The Monito gecko is only found on Monito Island in Puerto Rico. Not much is known about these very rare little lizards. They eat mostly small insects and other invertebrates. Females lay one to two eggs thar will hatch after two to three months.
Monito geckos are only around an inch and a half (3.5 centimeters). Monito island is only about 36 acres, and uninhabited. Found between Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, the island is monitored by the The Puerto Rico Department of Natural Environmental Resources (PRDNER). The island is also home to several endangered birds and a cactus, making it an important and ecologically significant place.
Despite being only 36 acres, Monito Island is home to many amazing animals and plants. Photo by USFWS.
Although Monito geckos are naturally predated by other lizards, including anoles and skinks, the main threat to them was an invasive species: black rats. These rats were first noticed in large numbers in 1969, and by 1974, they had already spread an alarming amount. Since Monito Island is an isolated ecosystem, the rats can do a lot of damage.
In 1982, the geckos were listed as endangered. PRDNER and other partners like the US Fish and Wildlife Service then undertook extensive conservation measures to eradicate the black rats in 1992. Thanks to these efforts, black rats can no longer be found on the island. The geckos were declared officially recovered in 2019, and there are now more than 7,600 Monito geckos in Monito Island.
Monito gecko. U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. (n.d.). Retrieved October 17, 2021, from https://www.fws.gov/southeast/wildlife/reptiles/monito-gecko/.
October 2, 2019. (n.d.). Monito gecko saved from the brink of extinction. U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. Retrieved October 17, 2021, from https://www.fws.gov/southeast/news/2019/10/monito-gecko-saved-from-the-brink-of-extinction/.
Figuerola, C. (2019, October 3). The monito gecko: Little Lizard, big success. Island Conservation. Retrieved October 17, 2021, from https://www.islandconservation.org/monito-gecko-little-lizard-big-success/.
Cover photo by USFWS.