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October 31, 2023

Can You Hear Me Now? House Geckos Welcome Visitors to Costa Rica

House gecko on a leaf.

Try this at home.

Shift all the weight of your mouth to one side, so the skin on your cheek bubbles up into a large dimple. Move your tongue to the same side as your enlarged cheek, allowing the edge of your lips to open just slightly. 

Finally, take in quick pockets of air from the small opening in your lips, in three, perhaps four, rapid bursts at a time.

Can you hear that distinct chirping sound you’re now making? Click, click, click… Click, click, click, click.

If done properly, you have mastered the call of the house gecko, or Hemidactylus frenatus in science speak. Get used to that sound, because you’re going to hear it quite often during your next luxury vacation in southern Pacific Costa Rica.

Wherever you travel in this gorgeous Central American nation, house geckos are sure to follow. You’ll spot them on ceilings, navigating expensive artwork hanging from towering walls, as well as climbing up and down screen doors and window sills. They are innocuous reptiles that can be discovered all over the globe, from Costa Rica to India, China, Australia and the Philippines.

House geckos won’t harm you, your family or your friends, although they sometimes leave special gifts on the ground, a subtle thank you for keeping the porch light on last night, attracting flying insects for mealtime. Even if you’re afraid of reptiles, you can feel safe in the presence of the house gecko. They are your amigos.

A typical house gecko’s body is approximately 2 inches in length, but can double in size when also considering the length of their tail. Males tend to be slightly larger than females, although not by much. 

House geckos don’t all look the same, but can be distinguished by hues of brown, gray or pink on their upper bodies, with pale or yellowish underbellies. Most feature stripes or dots on their skin. Their bulging, midnight black eyes move in constant motion, seeking out flying bugs or, worse, predators.

Non-webbed feet with divided paw pads may be the house gecko’s greatest physical trait, allowing the tiny reptiles to quickly scale any surface with ease. They can go upside down in an instant, defying physics like the U.S. Navy Blue Angels. One second they’re there, and then they’re gone. All in the blink of an eye.

Most visitors who stay at our luxury vacation villas in Dominical and Uvita want to witness a wide variety of animals, reptiles and even insects. And there’s no shortage of amazing creatures here, from white-faced monkeys and sloths, to mesmerizing macaws, butterflies and even humpback whales. Something for everyone, as the saying goes. 

Guarantees in life are difficult to come by, but we are prepared to make a bold statement here: If you make the journey to Costa Rica, a house gecko will be around to check you in. 

Now, what about those chirps mentioned previously? Click, click, click… click, click, click, click.

Why do house geckos produce such distinct sounds? Two reasons, primarily. The first is because a male house gecko is attempting to court a female for companionship. The second reason? It happens when males are looking to fight each other.

In that sense, male house geckos aren’t much different than male Homo sapiens. Too much chirping, not enough reasoning. It’s funny how nature often comes full circle on us.

Category: Blog, CR Wildlife
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