Tarentola mauritanica, known as the common wall gecko, is a species of gecko (Gekkota) native to the western Mediterranean area of North Africa and Europe and has since been introduced to Madeira, Canary Islands and Balearic Islands, and the Americas (in Montevideo, Buenos Aires and California). It is commonly observed on walls in urban environments, mainly in warm coastal areas. However, it can be found further inland, especially in Spain where it has a tradition of cohabitation with humans as insect hunter. A robust species, up to 15 centimetres (5.9 in) long, its tubercules are enlarged and give the species a spiny armoured appearance. It is a nocturnal animal with a predominantly insectivorous diet.
The species was first described by Carl Linnaeus in 1758. It is also known as moorish gecko, crocodile gecko, European common gecko, and, regionally, as osga (in Portuguese), salamanquesa (in Spanish) and dragó (in Catalan).
Adults can measure up to 15 centimetres (5.9 in), tail included. Robust body and flat head. Back, legs and tail with prominent conic tubercles. Its regenerated tail is smoother and doesn't have tubercles. Obtuse mouth, big eyes with no eyelids and vertical pupil. Fingers with big lateral growths and adherent division less laminae in the bottom face. Only the third and fourth fingers end in union. Brownish grey or brown coloration with darker or lighter spots. These colours change in intensity according to the light. When they are active by day their colour is darker than during the night. It can be found on many construction sites, ruins, rock fields, tree trunks, etc.
In Europe it can be found through most of the Iberian Peninsula (except northwestern Portugal and most of northern Spain), southern France, coastal Italy, southern Slovenia, northern coastal Croatia and southwestern parts of Greece. In North Africa it ranges from northern Egypt, through northern Libya, northern and central Tunisia, and northern Algeria to most of Morocco and northwestern Western Sahara. There is an isolated introduced population in southern Western Sahara. It can live up to 2,300 metres (7,500 ft) in altitude.
Mainly nocturnal or crepuscular. Also active during the day, on sunny days at the end of the winter especially. They like to receive sunlight near their refuge. They hunt insects and in the warmer months of the year it can be found hunting nocturnal insects near light sources, street lamps, etc. They lay 2 almost-spherical eggs twice a year around April and June. After 4 months, little salamanquesas of less than 5 centimetres (2.0 in) in length are born. Moorish geckos are slow to mature, taking 4 to 5 years in captivity.
The introduction of the species may impact on native fauna, by preying on frogs and smaller lizards. The adoption of this species as a pet has led to populations becoming established in Florida and elsewhere.
- List of reptiles of Europe
- List of reptiles of Morocco
- List of reptiles of North America
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- Vogrin, M., Corti, C., Pérez Mellado, V., Baha El Din, S. & Martínez-Solano, I. 2017. Tarentola mauritanica. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2017: e.T61578A63716927. https://doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2017-2.RLTS.T61578A63716927.en. Downloaded on 08 February 2019.
- "Common Wall Gecko". Geckoweb. Finding Species. Retrieved 2009-01-27.
- "Tarentola mauritanica (Linnaeus, 1758)". Integrated Taxonomic Information System.
- "Common Wall Gecko". IUCN. Retrieved 14 November 2020.