Friday, 20 May 2011

Reptile News: Endangered South African gecko found in Flintshire, Wales

by Kate Forrester
A RARE reptile has hitched a ride to Flintshire in a delivery of stone from South Africa.
The endangered rock gecko was discovered by a shocked family in Hawarden, who had ordered a batch of a special type of stone for building works at their house.
They took the tiny creature to their local vet and it is now being cared for at Flintshire Wildlife and Pet Rescue in Greenfield.
Rescue centre owner Elfyn Pierce-Jones said the lizard was so rare he had to notify Defra, the national government department for environment, food and rural affairs.
He told the Daily Post: “We were called to come and collect the lizard from the vet and we had no idea what it was at first.
“It was freezing cold and dying, so it had turned black and we had to put it on a heatpad straight away.
“We were told it was probably a British newt, but have since discovered it is actually a very endangered South African species which should not even be in this country.
“It seems to have come over in the consignment of special stone and the family found it when they started moving it.
“They took it for granted that it was a British species.”
Elfyn suffered a nasty bite from the six-inch long creature when he tried to transfer it from the heatpad into a special vivarium.
He added: “It only has very small teeth, but they are sharp enough to puncture the skin.
“Thankfully it didn’t do any real harm, but it did latch on to my finger.
“I have informed Defra and have been told it has to stay here indefinitely, because it cannot be re-homed as an endangered species.
“I have no idea how it even survived the journey, because it would have come over by ship.
“It was in a bad way when we took it in, but after spending some time on the heatpad and eating some food it was totally fine.”
There are hundreds of species of gecko worldwide, but only nine different types of African gecko.
Rock geckos often prefer to live in damp cave entrances or rocky outcrops, but have also been found in tree trunks near to rocks.
They are largely nocturnal and have round pupils and slender, clawed toes.
Unlike many other species of gecko, they lack adhesive pads on their feet, which enable other types of lizard to climb walls and other vertical surfaces more easily.