Hemidactylus frenatusChichak, Common House Gecko

Geographic Range

Hemidactylus frenatus, also known as the Common (or Asian) House Gecko, is native to Southeast Asia, but is found worldwide due to human introduction. Although the species originated from countries such as India, Malaysia, and Thailand, they have now expanded to other regions such as Africa, Australia, and the Americas. In the United States, Hemidactylus frenatus can be found in small parts of Alabama, Georgia, Florida, California, Mississippi, and Texas. ("Asian House Gecko", 2016; Texas Invasive Species Institute, 2014)


The Common House Gecko is found in tropical, subtropical, and warm-temperate regions and prefers warm, humid areas. It is a nocturnal species that likes to hide in shelters during the day time. They can be found in a wide range of habitats, such as rain forests, savannas, and deserts. It was originally a terrestrial tree-living species, but in more populated human areas, it occurs on buildings, especially near artificial lighting. The species is commonly seen close to electric lights after nightfall. In more natural environments, H. frenatus can be found in forested areas, open fields, or rocky areas. They tend to dwell under large rocks, rotting logs, tree trunks, and areas with low ground coverage. H. frenatus prefers living near areas that are more open and have a concentrated population of insects for easy hunting. They are less abundant in forest habitats that have complicated topographic structures. This species thrives in human populated areas where flat walls and ceilings allow for easy hunting near the artificial lighting that attracts insects. This why H. frenatus is referred to as the Common House Gecko. ("Asian House Gecko", 2016; "Hemidactylus frenatus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species", 2010; Cole, 2014; Wilson, 2016)

  • Range elevation
    sea level to 1600m above sea level m
    to ft

Physical Description

Hemidactylus frenatus measures about 75-150 mm in length, with a tendency for males to be larger than females. It is usually grey or light brown to beige in color with greenish iridescence and a white underside. They also sometimes appear to be semi-transparent. Their scales are generally uniform anteriorally, but increase in size along the back, and large spiny scales are arranged in bands around the tail. H. frenatus has vertical pupils and has visual sensitivity to the dark. Their eyes are binocular and have a low convergence ratio with a high visual cell density. These modifications allow it to see during nighttime hours, when it is most active. Like most lizards, H. frenatus has four developed legs, a long tail, and a prehensile tongue for catching prey. Another characteristic of these geckos are their enlarged claws and adhesive toe pads. This aids their ability to climb walls and ceilings. ("Asian House Gecko", 2016; Hammerson, 2005; Texas Invasive Species Institute, 2014)

  • Sexual Dimorphism
  • male larger
  • Range length
    75 to 150 mm
    2.95 to 5.91 in


Hemidactylus frenatus is oviparous, but unlike most reptilian species, their eggs are round and hard-shelled, which makes them more resistant to moisture and increases their chances of survival when moved around. Eggs must incubate at a minimum of 28 degrees Celcius in order for development to occur. Three to four weeks after fertilization, females lay two eggs that partially adhere to a surface. Young ones grow fast and can become sexually mature in about six months to a year. Like many gecko species, H. frenatus has temperature-dependent sex determination, with the sex of hatchlings determined by nest temperatures during a critical period, usually towards the middle of the incubation period. ("Asian House Gecko", 2016; Cole, 2014)

  • Development - Life Cycle
  • temperature sex determination


Mating involves a short courship where the male repeatedly touches the female with his snout and may bite or hold her by the neck. In tropical areas, breeding occurs throughout the year. In cooler climates, breeding is more seasonal. This vocal species will give out its distinctive three to five-note call as it approaches a female for courtship, and again after mating. ("Asian House Gecko", 2016; Cole, 2014)

Hemidactylus frenatus is a sexually producing, oviparous species. This means that it is an egg laying species that will have offspring that hatch and mature outside of the female body. To protect against predators, eggs are laid in crevices. Eggs are produced all year round in its native habitat. In colder areas, eggs are not laid in the winter. The incubation period of H. frenatus is about 46 to 62 days. Hatchlings measure 46 to 60 mm in length. Females typically lay two hard-shelled eggs. In some island populations, natural or human disturbances have resulted in more eggs being laid. Sometimes, the large white egg will be visible through the female's clear/white underside. Females can also store sperm for up to a year, a feature that probably assists the species’ transportability and invasion success. ("Asian House Gecko", 2016; Cole, 2014; Das, 2006; Wilson, 2016)

