Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Some Egyptian Herps (Geckos)

It's about time that I contributed to the herping blog, but let me start with a bit of a disclaimer. I'm in the Middle East studying Arabic for the summer, and although the herps out here are varied and many, I really don't get a lot of chances to get out away from city and suburbs to do intense herping. Whenever I'm not studying Arabic (which is most of my time) I am convincing someone to come with me out into the heat and sun to watch me catch lizards (not an easy task). I have to always leave with a buddy and that limits what I'm able to do. Now...with that being said, I LOVE herping and take the opportunities whenever I can, so let me show you a few things I've found along the way of my travels. On a side note, identifying the herps is tricky. There aren't many resources available, and I don't have the time I want to research all these species, so I apologize for the amateur identifications. This entry is only herps in Egypt, and later I'll do another of the herps I've found in Jordan.

I found a quick chance to turn over some rocks in Giza around the pyramids. The tourist traffic is heavy here, and it's not exactly the best habitat, but I was finished pyramid gazing and thought I'd give it a quick go before having to board the bus again.
After only seeing a few beetles and lots of wrappers and soda cans, I was pleased to find this little desert dweller. With only claws at the end of her fingers, it's evident this species is a ground dwelling gecko, probably patrolling the area at night looking for bugs under stones and trash. Not sure on the specie and only found the one.
This was an alert little guy that was found at my hotel in Nuweiba, Egypt, on the Sinai Peninsula. I caught several of them, but they were always scurrying across the sidewalk under the walkway lights, sticking their heads out of gaps in rock walls, or climbing the lower areas of palm trees. They weren't on flat, vertical surfaces, such as around porch lights. I think this specie is called the Turkish gecko. (Although, I thought Turkish geckos climbed walls and hung out around porch I'm confused.) Compared to the previous specie, this one had a larger head, more developed toe pads, and larger tuburcles on the back. They must be different species.
As you can tell, geckos dominated my reptile finds in Egypt. Egypt has many reptile species, but lizards are the dominant group here, and within that group, geckos are the most numerous and conspicuous. As for this specie, my guess is perhaps the tropical house gecko. They'd frequent developed areas in Luxor, Egypt, especially around bright lights and signs of hotels and stores.
I could only get a distant photo of this gecko before it took off. This was at the location of an old temple in Saqqara, Egypt. I was surprised to see it out in the open during mid-day. Not sure of the specie.This was my favorite gecko specie of Egypt. I found this guy after taking off one morning during free time to walk around some sand dunes across the street from our hotel in Nuweiba, Egypt. I just really enjoyed its mild-mannered personality, slow gait, plump appearance, and how it holds itself up off the desert sand. It also chirped when I picked it up. I think I've identified it as the Anderson's short-fingered gecko (Stenodactylus petrii).
It only wanted to be left alone but was still nice to me. I think it may have been gravid, too. Unfortunately, I didn't have tons of time to keep herping that morning. Close to this gecko, I found another lizard that was white-ish, with maybe orange-ish spots, and a look that half resembled a fringe-toed lizard and half resembled a whiptail. It would not stand still and I could not get a photo off. It disappeared beneath a thorny bush.
I flipped over a board and found three more little short-fingered geckos beneath it. These guys had a bit more patterning. I put the board back over them left for the bus just as a big sand storm blew in.
I found this gecko in Aqaba, which is technically Jordan, not Egypt, but I grouped it in here because it looked similar to the Turkish geckos I found in Nuweiba. Also, I would imagine this specie ranges into Egypt, which was only a few miles away. I found this one under a rock in a dry ravine, and I haven't decided if it also was a Turkish gecko or not. It seemed different to me. The scales on its back looked less like the tubercles on the Turkish geckos I had caught previously and more like scutes, resembling something like a crocodile. Its coloring was also different.

This more or less concludes the geckos of Egypt section. I have more pictures of geckos from Jordan that I will post soon, but also I will make another post (since this is getting lengthy) of the non-gecko herps I found in Egypt.


  1. Lots of geckos!!! I really liked the Anderson's short-fingered gecko, it had a reddish color about it... wish you had a pic of the one with orange spots! I hope you are having a great time!

  2. Good finds Jeff. I have been waiting for you to post, its about time. Looks like you are having pretty good success. I have another post that I will put up soon. Herping Egypt and Jordan, I wish I was there.

  3. Some Ok finds, but it I didn't really find anything spectacular. Man, I wish you were there and we could go off to some real herping places and catch an Egptian Uromastyx lizard, sandfish, cobras, etc. It's just hard when I'm with a huge tour group and studying Arabic, but I'll do the best I can. I'm hoping to come across some cool Jordanian herps...we'll see.

  4. They all look like lizards to me so I am glad you are able to tell them all apart for us non-herpers. Glad you could find a lizard or two among all the candy bar wrappers. I'm with Shaila...I liked the Anderson's short fingured gecko too.