Daily Archives: July 19, 2011

Mr. Hanky visits the Triffid Ranch

Spend more than a few weeks studying carnivorous plants, and you see that the situations and boundaries get a bit flexible. Plants in general really don’t care where they get their nitrogen and phosphorus, and many carnivores don’t care if their prey was a bit predigested first. Sarracenia and Heliamphora are already famous for their tendency to attract frogs that live inside the pitchers, snagging incoming prey and using the pitcher as a toilet afterwards. The genus Nepenthes, though, goes above and beyond in its coprophiliac habits, regularly attracting tree shrews and rats with nutritious secretions produced along the pitcher lid. In an adaptation that provides a regular supply of guano, Nepenthes rafflesiana elongata makes a home for bats from its traps. You even have the Asian frog Microhyla nepenthicola living and breeding in Nepenthes ampullaria pitchers, with the frogs and their tadpoles taking advantage of a reasonably safe environment, and the plant taking advantage of their various wastes.

I bring this up because apparently it’s now the geckos’ turn. I have one Nepenthes that keeps growing faster than all of the other pitcher plants in the greenhouse, and I’ve spooked baby Hemidactylus turcicus geckos out of it every time. At first, I thought the geckos were trapped inside, and now I realize they’re taking advantage of the situation. Shelter and quiet: should I offer them tiny magazines and Kindles to keep them occupied, too?