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A new member of the Dokmai Garden family

July 31, 2012

I have spent the past few days away from the computer. The reason is that the computer is a trap; you get stuck for hours dealing with puny matters, while the garden needs my attention and my body needs the physical exercise.

So, in order to lose some weight, I currently only drink water or home-made juice, I only eat three meals a day, only single portions and A LOT of physical exercise. That means a sudden transformation of Dokmai Garden. We took down many Gliricidia trees behind the bathroom to make room for a young avocado. The logs are being used in the new ground orchid display.

We also keep a heap of silaleng stones to enable tourists to search for garden residents normally active at night. One heap was overgrown by grasses so I decided to move it further into the shade of the monsoon woodland to avoid weeding. Since I removed the entire heap, I had the opportunity to see what had moved in there. Not a single arachnid, but a mouse, a very colourful cricket, a small almost limbless skink of unknown species and a gorgeous gecko lizard! I had only seen it once before at night outside the lab, and at that time I had no camera. This time I managed to get a somewhat fuzzy photo and this new member of the Dokmai Garden family turns out to be a ‘Siamese leaf-toed gecko’ (Phyllodactylus siamensis).

Unlike the common large tockay gecko and the extremely common spiny-tailed  house gecko, this gecko species avoids human quarters but dwells in secret among rocks and logs. Its presence is another indication that the monsoon woodland is maturing. This gecko is a termite eater and so an important part of the forest ecosystem. It is a dark and slender species with tubercles and white patterns. The other two species of gecko found at Dokmai Garden are Garnot’s gecko which has a serrated tail, and flat-tailed gecko which looks like a poorly made tin soldier with a fringe of skin along the body. The latter species is not common here, I have only seen it near the big gate.

The day after identifying this new gecko, I saw another specimen inside the orchid nursery. Exciting! That brings the number of snake and lizard species found at Dokmai Garden to 23. In addition there are two tortoise species and eight amphibian species, in total 33 species of reptiles and amphibians hitherto identified.

Text & Photo: Eric Danell

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