Article submitted by Julie Merrin, Field Coordinator in SE Asia
Not Your Average Geico Gecko: I haven’t actually had a blue one, but I have had lots of other colors. I thought it might be fun to use one post every week or so to share something kind of light-hearted, funny, or depending on how squeamish you are – appalling.
I live in a southeast Asian country where there is no shortage of wildlife. That wildlife has no qualms whatsoever with adopting a “your home is my home” philosophy. Consequently, my daughter and I share our home with a variety of creatures most of them NOT by choice.
After 19+ years, I have reconciled myself to sharing living space. I didn’t say I LIKE it, mind you, but I have come to accept reality for the most part.
One day last week, I was sitting in front of my laptop in my office, contentedly tapping away as I wrote my blog post for the day. Rachel was asleep in her room. All was calm. All was quiet. Suddenly, a loud barking sound reverberated from behind my office door. GECK-o! GECK-o! GECK-o!
I don’t know how I missed the lead-up to my lizard-y companion letting loose with his characteristic call from which it gets its name. But miss it I did. I sat there with my heart pounding just a bit faster than usual and adrenaline coursing through my body.
Good grief! He was right in the room with me. I didn’t like that. As I said, though, I have been in this country for over 19 years. I have shared my house with quite a few of these mean-looking reptiles in that time.
When I first saw one, my initial thought was to GET IT OUT OF MY HOUSE! I grabbed my trusty broom and tried to shoo away the bumpy-skinned beast with the bulgy eyes and wide padded feet.
Other smaller lizards will scurry away at the first sign of motion. Not Greg the Gecko. No, he took a step toward me with his mouth open, ready to defend himself. Did I imagine the hiss? Maybe. I’ve never tried to chase off a gecko since then, so I have no idea if they really hiss or not when they feel threatened. I just leave them alone.
It is hardest when I run across one perched on the wall right over the door to my house or over the bathroom door. Try to imagine the Geico gecko on major doses of steroids hanging on the wall up there over your head. The lizard is about 12 inches long. His head is about 2 inches across. His feet, are probably about 1 inch across. His bulgy eyes engage you in a stare-down.
When I first made the acquaintance of geckos, after that first aborted attempt to drive one away, my usual strategy was avoidance. If I was trying to get in the door of my house, I would stand to the side as I put my key in the lock – just in case the beast fell. Once the door was open, I’d scurry inside and shut the door with a sigh of relief.
If my large, lumpy lizard companion was perched over the bathroom door, I’d seriously consider whether I absolutely HAD to use the facilities or not. If it was not an emergency, I’d wait until Greg the Gecko moved on.
I don’t do that any more. I’ve learned that geckos really won’t hurt me if I leave them alone. I’ve also come to realize that it is highly unlikely that the beast will fall on me as I pass through the door. They are much more sure-footed than that.
I’ve also learned that geckos eat insects, of which there are plenty here. I’m not entirely certain if mosquitoes are part of a gecko’s diet, but I assume so. Since some of THOSE insects carry dengue fever, I guess a gecko has his place.
So what do I do now when I meet up with Greg the Gecko somewhere in my house? Well, as was the case when he sounded off from behind my office door, I breathe a sigh of relief that at least he isn’t in my bedroom. If he is over the door, I look up and say , “Stay there!” and walk right through.
If he DOES happen to be in my bedroom, I turn off the bedroom lights, turn on the lights outside, and hope he’ll follow his dinner to the lighted area.
In the meantime, I go back to writing my blog post because no matter how much I KNOW Greg won’t attack me, I STILL don’t sleep well if I am sharing a room with a 12 inch long barking lizard.