Hemidactylus maculatus hunae (reptilia: gekkonidae) preys on Nandicota bengalensis (Mammalia: rodentia) in the Galoya National Park, Sri Lanka/Hemidactylus maculatus hunae (reptilia: gekkonidae) depreda sobre Bandicota bengalensis (Mammalia: rodentia) en el Parque Nacional Galoya, Sri Lanka.
Abstract: The Spotted giant gecko, Hemidactylus maculatus hunae, is the largest gecko recorded in Sri Lanka and it is considered to be endemic of the island. There are few records of geckos feeding on vertebrates, and this Is the first record of a gecko feeding on a rat species. More research Is needed about the behaviour and other aspects of the biology of H. m. hunae.

Key words: Spotted giant gecko, mole rat, predation, feeding behaviour, Sauria, lizard,

El geco gigante manchado, Hemidactylus maculatus hunae, es el gecko de mayor tamano registrado en Sri Lanka y es considerado endemico de la isla. Hay pocos registros de gecos que se alimentan de vertebrados, y este es el primer registro de un geco alimentandose de una especie de rata. Se necesita mas investigacion acerca del comportamiento y otros aspectos de la biologia de H. m. hunae.

Palabras Clave: Geco gigante manchado, rata topo, depredacion, comportamiento alimentario, Sauria, lagarto.
Article Type: Report
Subject: Geckos
Authors: Karunarathna, D.M.S. Suranjan
Amarasinghe, A.A. Thasun
Pub Date: 07/01/2009
Publication: Name: Herpetotropicos: Tropical Amphibians & Reptiles Publisher: Herpetotropicos Audience: Academic Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Zoology and wildlife conservation Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2009 Herpetotropicos ISSN: 1690-7930
Issue: Date: July-Dec, 2009 Source Volume: 5 Source Issue: 2
Accession Number: 294074387

Forty two species or subspecies belonging to eight genera of geckos, family Gekkonidae, have been recognized from Sri Lanka and 31 (71%) of them are endemic to the island (Amarasinghe et al. 2009; Somaweera and Somaweera 2009). The gecko genus Hemidactylus comprises eight species or subspecies and the spotted giant gecko, Hemidactylus maculatus hunae, 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 (Das and de Silva 2005, de Silva et al. 2004a).

Hemidactylus maculatus hunae is the largest gecko In the country (Deraniyagala 1953). It is locally known as "Daventha Thith Hoona" (de Silva et al. 2004b) or "Thalagoi Hoona" (in Sinhala language) and attains a snout-vent length of over 120 mm and tail lengths of over 140 mm. This subspecies is considered endemic to Sri Lanka (Wickramasinghe and Somaweera 2008) and may be a distinct species (Amarasinghe et al. 2009). Hemidactylus m. hunae Is often observed during the period 19:00-23:00 h and is exclusively nocturnal. Males, females and juveniles live in the same habitats. Hemidactylus m. hunae is highly carnivorous and mainly feeds on Invertebrates, especially insects. However, H. m maculatus actively preys on small vertebrates such as geckos, skinks, agamid lizards, small birds and small mammals ("All these records are from India"; Daniel 2002). Here we report, with photographic evidence, the feeding habit of H. m. hunae. while predating on a pest rat species.


Observations were made on 8 of August 2009 in the 'Makarae' (=Dragon Mouth), Galoya National Park (112 m elevation; 07[degrees]11'44.88"N, 81[degrees]26'13.81"E, Fig. 1) in Monaragala District of Uva Province, Sri Lanka. Observations were made without disturbing the gecko. A mature male H. m. hunae (approx. 300 mm in total length) was observed from a distance of 2 m at 22:10 h on a large rock boulder (4 m height and 6 m wide). It then moved slowly to the forest floor where there were two small rat holes nearby, one belonging to an antelope rat (Tatera indica) and the other to a mole rat (Bandicota bengalensis). After about 20 minutes, we heard a small noise--'crM crivk crivk'.

At this time the gecko quickly came out of the mole rat hole with a juvenile mole rat (5 cm long) in its mouth (Fig. 2). Then the gecko dashed the prey three times on the granite rock wall and repeated this action eight to ten times. It then swallowed the prey head first at about 22:45 h. After five minutes, the gecko immediately retreated back to a fracture of the rock boulder. No additional observations of predation on this rat species by Hemidactylus maculatus hunae were recorded. However, Dattarti (1984), Kannan and Krishnaraj (1988), Somaweera (2005) and Sumithran (1982) reported Hemidactylus leschenaultii preying on a rat, gecko, skink and a colubrid snake.


In most cases, Bandicota bengalensis is considered a pest species in croplands and home gardens and it also causes public health problems in Sri Lanka. This rat species has successfully adapted to the urban habitat in many countries, including India, Pakistan, Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia (Groves 1984).



The authors would like to thank Dilshad Jemzeed, Niranjan Karunarathna, Nadeesh Gamage and P.G.P. Prabhath (DWC) for the various help during the observation. Finally, we wish to thank Mendis Wickramasinghe (HFS), Nayanaka Ranwella and Kelum Manamendra-Arachchi (WHT) for their help.


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D.M.S. Suranjan Karunarathna (1,3) AND A.A. THASUN AMARASINGHE (2,3)

(1) IUCN--Sri Lanka Country office, No. 53, Norton Place, Colombo 7, Sri Lanka.

(2) Taprobanica Nature Conservation Society, No. 146, Kendalanda, Homagama, Sri Lanka.
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