I feel the need to brighten up this blog a little for this tends to be a drab time of the year. As today is the fourth of the month, I decided to take the fourth picture from four different years that show aspects of my garden – bar one:

Look at the shape of these feet.

Five minutes away from home.

These Cape gooseberries were turned into jam.



It is two years since I encountered the strange looking creature at my door that proved to be my first sighting of a spotted thick-toed gecko (Pachydactylus maculatus), even though it is meant to be among the more common species of gecko in South Africa. These small geckos measure between 48 and 58 mm and so it is easy to see why my second such visitor that appeared on my doorstep earlier this year was almost overlooked.

This little gecko is well camouflaged against the cement steps. The anti-slip grooves in the step look enormous in comparison with it.

Here you can see its rounded snout and large round eyes more clearly. The four rows of elongated spots are not always as clear as this one sports.

The patterns on my previous visitor had fused to form irregular bands.

These geckos eat spiders – of which there are many in my garden – as well as small insects such as grasshoppers or crickets.


This stranger is dark and rather handsome, but not tall at all. In fact, it is a wonder that I noticed him at all! You see, I was coming in from outdoors and halted on the top step to unhook the french door as I wished to close it against the wind. It was as I bent down to lift the hook that I spotted this tiny, and very interesting looking, creature.

Apart from the pretty colouring and patterns, as well as the golden eye, I am fascinated by its tail. The tail is so different from the rest of its body – why? If someone reading this has any idea what this stranger’s name is I would be delighted to know. It remained very still for a while before entering the house over the lip of the door. You can tell just how tiny he is by comparing his size with that of the tufts in a very ordinary carpet.

It remained nestled there, between the french door and the security gate, for the rest of the day. A tiny dark blob. By the next morning it was gone and I haven’t seen it since.

NOTE: I am grateful to Chad Keates for positively identifying this as a Spotted gecko (Pachydactylus maculatus).


Most of us are used to seeing enormous trucks driving along the main roads, carrying various loads from one place to another. The mechanical horse and trailer fit together like a cup and saucer – until one comes across a mechanical horse sans trailer, then it looks odd: too big to have what appears to be such a short wheel-base; the cab set far too high … the same applies to a gecko or a lizard that has lost its tail. Look at this one:

These marvellous creatures can sever their tails as a form of self-defence as the wriggling tail is quite likely to distract its predator. This self-amputation is known as autotomy (from the Greek ‘self’ and ‘sever’). There is no blood loss, and the tail regrows over several months. I have seen some with forked tails or rather skew tails too – possibly because they have not regrown properly.


Our garden is alive with lizards and geckos of all sizes at this time of the year.

Postscript: Dries has identified this as a Common / Cape Dwarf Gecko (Lygodactylus capensis). Unlike the common house Geckos, these geckos seem to enjoy being active during the day and frequently bask in the sun. 

NOTE: Click on a photograph if you want a larger view.