Friday, March 26, 2010

Common House Lizard, your Companion!

The first animal that usually becomes a member of an Indian household (disapprovingly) is a lizard creeping on the wall or the ceiling. It is the Common House Lizard - the Gecko (Hemidactylus frenatus, 'Palli' or 'Gouli' in Tamil). It is a silent nocturnal lizard. But sometimes it makes sounds suddenly, that alerts and stuns us. Beliefs are attached with its sounds: that its such utterance at that instant means that the decision being made by the person is agreed and approved by it also! Another belief is that it foretells an impending event! I heard also such sounds when these lizards chase and fight or mate.

At dusk, each evening I see these lizards waiting on the glass panes of windows, waving the tails - to catch and devour mosquitoes!

In my childhood days I had been astonished by some grayish black matter with a white chalk-like speck at its end lying stuck to the house wall. Then, I thought it to be a dropping of house sparrow. But later understood that it is of our lizard only, as sparrows do not enter the house so frequently!
In this house lizard. males are larger with blackish red dots on their backs. Females are cream to light brown in color. I find quite often the pure white pea-sized rubbery eggs of them lying in the unused vessels or between books stored in the loft. Whenever I open the electricity switch boards for repair works, I find also there these eggs. But sometimes skeletons of the lizards are also found there!
As a school student I learnt about how this lizard climbs up the walls and stays fastened to the ceiling. Whenever a lizard ran on the ceiling without falling down, I was reminded about it then that it uses pouches present on its digits to create a sucking force that holds it to the ceiling. But now it has been found out that the holding force is actually 'van der Waals interactions' that acts between the lizard's foot pad setae and the ceiling!
A newly built house becomes a home also to this lizard as soon as humans occupy it! This lizard multiplies alarmingly sometimes and pesters all. After a lizard is beaten with broom stick, I first see only its tail wriggling on the floor and not the lizard! After a few days I could find out the same escaped lizard tailless, but with a growing stump, running away on seeing me!
It is a wonder lizard that has all the feats and tactics with it, and that also continues to live on along with humans as a contemporary companion!

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