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Mediterranean gecko Cyrtopodion kotschyi

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Mediterranean gecko - a small lizard, the total length of which can be slightly more than 80 mm.

On top of the gecko is painted in ash gray or sand-gray color, varying from very light to almost black. The body is decorated with dark, M-shaped stripes. The belly is light, yellowish-green or off-white, the tail is orange or reddish-buffy on the underside, especially bright in young individuals. The color of the tail, which grew on the site of the torn off, is gray-brown or bluish-gray. The upper and sides of the body are covered with fine granular scales, among which large oval tubercles are located in regular rows. Tail scales are grouped into segments.

The Mediterranean gecko is perhaps the only species of our fauna that is so closely associated with humans. In the wild, it is currently almost never found, but inhabits exclusively old, collapsing antique medieval buildings.

The Mediterranean gecko from the Crimea was described at the end of the last century by the famous Russian zoologist A. Strauh from a specimen caught in a Yalta zucchini.

A. A. Strauch was the first Russian herpetologist, academician, who created at the end of the XVIII century. The first herpetological collection in St. Petersburg, at the Imperial Academy of Sciences. Today this collection is the largest in our country and one of the richest collections of amphibians and reptiles in Europe. A.A. Strauch described many new species of reptiles from Russia and neighboring countries, studying materials brought by famous travelers and scientists from various expeditions. He himself traveled a lot, collecting amphibians and reptiles for collection. And only 70-odd years after he began to study the biology and systematics of this species.

As a result of studying this very variable species, it was suggested that the gecko was introduced to the Crimea in the I-III centuries. BC e. when there were many Thracians in Chersonesos and when there was a lively trade between Thrace and Taurida. Textiles, amphorae with oil, dishes, and with them geckos were brought to Chersonesos. In favor of the fact that these geckos came to Crimea from the territory of Southeastern Bulgaria, the fact is said that of the 20 subspecies, a greater similarity was found between the Crimean and Bulgarian geckos.

The Mediterranean gecko leads a twilight-night life, but in early spring and late autumn it can be seen basking in the sun during the day, on the walls of ruins, museum and residential buildings. On hot summer days, lizards hide in crevices, piles of stones, under the roofs of houses, under the metal signs of the Kherson Archaeological Museum and license plates of residential buildings, at an altitude of 2-3 m from the ground. During the year, geckos are active from late April - early May to late September. They can winter in sheds and even in city apartments.


Mediterranean gecko (Cyrtopodion kotschyi)

Geckos are found only on vertical surfaces, but you will not see them on the ground or in the grass. In the evenings, when the electricity is turned on, they bask near the light bulbs and hunt for insects flying into the light, leaving a warm place only after the light is turned off. The gecko is waiting for his prey, sprawling on the wall, but as soon as a butterfly or other insect appears, he turns his head, freezes again, and finally, with a sharp throw, grabs the prey. If the insect is too large, the gecko has to shake its head several times, and only then swallow it. During the hunt, geckos are easily excited to squeak and fight, taking each other's prey. There have been cases of aggressive behavior when one gecko chased another, squealing at the same time and rushing at the enemy. If a gecko gets a speck or a grain of sand on its eye, it begins to lick its eye with its wide and long tongue.

Large gecko eyes with a vertical pupil are able to see in the dark. The vertical pupil has serrated edges, which, closing in the light, form a chain of tiny holes. The result is a series of individual images of visible objects, which are then combined on the retina, providing brightness and clarity.

The female gecko lays 1-2 oval white eggs with a pinkish tint up to 8 mm in size.

The eggs of geckos are covered with a dense calcareous shell, as in turtles, crocodiles and birds, this is how they differ from eggs of eublefars, lizards and snakes. The eggshell has tiny pores through which oxygen enters the egg and gas exchange products are removed. And the water necessary for the development of the embryo is formed inside the egg due to the oxidation of the yolk fats. Egg laying takes place from May to July, once a season. Once in the ruins of the fortress wall of the Kherson Archaeological Museum, among the rubble and garbage, a gecko masonry was found. Scientists have observed hatching of babies from eggs. In the terrarium, the female lays eggs at night.

