Ben here with the Wednesday edition of #BenInNature presented by our friends at Carter Bank & ...

Ben here with the Wednesday edition of #BenInNature presented by our friends at Carter Bank & ...

Ben here with the Wednesday edition of #BenInNature presented by our friends at Carter Bank & Trust!

We're continuing our countdown of the top five rarest lizards in Virginia with Hemidactylus turcicus, the Mediterranean gecko!

When I was assembling my lists of the rarest reptiles and amphibians in Virginia for Herp Month, this was one that definitely took me by surprise! As the name suggests, this gecko is native to the Mediterranean, not Virginia (there are no geckos native to Virginia). Despite that fact, according to the Virginia Herpetological Society website, these geckos have been found in seven counties and 12 cities across the commonwealth!

Given that Virginia isn't exactly the most hospitable place for these critters during the winter, you might wonder how exactly they survive, not to mention how they got here. It appears that Mediterranean geckos were accidentally introduced to different areas in the commonwealth through a combination of factors, such as escapees from terrariums and pet shops or stowaways in produce. Once here, several populations managed to sustain themselves by living inside heated buildings with stable year-round temperatures.

For example, in years past, populations have been found at Virginia Tech and at Liberty High School in Bedford County, likely the descendants of terrarium escapees. In the early 2000s, another population was found living inside a church in Lynchburg. The building was previously used as a clothing warehouse and distribution center and was about 50 meters from a shuttered grocery store, so it's likely the geckos were stowaways in either a crate of produce or a shipment of clothing.

If you happen to run across a Mediterranean gecko in your travels, definitely let the folks at the Virginia Herpetological Society know by visiting Also, thank you to our friends at the VHS for the use of this photo!

ABOUT #BenInNature
Social distancing can be difficult, but it presents a great opportunity to become reacquainted with nature. In this series of posts, Administrator of Science Ben Williams ventures outdoors to record a snapshot of the unique sights that can be found in the natural world. New updates are posted Monday - Friday, with previous posts highlighted on the weekends. This series of posts is made possible thanks to the support of VMNH Corporate Partner Carter Bank & Trust.

If you discover something in nature that you would like help identifying, be sure to message us right here on Facebook with a picture (please include location and date of picture) and we'll have our experts help you identify it!

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