A House Gecko with Mites!

Common House Gecko (Hemidactylus frenatus)

Common House Gecko (Hemidactylus frenatus)
Location: Kohala Coast, Big Island, Hawaii

I finally found an opportunity to take some macro photos of a Common House Gecko (Hemidactylus frenatus).  When I uploaded the photos to my computer and looked at them on the monitor, I was surprised to see some red dots on the gecko's toes.

I looked up the species in an old book that was on my shelf.*   I did not see any photos of geckos with red spots on their toes, however the book said this species is "frequently parasitized by tiny red mites that attach themselves between scales on the tail and digits of the feet."  Yikes!  Who knew?

A little searching around on the Web revealed that there are several species of these mites, and that they are actually called Gecko Mites (Geckobia spp.).  Apparently they primarily infest geckos, but can sometimes be found on other kinds of reptiles.  So, we've learned something new.

This discovery made me look again at some other gecko photos I have, including the one of the House Gecko that I posted here last week.  Sure enough, if you look carefully at that gecko's hind feet, you will see the telltale red dots.

*McKeown, S., Hawaiian Reptiles and Amphibians, Honolulu: The Oriental Publishing Company [no date].


Becky said...

Excellant find Bobbie.I'm wondering why the Mites attack the outside toes, and not the middle one?

kml said...

I wonder if they bother him at all. He seems to be happy enough despite them!

BNS said...

@ Becky Thanks. I've since looked at more gecko photos to see if I could spot these mites. Now that I know what to look for, I am seeing them a lot. I think the fact that they are not on the middle toe in this photo is just chance. Looking at a bunch of examples, they seem to be randomly distributed on the lizards, not favoring one toe (or one foot) over another.

@ Kathy He does look quite happy, doesn't he. Haven't noticed any of our geckos scratching themselves, so perhaps they are unaware of the mites.