprosy. In some places in India, it is believed that watching a lizard on the eve of Dhanteras is a good omen or a sign of prosperity.