Geckos belong to the Family Gekkonidae. The most prominent characteristics of geckos are the feet and eye features. Geckos can 'stick' to the smoothest of surfaces because of scales with minute hairs on the toe-tips. The scales are arranged in rows or paired pads called scansors. Many other species have claws which are can be retracted between the scansors. The feet are a common way to distinguish between species and genera.
Eyes of geckos are very interesting. They will be nothing more than a pin-point during the day, but will dilate considerably at night. As geckos do not have moveable eyelids, the eye is covered by a spectacle which they lick clean with a long, fat tongue. Most geckos are nocturnal and have the capability to withstand lower temperatures than other lizards. This feature enables them to live in a greater variety of habitats which include mountains peaks in colder areas and in deserts which can become very cold at night.
Females lay hard-shelled eggs with females usually laying several clutches each during a breeding season. Many geckos live in colonies and communicate in the dark using a series of well-developed, different sounds. There are 12 families of geckos found in Namibia.
Barking geckos belong to the Family Ptenopus and are so called because of their unusual but entertaining call that are a series of clicks (ceek-ceek-ceek) that are emitted with a variety of pitches and numbers per species. Other unusual features include slightly moveable upper eyelids and scansor-less toes.
They are both terrestrial and nocturnal and construct elaborate burrow systems complete with escape tunnels, living alone but in colonies spread over a wide area across the sand. They forage at night for insects and males will cold call at the entrances of burrows to attract mates. Females lay eggs in a pit, often losing them to predators such as snakes, meerkats and owls. There are 3 species of the genus found in Namibia, of which 2 are endemic. They are:
Day geckos belong to the Family Phelsuma are brightly coloured geckos mainly active during the day and on trees. They have large eyes with associated round pupils. There is only 1 species found in Namibia.
There is only 1 species of festive gecko in Namibia. It is a very small gecko with long, slender, clawed toes that do not have 'sticky' scansors.
Flat geckos are characterized by large sticky scansors, retractile claws and a flattened head and body. They are nocturnal creatures with large eyes and tail is slightly longer than the body. They shelter under granite or sandstones on hard rocky outcrops is areas ranging from the sea to the tops of mountains. Species of flat gecko found in Namibia are:
Giant Ground Gekos are large, terrestrial, pad-less geckos, unable to climb smooth surfaces like other members of the gecko family. There is a single species found in Namibia.
- Giant Ground Gecko (Chondrodactylus angulifer)
There is just the 1 species found in Namibia, closely related to the thick-toed gecko. It is small, terrestrial and almost pad-less.
Namib day geckos are medium-sized geckos with long legs and a short body covered with small, granular scales. The head has a number of interesting characteristics including swollen nostrils, large eyes with vertical pupils and immovable eyelids that encircle the eye completely. Namib day geckos are active during the day running around on rock faces and scattered but broken pieces of rock. They will sit and wait in shaded areas, ready to pounce on any unsuspecting passing insects. Females will lay eggs in communal egg-laying sites. There are 5 species in the Namib day gecko genus. They are:
Thick-toed geckos are the largest group of geckos in Namibia. Their toes have a number of scansors under their toe-tips and there are tiny claws on the toes of the rear limbs. Namib day geckos, the Kalahari ground gecko and web-footed geckos are closely related to thick-toed geckos. Small, granular, independent scales cover the body and they have enlarged prominent eyes with vertical pupils and eyelids that form a distinct, but non-functional ridge around each eye.
These geckos can be found in a wide variety of habitats in Namibia with their presence being most common in the west of the country. All thick-toed geckos are nocturnal but some of the larger species will hang around the openings to rock cracks during the day, waiting for unsuspecting prey to emerge. Species of thick-toed geckos found in Namibia are:
- Angolan banded thick-toed gecko (Pachydactylus caraculicus)
- Banded thick-toed gecko (Pachydactylus fasciatus)
- Bibron's thick-toed gecko (Pachydactylus bibronii)
- Brandberg thick-toed gecko (Pachydactylus gaiasensis)
- Cape thick-toed gecko (Pachydactylus capensis)
- FitzSimon's thick-toed gecko (Pachydactylus fitzsimonsi)
- Haache's thick-toed gecko (Pachydactylus haackei)
- Kaokoland thick-toed gecko (Pachydactylus oreophilus)
- Koch's thick-toed gecko (Pachydactylus kochii)
- Large-scaled thick-toed gecko (Pachydactylus scutatus)
- Marico thick-toed gecko (Pachydactylus mariquensis latirostris)
- Namaqua thick-toed gecko (Pachydactylus namaquensis)
- Rough thick-toed gecko (Pachydactylus rugosus)
- San Steyn's thick-toed gecko (Pachydactylus sansteyni)
- Schertz's thick-toed gecko (Pachydactylus scherzi)
- Speckled thick-toed gecko (Pachydactylus punctatus)
- Turner's thick-toed gecko (Pachydactylus turneri)
- Velvety thick-toed gecko (Pachydactylus bicolor)
- Weber's thick-toed gecko (Pachydactylus weberi)
- Western spotted thick-toed gecko (Pachydactylus serval)
These are medium-sized geckos with large retractile claws, prominent scansors (usually in pairs) and large flared toes. They have a distinct large eyes. These geckos are nocturnal and are very vocal members of the community, defending their territories with pride and vigour.
Web-footed geckos belong to the Family Palmatogecko. They have large heads on slender, medium-sized bodies. Their eyes are 'jewel like' and they are closely related to thick-toed geckos. There are 2 species of this genus both endemic to the Namib Desert. They are:
The settlement of Bullsport is marked on nearly every map, however it consists of little more than the guest farm. Great for hiking.
A small, friendly, owner operated rest camp, with individual bungalows & campsites. Great for those wanting to get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life
A basic campsite in the Naukluft Mountains
A small private lodge on the banks of the Tsauchab River - an excellent place for walking and enjoying the surrounding scenery
Another excellent place for hiking, in the Tsaris Mountains. As there are many lodges located closer to Sossusvlei than Zebra River Lodge it is often overlooked, but if you want a genuinely warm welcome at a special lodge then the problems of location can easily be overlooked.