Geckos are less and less exotic.
Still confined to the Mediterranean basin a few years ago, we can now see them in many French cities.
This rapid expansion could be explained by global warming.
To acquire data and explain the phenomenon, Toulouse researchers are launching a participatory science experiment.
You can help them by flagging up any geckos you see on a platform.
Don't panic if you see a much larger-than-usual lizard stuck to the wall of your house or building. It's official, the geckos of our latitudes, also called Tarentes de Maurétanie or du Midi, are no longer content to bask around the Mediterranean basin. For several years, they have migrated outside their preferred area. These harmless reptiles, sometimes 15 centimeters long, recognizable by their suction cups under the legs and which share with the chameleon the super power of blending into the background, are now seen swallowing flies or mosquitoes in many cities: in Montpellier logically, in Toulouse - often at the moment in the light of the lampposts of the rue de la Colombette - Bordeaux, Lyon or even Strasbourg.
So why these moves?
At the Evolution and Biological Diversity laboratory in Toulouse (EDB-CNRS, IRD, Toulouse 3), scientists have a few hypotheses: global warming on the continent has given wings to these geckos who love sunny naps.
Or again, the urban heat islands with this bitumen, this concrete which stay warm on summer nights could have charmed them.
“Or maybe a combination of the two,” suggests Jessica Côte, a doctoral student at EDB.
Report his presence ... or his absence
But to get to the bottom of it, we need data, observations, which are still lacking for the time being. Hence the participatory science experiment launched by the laboratory and humorously baptized “GeckoLocalisation”. An Internet platform allows residents of mainland France to fill out a form to report the presence of the reptile. "Or its absence, adds Emilie Côte, if we want to run coherent models to establish a precise mapping of its presence".
The site was launched two months ago in collaboration with the Société herpetologique de France, which has activated its networks of enlightened amateurs and specialists, already bringing in 2,200 contributors.
To become an actor in biodiversity, just open your eyes and draw your phone to capture a photo.
"They are protected animals like most reptiles and very fearful, they should not be handled", warns the researcher.
Questions from children: "How do geckos stand on smooth surfaces without falling?"
», Asks Louis, 9 years old
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