“The slippery house lizard known as wall Gecko in English, Ọmọ onílé in Yorùbá, Tsaka in Hausa and ukpong-eyen in Ibibio... has caused too many death in various homes. This lizard once felled into a pot of soup prepared by a housewife somewhere here in Nigeria, unknowingly, and it killed the woman and her 4 children after eating the food... Please ensure your food, cooked or raw, is tightly closed as this animal is highly poisonous.”
The post, which has been shared more than 6,000 times, includes a collage of images showing a clove of garlic, a pile of salt and a gecko.
The wall gecko, also known as the common (or Asian) house gecko, is a small, nocturnal lizard with soft skin. It measures up to 15 cm in length, and is usually grey or light brown to beige in colour.
It’s native to south-east Asia, though it’s now found across the world, including large parts of Africa.
But is it as dangerous as the post claims?
Claim dates back to 2017
A reverse image search shows the collage has been used several times on the internet, with the oldest example we could find from 2017.
In October 2017 Infosivoir, a website based in Côte d’Ivoire, posted an article headlined “Comment se débarrasser des Gekkota, ou gecko”, French for “How to get rid of the wall gekkota or gecko”.
It explains that the wall gecko is poisonous and that to chase it out of your home, you should crush garlic with salt and put this mixture in the nooks and crannies of your house.
This seems to be the source of the meme. But no evidence is provided for the gecko being poisonous.
Eugene Onah, a zoology and environmental biology lecturer at the University of Nigeria, told Africa Check the wall gecko wasn’t poisonous.
“One wouldn’t automatically die just because a wall gecko fell into the food one is eating,” he said. “However, because the wall gecko carries a lot of bacteria in its mouth, the tendency of one getting infected from the bacteria is high. Also, some of the bacteria multiply within a short time which can cause serious harm in one’s body within a short while.”
According to Animal Diversity Web, a database run by the University of Michigan in the US, “geckos are non-venomous and harmless to humans”.
An invasive animal risk assessment by the Australian Department of Agriculture and Fisheries also said the wall gecko “does not present a threat to human safety”. – Motunrayo Joel
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