Tokay gecko

Its large eyes are equipped with highly sensitive retinas, which allow it to see in low light conditions

Andrew Hoffman

One of the world’s largest geckos, it is a species that is admired and feared due to its distinctive features and behavior. Native to rainforests and rural human dwellings in Southeast Asia, including countries like Thailand, Philippines, Malaysia, and Indonesia, it has also spread to some Pacific Islands.

An adult Tokay gecko can grow to a length of 25 to 30 centimeters (10 to 12 inches), making it one of the most robust and sizable geckos in existence. The skin of the Tokay gecko is a canvas of vibrant colors, often a blend of blue-gray or dark gray base adorned with bright orange or red spots. These spots act as a superb camouflage amidst the bark and leaves of trees, allowing it to avoid detection by both predators and prey.

The skin of the Tokay gecko also has another remarkable trait: it is covered in fine hairs known as setae. These setae allow the Tokay to climb smooth surfaces easily, a feature that has been the subject of scientific research for its potential applications in creating better adhesives.

Tokay geckos are known for their aggressive temperament, especially when threatened. They are not timid creatures and have a powerful bite, which they are not afraid to use in defense. They are territorial and solitary animals, with males particularly exhibiting aggression towards intruders during the mating season.

The vocal abilities of the Tokay gecko are perhaps what they are best known for. Their loud and piercing “to-kay” call, from which their name derives, can be heard from a considerable distance and is used by males to attract females and assert their territory. This call is most frequently heard during the evening and nighttime hours when these nocturnal creatures are most active.

Distribution

Country
Population est.
Status
Year
Comments
Bangladesh
2017
Belize
2017
Possibly Extant, Introduced (resident)
Bhutan
2017
Cambodia
2017
China
2017
Presence Uncertain, Introduced: Guangxi
East Timor
2017
Guadeloupe
2017
Introduced
Hong Kong
2017
Introduced
India
2017
Indonesia
2017
Laos
2017
Madagascar
2017
Introduced
Malaysia
2017
Martinique
2017
Introduced
Myanmar
2017
Nepal
2017
Philippines
2017
Singapore
2017
Introduced
Taiwan
2017
Origin Uncertain
Thailand
2017
United States
2017
Introduced: Florida, Hawaiian Is.
Vietnam
2017

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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