Scaly charmer

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Only occurring in the Western Cape, the teeny-weeny Pachydactylus geitje is as indigenous as they come. Otherwise known as the ocellated thick-toed gecko in the family Gekkonidae, the colourfully mottled reptile’s silky body is covered in dark-edged elongated white splotches which sometimes meld to form irregular crosslines.

As its alternative name indicates, these lizards have robust, undivided toes with sticky pads. They cling with incredible ease thanks to nanoscale hairs, known as setae, that line every toe in huge numbers. Taken together, the 6.5 million setae on a single gecko can reportedly generate enough force to support the weight of two humans!

Tiny, granular body scales on the fat little bodies are non-overlapping with numerous big-keeled tubercles. Their backs are grey to greyish-brown while bellies are off-white. Males notch up a puny 48 mm in length, whereas females dominate at a whopping 58 mm.

Favouring human dwellings, rocks and debris as hidey-holes, P. geitje typically loves chowing bugs, although they’ve been known to partake in meals of small vertebrates too. Night owls by nature, they keep a low profile during the day to shore up energy for midnight revelry.

Females are gravid from September to February and lay two to three clutches of two miniscule hard-shelled eggs. Incubation lasts 100 to 120 days.

Ref: The Reptile Database; animalia.bio; southafrica.co.za
Photo: Abu Shawka