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Namibian Geckos


Geckos belong to the Family Gekkonidae. The most prominent characteristics of geckos are the feet and eye features. Geckos can 'stick' to the smoothest of surfaces because of scales with minute hairs on the toe-tips. The scales are arranged in rows or paired pads called scansors. Many other species have claws which are can be retracted between the scansors. The feet are a common way to distinguish between species and genera.

Eyes of geckos are very interesting. They will be nothing more than a pin-point during the day, but will dilate considerably at night. As geckos do not have moveable eyelids, the eye is covered by a spectacle which they lick clean with a long, fat tongue. Most geckos are nocturnal and have the capability to withstand lower temperatures than other lizards. This feature enables them to live in a greater variety of habitats which include mountains peaks in colder areas and in deserts which can become very cold at night.

Females lay hard-shelled eggs with females usually laying several clutches each during a breeding season. Many geckos live in colonies and communicate in the dark using a series of well-developed, different sounds. There are 12 families of geckos found in Namibia.

Barking geckos belong to the Family Ptenopus and are so called because of their unusual but entertaining call that are a series of clicks (ceek-ceek-ceek) that are emitted with a variety of pitches and numbers per species. Other unusual features include slightly moveable upper eyelids and scansor-less toes.

They are both terrestrial and nocturnal and construct elaborate burrow systems complete with escape tunnels, living alone but in colonies spread over a wide area across the sand. They forage at night for insects and males will cold call at the entrances of burrows to attract mates. Females lay eggs in a pit, often losing them to predators such as snakes, meerkats and owls. There are 3 species of the genus found in Namibia, of which 2 are endemic. They are:

Day geckos belong to the Family Phelsuma are brightly coloured geckos mainly active during the day and on trees. They have large eyes with associated round pupils. There is only 1 species found in Namibia.

Dwarf geckos have a large retractile claw and paired, oblique scansors as well as a simple inner toe. They have a rounded but short snout and eyes that feature round pupils and characteristic eyelids. Small, granular scales cover the short and cylindrical body and the tail, also cylindrical, is the same size as the body. They are active in the day and most species are tree living although some live in rocks. Females and sub-adults share a shrub, small tree or large rock with adult males. Camouflage is their main defence mechanism and will use a tree trunk to separate themselves from their enemy. There are 4 species of dwarf gecko found in Namibia. They are:
Dwarf Leafed toed geckos are small geckos with a pair of characteristic leaf-shaped scansors beneath each toe-tip. There is also a small, retractile claw on each foot. Small, smooth, granular scales cover the body. They are nocturnal species and rupicolous (rock living) although there is one terrestrial species and one that lives under tree bark. There is just the 1 species of dwarf leafed-toed gecko in Namibia. It is:

There is only 1 species of festive gecko in Namibia. It is a very small gecko with long, slender, clawed toes that do not have 'sticky' scansors.

Flat geckos are characterized by large sticky scansors, retractile claws and a flattened head and body. They are nocturnal creatures with large eyes and tail is slightly longer than the body. They shelter under granite or sandstones on hard rocky outcrops is areas ranging from the sea to the tops of mountains. Species of flat gecko found in Namibia are:

Giant Ground Gekos are large, terrestrial, pad-less geckos, unable to climb smooth surfaces like other members of the gecko family. There is a single species found in Namibia.

There is just the 1 species found in Namibia, closely related to the thick-toed gecko. It is small, terrestrial and almost pad-less.

Namib day geckos are medium-sized geckos with long legs and a short body covered with small, granular scales. The head has a number of interesting characteristics including swollen nostrils, large eyes with vertical pupils and immovable eyelids that encircle the eye completely. Namib day geckos are active during the day running around on rock faces and scattered but broken pieces of rock. They will sit and wait in shaded areas, ready to pounce on any unsuspecting passing insects. Females will lay eggs in communal egg-laying sites. There are 5 species in the Namib day gecko genus. They are:

Thick-toed geckos are the largest group of geckos in Namibia. Their toes have a number of scansors under their toe-tips and there are tiny claws on the toes of the rear limbs. Namib day geckos, the Kalahari ground gecko and web-footed geckos are closely related to thick-toed geckos. Small, granular, independent scales cover the body and they have enlarged prominent eyes with vertical pupils and eyelids that form a distinct, but non-functional ridge around each eye.

These geckos can be found in a wide variety of habitats in Namibia with their presence being most common in the west of the country. All thick-toed geckos are nocturnal but some of the larger species will hang around the openings to rock cracks during the day, waiting for unsuspecting prey to emerge. Species of thick-toed geckos found in Namibia are:

These are medium-sized geckos with large retractile claws, prominent scansors (usually in pairs) and large flared toes. They have a distinct large eyes. These geckos are nocturnal and are very vocal members of the community, defending their territories with pride and vigour.

Web-footed geckos belong to the Family Palmatogecko. They have large heads on slender, medium-sized bodies. Their eyes are 'jewel like' and they are closely related to thick-toed geckos. There are 2 species of this genus both endemic to the Namib Desert. They are:

Bullsport Guest Farm

The settlement of Bullsport is marked on nearly every map, however it consists of little more than this friendly guest farm. The owners are welcoming and eager to share their Namibian experiences. Great for hiking and horse riding.

Capricorn Rest Camp

A small, budget friendly, owner operated rest camp, with individual bungalows & campsites. Great for those wanting to get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life

Naukluft Camp - Kudus Rus

Located in the mountainous Naukluft section of the Namib Naukluft Park, this is an ideal base for hikers or those wanting to relax at the crystal clear rock pools that amazingly exist in the desert environment

Neuras Wine Estate

One of the finest desert wine estates in the world can be found on the edge of the Namib Desert. The estate offers accommodation & wine tasting tours

Tsauchab River Camp

A small lodge on the banks of the Tsauchab River - an excellent place for walking and enjoying the surrounding scenery. Visitors are welcomed by an amazing arrary of metal sculptures

Zebra River Lodge

Another excellent place for hiking, in the Tsaris Mountains. If you want a genuinely warm welcome at a special lodge then this is an excellent choice. Zebra River can be used as a base for visits to the dunes at Sossusvlei, but is best used to relax and walk on the massive lodge property

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