Moorish Gecko in Spain

The Moorish gecko

  • Spanish name: Salamanquesa Común
  • Scientific name: Tarentola mauritanica
  • English: Moorish Gecko
  • French: Tarente de Maurétanie
  • German: Mauergecko
  • Italian: Geco comune
  • Portuguese: Osga-moura
  • Similar species: Turkish Gecko (Hemidactylus turcicus)


The moorish gecko is a small reptile that can reach 16 cm (6¼ inches) in length – including the tail. Its body is robust and flattened with a broad, large head that is almost triangular in shape. The eyes are large with vertical pupils. The colour ranges from grey/brown, brown or light brown including black in the early morning hours. These light and dark patterns are an aid in camouflage. It has a scaled back with prominent tubercles. Its spiny tail is banded in different shades.

Very often seen without a tail (after been attacked by a bird, domestic cat or predated on by a bigger lizard or snake.) The tail can regenerate and the new one is much smoother.

The feet have 5 digits, 2 with well developed claws (third and fourth digits). The toes are equipped with adhesive pads that allow them to adhere to vertical surfaces (including glass).

Moorish geckos emit croaking sounds of varying types for communication between individuals, to mark their territory etc.

A common species found in rocks and stones, as well as manmade structures in the countryside, towns and cities (making use of the artificial lights that attracts their prey). They are most active during the early hours of the night and spends the rest of the time hidden, although you can see them basking in the morning sun.

They hunt at night and are mainly insectivorous; sawflies, wasps, bees, moths, grasshoppers and spiders.

Sexual maturity starts at around 3 years and the breeding season begins in March and lasts until July, consisting of 1 or 2 small eggs placed in crevices such as the bark of trees, gaps in walls or under stones. Incubation lasts 55 to 98 days. Females lay two or three egg clutches per year.

Life span has been recorded at 15 years in captivity but one would assume less than this in their native habitat due to predators, illness, food supply etc

Baby Moorish gecko in Spain
Baby Moorish geckos are tiny. Note the striped tail which helps to identify them

IUCN Conservation Status: LC Least Concern

Distribution: Mediterranean area (introduced elsewhere)

Similar species: Turkish Gecko (Hemidactylus turcicus)

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