July 10, 2011

I'm so sorry, Stubby

Baby gecko, La Ceiba, HondurasBaby gecko next to a 1-inch key ring

Baby gecko, La Ceiba, HondurasI was washing dishes when I saw something move out of the corner of my eye. Taking a closer look at the stack of dishes to be done, I discovered this teeny-tiny little gecko about 1 1/2 inches long.

He kind of reminded me of a tadpole. I put that one-inch key ring in the dish to give you an idea of his size. I tried to shoo him away but all he would do is run from one end of the dish to another. Okay, fine, Mr. Gecko. Take your time. I'll finish the dishes later. (Good excuse, huh?)

Baby gecko, La Ceiba, HondurasGeckos are a good thing in the tropics. As I've learned from my friend Steve, seven geckos were introduced to Honduras in the La Lima area outside of San Pedro in 1978 by Dr. Gene Ostmark, a scientist who was famous for his work in developing different varieties of bananas. Geckos have since spread over much of the country. Geckos eat bugs, flies, and mosquitoes, not groceries, and do no harm. They don't bother people or pets and aren't too messy.

They sometimes make a clicking sound, but at night, they make an incredibly loud-for-their-size noise, described a chirping call, which Wikipedia says is a mating call from the female. It is so loud that it can be scary the first time you hear it if you don't know what it is, but like trains or crowing roosters, after a while you don't even hear it. At the size of this one, which I would guess is only a day or two old, they are very delicate, so I didn't want to try to pick him up and risk squishing him.

I came back a few hours later to finish the dishes and he was still there in the same dish. Enough is enough, Mr. Gecko, I want to wash the dishes! I tried to shoo him over the edge with my finger. I swear that I didn't touch him. He would run from my finger so I was just trying to get him to run up and over the edge of the dish.

Baby gecko, La Ceiba, Honduras

But apparently out of fear, he lost his tail! Some lizards do that when they are trapped or feel threatened. I didn't know what happened at first. I saw another movement in the dish and thought that there were two geckos. When I looked closer, I saw that it was his tail and it continued to wag for a couple of minutes!

He had claimed his territory and wasn't leaving. Finally I took the dish to another room and turned it on its side so that he could run out on the table, where, although embarrassed and now only about one inch long, he posed for another — tailless — photo for me.

I am so, so sorry, Stubby. It will grow back, I promise.

Baby gecko, La Ceiba, Honduras
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