Geckos at Le Fort Pouzols-Minervois are often seen on the walls on the roof terrace and the lower terrace. We think of them as our little helpers, since the friendly little creatures catch flying insects and spiders.
The Mediterranean house gecko is also known as the Turkish gecko. Their Latin name is Hemidactylus turcicus. They mainly hunt at night, but are certainly not shy when people or dogs are nearby.
Of all the geckos at Le Fort, we have even given our favourite a name. Gordon Gecko (named after the main character in the film Wall Street) lives inside, in a corner of the conservatory on the top floor. He can often be seen running along the top of the conservatory. He lives in a hole in the wall.
Mediterranean house geckos are purple or tan-coloured with dark spots and a striped tail, although their colour changes depending on the light levels. When they hunt by day their colour is darker than it is at night.
Geckos take around 5 years to mature. When Gordon is fully-grown, he can reach 15 to 19 cm (6 to 7.5 inches). They are great fun to watch and absolutely harmless. They are all part of life in the Mediterranean! In Turkey, Cyprus and other Eastern Mediterranean countries they are often kept as house pets. But you should never touch or hold geckos.
In Catalan, the language spoken in northeast Spain and the far south of France, geckos are called dragó. They do look like tiny dragons. They are found all over the Mediterranean and North Africa, as well as in parts of North America. In the USA, they have spread rapidly after escaping from captivity.
Geckos have been to live as high up as 2,300 metres (7,500 ft). In captivity, they can live for up to 15 years.
The animals have no eyelids, like snakes. Their pupils are normally vertical slits, although – like cats – they can become round in the dark. Geckos catch mainly spiders and flying insects. But their prey can also include small lizards and frogs. Mediterranean geckos make squeaky or barky noises in territorial disputes with rivals.
Their enlarged feet and sticky toe pads, along with other features, enable geckos to walk upside down on almost any surface. They hibernate from November until March in sheltered cracks in rocks and walls. They prefer brick or stone buildings with a stable year-round environment, such as houses, offices and farm buildings.