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Can You Use Lizards Indoors for Pest Control?

Cindy has always been fascinated by life in the sea and has had several saltwater aquariums, one a natural reef.

A gecko like this one will eat small insects inside and then head back out through an open window when it cools off.

A gecko like this one will eat small insects inside and then head back out through an open window when it cools off.

The Resident Gecko

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 up the wall. 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.

Do You Want Lizards In Your Home?

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.

Lizard Infestation

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!

A lizard chomping down on a fairly large roach.

A lizard chomping down on a fairly large roach.

Do Lizards Eat Cockroaches?

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.

Lizards often require conditions that are more moist than the typical home.

Lizards often require conditions that are more moist than the typical home.

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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.”

Is being released dangerous to lizards?

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.

Are pets a threat to lizards?

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 content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2011 Cindy Murdoch

Have You Used Lizards for Insect Control?

Cindy Murdoch (author) from Texas on July 21, 2020:

Thanks for stopping by and sharing, Ali.

Cindy Murdoch (author) from Texas on July 21, 2020:

Thanks for sharing, Steve. They will go where the food is. If you want to keep them indoors, you just have to supply food in the habitat you want them to return to.

Cindy Murdoch (author) from Texas on July 21, 2020:

Never heard of one falling into a cooking pot, Ritwik. Interesting. I bet they don't like falling in the pot anymore than you do.

Cindy Murdoch (author) from Texas on July 21, 2020:

Mgary ... thanks for sharing.

Cindy Murdoch (author) from Texas on July 21, 2020:

As far as the droppings go, Ron, I hope it wasn't the kitchen sink. Droppings ... that is the biggest drawback to keeping any animal in the house. But, that doesn't stop me from having my dogs and cats so ...

Cindy Murdoch (author) from Texas on July 21, 2020:

Not sure what mozzies are, but I hope it worked, Gautaman.

Cindy Murdoch (author) from Texas on July 21, 2020:

Steven Martin, that is fast reproduction! Yikes!

Cindy Murdoch (author) from Texas on July 21, 2020:

I am not sure, Linda, but I am guessing that it could if any of the poison had not been processed by the roach before it died.

Cindy Murdoch (author) from Texas on July 21, 2020:

Thanks for stopping by, antonymark

Cindy Murdoch (author) from Texas on July 21, 2020:

Good information! Thanks for sharing.

Cindy Murdoch (author) from Texas on July 21, 2020:

A dog will be able to take down a lizard of considerable size, even poisonous. The dog will lose that one. There are lots of bugs in Texas ... I know. I am a native Texan. It is something I have to deal with and I hate spiders. I ran across the biggest wolf spider I have ever seen a couple months ago. It was 4 inches across!!!! I hope you've learned to deal with your spiders.

antonymark3000 on November 21, 2019:

This is an admirable list of resources. I enjoyed reading the blog.

I think can help me out in terms of keeping my family safe from pests.

Thanks a lot for posting this!

ali on October 10, 2019:

hello everyone. i tell my experience about lizards. since i have released a lizard in my home i have no longer any beetle and spider. apparently they have eaten by lizard and i can see my lizard some time in home and notice getting bigger than first :))

Steve Stallard on July 26, 2019:

When I lived in S Florida I got tired of spraying for bugs. I hated the smell. One day I saw a chameleon catch a couple of palmetto bugs out in the back yard.We had lots and lots of chameleons running around. I let a few chameleons in the house and in very short form they eliminated all the bugs. Whenever I had any roaches of any kind I just brought in these little lizards and let them go in cupboards or wherever there was an infestation. Afterward they happily went back outside.

CorkieJean2 on May 11, 2019:

TOKAY GECKOS NATURAL insect control

My husband is deathly allergic to pesticides.. new neighbor moved in, within a few months the German roaches they brought with them (evidently) ... began coming to our house. Researched online..." Tokay Gecko are large, can consume a lot of prey and thrive in manmade environments, so they are sometimes utilized for the control of insects that are considered pests". For about 2 weeks you they stay in a cage... where they have a constant supply of fresh water. they'll return. I kept a small fresh bowl beside the bathroom sink and in the corner of the bath tub. ( always check toilets BEFORE use ! ! ! ) They'll sometimes join you on a shower wall. Don't walk around house in the dark... they are called the PITBULL of Lizards... google Tokay bites... it's NOT pretty. How many will they eat? ...

" how many do you have?" .... when they run out of food, they return more often to cage and you'll see them more often. Pet stores will usually agree for their return (FREE TO THE STORE) when they've done the job. Cricket legs can hurt their tongue and cause abscess, which then has to be lanced... I won't give them crickets with jumping legs.

VictoriaRosaLee on April 01, 2019:

It’s 2019 & I just ran across this informative & hilarious post. Being terrified of spiders, scorpions with an intense distrust of disease carrying mosquitoes I am bravely leaving my life in KS to the live near the coast in Texas. I had on another blog about how difficult it was to keep Tx patios clear of spiders & that alone almost made me change my mind about moving. But I thought I’d look further & found this little spot. I think I can survive now. But the question is, how big a lizard do I need to find so my little King Charles Cavaliers don’t bring it to me as a hunting gift. They often bring me birds, rabbits, squirrels & other creatures. They play with little lizards, geckos & snakes with no intention to eat them but generally the snake slithers off & the tiny gecko or lizards get injured. My doggies look up at me with a sad look like their new toy just broke. So that said I really like this natural control method. We will have a screened in porch. The area inside & out is extremely humid.

Ritwik on August 14, 2018:

People don't want lizards because if they fall in cooking pots or their tail falls in one and people eat that, they die. There have been news reports which are common. They don't just visit and head out, they stay in corners and make a home sometimes. I want a lizard that does not do all that, one that does not leave body parts everywhere or is not stupid enough to fall into cooking pots.

Mgary on May 09, 2018:

When I was 5 or 6 my family lived in Hawaii. There were huge flying roaches there so it was a problem keeping them out of the house. My mom used to send us out to catch lizards. We would bring them in and let them go. They controlled the bug population in the house nicely. We rarely ever saw them unless there was a bug out in the open one of them wanted...

Ron Gecko on November 03, 2017: