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Natural UAE

Geckos

Various 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.

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