Scientific Name: Gekko gecko / Common Names: Tokay Gecko
Tokay Geckos are known for the booming nocturnal "To-kay! To-kay!" bark that males use to proclaim territory. One of the most garishly colored lizards, they are pale bluish to greenish gray with extensive orange and white spots across the entire head, body and tail. They are built like bulldogs, with big broad heads and huge jaws. The granular skin is thickly covered with large bead-like tubercles. They are one of the largest and most distinctive species of gecko in the world. Adults reach 8 - 12 in. (10 - 31 cm) TL, occasionally as much as 14 in. (36 cm). Even at hatching, these geckos are already 3.5 - 4 in. (9 - 10 cm) long, adult size for many other species. Females are smaller, with narrower heads and duller coloration.
Habitat and Range
This species has been introduced into urban areas of Oahu in the Hawaiian Islands and parts of Florida, especially southern Florida. Unlike house geckos and other inadvertent hitchhikers, most, if not all, Tokay Gecko introductions are the result of released pets. Local populations can be very large. In one night, over 20 Tokays were counted in an hour on the walls of a pet shop. These lizards are native to Southeast Asia, from Bangladesh to the Philippines, south through Indochina and parts of Indonesia.
These lizards are highly territorial, dominant males using loud calls to proclaim territory, and even attacking interlopers. Unlike the faint squeaks of other geckos, Tokay calls can be heard many yards away. The name, Tokay Gecko, is derived from the loud night-time calls of this species. Large Tokays are formidable, capable of painful bites and even severe lacerations to a careless handler’s fingers. Females lay pairs of eggs communally. As many as 140 eggs have been found in one nest. They feed on large insects or any other prey they can overcome, including other lizards and frogs. They are sometimes deliberately released in homes and buildings to control cockroaches. Although they will eat cockroaches, Tokays are ineffective as biological control agents. In parts of Asia it is considered good luck to have Tokays living in your house.
The Tokay Gecko is unmistakable. Its combination of large size, huge head and light, blue-gray color with orange spots couldn’t be confused with any other lizard in the United States.
Conservation & Other Threats
This huge gecko is capable of not only competing with native lizards, but preying upon them as well. As such, they could have a devastating effect on native lizard or frog populations if they expand out of urban enclaves.
This species profile relies heavily on: Bartlett & Bartlett 1999; Conant et al. 1998; McKeown 1996; Meshaka et al. 2004