Friday, February 2, 2007


I'll start by saying I'm a native Floridian. I was born here. I was raised here. I've spent 24 years in this state. So I feel I have at least two legs to stand on in this case.

There are many things found in Florida that have been introduced; Golf courses, Seven Elevens, Geckos. It's hard not to look around and see these exotic and invasive things. Melaluca trees were introduced from Australia to drain the wetlands decades ago. Dozens of exotic fish species have been dumped into local rivers and lakes. Even Dunkin Donuts have made their way to the corners of several strip malls down here. Florida has become a zoo of exotics.

Today I was a victim of a home invasion by one such exotic. Upon entering my apartment, a Brown Anole (Anolis sagrei) raced between my feet and ducked in among the stacks of boxes. If a cat chasing a mouse is entertaining (if not horrific for the mouse), than a cat chasing a lizard is even more exciting. These lizards can shoot straight up a wall - infuriating for felines. I lost track of the 2 inch reptile only to open a box later and have it spring up at me, resulting in an embarrassingly unmanly scream. No one rushed to my help. And I was grateful.

Anoles (pronounced like cannolis - the delicious Italian pastry) are diurnal - or active during the day and not as tasty. Unfortunately, the ubiquitous lizard, normally found in Cuba, the Bahamas and other Caribbean locations has displaced the native Green Anole (Anolis carolinensis) which tends to stay off the ground and mostly among the foliage where camouflage serves them well but limits food supply.

Our native Green Anole

The night shift of nocturnal creatures is monitored by the equally invasive Tropical House Gecko (Hemidactylus mabouia) which hails from sub-Saharan Africa. With large eyes and pale skin, these lizards have ridges or lamallae to grip to walls and ceilings and are often found in urban areas in Florida, hanging around near lights where they can prey upon insects that are drawn to the light. This one pictured has staked out a territory and appears nightly, barking or chirping and bobbing its head. It's quite cute despite what seems to be aggressive behavior. I've named him Progressive the aggressive Gecko.

Tropical House Gecko

1 comment:

  1. q linda lagartija...(just adding some spanish.. to make your web page much more interesting.... huh... thats an idea...$10/hour to translate..jeje)