Gecko Land

Hawaiian gecko

Hawaiian gecko

The other night I had turned out all the lights and was ready to head down the hall to bed. While I was in the kitchen getting a glass of water, I suddenly heard the girls whispering out in the living room. I came out to see what was up, and both girls were holding large plastic containers and shivering.

Was there perhaps a gecko in one of their rooms, I asked?

Geckos are a fact of life in Hawai’i. You will see them inside, outside, during the day, in the evening, at night . . . everywhere and all the time. Hawai’i is a hard place to live if you can’t deal with bugs or small lizards because they are part of daily life here.

I don’t believe that there is any half-way about geckos either. You can either ignore them and live with them, or you can’t. Brett and I can; our girls claim they can’t. After over a year here they are still scared to death of them.

I like having them around because they eat bugs – lots and lots of bugs. I know one of the reasons we don’t have many bugs in our house is because we are up on the second level, off the ground, but another, equally strong, reason is because we have a nice population of geckos living with us, both inside and out. We actually rarely see the geckos in the house, but they are here. Mostly we see them at night, clinging to the outside of the windows, just waiting for a juicy, unsuspecting bug to arrive and share the window with them.

A brown anole trying to attract a date with his beautiful red dewlap.

A brown anole trying to attract a date with his beautiful red dewlap.

Geckos here are both brown and green, but we usually see more of the brown ones. And, some of our geckos are not actually geckos – they’re anoles. Some anoles are have beautiful bright lime green skin and bright red spotting like a gecko, but others we see are brown with yellow markings. Anoles can be differentiated from geckos by the red dewlap males sport under their chin. Anoles are actually more aggressive than geckos, especially the brown anole, but both will go after smaller members of their own tribe. True geckos “chirp” as a mating call, but we almost never hear the chirping at our house, another reason we think the little lizards we host are more likely to be anoles and not geckos.

Whatever, anoles eat bugs just as well as geckos do and both are welcome in our home. In Hawaiian folklore, geckos represent the spirits of past ancestors, and are to be treated with love and respect.

I will give the girls credit that they never want to kill the geckos they find in their rooms, just catch and release them outside, and they’ve gotten quite good at it. That’s what the big plastic jars they were carrying were for. But, the other night the gecko they were after kept getting away (they are quick as lightening) and then another, bigger one leapt onto the window outside and frightened them. So, it was mom to the rescue. I quickly found the offender, captured him (or her) and then released the prisoner outside.

Geckos I can live with. It’s snakes I can’t abide, but there are thankfully none in Hawai’i.

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