The gecko, which has low fecundity and narrow range, has recently lost its habitat due to the destruction of old ruins or due to restoration work in Khersones, where there were the most geckos (about 1 gecko per 10 m2). During restoration, cracks are covered with cement mortar, and geckos lose their homes. Therefore, in addition to the usual environmental protection measures, it is necessary to create artificial shelters. As an experiment in Chersonesos, elongated crates were hung with a narrow entrance slit, with sawdust, in which 3 geckos were soon found.

Literature: "Fish, amphibians, reptiles." T.O. Aleksandrovskaya, E.D. Vasilieva, V.F. Orlova. Publishing house "Pedagogy", 1988

Appearance

Mediterranean gecko (Cyrtopodion kotschyi) - a small lizard with a maximum body length from the tip of the muzzle to the front edge of the cloacal fissure 43.5 mm (males), 50.5 mm (females), weight up to 1.51 g (males), up to 2.27 g (females). The body and head of this lizard are very flattened, the height of the head at the nape of the head is less than the length of the muzzle from its tip to the anterior upper edge of the orbit. The head above is covered with numerous small polygonal scales, the scales of the forehead are more or less the same size. The upper side of the body of the Mediterranean gecko is ash gray or sand gray, with the main background changing in the direction of lightening or darkening to almost black. Across the back 5-8, usually 6 dark M-shaped stripes. From 7 to 14 the same color of stripes is present on the tail, and in young individuals they are with an ocher or light orange edging. The underside of the body is light, yellowish-green or muddy-white, the bottom of the tail is reddish-buffy or orangeish, brighter in young individuals.

Habitat

Distributed Mediterranean gecko in southern Italy, on the Balkan Peninsula, in the Crimea, the Peloponnese, on a number of islands of the Aegean Sea, the islands of Crete and Cyprus, in Asia Minor, South-Western Transcaucasia, Turkey, Syria and Palestine. Within the Crimea, a narrow strip is widespread only on the South Bank. The Mediterranean gecko is an inhabitant of highlands and cultural landscapes. It is often found in residential buildings, wooden sheds and masonry along roads, less often on rocks and under the bark of old juniper trees and stumps, mainly among ruins.

Lifestyle and behavior

The Mediterranean gecko leads a twilight and nocturnal lifestyle, hiding in piles of stones, cracks and crevices in the walls, in the roofs of houses, as well as in the spaces behind explanatory tables, signs and license plates hanging on the walls during the daytime. In early spring and late autumn, geckos are also found in the daytime. After wintering, the Mediterranean gecko appears in late April - early May; wintering takes place in September - October. Male and female usually adhere to the same places and do not go far from their shelters. This gecko is able to publish a thin squeak, reminiscent in sound of a squeak of a tit-remez.

Eats Mediterranean gecko insects and other small invertebrates. Butterflies and caterpillars (45.3% of occurrence), spiders (38.8%), dipterans (36.9%), hymenoptera (32.7%) and beetles (28%), as well as orthopterans, prevailed in the stomachs of the studied individuals. retina and homoptera. At night, these lizards prey on street lamps and lamps.

Breeding

Egg laying occurs once a season, from mid-May to the end of July. In the clutch there are 1-2 eggs 5.8-8.1X7.5-9.7 mm in size. Young ones from 18 mm long with a tail length of 16 mm appear in late July - early August. Maturity occurs in the third year of life with a body length of at least 40 mm in females and 36.5 mm in males.

Biology features

It is sporadically distributed in rocky sub-Mediterranean woodlands (up to 680 m above sea level) and in settlements. Shelters - rock cracks, wall cracks, cavities under the bark of trees. It occurs from February to December. Activity is twilight and diurnal. The number of isolated populations is from 50–100 to several thousand individuals, the density is 2–40 individuals per 0.1 ha. Clutch of 1-2 eggs occurs in late May - mid-August. Incubation lasts 50-60 days. Collective wintering and masonry (up to 49 eggs) in shelters with optimal microclimate are characteristic. It feeds on small invertebrates.

Threat factors

Forest fires and the subsequent activation of landslide processes, leading to the destruction of the biotope and irreversible reduction of the Range, the destruction of old trees during spontaneous recreation, the freezing of individual populations in severe winters. An invasion of exotic species of geckos poses a potential threat.

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