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Gecko feeding on rat, rare incident say herpetologists

A rare incident of a gecko feeding on a rat was observed for the first time from Galoya National Park in Moneragala district by herpetologists D M S Suranjan Karunarathna and A A Thasun Amarasinghe.

Karunarathna said that this is the first time a gecko feeding on a rat species was observed.

According to him, the spotted giant gecko called Hemidactylus maculatus hunae is an endemic reptile in the country. It is the largest gecko in Sri Lanka. Locals call it Daventha Thith Hoona or Thalagoi Hoona.

"We observed a mature male gecko, 300 mm in length, from a distance of two metres on a large rock boulder. It then moved to the forest floor where there were two small rat holes nearby. Twenty minutes later, we heard a noise and the gecko came out of the mole rat hole with a juvenile mole rat approximately five cm long in its mouth. The gecko then dashed the prey on the granite rock wall, eight to 10 times and swallowed the prey head first," he said.

Hemidactylus ginus geckos are highly carnivorous and mainly feeds on especially insects. However, there are few incidents reported from India that these geckos actively prey on small geckos, skinks, agamid lizards, small birds and small mammals, Karunarathna said.

This particular spotted giant gecko is an arboreal species found on granite caves, rock-out boulders, anthropogenic habitats and trees in the shaded areas in the dry and intermediate zones of Sri Lanka.

He said that there are 42 species or subspecies belonging to eight genera of geckos, family Gekkonidae, which have been recognized from Sri Lanka and 31 of them are endemic to the island.

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