species of nocturnal geckos occur in the loose sands of the dunes
and sandy plains. Stenodactylus arabicus, S. doriae
and S. leptocosymbotis are all very similar and need an
expert eye to be identified correctly. The most colourful nocturnal
gecko is the pretty Teratoscincus scincus.
In rock crevices and caves the fan-toed gecko (Ptyodactylus
hasselquisti ) is regularly encountered. As with other geckos
it has a very delicate and fragile appearance and grows to no
more than about 18 cms. It is nocturnal, and emerges after dusk
to hunt for small flying insects. Some fan-toed geckos that live
in larger caves may never leave them at all and are probably active
for longer periods. Their enlarged toe-pads are covered with tiny
lamellae, which in turn are coated with thousands of microscopic
"hook-like" structures. With each step, the gecko first
lifts its toes, thus "unhooking" its foot, then brings
it forward and only pushes the toes downwards again once its footpad
has touched the surface it is walking on. These movements are
executed so quickly that they are not visible to the human eye.
Of the many species of dwarf rock geckos, Pristurus rupestris
must be mentioned as it is most often encountered in the day time.
It likes to sit on rock walls of plantations, signalling to fellow-lizards
by curling and uncurling its tail.
The yellow-bellied house gecko (Hemidactylus flaviviridus
) is known to every household in the UAE. Active from dusk to
dawn it is found in and around houses and apartments all over
the region. Their faint bark-like calls can be heard only by those
with sensitive ears. Hunting mainly for flying insects it is often
seen lying in wait near a garden lamp, in the hope of catching
an insect that is attracted by the light. Beige to brown in colour,
they grow to about 15 cms. If not disturbed they will happily
spend the day in a dark ceiling corner inside a room of a house
and will defend their territory fiercely against others of their
kind who approach too closely.