Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Hungry Hungry Geckos


I've heard that, in the southwestern U.S., many people think that it's good luck to have geckos in your house.

Well, don't say that to my Brazilian friend who lives here in Luxor. She recently killed a gecko. Her account of the killing was pretty gruesome.

She's obviously scared of them. She says that there are geckos in Brazil, and they're hungry and mean. They'll eat any food you leave lying around. They'll start gnawing on your arm, if you let them.

I have the impression that, in the Amazonian region, all the wildlife is nastier than wildlife anywhere else. Nevertheless, geckos are insectivores, not carnivores. So my Brazilian friend is safe. But she probably won't come to visit me anyway, knowing that I have geckos in my house.

My geckos stay away from me. I stay away from them. So we all stay happy.

The geckos eat flies and any other bugs that they find. (They even eat up dead flies. Geckos are more efficient than a vacuum cleaner.) So I have all-natural, chemical-free, pest control. At no cost to me except disposing of the occasional little dry dropping.

So we're all happy. But the geckos still give me the creeps.

I know why creepy aliens in science fiction are often reptiles. For one thing, they have no odor. This should be good, but it's weird. My dog doesn't react to them at all. For her, they don't exist.

My geckos are putty-colored, which is unpleasant, somehow. If they had any definite color--say, like the little green lizards you see around here--that would be slightly better.

But my geckos are remarkable. You'll find a congregation of them on the domed ceiling of my living room. I've spotted as many as 6 up there. But lately I think they've decimated the insects in my house to such an extent that many of them have gone elsewhere to forage. I'm left with a skeleton crew of 3, I think.

They walk around up there on the domed roof as if they're on a floor. They run around. They move incredibly fast. This speed, combined with a long tongue, helps them catch flies. But I think they also must have some way of actually attracting the flies. Although I can't imagine how they could attract flies, since geckos have no odor.

The most amazing thing is their communication. Geckos use clicking noises, a bit like dolphin noises only at a lower pitch. Sort of "tut-tut" noises. Sometimes it's just the gecko in the kitchen telling the one or two geckos in the living room, "I'm here, if you're looking for me." But sometimes they're milling around together on the domed ceiling and clicking away, and I wonder what they have to communicate to one another.

I suspect that Mr. Samuel Morse heard geckos communicating. And that this may have helped give him the inspiration for Morse Code. Even if he was unaware of the source of his inspiration.

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