The first notable discovery for the Natural History Museum’s Lost Lizards of LA survey has been made near Chatsworth.
According to the Natural History Museum, an amateur father-son team of herpetologists Will and Reese Bernstein discovered a population of non-native Mediterranean House Geckos.
The Bernstein’s attended the museum’s lizard hunt this spring in Hancock and Exposition Park when the LLOLA project began. After, they returned home to the Valley to continue their search.
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After they submitted their results, their discoveries were initially believed to be a Western Branded Gecko. However on closer inspection, Cal State Northridge herpetologist and LLOLA consultant Dr. Robert Espinoza ruled that the species was actually the Mediterranean House Gecko, according to Natural History Museum statement:
Although the two species are superficially similar in color pattern, the local banded geckos (1) lack toe pads, (2) have eyelids, and (3) don't have bumpy warts (tubercles). As their name implies, Mediterranean House Geckos are not native to the area. But they have been widely introduced throughout the U.S. (including Hawaii), particularly in the southeast.
After a search of local records, Espinoza determined that this was the first discovery of this particular species in Los Angeles County. There have been 23 records of the Gecko in California, but all have come out of either San Diego or Riverside County.
The Bernstein’s discovery, in addition to other LLOLA findings, will be on display during the second annual Reptile and Amphibian Appreciation Day on Sunday, Oct 3 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
For more information on the Bernstein’s and other LLOLA discoveries, and to find out how to submit your own findings, please visit the Natural History Museums website.