The tokay gecko is a somewhat large lizard living in south-east Asia. These creatures are able to change their colors a little in order to blend in. They make as drastic changes as chameleons can, but they can make their skin lighter, darker, or make it less bright to help hide themselves.
When not trying to camouflage, tokay geckoes are bright blue with rust colored spots, as the one shown above is. The gecko below is quite different from the first one. It is almost completely brown. It most likely got scared by the photographer and tried to camouflage. While it’s not extremely hard to see, the one shown above is much easier to find.
One thing that might give a hiding gecko away is its shadow on the tree. Not so for the tokay gecko. They were created with special flaps of skin that fold out and rest against the tree branch. This brings the edges of the gecko’s body closer to the tree and removes the shadow it would cast.
You could probably call the tokay gecko “The gecko of all geckos” if you wanted to, given its scientific name. Its scientific name is Gekko gecko. Not only that, but it is in the family Gekkonidae, and the subfamily Gekkoninae!
One last odd fact about the tokay gecko before we move on. This one has to do with its ears. Their ears are just small holes, one on each side of their head. And there’s nothing between the holes, so you can look straight through a tokay gecko’s head!
Almost all geckos have their own calls, ranging from squeaks to whistles, but the tokay gecko’s call is probably the most unique. In fact, the tokay gecko got its name from its call! Watch the video below, and you’ll see why.
Tokay geckos are the second largest geckos in the world! The fact that they are only second largest is surprising once you find out how big they can be. They are usually between 10 and 12 inches (25-30 cm) long including the tail, but they sometimes reach 14 inches (35 cm). There are even reports of tokay geckos being 20 inches (51 cm) long! Normal tokay geckos will weigh about 10 ounces (300 g) or about twice the weight of a baseball.
Given their large size, tokay geckos can have more on their menu than other geckos do. They will eat insects, such as crickets, cockroaches, beetles, and termites, but also vertebrates. These include mice, baby birds, and lizards, even other geckos.
Habitat and range
Tokay geckos live in southeast Asia, including the islands between Asia and Australia. They are found as far north as northern India. As you might expect with a gecko, this creature lives mostly in rain forests.
Surprisingly, they are also frequently seen in peoples’ houses! It would be surprising to think of a gecko this big sneaking into someone’s house, but there’s a reason they can survive near humans. Where these geckos live, it is considered good luck to have a tokay gecko in your house, so people keep tokay geckos in their house as a sort of wild pet.
On their feet, tokay geckos have millions of tiny hairs with hooks, kind of like velcro. This lets them hang on to surfaces even though they don’t have claws. They are able to hang on tree trunks, walls, and even scamper across the ceiling!
Status, threats, and protection
Tokay geckos have not been classified by any major conservation group. They would probably be listed as “Least Concern,” as they are abundant in most of their range. Their use in traditional medicine is a threat to them in some areas, but their status as a symbol of luck helps them in other places. Their large size also helps protect them from their predators, which are mostly snakes.
Tokay geckos have a few other defenses from predators. The first one, camouflage, we already talked about. They have another defense mechanism common to many other lizards. If they are captured, the gecko will release its tail to distract the predator. The lizard will then run away while its tail dances around, confusing the predator.
If a tokay gecko does lose its tail, it will grow back in about three weeks. However, the new tail is almost never as long as the old one was.
These lizards can also give nasty bites when threatened.
Reproduction and young
Tokay gecko mating season begins in the spring, when the rain from the wet season is starting to fall. The mating season lasts four to five months. It is during this time that the male uses his call to attract females.
After mating, the female will search for the perfect place to lay her eggs. Most reptiles will lay a couple dozen eggs at a time, but the tokay gecko takes a different approach. The female lays just one or two eggs on a tree trunk or other solid place. Both parents will guard the eggs until they hatch up to six months later. The female will lay more eggs every month during the breeding season.
When the eggs hatch, the baby geckos are already 2-3 inches (5-8 cm) long! Their coloring is much darker than that of their parents, as can be seen in the picture below. Sometimes the young will be cannibalistic, eating their own siblings. They will stay with their parents for up to a year after birth. These geckos can live over 10 years in the wild.
- Tokay gecko – Wikipedia user: Pumpkin sky
- Tokay gecko 2 – Rohit Naniwadekar
- Juvenile tokay gecko – Flickr user: Rushen