About twenty-five years ago, I read Gerald Durrell‘s book My Family and Other Animals (1957), an account of his early life in Corfu. One part made a distinct impression on me – his account of watching geckos on the walls of his house. To me, as a teenager in Ireland, this was the height of the exotic, after all Ireland has only one type of native reptile, the Common Lizard, Lacerta vivipara, and I had only seen one on a single occasion (slow worms, Anguis fragilis, are a recent localized introduction). To the twelve-year old me (in wet, cloudy, overcast Ireland), Durrell’s experience of sun and reptiles seemed unthinkable and impossible to replicate.
Fast forward to twelve years ago. I find myself in the desert southwest, and lo & behold, we have geckos on the walls! Not being much of a herp person, I’ve never really paid much attention to them beyond removing them from our house (at my wife’s insistence, I assure you!) or showing then to my daughter. But last night, as I was sitting out watching the geckos hunt moths, I was reminded of Durell. As it turns out, the species we have here in the Phoenix metro area is Hemidactylus turcicus, the Mediterranean gecko, an obvious introduction.(The native species is the Western banded gecko – Coleonyx variegatus).
So I guess I got to see Durrell’s geckos after all, albeit not in Corfu.