Moorish wall gecko

Tarentola mauritanica

Common name:

Moorish wall gecko

Scientific name:

Tarentola mauritanica

Alternative common names:

Moorish wall gecko, salamanquesa, crocodile gecko, European common gecko and Maurita naca gecko.

Moorish wall gecko is a species indigenous to the western Mediterranean region of Europe and North Africa. It is commonly observed on walls in urban environments, mainly in warm coastal areas, although it can spread inland. It is a robust species, up to 150mm long, and its enlarged tubercules give it a spiny, armoured appearance.

Additional Info

  • Where does this species come from?

    The western Mediterranean region of Europe and North Africa.

    What is its invasive status in South Africa?

    Listed as a Prohibited Reptile (No. 14) under Notice 4 - List of Prohibited Alien Species in terms of Section 67 (1) in the NEMBA Draft Regulations of 12 February 2014.

    Where in South Africa is it a problem?

    KwaZulu-Natal.

    How does it spread?

    The adoption of this species as a pet has led to populations becoming established.

    Why is it a problem?

    This species impacts on indigenous fauna as it preys on frogs and smaller lizards. It hunts insects and in the warmer months of the year it can be found hunting nocturnal insects near light sources such as street lamps.

    What does it look like?

    Description: It is a robust bodied lizard with a flat head, prominent tubercles on the upper surfaces, large bulging eyes with vertical pupils and no eyelids, and elongated toe pads. Regenerated tails do not grow tubercles. Adults can measure up to 15cm, tail included. It is brownish, grey or sandy with dark and light markings. The underside is white to yellow. It changes from dark during the day to a light phase at night. Young geckos have dark bands. Habitat: It is found in a variety of habitats and has been recorded in rocky areas, cliffs, stone walls, ruins, building walls and inside houses. It is generally not present in forested areas, although it can often be found climbing in trees. Breeding: It lays two almost spherical eggs twice a year around April and June. After four months, little salamanquesa of less than 5cm in length are born. They are slow to mature, taking four to five years in captivity.