Keeping Lizards Indoors for Pest Control
While visiting the powder room at a friend's house recently, I was startled by the appearance of a baby gecko running across the floor and then up the wall. But I must confess, I wasn’t terribly surprised by its appearance since she really loves animals. You never know what kind of critter you’ll see while visiting her, or where it might have escaped to or from. You see, she does rabbit rescues and rehabilitates wildlife—in fact, I was there volunteering on this particular visit.
I asked her if she knew it was in there. Nodding, she shared, “He lives in the bathroom and catches insects. He came in when the window was open this spring. I hope he goes back out this fall when it cools off.” This gecko was little - less than three inches from nose to tip of tail; so he was only catching very tiny insects at this point. But he was thriving, so he must be eating something.
Invited or Uninvited Guests?
I decided I wanted to check this out. My inquiring mind wanted to know: Was it feasible to use a lizard in a house for pest control? And were people doing it? It was an intriguing idea, and definitely a green choice for pest control. I’ve seen pictures of lizards in houses; but, typically these were in houses that did not have screens on their windows. I wondered if the lizards were there because the owners wanted them there, or were they there because the owners had no choice in the matter?
So I started my quest. To my surprise, upon my Google searches, I generally ended up on pest control sites where people were trying to get rid of lizards that were in their homes. I had not really expected that. I guess it really shouldn't have been surprising though because lizards would have an easier time of getting into a house than a mouse would, since a mouse can't climb vertical surfaces. And if someone said they had a mouse in their house, I wouldn't be surprised.
On a pest control site forum this question was posed: “I live in Dallas and have an infestation of lizards at my home. What are my options to get rid of them? And don’t tell me to call pest control.” Now that question got my attention because I live just outside of Dallas, and I had never heard of anyone having a “lizard infestation”.
Most responders told the person with the lizard infestation to “get a kitty.” Apparently, kitties are faster than lizards.
Another responder told them to “Get rid of your bugs and you remove the lizard’s food source. No bugs, no lizards.” Okay … so, the lizards were a known bug control source. I was getting closer to an answer.
I found the next response hilarious as I picture the scenario in my head. They shared, “…unless you want to poison them, learn to live with them. I live just east of Dallas and we have them. I even got to work one day and had one in my pants…” Oh my … That would've certainly been a surprise visit. A new holiday could be invented...a take your lizard to work day!
Then I changed up the words in my search query and was able to find a more productive bit of information. An answer to a question in one of the forums went like this, “I know a friend with a German cockroach insect infestation and would like to know if releasing a gecko into her house would be a good idea to control insects. She’s tried ... physical attacks such as stomping and the vacuum cleaner to no avail.” Now, I thought, I’m finally getting somewhere. I also thought that I'd have to be pretty desperate to chase bugs down with a vacuum cleaner. Yikes!
The forum post continued, “She’s losing the roach and insect war, and she needs a safer alternative to an exterminator—like geckos. What kinds do your readers use?” Bingo! Someone was asking the same question I was. Now, we were getting somewhere.
But, the answer to the question began by sharing that it's illegal in most states (in the U.S.) to release non-native animals of any kind, even lizards. Because of this, they went on to state, “…I can’t recommend this method despite its widespread popularity.”
Having stated that up front, they continued, “Wall-crawling geckos, such as the popular mixed-species bag of house geckos spreading across many warmer climes, need humidity above what’s inside most U.S. homes. They tend to dehydrate unless a few plants with moist soil or water trays are available to them. A house with lots of insects may sustain them with moisture-filled meals for a while—I don’t want to visit anyone in a house that can do that long term—but the geckos will probably die or find their way outside after a week.”
Okay, so maybe it’s not so feasible after all. This was a reptile forum, so they should know what they are talking about.
They also went on to confirm what some of the people in the other forum were stating. “Secondly, house pets such as cats are fatal to geckos. I know of one instance in which the owners released an adult tokay gecko (Gekko gecko) in their home to eat cockroaches. They assumed it would be too big and threatening for their cat to touch—adult tokays average more than a foot in length—but kitty proved more than a match. It snatched the running lizard off a wall before it knew what hit it. A cat that would grab a wild rat in its mouth will have no qualms about catching a mere gecko—even a tokay.”
Essentially all of my questions had been answered in this post. Yes, people actually do try to use lizards to remove pests from their home. And yes, it will work for a while. But it may be a very short while, especially if they own a cat.
So apparently, if the right conditions were provided, a lizard could be used as a form of bug control in the house.
But, you want to make sure that you "always leave home without them."
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
© 2011 Cindy Murdoch