Play at “geckolocalising” these big lizards with suction cups which land everywhere in France

Don’t panic if you see a much larger than usual lizard stuck to the wall of your house or building. It’s official, the geckos of our latitudes, also called
Tarentas of Mauretania or the South, are no longer content to laze around the Mediterranean basin. For several years, they have migrated outside their preferred area. These harmless reptiles, sometimes 15 centimeters long, recognizable by their suction cups under the legs and which share with the chameleon the super power of blending into the background, are now seen swallowing flies or mosquitoes in many cities: in Montpellier logically, in Toulouse – often at the moment in the light of the lampposts of the rue de la Colombette – Bordeaux, Lyon or even Strasbourg.

So why these moves? At the Evolution and Biological Diversity laboratory in Toulouse (EDB-CNRS, IRD, Toulouse 3), scientists have a few hypotheses: global warming on the continent has given wings to these geckos who love sunny naps. Or again, the urban heat islands with this bitumen, this concrete that stay warm on summer nights could have charmed them. “Or maybe a combination of the two,” suggests Jessica Côte, a doctoral student at EDB.

Report his presence … or his absence

But to get to the bottom of it, we need data, observations, which are still lacking for the time being. Hence the participatory science experiment launched by the laboratory and humorously baptized “GeckoLocalisation”. An Internet platform allows residents of mainland France to fill out a form to report the presence of the reptile. “Or its absence, adds Emilie Côte, if we want to run coherent models to establish a precise mapping of its presence”.

The site was launched two months ago in collaboration with the Herpetological Society of France which has activated its networks of enlightened amateurs and specialists, already bringing in 2,200 contributors. To become an actor in biodiversity, just open your eyes and draw your phone to capture a photo. “They are protected animals like most reptiles and very fearful, they should not be handled”, warns the researcher.

source site