September is a good time of year for spotting geckoes.
(Though I took this pic in May, 2009)
One of the fun and easy Amateur Naturalist things you can do after dark in Italy is look for geckoes. They hunt mostly at night and are able to run around at astonishing speeds up walls and even upside down! They like to hunt insects and love to roost quietly, waiting for their prey to come along, just hanging on a wall. They are also attracted to bright light, so are among the easiest of the wildlife in Italy to spot. You can often see them on the ceiling of the walkway outside the bar at the train station, running around with that odd, twisty and very comical gait.
But the other night when I was coming home late from Rome, I kept an eye open and saw several of them between the station and home, some tiny, no longer than my little finger and others larger, about the length of my hand.
Though you can see why they're sometimes hard to spot if they're sitting still.
They come in colours ranging from light greenish grey to dark brown, and sometimes are mottled for camouflage. They live in the little cracks and crevices of walls, so you can see them come out in the evenings if you are patient. Though you do mostly see them at night, I think the big ones don't mind coming out to bask in the sun.
I've wanted to draw them since I came here and saw one up close the first time, but they are really very shy and incredibly fast, so I really have very little hope of ever catching one. One of them came into my first flat one evening while I was sitting very quietly reading. I wonder if it is possible to attract them somehow.
I just find them irresistibly cute, with the little rounded pads on the ends of their toes and their funny run.
In a few months they will have all gone to sleep for the winter. It's always the best sign of spring when you start hearing the geckoes shuffling around in the leaves when the weather starts warming up.