English name: Sri Lankan House Gecko
Scientific name: Hemidactylus parvimaculatus
Thai name: no Thai name
Description: To 13 cm long. Snout to base of tail is up to 6.5 cm. A gecko of average length and girth. Body is light grey to tan with dark blotches forming three rows down the back. The head has light and dark lines passing through the eye and mottled dark markings on top. Many tubercles can be seen on the body. Tail has rings of small spines. Individuals that have lost and regrown their tails may have most or all of the spines missing. Toes have the characteristic lamellae of house geckos on the underside. Underbelly is pinkish-cream.
Similar Species: Siamese Leaf-toed Gecko has less regular dark markings and longer, more slender toes that lack the lamellae on the undersides.
Spiny-tailed House Gecko lacks the regular dark markings on back.
Flat-tailed House Gecko has flatter tail with no spines and lacks the dark markings.
Stump-toed Gecko lacks the spines on its tail and has softer skin and broader toes.
Habitat: In its native range it is found in open forest, but in Thailand it is only known from urban areas in Bangkok. I have found it in empty lots, construction sites, and parks, where it is usually found under cover (especially concrete) in areas with bare ground.
Contribution to the ecosystem: Helps control insect and spider populations. Provides food for snakes and Tokay Geckos. As an introduced species, it is likely competing with other small gecko species for food and space.
Danger to humans: Poses no danger to humans at all.
Conservation status and threats: The Sri Lankan House Gecko is native to Sri Lanka and southern India. The population in Bangkok is introduced and appears to be thriving.
Interesting facts: The Bangkok population of the Sri Lankan House Gecko was discovered by the author in 2010. It was previously unknown in southeast Asia. Continuing surveys found it to be well-established in at least three districts of Bangkok, possibly emanating from the Khlong Toei sea port. It is hypothesized that the gecko may have arrived in the sea port on shipments from the Sri Lanka area and then began reproducing and spreading in Bangkok. It is also possible that it came as a stowaway with refugees from Sri Lanka, many of whom have come to Bangkok seeking asylum from the civil war that was fought there for over 25 years. Healthy populations of Sri Lankan House Geckos have been found in six locations, suggesting that it is well-established in the city. The gecko was likely not discovered until now due to its secretive nature – it is found under heavy cover such as large pieces of concrete, and has not been seen hunting prominently in exposed areas at night like local house geckos.
The Sri Lankan House Gecko is closely related to Brook’s House Gecko (Hemidactylus brookii), which has a wide distribution in Asia and Africa. These geckos were only recently determined by scientists to be different species in 2010.
Geographic Distribution: Hemidactylus parvimaculatus (Sri Lankan House Gecko), in Herpetological Review
South Asia supports a major endemic radiation of Hemidactylus geckos
Morphological variation and taxonomy of Hemidactylus brookii, Hemidactylus angulatus, and similar taxa
Hong Kong University: Hemidactylus brookii
A Field Guide to the Reptiles of South-East Asia
Hong Kong Amphibians and Reptiles (2nd Edition)