GeckoWatch | Natural History Museum of Los Angeles

The first L.A. County record of a Mediterranean House Gecko (Hemidactylus turcicus) came through NHMLA’s community science program. This photo and observation were made by Will and Reese Bernstein.

GeckoWatch Contact Information

General Inquiries
telephone: 213.763.3535

Richard Smart
Manager, Community Science
Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County
telephone: 213.763.3535

Greg Pauly
Curator, Herpetology
Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County

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GeckoWatch is a community science project to map the fine-scale distribution of nonnative geckos in the United States. The primary interest is in mapping the rapidly increasing range of the Mediterranean House Gecko, Hemidactylus turcius. However, we are interested in all nonnative gecko species.

There are at least 18 species of nonnative geckos that have established populations in the United States. Although many of these species are known only in Florida, others are showing up with increasing regularity in multiple states. At the most extreme end is the Mediterranean House Gecko, which has established populations in at least 24 states in the continental US.

To undertake any research on these nonnative geckos, scientists must first understand where these geckos occur.  As we learn about the rapidly changing distributions of these nonnative geckos, we can then ask:

  1. What are the impacts of these nonnative geckos on our native species?
  2. What makes some species successful colonizers?
  3. What are the likely routes of colonization?

Observations from community scientists are essential to answering these questions and allowing us to learn about the biology of these nonnative geckos.

Please check out the links to the left to learn more about GeckoWatch and to get started helping us collect data.

Community Science Participants Discover New Gecko Populations in California

  • Mediterranean House Gecko
    • First L.A. County record
  • Indo-Pacific Gecko
    • First California State record
    • First L.A. County record
    • First Orange County record

Through the Museum’s community science program, we have discovered two gecko species that had not been previously recorded in the Greater Los Angeles Area, the Mediterranean House Gecko (Hemidactylus turcicus) and the Indo-Pacific Gecko (Hemidactylus garnotii).

These geckos are not native to California. The Mediterranean House Gecko, as you would expect from its name, is native to the Mediterranean region of southern Europe, northern Africa and the Middle East. The Indo-Pacific Gecko is native to Southeast Asia, but has been introduced to Australia, India, the Philippines, and Polynesia. In the United States, it has been documented in Hawaii, Florida, Georgia, Alabama, and now California.

These important discoveries were made possible by the keen eyes of our participating community scientists. These community scientists are working with museum researchers to publish their findings in the journal Herpetological Review. You can read about the first of these finds here:

Bernstein, W. L. and R. W. Bernstein.  2013.  Hemidactylus turcicus (Mediterranean Gecko).  Herpetological Review 44: 374.