They maybe cousins with chameleon lizards, but these tukos are not becoming invisible. They are fastly disappearing!
When I was a kid, my yaya used to tell me an urban legend about Philippine Geckos aka Tuko: once they fall on your skin, they will never leave it until an Aeta blows a certain smoke to repel them away. Maybe this folk story has reached millions of Filipinos that households have viewed them as scary pests that makes an annoying sound at night.
In the recent television news, a man was arrested for trading tuko to Malaysia. The lizard is priced at P200 to 300 apiece, but in other areas it can cost P15,000 per kilo. A bigger tuko with at least 3” head size is being bought at a whopping P40,000 apiece. Some buy it to add in their reptile collection. Foreigners buy it to have a natural insecticide. While the worst ones use an over-rated reason: it’s an aphrodisiac! Seriously, folks, I don’t understand the hunt for stronger libidos – why eat these strange creatures when you can get the same effect with a bunch of roses and a box of chocolates?
These lizards play an important role in the eco-system: they feed on cockroaches and mosquitoes – they are natural dengue fighters.
In our home, I used to hear a tuko at night. Lately, though, I noticed that our evenings have fallen silent. The common household lizard has now become an endangered specie. If you hear one in your home, you are one of the lucky few. Having a tuko in your house is now a rare asset.