Tokay Gecko
Gekko gecko (Linnaeus, 1758)

Family: Gekkonidae

Order: Squamata (Sauria) - Lizards

Class: Reptilia

Phylum: Chordata - Vertebrates

Kingdom: Animalia

Red List status: Not listed

Tokay gecko. Sakaerat Biosphere Reserve, Nakhon Ratchasima Province, Thailand

Snout-vent length: 180 mm

Total length: 350 mm

RANGE

Native throughout South and Southeast Asia, as far east as Timor. Introduced to Hawaii, Florida and several islands in the Caribbean, including Martinique and several offshore cayes in Belize.

            Range            Description            Habitat            Behaviour            Biology            Status            References
DESCRIPTION

The tokay is an unmistakable gecko, and among the world's largest. Base body colouration is khaki to brown, with spots or wide bands of pale blue-grey extending down the length of both body and tail. Most distinctive, however, is the dense red spotting over the head and body and the large, strikingly yellow irises. The body scales are large, rounded tubercles; those along the flanks and sides of the tail are strongly spinose. The head is large and rounded.

Call: Very loud, commonly-heard explosive two-syllable call variously described as "toh-kay" (from which the species' common name in English and local languages is derived) or "Gek-ko" (the origin of both the genus and family names for this group of lizards). The two-syllable call will often be preceded by a "chuk-chuk-chuck", sounding somewhat like the winding of a clockwork mechanism.

 

HABITAT

Naturally an arboreal species of rainforests, where it is most often encountered on the trunks of trees. More often encountered in urban settings and disturbed rural environments, either on trees or in buildings.

 

BEHAVIOUR

The species is nocturnal, and animals shelter in crevices by day. Strongly territorial tokays are typically solitary, but for part of the year may form family groups with an adult pair and immature offspring. Tokay geckos are famously aggressive, and if cornered may exhibit a warning gape display that exposes their black throat and red tongue.

Diet: An aggressive predator, this species is frequently encountered ambushing or actively foraging for insect prey, commonly large moths. Beetles, termites, locusts and occasional small vertebrates may also form prey items.

 

BIOLOGY

Breeding biology: All geckos lay a single pair of eggs in a breeding episode. Unusually, rare clutches of three eggs have been reported for this species (Cox et al, 1998). Gekko gecko is a 'plasterer', physically affixing eggs to solid surfaces rather than laying on the ground or wedging them into a crevice in the substrate.

 

STATUS

As a widespread, adaptable and often abundant species the Tokay is not regarded as a species of conservation concern. Nevertheless, the species is reportedly absent or present only in low abundance in heavily-altered regions of Vietnam (D. Emmett, personal communication), and may also be uncommon in southern China and some parts of Thailand. The Tokay is one of the most common species in the international pet trade, and many specimens are wild-caught. Harvesting for use in Chinese medicine may also threaten some populations.

 

REFERENCES

Cox, M.J., van Djik, P.P., Nabhitabhata, J. and Thirakhupt, K. 1998 Snakes and other reptiles of Thailand and South-east Asia, Asia Books, New Holland (UK)

Tokay gecko BBC Science & Nature: Wildfacts

Gekko gecko. Kep National Park, Cambodia. Note the regrown tail.