Monday, March 29, 2010
Living With House Geckos - The Dark Side
With big, wide-set eyes, stubby little noses and adorable suctioned fingers, who wouldn't find the common house gecko insanely cute. In Tahiti they are omnipresent after dark, lingering on walls, munching pesky mosquitoes, stalking moths and making their soft monkey-with-hiccoughs calls. Many a tourist has become enamored of these seemingly peaceful critters and come home with a tattoo of one on their arm or derriere; ancient Polynesians included the small lizards in many legends.
But here's the truth: geckos have a dark side - a cavernous dark side. My love for them plummeted the moment I first saw a big gecko swallow a smaller one, the tail of the victim waving like a white flag until it disappeared down the bigger guy's gullet. I began to question my like for them when two fighting geckos fell on my face in the middle of the night while I was sleeping, scaring the living daylights out of me and smearing me with mushy battered lizard skin. Cleaning house I began to realize that the majority of the crud on the floor and windowsills is gecko poo. It's commonplace here to have gecko crap fall from the ceiling right into your drink or onto your forehead while watching a movie. Gecko pee pretty much sucks too - it's just a slight dribble that always lands on you as a surprise till you look up and see where it came from. I swear geckos get enjoyment out of their spectacular long-distance aim; I hear them laughing on the ceiling with their funny monkey chuckle.
The worst is what they do to appliances. Geckos have ruined several of my printers by climbing into them and dying. By the time they start to stink (and you'd be surprised how bad one little dead lizard can smell) the machine is jammed up beyond repair. Once a gecko climbed into our air-con unit and died, like geckos do, and we couldn't find the damned thing. We had to suffer stink in the office for a good two weeks. Luckily, the gecko eventually decomposed in the dry pumped out air and the air-con unit survived.
Sometimes I'll casually pull out a book from my bookshelf and a gecko springs out wildly into my lap. This wouldn't be so bad except that the friction of the book has usually removed most of the skin from the gecko's back, which makes him look like some raw, Golum-like beast. They get in the cereal, eat the tops off my ripe bananas and knock stuff over while we're sleeping and wake us up.
It sounds like I must hate geckos by now but really I don't. I admit to enjoying it more than I should when the cat catches them, but overall I think the guys have spunk. It's enthralling watching them hunt bugs (or each other), moving so slowly it's imperceptible except for their tails that swirl like a lion's on the prowl. I like that they can still throw off the cat with the 'ole eject-the-tail trick and I appreciate that they eat so many insects. Every now and then I find a tiny baby gecko and think he's so cute that I try to save him from the harsh gecko world by moving him to a spot in the house where I know the big guys, who would want to eat him, don't hang out. Yes, geckos are a pain but they are also a constant source of entertainment and give our household more depth of character. We have spent many an evening getting entertained by the cat trying to jump up the walls to catch them. My son has raised geckos in a giant fish tank, has incubated their eggs and it's become a nightime family sport to scamper around lightbulbs catching bugs for our reptilian pets.
To close, here's my favorite gecko love story via a Thai commercial for ceiling boards - you might need a hanky.
The opening gecko photo on this post is by my talented photographer friend Vincent Devert www.vincentdevert.com.