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Mourning Gecko

Lepidodactylus lugubris

Description:

Unknown gecko species found in the Galapagos island of Santa Cruz. Found this little guy in my hotel room at around 12am. Not sure if native or invasive species. We were close to a large forest which would explain why it had toe pads and not claws indicating it being an arboreal species. Was around 3in in length with horizontal black bands traveling all across its body.

Habitat:

Inside my hotel room at around 12am hanging on the roof catching insects. When I finished taking photos of him I found 4 more individuals outside my room hanging on the roof catching insects attracted to the light.

1 Species ID Suggestions



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15 Comments

Brian Muñiz
Brian Muñiz 7 years ago

This is one of the least geckos native here. I currently caught eight. They are curious little geckos and love to watch whats happening outside the enclosure.
www.projectnoah.org/spottings/16795049

Brian Muñiz
Brian Muñiz 7 years ago

I know what you mean, and yes they are illegal here on Puerto
Rico. You can import them with special permits and for scientific reasons. I had actually planned to do the day geckos once I finish my bachelors degree and move to another university outside of PR and check if they are legal. Many countries have them as legal pets and then I could start exporting them from Hawaii with maybe help from local residents. I also had in mind that once I'd start with the geckos to include the
"coqui" frog which is native to PR but has been introduced to Hawaii and since they make a mating call at night many people are exterminating them. The zoo here has made mayor improvements. The contain many exotic bird species and insect species. Unfortunately their reptile exhibits were closed more than 10 years ago and I would like to revive that section, starting with day geckos and maybe our native least geckos, then move up to native frogs etc. This obviously will take lots of funding but if I don't try it would never happen. It would be harder for the geckos of Galapagos and for that I still have no plan.

Scott Frazier
Scott Frazier 7 years ago

Hello Brian. Your enthusiasm is infectious, although I'm already infected too! I would provide some advice however. You've already noted in your comments the often disastrous consequences of invasive species. Therefore i would strongly suggest that you not transport any species of anything from one place to another. Island ecosystems and their wildlife are particularly vulnerable to often unforeseen ill effects of alien species. That is the main reason. Another reason is that it may well be illegal to do so (going out and in). I'm sure there are species available where you are, and that your professors can guide you toward a species or subject to study. Keep that enthusiasm and you'll no doubt find your niche!

Brian Muñiz
Brian Muñiz 7 years ago

And legless lizards are here as well, I'm still trying to decide which comes next after the geckos

Brian Muñiz
Brian Muñiz 7 years ago

Wow, I love geckos, this is one of the main reasons why I'm thinking of studying herpetology. I'd love to have other exotic geckos though they are illegal on the island so I'm stuck with the introduced and the least geckos, their is quite a number of species here so I'm busy going to the field and studying them. Their are also some blind snakes which I plan to find once I've finished with the geckos or at least have help so it doesn't consume most of my time.

Brian Muñiz
Brian Muñiz 7 years ago

Oh, I am sorry, I have so many Galapagos species that I may have confused you with another reply which told me they had a relative, sorry for the confusion. If my plan ever works I will let both of you know and take better pictures of them, I recently bought a camera which has given me superb images of wildlife, an example is the black widow which I found right at my doorstep, you can check it out in my profile. If both of you could spread the word of this introduced species I would appreciate it very much. I myself have started in the university since on Puerto Rico their is a big problem with introduced species as well, mostly with escaped monkeys, green iguanas, non-native caimans and recently the arrival of the lionfish which is decimating the native gobies and smaller fish species, our reefs are looking quite barren without the usual wildlife due to this introduction and it is a sad sight, years before they were so beautiful with all the movement of gobies and damselfish, know all you see are large wrasses and tangs, and even they are in trouble since their fry are eaten by the lionfish and not many survive to adulthood making it difficult to restore their population numbers.

