Sunday, 12 June 2016

A different house gecko in Hong Kong

AJP in Hong Kong found this gecko in his flat last week (and heard its cheeps before he saw it). It is not the usual Hong Kong house gecko. It is the Four-clawed Gecko (Gehyra mutilata) considered as 'rather rare' in the HKU website.

Gehyra mutilata
The only house gecko we saw in Hong Kong in the 1960s was Hemidactylus bowringii, Bowring's or Oriental Leaf-toed Gecko. It was common in the buildings of the University Compound, around or in street lights, especially those still housing gas mantles. I photographed this one in 1966 using my new Ekakta Varex IIb, extension tubes and a blue flash bulb; measuring the distances and calculating the exposure for the extra lens extension and the flash took ages.

Hemidactylus bowringii
I took the following to show the structure of the pupil, part of the remarkable optical system that is now known to be even more remarkable.

Bowring's gecko was described by John Edward Gray at the British Museum in 1845. The Eponym Dictionary of Reptiles states that it is not known whether it was named for John Charles Browning (1820-1893) an amateur naturalist who became a partner in Jardine Matheson or for his father, Sir John Bowring FRS, who became British Consul in Canton in 1849 and was Governor of Hong Kong from 1854-59.