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Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Species Fact Profile: Tokay Gecko (Gekko gecko)

Tokay Gecko
Gekko gecko (Linnaeus, 1758)

Range: Southeast Asia, Indonesia
Habitat: Tropical Rainforest, Cliffs
Diet: Insects
Social Grouping: Territorial, Solitary
Reproduction: Breeding season lasts 4-5 months, with the female laying eggs every month; two eggs are stuck to a surface by the female (they are soft and sticky when laid, harden shortly after) and are guarded by both parents until they hatch after 100-180 days.  The young are sexually mature at 3 years.
Lifespan: 10-20 Years
Conservation Status: Not Evaluated

  • Body length 35 centimeters - cylindrical body is slightly flattened, large head with large prominent eyes, soft granular skin.  Males are larger and more brightly colored than females
  • Gray background color with brown or red spots and flecks, ability to lighten or darken skin color
  • Ability to climb on walls and overhead surfaces due to fine, hair-like setae on toes
  • Common name comes from the load "to-kay" sound, repeated multiple times during courtship
  • If seized by a predator, the tail can be dropped; it will continue to wriggle violently, distracting the predator while the gecko escapes.  A new tail will be grown in the next few weeks
  • Often found in urban environments, living in buildings and feeding on insects
  • In some parts of their range, they are regarded as symbols of luck and fortune, descended from dragons.  It is sometimes poached for use in Traditional Chinese Medicine
  • Despite its becoming less common; it has, been introduced and established in some areas outside of its native range, including the United States and Caribbean
  • Two recognized subspecies - the nominate, found over most of the range, and G. g. azhari, found in Bangladesh

Zookeeper's Journal: Tokay geckos are fairly common both in zoos and the pet trade... and wherever they go, they have a rotten reputation.  They're infamous for being bitey little rage monsters, and I've had more than one latched to the end of a finger.  The thing is, though, the geckos themselves aren't that bad.  It's just that many of the ones I've worked with (abandoned pets turned over to zoos) have been wild born, and as such, view people as something equivalent to the devil.  A lot of wild caught reptiles have reactions like this and develop reputations as foul-tempered, or poor feeders, or parasite-laden, or what have you.  As the captive reptile population becomes more and more captive bred, we're finding that a lot of our early stereotypes about some of these reptiles - Tokays included - are just the result of the terrible conditions that some of the first generation animals had to go through.

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