We all know this summer has been hot, and for those of us who stick around the desert during the summer months, we have been a little disappointed with a return to a drier monsoon season than the past two summers provided. This summer has been the hottest summer on record for Tucson so far, and that is saying something because the summers are always hot enough to make you question your life choices. When hot and dry, the wildlife hides away, waiting for better conditions to show themselves and utilize scarce energy reserves. One family of critters that always seems to buck this trend and be visible even during the hottest time are lizards.
One of my favorite lizards to see are the geckos. Their large eyes and translucent skin make them feel like a creature from another planet and, compared to other lizards, just too fragile looking to be able to survive in such a challenging climate. Geckos generally differ from other lizards with their broad toes, large pupils, and ability to make chirping or squeaking sounds. Most geckos also hunt at night, and some species are frequently seen feasting on bugs near light sources on buildings. There is only one species of gecko belonging to the family Gekkonidae found in Arizona, the Mediterranean House Gecko. As the name implies, it is not native to the area, but there is no evidence showing it competes with native species, so no harm, no foul. The Mediterranean House Gecko is frequently seen climbing walls of homes or other buildings, surviving well alongside human-built habitats.
One of the most commonly seen native geckos is the Western Banded Gecko—a member of the Eublepharidae family. Unlike other geckos who do not possess eyelids, the Eublepharidae do and are often called eyelid geckos. One member of this family, the Leopard Gecko, is a popular pet that shares a similar beautiful pattern on its skin to the Western Banded Gecko. The Western Banded Gecko eats various bugs, including spiders, termites, and beetles. Like other lizards, this gecko is also capable of shedding its tail as a distraction to escape predation. The tail is regenerated afterward.
With over fifty species of lizards living in Arizona, it is a world you can get lost in, even in the hottest months. So with fall right around the corner and temperatures beginning to cool a little, take note that next summer will be hot as well, and learning about lizards is a great way to stay engaged with the world around you, even if it is just from your back porch close to the AC. Check out the following links for more information about the beautiful world of reptiles, and reach out anytime to learn what reptiles are frequently seen living in the Borderlands Wildlife Preserve.