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Life

Geckos

Not “Greed is Good” Gordon Gecko. This post is about the lizards. I share my house with at least a dozen. They are khaki in colour, and vary in size from 3 – 12 centimetres. They have suction pads on their toes so they can climb any wall and traverse any ceiling. They don’t bother me at all, because they do bother mosquitoes and other insects by eating them. Which is good news for me.

They tend to shun the limelight, preferring to hunt their prey behind the fridge or curtains. I don’t pay them much attention unless they catch my eye as they scurry from one location to another. Sometimes I see them chasing each other. Whether this is a territorial dispute or a mating ritual, I have no idea. Occasionally, I see one that has lost part of its tail. Geckos have the ability to shed their tail if it has been caught be a predator, to help them escape.

This isn’t a gecko. It is a water monitor lizard in the national park.

Recently I have noticed lots of gecko turds in my shower area. And by lots I mean 20-50 tiny dark shits, about the size of a matchstick head. The shower is separated by a partial wall from my toilet, but even if I leave the toilet lid open, they prefer to poop in the shower. I thought I’d give them something to aim at.

I don’t know why they prefer to use my shower as their toilet. But I have given it some serious thought.

I wondered if it was because of the increased humidity, from the wet floor of the shower. But my toilet leaks (clean water, not foul) and forms a puddle around my ankles, so I doubt that moisture is the answer.

The scene of my and my geckos’ ablutions

Perhaps the act of defaecation is a social event in gecko culture. It may be that all the geckos in my house get together to crap ensemble. Many antelope in the park have a communal toilet called a “midden”. All the impala or puku prefer to poop in the same spot, so it looks like someone has spilled a bucket of black peas on the ground. Could it be that each gecko’s shit contains hormonal messages, showing a female lizard is “on heat” (does this expression even apply to cold-blooded creatures?) or a male is producing lots of male hormones? Perhaps my shower pan is the equivalent of gecko Facebook, where they communicate with each other chemically in their poo?

Interesting: on the left is the shit situation last night, on the right is the shit situation this morning. Not much difference. Perhaps they sleep at night and poo during the day?

Whatever the explanation is, I don’t really care. I just think of all the noxious insects they have eaten to produce this amount of crap. And I never look at the soles of my feet, anyway.

By Dr Alfred Prunesquallor

Maverick doctor with 40 years experience, I reduced my NHS commitment in 2013. I am now enjoying being free lance, working where I am needed overseas. Now I am working in the UK helping with the current coronavirus pandemic.

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