Brian Muñiz
Brian Muñiz 7 years ago

Hahahaha I'll take that and apply it in the future. Its always to good to learn something new. When I had gone to the archipielago I had the desire to capture some and bring them back here to my professor and setup a terrarium to study their behavior. The fact that the whole population is female has intruiged my curiosity further. If I ever return to the islands I will talk to the authorities and try to see if I can bring a small group back here. I did catch around 2 of them and stayed all night watching their behavior. They were quite docile once caught, I've only experienced this behavior in pet geckos like the Leopard gecko. Now that I know they are not native or an endangered species as well as hurting the native gecko populations I think that this may help in getting permits for capture. I've also suggested this strategy to my professor about introduced day geckos in Hawaii, though we don't have enough funding to go there so I am saving money to pay for it myself. I suggested for him to have a captive population in the university and maybe some for display in our zoo, both are from the same organization and only 5 min away from the university, then I told him that I could keep another population and if any breed export them to the US were they are legal pets, I do not like culling them, I find them to be too beautiful and intriguing a species to do that.

Scott Frazier
Scott Frazier 7 years ago

@Brian, not at all! (You did not come off as untrusting. Skepticism is good in this business :-). BTW, I don't have relatives in Ecuador. What gave you that idea? Thanks CDF! I have both melanistic and light fleshy colored Hemidactylus frenatus individuals (plural) in my house/office...

Thanks a lot, Brian, for putting this up! It's important to feature and discuss introduced species on this mission. And: Never appologize for not trusting! Wthout doubting and questioning there is no progress in science.

Brian Muñiz
Brian Muñiz 7 years ago

Yes, here in Puerto Rico there is an introduced species from Asia that changes color on light roofs and on dark ones it gets darker, though it is still pale. It also changes color one caught and if the individual is agitated may hiss with its mouth opened, though I myself have never been bitten by it. There are several other like the sphaerodactylus in which some species change color depending on the mood and the color of the ground, although most of the time they are dark because they are mostly found in leaf litter. I have 8 individuals in a terrarium trying to breed them, they are curious little least geckos. The sphaerodactylus' color change is very subtle, since I've had them for years I've noticed it, but to the untrained eye they always stay the same.

Great info, S Frazier, thanks! Also: In many, maybe most, gecko species idividuals change colors, not nearly as dramatically as chameleons, but they can get lighter or darker, in adaptation to lighting etc.

Brian Muñiz
Brian Muñiz 7 years ago

Hello S Frazier, yes once I commented I thought it may be a variation of the species being brought in by accident on a plane or shipment. Upon further research I found it to be true. Sorry if it seemed I came out as untrusting, that was not my intention, I just wanted to verify just incase to not put the wrong species. The color change is most likely an adaptation, the darker ones get eaten by any predators and the lighter ones survived, making the population after several generations light. Its nice to know that you have a relative in Ecuador, which part? I myself traveled to the islands and to Quito. Thank you Charles Darwin foundation for the reply. In my university one of my professors is a herpitologist, I may go to him once the semester starts next week and ask him, he's traveled around the world so he may have gone to the archipielago. Thanks all for the replies.

Scott Frazier
Scott Frazier 7 years ago

Hello Brian, I don't blame you to investigate further. I always do! Suggestions are at their most basic, well, suggestions. I did confirm its presence in the region first. "Mourning gecko (Lepidodactylus lugubris) – This species was first recorded in Puerto Ayora in the 1970s (Wright, 1983a; Altamirano, 2002)," Then I looked at many images which showed diverse coloration of the species. I chose the one in the suggestion link (you can only add one link) because it had the best depiction of that "W" marking over the "hips" (with dark sitting on light) that is so clear in your spotting. There were other similar features (e.g. stripe posterior to eye). Here's an even lighter version of the gecko than yours from the Galapagos http://www.animalsandearth.com/en/photo/... and here's a link showing the wide range of coloration possible in the species (although a couple geckos may not be the species!) http://flickrhivemind.net/Tags/lepidodac...

We'd have to have a reptile specialist look at this, but I think S Frazier is right. Lepidodactylus lugubris is one of three geckos that have been introdced to Galapagos, probably accidentally. At least in the towns they are outcompeting the indigenous Phyllodactulus species.

Brian Muñiz
Brian Muñiz 7 years ago

Thanks for the suggestion, not quite sure its that one though, looks similar but mine was not as dark as these, I'm going to research more about this gecko to see if I'm wrong and it truly is this one.

Brian Muñiz
Spotted by
Brian Muñiz

Provincia de Galápagos, Ecuador

Spotted on Mar 9, 2009
Submitted on Jan 8, 2013

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