Kuhl’s flying gecko

Unlike what their name suggests, these reptiles can’t fly but only leap between tree tops

Bernard DUPONT

Kuhl’s flying gecko


Unlike what their name suggests, these reptiles can’t fly but only leap between tree tops


An arboreal lizard with extraordinary adaptations for gliding, which it employs to travel between trees in its dense forest habitat. These geckos inhabit a range of environments across Southeast Asia, including the tropical rainforests of India, Thailand, Malaysia, and Singapore, as well as the islands of Sumatra, Java, and Borneo.

The physical structure of the Kuhl’s flying gecko is a testament to its arboreal lifestyle. Their bodies are flattened, which aids in aerodynamics during gliding. The tail is broad and leaf-like, which provides stability and lift in the air. The most distinctive feature of this species is the presence of webbing between their toes and lateral skin flaps along their sides, extending to their tails. These flaps spread out during gliding, allowing the gecko to soar gracefully and steer through the air, covering distances of up to 60 meters (almost 200 feet) in a single glide.

The toe pads of Kuhl’s flying gecko are equipped with thousands of microscopic hairs called setae. These hairs increase the surface area of the toe pads and utilize van der Waals forces to adhere to surfaces, enabling the gecko to climb and cling to various surfaces, including vertical tree trunks and even smooth glass.

Kuhl’s flying geckos have a nocturnal lifestyle, coming out at night to hunt for their primary food source: insects. Cockroaches, moths, and other small invertebrates comprise the bulk of their diet. Their specialized eyes allow them to see well in low-light conditions, giving them an advantage as nighttime predators.

During the day, these geckos tend to rest, often camouflaged against tree bark or foliage, thanks to their mottled brown and green skin, which mimics the textures and colors of their forest home. This camouflage also helps protect them from diurnal predators.


Population est.
Jawa, Sumatera, Kalimantan
Peninsular Malaysia, Sabah, Sarawak

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Terrestrial / Aquatic

Altricial / Precocial

Polygamous / Monogamous

Dimorphic (size) / Monomorphic

Active: Diurnal / Nocturnal

Social behavior: Solitary / Pack / Herd

Diet: Carnivore / Herbivore / Omnivore / Piscivorous / Insectivore

Migratory: Yes / No

Domesticated: Yes / No

Dangerous: Yes / No