The Lone Star State is home to a wide range of incredible animal species! This includes lots of reptiles who are right at home in its warm, sunny climate. Even a handful of varying gecko species have managed to establish themselves in the state! Below are 5 awesome geckos in Texas you should keep an eye out for.
1. Texas Banded Gecko (Coleonyx brevis)
The first species on our list is a gecko named after the second-largest state in the US–the Texas banded gecko! The other half of this species’ namesake comes from its handsome horizontal stripes or bands. These bands extend from the lizard’s neck down to the tip of its tail. This gecko’s geographic range is limited to Texas and New Mexico in the United States and northern Mexico.
You’d be forgiven if you believed these little guys were merely leopard geckos at first! The Texas banded gecko is actually a close relative of the most popular domesticated lizard in the world. Both lizards are part of the Eublepharidae family, a group of around 40 small gecko species distinct for their functioning, movable eyelids. They’re also unique for lacking the sticky toe pads that most geckos have!
Like most other members of the Eublepharidae family, the Texas banded gecko is perfectly suited for Texas’ hottest, driest regions. Their tiny claws are better suited to climbing and running on and digging in rough, sandy surfaces than sticky toe pads. Additionally, their thick, movable eyelids help to keep dirt and sand out of their eyes.
Also similar to other Eublepharid species, these little striped geckos are nocturnal and purely insectivorous. They are mostly inactive during the day, preferring to hide in rocky outcrops and piles of dirt and sand while they rest. At night, they emerge from their burrows and hunt small insects and arachnids like crickets and termites.
Unsurprisingly, the Texas banded gecko has also become a popular pet amongst reptile hobbyists. It keeps fairly well in captivity thanks to its small size, hardy nature, and minimal care needs.
2. Mediterranean House Gecko (Hemidactylus turcicus)
The Mediterranean house gecko is an incredibly widespread species that has even managed to make a home in Texas! Originally, this unassuming little lizard was native to Europe’s Mediterranean region, including parts of Spain, Portugal, Greece, and Italy. Over time, it established itself as an invasive species throughout Europe, parts of Asia, Africa, and now, even the warmer regions of the Americas!
The main reason why the Mediterranean house gecko has been so successful is its hardiness and adaptability. It can tolerate and even thrive in a wide range of habitats and climates. The geckos are also increasingly commonly taking up residence in more urban areas.
True to its name, it will regularly take up residence in homes and gardens, often in small groups. They typically hide in cracks in walls and under rocks and wood piles during the day, coming out to hunt at night.
At only around 3 to 5 inches long with the perfect sandy brown and tan coloration for camouflage, these tiny, clever lizards are excellent at hiding away from predators. They’re also quite fast-moving and nocturnal! Their reclusive, speedy nature allows them to evade the grasp of birds and snakes (and humans looking to eradicate them from their homes) with ease.
Interestingly, many homeowners opt to keep a few of the geckos around their homes and gardens as pest control. Although they are unfortunately invasive in Texas, the geckos are harmless to humans. They will, however, gladly gobble up any pesky insects and arachnids like ants, termites, crickets, and spiders.
3. Reticulated Gecko (Coleonyx reticulatus)
The reticulated gecko is another species in Texas to keep an eye out for! As another member of the Eublepharidae family, reticulated geckos (also sometimes known as reticulate banded geckos) are fairly closely related to the super-popular leopard geckos and the Texas banded gecko mentioned earlier on this list.
Like most geckos, these lizards are small in size, usually reaching around 5 to 7 inches in length. They closely resemble many other geckos in the Eublepharidae family, with their tiny clawed feet, movable eyelids, and light brownish-pink coloration. Its body is covered in thick horizontal stripes, or bands, and tiny, dark brown spots.
The reticulated gecko’s thick skin, functional eyelids, and clawed feet make it perfectly suited to the driest regions of southern Texas and parts of northern Mexico. It’s a surprisingly hardy lizard despite its small size, and it is fast-moving and well-camouflaged in its rocky, arid habitats. Amusingly, like most geckos, these little guys can make high-pitched squeaking or “barking” vocalizations when threatened.
Though these geckos sometimes inhabit more urban areas like the invasive Mediterranean house gecko, they prefer to stick to more isolated, rural habitats. With a carefully trained eye, you can sometimes find reticulated geckos cleverly camouflaged amongst rock piles and burrowed in sandy soil. They sometimes live in small, loosely-organized social groups, but they are notably quite reclusive in nature.
4. Common House Gecko (Hemidactylus frenatus)
As another unfortunately invasive species of gecko in Texas, the common house gecko is another lizard with an astonishingly wide geographic range. It has picked up a variety of common names from many different regions over the years! These monikers include the Asian house gecko, the wall gecko, the house lizard, and even the moon lizard.
These little brown and grey geckos didn’t always reside in Texas! Originally, they are native to the more tropical regions of southeast Asia. Thanks to their hardy and highly adaptable nature, they’ve managed to establish themselves on almost every continent. They now live in parts of Europe, Asia, the Americas, Australia, and Africa, too! Humans likely introduced them to most of their non-native regions accidentally via ships transporting cargo.
In general, though, common house geckos fare best in very hot, somewhat humid regions. One reason why they can stand such a wide range of climates is their ability to undergo brumation during winters and sudden cold spells in a pinch. Their small size, tolerance of and ability to coexist well with other gecko species, and fast-moving nature also have helped to further establish them in various regions.
True to its name, the common house gecko often takes up residence in urban areas like homes and schools. Though they are used to living alongside humans to an extent, the geckos are nocturnal and quite reclusive.
To some, they can be beneficial to have around. After all, the geckos feed voraciously on a wide range of destructive insects and arachnids. To others, they can be an irritating nuisance, often making high-pitched chirping calls late at night and leaving their feces and shed skin behind in hard-to-reach areas like cracks in walls and underneath furniture.
5. Rough-Tailed Gecko (Cyrtopodion scabrum)
These unique-looking lizards have picked up lots of different common names, such as the rough bent-toed gecko, the keeled gecko, and the common tuberculate ground gecko. Though they’re originally native to the Middle East, they’ve also been introduced to the United States, mainly in Arizona and Texas.
Despite faring best in more humid regions, the rough-tailed gecko has managed to make itself at home in some of the driest areas of America’s Southwest. It’s a hardy species and a strong forager that feeds on a wide range of small insects and arachnids. Like most other geckos, it is nocturnal and quite reclusive.
Rough-tailed geckos are fairly small in size at only around 3 to 6 inches long. They are primarily tan or light brown in color. From their necks to their tails, their bodies are covered in tiny, dark brown spots. Typical of most species within the Gekkota infraorder, the geckos’ eyes are large with the usual slit-shaped pupils that can adjust to take in more or less light as needed. Their claws are long, strong, and flexible to make climbing most surfaces a simple task.
Interestingly, as their name implies, rough-tailed geckos have uniquely keeled scales on their tails. These scales splay outward slightly from the tail in an arc, giving it a spiky appearance and texture. Though rough-tailed geckos largely look similar to many other gecko species in America’s Southwest, this unique trait makes it easy to tell them apart from other similar lizards.
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