It’s your first time in Hawaii and you start seeing little green lizards running all over the place. They could be scurrying along the sidewalk, resting on a tree branch, or you might even find one on the dorm room wall of your hostel. But not too worry. These little creatures are completely harmless.
What are they?
They’re called “geckos” and are part of the lizard family. You’ll find them on all the islands. It’s common to see them clinging to window panes, pieces of wood, on tree branches, underneath bushes, or even behind picture frames. But they’re harmless and actually run from humans. They’re not interested in your food as their diet mostly consists of insects, bugs, and mosquitos. So it’s actually a good thing to have a gecko around. They’re helping you get rid of all the other pesky little insects.
Where did they come from?
It’s very common to find geckos in the tropics. But none of the ones you see in Hawaii are indigenous to Hawaii. The little creatures first appeared in Hawaii about 1,500 years ago. It’s believed they came as stowaways on the ships of the first Polynesians who arrived to the islands.
There are over 900 species of geckos, but only four species came in the early years. More recently, four other species also came by attaching themselves to shipping containers. One of these species, called the “house gecko,” began appearing about 50 years ago and is found in most homes and other buildings.
What’s the myth behind them?
Think of geckos as a sort of “guardian” to help protect your home from the many bugs and insects. Local Hawaiians regard geckos as sacred and give them the utmost respect. They are even a common theme found in ancient Hawaiian legends and mythology.
According to the ancient legends, the gecko was a powerful spiritual guardian living in the fish ponds. It was considered a protector and was a very gentle lizard. The gecko was never harmed, and even had the ability to change colors when threatened. Stories of the mythological creature were passed down many generations through ancient chant.
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