A Visit from a Day Gecko
A Visit from a Day Gecko: Near the southern coastal city of Fort Dauphin is the small reserve of Nahampoana. It is about forty minutes from the centre on a very rutted track where the taxi brousse does not go, so it is necessary to hire a taxi to get there. The reserve is quite small at about sixty hectares and has population of Ring-tailed, Verreaux Sifaka and Brown lemurs. It also has a wide variety of plants as well as bamboo groves.
One of the most curious encounters I had in Madagascar happened here, not with one of the abundant lemurs but with a day gecko outside the ticket office for the reserve. This office is in a big old colonial house with a large veranda which looks onto the gardens of the grounds. Today this house is still in good condition complete with thatched roof and freshly painted white stone walls. The timber flooring of the veranda has even survived and now doubles as a place to take some refreshments after a hard few hours walking and listening to one of the knowledgeable local guides.
Sitting on this veranda enjoying a cool fizzy orange drink I saw a little green head of a gecko poke up from the side of the table followed by the flicking of a long thin pink tongue. Not much happened for the next minute or two as my new friend decided what he wanted to do next.
In a sprightly movement and before I even noticed he was on top of the table with his head facing toward the glass containing the last few drops of my fizzy refreshment which I had just finished.
Quickly I realised he wasn’t here for my company as all the body language indicated he was interested in what was in the glass. My suspicions were confirmed when he moved his head up and down so he could size up the height of the glass and the distance he would need to scale if he wanted to get over the other side.
After a few more flicks of his tongue he scurried towards the glass where he pressed his head right up against it and looked inside. Impressed by what he saw his two front feet rested on the side of the glass before a pause once more. Finally deciding he needed to take his chance he scaled the glass and rested on the rim at the top in a very precarious looking position.
He’s going to fall any second now I thought to myself, underestimating how fine a balance this one had. After waiting a minute or two and testing the air once again with his tongue he stuck his head inside and sensed he was near where he wanted to be. Slowly but assuredly he descended into the glass until his whole body was extended and tail popped up over the side.
At full stretch I could see the brilliant green body with its scaly texture and brown bulging eyes. It also had distinctive bright red marks on top of its head and down its body as far as its tail. After filling up on some sweet liquid it ascended the slippery glass again without problems and was gone back under the table before I knew it. At the time I didn’t know what kind of gecko it was but later found it was a Madagascar Day Gecko. They are to be found along the east coast of Madagascar and feed on nectar, insects and fruit which is why the remainder of my fizzy drink was so appealing. Nearly as appealing as a visit from a day gecko