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A guardian angel

November 25, 2011

In Thailand and other parts of Southeast Asia the barking tockay gecko lizards are hunted to support the superstitious Chinese medicine with raw material. I spoke to a Swedish lady who has a lot of experience from keeping terrarium animals, and I asked her what she thought of the tockay as a terrarium pet? She said its ferocious behaviour made it so dangerous it should not be allowed as a pet at all. It is like a small crocodile, running up and down the walls attacking anything it can swallow. Is it of importance to man?

Yesterday evening, towards midnight, I walked to the bathroom at Dokmai Garden. To my great surprise I saw the silhouette of a giant scolopender hanging from the roof tiles. Using a flash light I realized this poisonous centipede was caught between the jaws of a tockay gecko.

As described earlier, such scolopenders may inflict a very painful and poisonous bite. Having a blue chap with a clown face taking care of such pests makes me feel safe. He watches over me while I am asleep, and his poo will become orchid fertilizer.

The part to the left is the scolopender’s rear end. The scolopender’s head with its powerful curved ‘jaws’ (they are in fact modified legs) is seen to the right. Both animals are big. In this photograph they are slightly smaller than natural size.

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Text & Photo: Eric Danell

12 Comments leave one →
  1. November 26, 2011 3:09 AM

    Thanks! Guardian indeed!
    Great photos.

  2. November 29, 2011 4:55 PM

    Wow, you are very lucky indeed! I’m still very frightened of our resident Tokay … they are so big!!

    • November 29, 2011 10:49 PM

      They are big, but they would never do any harm to a human unless you challenge him to wrestle with you.

  3. December 4, 2011 9:49 PM

    These large gekos are amazing and how on earth did it that with out being bitten..

    • December 5, 2011 8:47 AM

      I was surprised too. I have seen the geckos run around on the walls of the bathroom, and possibly this one spotted a centipede on the ground, attacked it close enough to the head so it could not bite (luck, instinct?) and then the tockay dragged the centipede up on the roof. I could see the tockay drooling and clear saliva dripped from the legs of the centipede. The centipede was clearly in an immobilized state as it only moved a little bit. I think the tockay crushed it between its jaws and then waited for it to die from internal injuries. By ripping it to pieces the tockay would probably be able to eat smaller pieces. Hunters have showed me their bleeding fingers and explained the tockay twists like a croc when he gets a firm grip. I am happy they are not two meters long…

  4. December 5, 2011 8:04 AM

    Very interesting – I would not have thought they were a prey species of the Tockay. I made it picture of the month

  5. February 14, 2012 9:45 PM

    OUCH! He has courage! Great photo!

  6. March 6, 2012 10:22 PM

    I had lovely green snake in my garden today. I manage to capture it and free it. I wish I could post a picture here and see if you knew what kind it was..

  7. March 6, 2012 10:25 PM

    Thanks for the advice…


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