  • Breeding interval
    Eggs are produced all year round
  • Breeding season
    Year round in sub-tropical areas, no winter breeding in temperate areas
  • Average number of offspring
  • Range gestation period
    46 to 62 days
  • Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
    6 to 12 months
  • Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male)
    6 to 12 months

Eggs, which are not attended by either parent, typically incubate within a range of 46 to 62 days, depending on geographical location. In warmer climates incubation times tend to be shorter. There is no post-hatching care. ("Asian House Gecko", 2016)

  • Parental Investment
  • pre-fertilization
    • provisioning
    • protecting
      • female
  • pre-hatching/birth


Hemidactylus frenatus has a life span of about 5 years. A closely related species, H. turcicus, lived for over 8 years in captivity. ("Asian House Gecko", 2016)

  • Average lifespan
    Status: wild
    5 years
  • Typical lifespan
    Status: captivity
    8? (high) years


House Geckos are quite territorial. When confronting other members of the same species, H. frenatus have violent tendencies and are more aggressive than other gecko species. It is not uncommon for them to approach and bite other geckos. These encounters often lead to tail loss or scars. These geckos are non-venomous and harmless to humans. Medium to large geckos may bite if distressed, however their bite is gentle and will not pierce skin. ("Asian House Gecko", 2016; Ota, 1936)

Home Range

Home ranges and territories can be quite small, perhaps encompassing just one wall of a building. (Hammerson, 2005)

Communication and Perception

The House Gecko has a distinctive three to five note call that is commonly described as "chuck, chuck, chuck". They have a loud vocalization that tends to be louder and more frequent than other gecko species. These calls can be heard throughout day and night. Males use this call for a variety of situations such as emerging from daytime shelters, moving to feeding areas, after feeding, winning a fight with another male, approaching a female during courtship, and after mating. These calls are used to establish and maintain territories. ("Asian House Gecko", 2016; Das, 2006)

Food Habits

Hemidactylus frenatus is a generalist predator on small invertebrates and vertebrates, with insects and spiders forming the majority of its diet. The gecko will eat almost any insect or spider it can catch and swallow, and are also known to eat other small lizards, including juveniles of their own species. H. frenatus will also consume nectar and some other sugar-based products. (Cole, 2014; Das, 2006)

  • Animal Foods
  • reptiles
  • insects
  • terrestrial non-insect arthropods
  • Plant Foods
  • nectar


Predators of H. frenatus include cats, birds, snakes, rats, dogs, large spiders, praying mantids and larger lizards. Like many other species of lizards, H. frenatus can detach their tails if they are grabbed or distressed (tail autotomy). The detached tail will wriggle and often distract the predator, allowing the gecko to escape. ("Asian House Gecko", 2016; Cole, 2014)

  • Anti-predator Adaptations
  • cryptic

Ecosystem Roles

Hemidactylus frenatus is a territorial and aggressive species, and a potential competitor with other gecko species. As nocturnal insectivores, they may out-compete and displace other species of lizards that occupy the same niche. ("Asian House Gecko", 2016; Cole, 2014; Texas Invasive Species Institute, 2014)

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Hemidactylus frenatus were found on small palm trees in a coconut plantation, and presumably benefit agriculture by consuming insect pests. They also undoubtedly help control insects in urban environments. Geckos of various species are sometimes exploited for traditional medicine and the pet trade in some Asian countries. ("Asian House Gecko", 2016; "Hemidactylus frenatus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species", 2010; Das, 2006; Texas Invasive Species Institute, 2014)

  • Positive Impacts
  • pet trade
  • body parts are source of valuable material
  • controls pest population

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

In urban areas and other human populated locations, H. frenatus can inhabit household areas, and even enter homes. Some people welcome the geckos as good pest controllers, while others view them as pests.

H. frenatus has a potentially greater impact as an invasive species. This gecko has been transported to warm climate localities world-wide, as they easily hide in shipping containers and cargo and are then moved to new areas. Due to an aggressive and territorial nature, H. frenatus can pose a threat to other nocturnal, urban-adapted geckos. H. frenatus has been observed stalking, biting, or even eating other native and introduced gecko species. ("Asian House Gecko", 2016; Cole, 2014; Das, 2006; Texas Invasive Species Institute, 2014)

  • Negative Impacts
  • household pest

Conservation Status

There are no known conservation measures for H. frenatus. In some parts of the world, this species occurs in protected areas. They are also successful in many urban and suburban areas. There are currently no conservation efforts needed for this species because it is widespread and often abundant. ("Hemidactylus frenatus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species", 2010)


Krista Wu (author), Michigan State University, James Harding (editor), Michigan State University, Tanya Dewey (editor), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.



