Monty's Year at Gobabeb Training and Research Centre, Namibia

Namib Geckos

A barking gecko hatchling on the interdune. Adults grow to be larger.

The Namib is largely a silent place.  When the wind isn’t blowing even a library’s white noise would probably seem obtrusive.  Yet on warm evenings, just after sunset, a reliable cacophony of noise erupts from the quiet. Percussive and repeated clicks burst from all directions in machine-gun rapidity: barking geckos. Sounding a bit like two pebbles being clapped together in quick succession, penetrative calls accentuate the surrounding holes of silence even more.

In the early evening only a few isolated individuals sound off from the surrounding sand and gravel, but this quickly crescendos to a powerful chorus of males rudely interrupting one another.  Competing for the ears of choosy females, the males sit at the mouth of their burrows and use the natural hollow of sand there project and amplify their calls.  Ironically, they are just as elusive as they are loud.  Upon the approach of footsteps or a light, they will shy back underground.  Unique to the Namib, three separate species can be distinguished by the pitch and number of “clicks” in their call (ranging from 4 – 16).

Many other gecko species are found around Gobabeb, but perhaps the most interesting is the Palmato “web-footed” gecko. This charismatic species is found in the dune sea and has webbed feet, a unique trait that allows it to burrow into compacted sand. A nocturnal creature, it comes out to feed on dune ants and termites after dark. Even then it is vulnerable to predators, not least of which is the white lady spider… (see previous post).

A palmato gecko beginning a new burrow. It uses it's front webbed feet to loosen compacted sand, and shovels away the sand with it's back feet.

Palmato gecko

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One response

  1. Charles Laliberte

    Love that little palmetto gecko critter. Nice photos.

    October 7, 2010 at 1:38 am

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