Gekko geckoTokay Gecko

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Geographic Range

Tokay Geckoes are found from northeast India to the Indo-Australian Archipelago.

Habitat

The Tokay Gecko lives in tropical rain forests, on cliffs and trees, and as pets amongst human habitation. They are arboreal (tree-dwelling and cliff-dwelling).

Physical Description

Tokay Geckoes are one of the largest geckoes alive today with a length of around 35 cm. The body of a Gekko gecko is cylindrical, squat, and somewhat flattened on the upper side. The limbs are well-defined and uniformly developed. The head is large and set off from the neck, and they have large, prominent eyes with vertically-slit pupils. The eyelids of these animals are fused together and transparent. They also have remains of a rudimentary third eye on the top of their head, which is believed to coordinate their activity to light conditions.

The ears can be seen on the outside of the gecko as small holes on both sides of the head. It is possible to see straight through the head of these geckoes through their ears. Tokay Geckoes have a hearing range from about 300 Hertz to 10,000 Hertz.

They have soft, granular skin that feels velvety to the touch. The coloration of a Tokay Gecko is very important to its lifestyle. The skin is usually gray with several brownish-red to bright red spots and flecks but it has the ability to lighten or darken the coloring of its skin. They usually do so in order to blend in or to be less noticeable to other animals.

In the Gekko gecko, there are obvious male and female differences. The male is more brightly colored than the female and generally, the male is slightly larger than the female. A conspicuous difference between the sexes is the small amount of swelling at the base of the tail of the male, due to the presence of the two hemipenes. Also, the males have visible preanal and femoral pores and postanal tubercules.

Something that is very helpful to the Gekko gecko is their toes that have fine setae on them, allowing them to cling to vertical and over-hanging surfaces and move at fast speeds.

Reproduction

During breeding season, which lasts about 4-5 months, males copulate frequently with females, often grasping them with their mouths during copulation. During the breeding period, females lay eggs about every month. In order to attract a mate, a male has a call that can be heard over a wide area. This loud "to-kay" sound is repeated multiple times. The male approaches the female from the rear, and they move side to side while he holds her in place with his teeth, biting her in the neck region. The female looks for a laying- site, and when she finds the right one, she affixes the hard-shelled eggs (oval-shaped; anywhere from 3 mm to 45 mm) to a solid foundation where they are guarded by both parents until they hatch. In captivity, Tokay Geckoes are prone to eating their own eggs.

Lifespan/Longevity

Behavior

Tokay Geckoes are solitary creatures. They only encounter the opposite sex during the breeding season. They will defend their territory against intruders of the same species and of other species, ensuring less competition for food. If their space is violated, a fight will definitely come about. The territory is generally guarded by males but is occasionally watched by the female.

These geckoes can inflict severe bites if they are sufficiently threatened.

The nose is used for breathing and also for detecting scents. Scents are detected by the large number of sensory cells on a membrane in the nostrils. They are also detected by using the Jacobson's organ which develops similarly to the nose but separates from the nose during embryonal development and forms its own attachment to the palate. The Tokay Gecko's tongue is used to carry scent particles to the holes in the palate. As the gecko "waves" his tongue, these particles are carried to the palate and then transported to the Jacobson's organ.

They have folds of skin that prevent the animal from casting a shadow while resting on a tree. They open up the skin fold completely and this allows them to blend in with the tree bark.

An important characteristic of the Tokay Gecko is its ability to cast off its tail in defense and regenerate a new one. The part of the tail that has been cast off will continue to move violently for several minutes until it slows down and stops, thus giving the gecko fair time to escape. The tail has several sections on it where it can break off at any given moment. It takes approximately three weeks for these geckoes to completely regenerate a new tail although it is usually never as long as the original tail.

Calls of the Tokay Gecko are used for communication, finding members of the opposite sex during the breeding season, and as a means of defense (they emit a hissing or croaking noise when being attacked).

Tokay Geckoes are nocturnal creatures.

Food Habits

Tokay Geckoes are insectivorous. In captivity, they usually feed on springtails, mealworms, cockroaches, crickets, grasshoppers, pink mice, and locusts.

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Tokay Geckoes eat pests such as cockroaches and locusts. They are sold as pets.

In parts of southeast Asia, Tokay Geckoes are regarded as harbingers of luck, good fortune, and fertility.

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

These animals have an unpleasant disposition and can inflict severe bites when handled.

Conservation Status

There is no special status for Tokay Geckoes.

  • IUCN Red List [Link]
    Not Evaluated

Contributors

Jaime Corl (author), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.

Glossary

Australian

Living in Australia, New Zealand, Tasmania, New Guinea and associated islands.

World Map

Palearctic

living in the northern part of the Old World. In otherwords, Europe and Asia and northern Africa.

World Map

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.

rainforest

rainforests, both temperate and tropical, are dominated by trees often forming a closed canopy with little light reaching the ground. Epiphytes and climbing plants are also abundant. Precipitation is typically not limiting, but may be somewhat seasonal.

References

Do, H.G., and G.C.G. 1997. "Geckoes." The New Encyclopedia Brittanica. Chicago: Encyclopedia Brittanica, Inc. Vol. 26 (macropaedia). p. 693.

Frank, Norman, and Erica Ramus. 1995. A COMPLETE GUIDE TO SCIENTIFIC AND COMMON NAMES OF REPTILES AND AMPHIBIANS OF THE WORLD. Pottsville (PA): NG Publishing Inc. p. 146.

Henkel, Friedrich-Wilhelm, and Wolfgang Schmidt. 1995. Geckoes. Trans. John Hackworth. Malabar (FL): Krieger Publishing Company. pp. 7-9, 12, 14, 19-23, 37, 45, 136, 153.

Schmidt, Karl P., and Robert F. Inger. 1988. Academic American Encyclopedia. Danbury: Grolier Incorporated. Vol. 9. pp. 66-67.

Wagner, Ernie. 1980. REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY AND DISEASES OF CAPTIVE REPTILES. Laurence (KS): Meseraull Printing, Inc. pp. 91, 115-116.