Two Questions about Hemidactylus and Lepidodactylus Geckos

Hi all,

Let me preface this by saying I am very, very new and inexperienced in the world of reptile observation, identification and ecology. It probably has to do with the fact that I am blind and focus on observing more vocal species. So please forgive me if I get any basics wrong.

That said, I recently realized that on a trip to the Dominican Republic in April, there had been geckos calling in and around where we were staying, so I went to investigate what species they could be (these were never seen). I know they are all introduced / invasive, but any animal making a sound interests me. Anyway, naturally I found the frankly mind-boggling diversity of Hemidactylus house geckos, as well as Lepidodactylus lugubris. My question, and I couldn’t find this out in a cursory Google search, is whether any of these can be IDed reliably by characteristics of their chirping calls. Given the location, I am particularly concerned with H. angulatus, H. frenatus, H. mabouia, H. turcicus, and L. lugubris. I am aware that the Hemidactylus are all rather similar, and a recording from the Macaulay Library of L. lugubris also sounds similar, I do not know whether it was misidentified or otherwise compared to Hemidactylus, visually or by call.

Now for my second question. I noticed when looking at gecko observations for the Dominican Republic, none of which have sounds, that several Hemidactylus as well as L. lugubris had been observed or at least identified. Some sources across the web give fewer species, either because some iNat IDs are wrong, or because these species pose an identification challenge, or likely a combination. So my question for anyone knowledgeable about these geckos is, how likely are most or all of these identified to species to be correct? Is anyone curating them?

And yes, I will look through my recordings and upload some geckos eventually.

Thanks in advance,


Hey Daniel,

Although I’m not an expert in Hemidactylus geckos, I can try to answer your questions. Regarding your first question, I unfortunately can’t give you a straight answer. Although they may be able to be differentiated by call, it’s much easier for identifiers to find the species from a photo. Often times, you need to pay extra attention to the scales when telling apart Hemidactylus. Maybe another expert can chime in for this question.

As for the second question, I took a look though the gecko observations in the DO, and most of them seem to be accurate, at least to genus. Like you mentioned, Hemidactylus geckos are pretty difficult to tell apart. There may be more species in the DO that haven’t yet been observed on iNat, but iNat at least shows you the four most commonly seen in the country.

@bennypoo @mako252 Do you mind sharing your thoughts?

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Hi Daniel,
I’m just answering this because I was tagged. I don’t think I have much to contribute, but will do my best to give my opinion on the matter. Your analysis of the calls of the species in question is probably better than mine. I have no doubt that these species can likely be identified by call (if they all call), but I haven’t personally attempted to differentiate them using this method, with the exception of H. frenatus, which seems to be noisier than other Hemidactylus species in my region.

As @rinaturalist mentioned, I have no doubt that the identifications on iNat of the species present in the Dominican Republic are accurate to genus level, however, I wouldn’t be surprised if Hemidactylus species were misidentified. When I first moved to Florida in 2016, many if not most iNat records of Hemidactylus species were misidentified (they are now extremely accurate thanks to the work of many helpful and attentive individuals, not just myself). I’m not sure what the situation is in the iNat community in the Dominican Republic. It could be very robust, with very knowledgeable individuals identifying observations, or it could be an absolute mess, like many areas have been on iNat, both past and present. Likely, it’s somewhere in between.


Hey, even museums get these IDs wrong sometimes.

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