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

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living in sub-Saharan Africa (south of 30 degrees north) and Madagascar.

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living in the Nearctic biogeographic province, the northern part of the New World. This includes Greenland, the Canadian Arctic islands, and all of the North American as far south as the highlands of central Mexico.

World Map


living in the southern part of the New World. In other words, Central and South America.

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

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uses sound to communicate


Referring to an animal that lives in trees; tree-climbing.


an animal that mainly eats meat


having a worldwide distribution. Found on all continents (except maybe Antarctica) and in all biogeographic provinces; or in all the major oceans (Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific.


having markings, coloration, shapes, or other features that cause an animal to be camouflaged in its natural environment; being difficult to see or otherwise detect.


animals which must use heat acquired from the environment and behavioral adaptations to regulate body temperature


union of egg and spermatozoan


forest biomes are dominated by trees, otherwise forest biomes can vary widely in amount of precipitation and seasonality.


An animal that eats mainly plants or parts of plants.


An animal that eats mainly insects or spiders.


referring to animal species that have been transported to and established populations in regions outside of their natural range, usually through human action.


having the capacity to move from one place to another.

native range

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


an animal that mainly eats nectar from flowers


active during the night


found in the oriental region of the world. In other words, India and southeast Asia.

World Map


reproduction in which eggs are released by the female; development of offspring occurs outside the mother's body.

pet trade

the business of buying and selling animals for people to keep in their homes as pets.


the kind of polygamy in which a female pairs with several males, each of which also pairs with several different females.

scrub forest

scrub forests develop in areas that experience dry seasons.

seasonal breeding

breeding is confined to a particular season


remains in the same area


reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female


mature spermatozoa are stored by females following copulation. Male sperm storage also occurs, as sperm are retained in the male epididymes (in mammals) for a period that can, in some cases, extend over several weeks or more, but here we use the term to refer only to sperm storage by females.


living in residential areas on the outskirts of large cities or towns.


uses touch to communicate


that region of the Earth between 23.5 degrees North and 60 degrees North (between the Tropic of Cancer and the Arctic Circle) and between 23.5 degrees South and 60 degrees South (between the Tropic of Capricorn and the Antarctic Circle).


Living on the ground.


defends an area within the home range, occupied by a single animals or group of animals of the same species and held through overt defense, display, or advertisement


the region of the earth that surrounds the equator, from 23.5 degrees north to 23.5 degrees south.


living in cities and large towns, landscapes dominated by human structures and activity.


movements of a hard surface that are produced by animals as signals to others


uses sight to communicate

year-round breeding

breeding takes place throughout the year


Department of Agriculture and Fisheries: Biosecurity Queensland. Asian House Gecko. Australia: State of Queensland. 2016.

International Union for Conservation of Nature. Hemidactylus frenatus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Berne: IUCN. 2010. Accessed December 14, 2016 at http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/176130/0.

Cole, N. 2014. "Hemidactylus frenatus" (On-line). Global Invasive Species Database. Accessed December 14, 2016 at http://www.iucngisd.org/gisd/species.php?sc=1344.

Das, I. 2006. Snakes and Other Reptiles of Borneo. Sanibel Island, Florida: Ralph Curtis Publishing, Inc..

Hammerson, G. 2005. Hemidactylus frenatus. Standard common and current scientific names for North American amphibians and reptiles., 7.1 Edition. NatureServe. Accessed December 14, 2016 at http://explorer.natureserve.org/servlet/NatureServe?searchName=Hemidactylus+frenatus.

Ota, H. 1936. Hemidactylus okinawensis OKADA. Journal of Herpetology, 23/4: 444-445.

Texas Invasive Species Institute, 2014. "Texas Invasive Species Institution" (On-line). Common House Gecko. Accessed December 14, 2016 at http://www.tsusinvasives.org/home/database/hemidactylus-frenatus.

Wilson, S. 2016. "Queensland Museum" (On-line). Asian House Gecko. Accessed December 14, 2016 at file:///C:/Users/fluff/Downloads/fact-sheet-asian-house-geckos.pdf.