The cicak, or house gecko
The cicak, or house gecko

Cicak, Cicak, di dinding
Diam, diam, merayap
Datang seekor nyamuk
Hap! Hap! Lalu di tangkap!


Translation and more after the jump.

Gecko, Gecko on the wall
Quiet, Quiet as he crawls
Along comes a lone mosquito
Hap! Hap! He’s been swallowed up!

Living in Malaysia means sharing your home with the cicak, the house gecko (Hemidactylus frenatus). You may find them cute, you may find them repulsive, but you will find them everywhere. They are in every home, shop and mosque, from the lowest to the grandest. As house guests go, the cicak is a good one. They stay quiet and out of sight, hiding behind pictures, clocks and light fixtures on the wall by day. At night, they emerge to feed on the insects of the house, especially mosquitos.

The cicak (pronounced Chee -chak) turns up elsewhere too, in nursery rhymes, in textile patterns, even in movies. Cicak-man is a popular action-comedy movie about a Malaysian who acquires superpowers when he drinks a teh tarik that had been pooped in by a cicak!

The cicak is the top-level predator of the home. Nothing much eats cicaks though occasionally one will fall off the wall into the hands of a cat. Or a kid. My brothers-in-law amused themselves as kids by shooting them off the walls with rubber bands.

Hemidactylus frenatus
Hemidactylus frenatus

Did I say they were quiet? They are most of the time, but at night they will sometimes bark, a very loud bark for such a small lizard. The sound is kind of like “CHAK”, hence the name. When the bark coincides with your conversation, you might joke “betul kata cicak” – the cicak says I’m right.

Published by bingregory

Official organ of an American Muslim in Malaysian Borneo, featuring plants, pantuns and pictures from the Malay archipelago. Oversharing since 2002.

Join the Conversation


  1. Asalaamu Alaikum

    Ahhhhh…I hate these things! They poop everywhere and they get into your food and eat it if you don’t cover it. Everything in Malaysia has to be covered. Even babies! One of them even fell on me..yuck! I never saw one in the hotel a friend’s mother was staying in and I never saw them at a resort by the beach. There are places they don’t exist from my experience. Lol, I never heard them bark..probably would have jumped out of my skin!

  2. Salaam ‘alaikum. I really don’t mind these lizards; in fact, my wife often calls them my “pets.” Perhaps because, living in Arizona, I’m very used to seeing lizards all around there too. BTW, there are actually two Cicak-man movies. 😉 I watched the first one (which had a nice twist ending), but passed on watching the second. Oh, and I’ve heard many lizards bark as well. 😉

  3. No sister, the cicak won’t eat your food – that’s the cockroach’s job, haha. It could be worse: my Dad was telling me when he was living down in the Caribbean they got these cockroaches that like to fly around – Mahogany Birds, they call them!

  4. Well, there are Gila monsters in Arizona, but the only place you really see those are in museums. 😉 The biggest lizard I ever saw in the wild was about a foot long and an inch wide, while climbing Camelback mountain in Phoenix. But the vast majority of lizards in Arizona are the little gecko-types that one sees here in SE Asia. Now, flying sewer roaches, I’ve come across a few in Arizona! 😉 One once flew straight into a pasta dish I was eating in a cheap restaurant. Yuck!

  5. in the islands off malaysia commonly we get tokay gheckos, a house lizard about 8 to 7 inches, they make a loud tokay sound and eat insects.

Leave a comment

Leave a Reply