Discover fascinating facts about Portugal’s cutest lizard

See the original article in Enjoy the Algarve – magazine October 2016


Moon lizard

  • Worldwide, about 1,500 species of geckos exist. In Portugal, the most common one is the Mediterranean House Gecko (Hemidactylus turcicus), also known as Moorish Gecko or Moon Lizard.


  • This type of gecko lives in dozens of warm countries all over the world, as its body temperature depends on its environment. It rarely exceeds 15cm in length, is highly resistant to pesticides and hides in cracks of homes.


Upside down

  • Main characteristic of the gecko is its adhesive ability. Because their toes have a special adaptation that allows them to adhere to most surfaces, they can stick upside-down on ceilings. (The secret: every square millimeter of a gecko’s footpad contains about 14,000 hair-like setae.)
  • The part that makes them unique from other lizards is their vocalisation: they make chirping sounds during social interaction with fellow geckos. They’re also polyphyodonts, which means they’re able to replace each of their 100 teeth every 3 to 4 months.


Only at night 

  • Geckos are nocturnal, meaning they usually appear when it gets dark. They’re attracted to outside lights and feed on insects. In the Algarve, they can be found on walls and ceilings, and are protected by law.
  • When you approach a gecko, chances are it’ll run away. There’s no need to be afraid of the gecko. Quite the contrary: they’re useful to humans as they eat mosquitos.



  • A cool little lizard, the gecko is the symbol of good luck. And the symbol of Enjoy the Algarve magazine. We love them. Gustave the dog also completely adores geckos. Unfortunately, the feeling isn’t mutual…
  • In Portugal, there’s a lot of ancient folklore surrounding geckos; strangely enough, some people believe they’re poisonous and blame them for human skin diseases. Want to know how people in the south of Portugal think about geckos? Read this.


See the original article in Enjoy the Algarve – magazine October 2016

Posted in Typical Portugal.