English Name : Bark Gecko
Scientific Name: Hemidactylus leschenaulti
Tamil Name: Mara-palli
Description: Snout longer than the distance between the eye and the ear-opening, A slight fold of the skin on the side of the belly is present. Grey above, with darker markings, forming undulating cross-bars, rhomboidal spots on the middle of the back, or regular longitudinal bands; a dark band from the eye to the shoulder; lower surfaces white.
Distribution and status: They are distributed in South India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Oman, and Malaya Peninsula. This is a common gecko of the Indian peninsula. It is the house gecko seen inside houses in some parts of the country.
Habitat: It frequents avenue trees particularly Banyan (Ficus bengalensis) ,Tamarind (Tamarindus indicus) and Palmyra ( Borassus flabellifer ) which have numerous nooks and crannies in the trunk. The dark grey color of this gecko with wavy bands on the back merges well with the color of the back. Its length is approximately 16 cm. It is also seen inside houses inside peninsular India with a lighter color variation.
Habits:. They are nocturnal. They remain sluggish and take shelter in a retreat and emerge after the winter. They are territorial and occur in the same retreat day after day. But if food is abundant they may not be as territorial as near an electric light. Usually the largest gecko gets the best site. They were observed to bask in the morning sunshine at the base of palm trees.
Food. It is mainly insectivores and sometimes feed on caterpillars. Smaller insects are swallowed whole while larger ones are battered to death to manageable softness. Dangerous insects are generally avoided. Sometimes cannibalistic.
Life cycle: It breeds between April and July. The call of subdued grinding noise is made on the approach of another male for a challenge or for attracting a female. Eggs are laid in pairs and a single female may lay several clutches. Two or three eggs are laid in a clutch. The hard shelled eggs are sticky and stay together. At a suitable location several females may lay clutches together. Eggs hatch approximately in 32 days. .
Role in the environment: .This is highly habitat specific and plays a major role in the scrubland ecosystem of the palm trees. It could be considered as the closet reptilian to humans because of its habitat preference inside houses.
Photo source:Dr. J. Subramanean