First of all, let me make it clear from the get-go, I do not particularly like lizards nor any other type of creepy-crawler, but we have seen many and diverse lizard species, so I thought I'd share. That said, the Geico gecko is kind of cute and likeable. I cut out a pic of him one morning from the newspaper and positioned him on David's place mat with his morning coffee. I show my love in odd and varied ways.
Back to the subject at hand, lizards. When we first sailed into the Turks and Caicos on our way to the Caribbean, we witnessed a lizard fight. It looked amazingly like Godzilla Meets Godzilla 2, but in miniature. A knowing museum docent informed us that this was the local anole species and males often fought for territory in this manner. He also said that every island in the Carib had a different anole species. I decided I'd try to photograph as many as I could. Why not? … it's digital photography.
I learned the difference between geckos and anoles. Anoles have dewlaps, those inflatable, cartilagenous, chin gear things that get big when they're facing off over territory or trying to impress a potential mate. They're sometimes called chameleons because they can change color. They have little claws, so they're good climbers and they have detachable tails that grow back … just in case. Handy, huh? They're also day critters which makes them much easier to photograph.
Geckos are curious creatures. They're mostly nocturnal and have suction cups on their toes so climbing, even upside down, is a cinch. They're unique among lizards in that they chirp when they're chatting with their friends. Though they can't blink their eyes, they can lick their eyeballs. Now that's outstanding, don't you think? Better than detachable tails, I'd say. There are more species of geckos than any other lizard in the world … over 1500 worldwide. So many geckos, so little time.
Anoles are related to iguanas, of which we've seen quite a few. Though I'm not fond of anoles, they're small and usually innocuous, creeping about silently in the undergrowth or sunning themselves on rocks. Iguanas, on the other hand, are not small, nor are they innocuous and they're definitely extroverts. They come after you to say hello, get a snack, whatever. They chased me off the beach at Norman Cay in the Bahamas, charged after me for an apple in Bonaire, pooped on my head from the trees in Parque Bolivar, Guayaquil, Ecuador and startled us while swimming in the water in the Galapagos. Not my kind of lizard at all. In Fiji, I let a lizard-keeper at the zoo put rare banded iguana lizards on my shoulder and head. She thought it was cute. I hated it.
In the Southwest US, we saw all sorts of desert lizards, small and large, usually sunning themselves or scurrying for cover under rocks. They're not outgoing and can be photographed easily from a distance.
I liked the colorful whiptail lizards with their iridescent turquoise banding that we saw in Bonaire. They were friendly enough and even shared an apple with David. He was okay with it … they just take little bites.
We saw goannas, a kind of monitor lizard, in Australia. I didn't feel like getting all that close and the photographs I took were more akin to those blurred photos of the Loch Ness monster and Sasquatch that you see from time to time.
Back to Geico's personable mascot, because as a marketer, I think this has been a good ad campaign. People mispronounced “Geico” and said “gecko”, so the marketing folk went with it. The Geico gecko has no name, just Geico gecko. He's a gold dust day gecko with a slight Cockney accent which has morphed over the past decade from the voice of Kelsey Grammer (Frasier) to the current voice of comedian Jake Wood. How's that for lizard-ology?