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Wednesday, June 1, 2011

St Lucia Pygmy Gecko (Sphaerodactylus microlepis)

Jeannette Victor

I am sure if we are ask any questions in relation to a gecko we would refer to the green one seen on the television during the insurance advertisements.  Did you know that St Lucia has its own gecko?

Sphaerodactylus mirolepis is the scientific name for Saint Lucia’s Pygmy Gecko or the alternative name St Lucia Dwarf Gecko. The small lizard that grows to a length of 34 mm from the base of the tail to its snout is light brown or grey above.  Dark brown cross bands can be seen between arms and legs. Dark strips extend from behind each eye and joins at the nape of the neck where a black or brown collar is formed. The top of the gecko’s head ranges from light brown to yellow with dark brown markings. Its tail is brown and the underside of the head and body is white or yellow. Bright green or blue grey iris compliments the gecko’s appearance.

Saint Lucia pygmy gecko inhabits a range of areas, which includes coastal deciduous seasonal forests and lower montane rainforest. They survive by eating mainly ants and other very small invertebrates found in leaf litter on Maria Islands and Grand Anse. Females lay a few elongated eggs that usually hatch in May after five weeks of incubation.

Mongooses, rats, opossums and cane toads contribute to the patchy distribution of the geckos. Other factors being agro-chemicals in plantation areas and loss of habitats by removal of leaf litter for coastal recreational areas.

We, the public can play a vital role in the survival of the St Lucia Pygmy Gecko by keeping alien invasive mammals off Maria Islands and prohibit the importation of alien invasive lizards especially geckos.