A GIGGLE OF GECKOS
There is no name for a group of geckos because geckos do not normally live in groupings. Lizards as a group are a "lounge" of lizards (I kid you not! Look it up...) probably because they are always lounging around.
My geckos tend to not be lounging much. They tend to be scurrying or leaping or doing strange acrobatics like little lizard ninjas. And they are always--ALWAYS--giggling! And so, I will introduce you to a Giggle of Geckos.
I need to introduce you to some friends of mine—Gryffyth, Stumpy and Flash.
These three are endless sources of amusement for me, and often join me on adventures since I first met them. They may write their own stories for the blog eventually, but, since they are still learning how to print with crayons, it may be a few weeks before they start typing. But here is a brief introduction to each of them.
Gryffyth is quite young so he’s very bright green to help him camouflage with the leaves. He’s very brave but also quite cautious. He is the brains of this little troupe. He is very artistic and often notices little details that the other geckos miss. He is also very helpful and loves to share and help the community.
Gryffyth loves checking out all the different flowers and fruits on the island, and spotting unusual bugs. He likes to draw pictures of what he sees. Some of his pictures are really quite good and I may have to have him illustrate a book soon!
Gryffyth also enjoys Google time with me at the computer where we look up the answers to big questions. (What is the correct fork to eat bugs with? How many kinds of snails are there? Why do Stumpy and Flash keep licking their eyeballs?) Sometimes we check out the stock market, in case Gryffyth wants to invest some of his savings.
Gryffyth is quite specifically a Barbados Green Lizard or Anolis Extremus. This is a species of anole lizard that is native to the island of Barbados in the Caribbean. It has now become an introduced species to Saint Lucia and Bermuda, and also Florida. They tend to be bright green with darker speckles down the back and their bellies are yellow. Males have a brightly coloured throat fan that is normally a vibrant red. They use this and a bobbing head motion to ward off potential enemies and attract females.You may have to look close to spot him in the photo!
STUMPY (HAMISH MacDAVID)
Stumpy’s father calls him Hamish. Everyone else knows his real name is Stumpy. Stumpy is a daredevil who often gets into scrapes because he isn’t paying attention. Stumpy is a lovely bright blue colour which isn’t always great for camouflage, making him easy prey for birds, cats, and mongoose here on the island. This is why his friends call him Stumpy—he is always dropping his tail to escape from something (and sometimes because he’s just startled…). This means his tail is often missing or in some stage of growing back. He tends to be the leader because he’s not afraid to go first!
Stumpy enjoys skydiving—but only by choice! Falling out of a bird’s beak after dropping his tail to get away can often end in a very sudden bump and a headache. He also likes running races with Flash when Gryffyth is busy drawing.
Stumpy also enjoys looking for pictures of himself in Geckos in the Garden. Usually he finds the ants on page three first. Then he tries to lick them off the page. I need to get a special plastic book just for him because my copy is getting very soggy from all the gecko spit.
Stumpy’s family came to Barbados a very long time ago and have African roots. Stumpy is a Turquoise Dwarf Gecko, William’s dwarf gecko, or electric blue gecko. These are endemic to a small area of Tanzania and are critically endangered. Their habitat is shrinking but that is not the biggest threat. The biggest threat to the survival of Stumpy’s species is the illegal pet trade. We will talk about that more in a different post.
Flash is very, very fast. She likes to go everywhere at a dead run. She says she’s training for the running events at the Gecko Olympics, but I think that it’s very hard for her to find places to hide! There are not many plants with bright orange leaves all year round, or bright orange flowers. As a result, she likely spends a lot of time running for cover. Her real name is Floilana, which is of Greek origins and means “rapid”. I think it suits her but she prefers Flash!
Flash likes hanging out with Stumpy and Gryffyth, and going for adventures. She particularly enjoyed a trip to the beach last week although she got a little worried when a crab came out of it’s hole and was bigger than she is!
She also enjoys sunning herself on the patio and nibbling ants. Ants are her absolute favourite. She likes when the stray cats, come around to beg food. She knows I will feed them, and that the cats will leave a little bit behind which will attract ants. Because of this, Flash is often hiding nearby, under the chair or the barbecue, ready to run out and gobble up the ants after the cats leave!
Flash is a Tangerine morph of a Leopard Gecko. Leopard Geckos are ground dwelling lizards from the rocky grasslands and deserts of Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan, India and Nepal. Tangerine morphs are one of many variations that have been created by people breeding the leopard geckos in captivity to get different colours and patterns. Her bright orange and yellow colouring is not very good for her life expectancy in the wild! Her family arrived in Barbados in captivity and escaped to freedom in the shrubberies.
LIZARD OR GECKO?
So, some people say that Gryffyth is a lizard, and Stumpy and Flash are geckos and that makes them different.
This is true in a way. Geckos are all considered lizards but not all lizards are considered geckos. Geckos are distinctly different from lizards in one particular way. Geckos have especially sticky feet and toes while most lizards do not share this feature. This comes from very tiny hair-like structures on the bottom of their feet allowing geckos to stick to walls, ceilings and other vertical or upside-down places through friction.
Lizards have eyelids as well, but not all geckos do. Some geckos have a clear scale over their eye but no functioning eyelids and this is why you sometimes see them licking their eyeballs to keep them clean and moist. (Can you lick your eye? I don’t think so….you probably can’t lick your elbow either, but that’s a challenge for a different day!)
Gryffyth is a type of lizard from the family Iguanadae. Stumpy and Flash are both from the family gekkotan. But all three of them are reptiles.
Many people who do not know the difference will refer to all of the smaller lizards and geckos as geckos and this is why in my book some of the pictures you are actually hunting for lizards….particularly the green ones like Gryffyth. Please forgive my poetic license in this matter.
Gryffyth, Stumpy and Flash would say they all like ants, adventures, and being friends so what’s the big deal if they are not all the same? And to that I say, well done!