Tokay Gecko Fact File
The tokay gecko is a large species which is coloured blue or grayish blue which is spotted with orange dots. Their short legs end with enlarged toe pads that are adhesive to allow them to grab on to tree trunks and other surfaces. They have a large eye which is coloured by a transparent scale. As a gecko they lack an eyelid. The ears are visible as a small slit on the side of the head.
On top of the head is a rudimentary ‘third eye’ or parietal eye which is found in some other lizards. This is used not for sight but to detect light. While the purpose of this is unclear it is believed that this is used to regulate activity.
Tokay geckoes have an additional fold of skin which helps to prevent them casting a shadow when they are resting.
Male tokay geckoes are typically more colourful than females and have a larger head.
Males measure 35-40cm (13-16in) long with females measuring 20-30cm (8-12in). They weigh 141-397g (5-14oz).
The majority of the tokay geckoes diet is insects. They will also eat rats, mice, small birds, amphibians and snakes.Typically the tokay gecko will sit and wait for prey to come to them instead of actively hunting.
Due to the large size of the tokay gecko they are able to eat a large number of insects. As such they are sometimes used as pest control.
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The tokay gecko is a native of Asia where they can be found throughout Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Philippines, Timor-Leste and Vietnam.
Many sightings have occurred in Taiwan and it is uncertain if this is a native population or introduced.
Outside their natural range they have also been introduced to a number of other countries such as Guadeloupe, Hong Kong, Madagascar, Martinique, Singapore and the United States.
Tokay geckoes are typically found in forests or rock crevices. As human settlements have expanded they have adapted to living in manmade areas including houses.
Breeding takes place from March through to October. Males will use their call to attract females and release a secretion from their femoral pores which it is also thought helps with attracting a mate. They will grab their female with their mouth before mating with her.
Males may mate with several females during the same breeding season.
Each clutch contains 2 eggs but they may produce multiple clutches in one season. The eggs are oval shaped and are attached to solid foundation such as a rock crevice. Both parents will help guard the eggs till they hatch after an incubation period which varies from 100-180 days.
When they hatch these geckoes are 5-7.5cm (2-3in) long.
Sexual maturity is achieved at 1 year old.
The tokay gecko is most noticeable as a result of the males loud “to-kay” call. This is used both to attract a mate and to defend themself.
Tokay geckoes are nocturnal emerging at night to hunt and spending their day’s hidden away in rock crevices. Most of their time is spent in the trees.
These animals are solitary and will aggressively defend their territory against intruders. They have a strong bite.
Predators and Threats
Tokay geckoes face a wide range of predators including snakes, frogs and birds.
To avoid predation the tokay gecko is able to lose their tail. This distracts a predator with a free meal while the rest of the gecko escapes unscathed. After about 3 weeks the tail will re-grow though typically the new tail is shorter than the old one.
Humans affect the population of tokay geckoes through a range of methods. A major one is collection for the pet trade.They have also come under increasing pressure from collection for traditional medicine. At times they have been tied to treatment for asthma, cancer, diabetes and more. A spike in poaching occurred around 2009 when it was widely circulated that these animals may be a cure for HIV/AIDS. None of these links have been proven through science.
While they are listed as Least Concern by the IUCN there is significant evidence to suggest that there population is suffering large declines.
The tokay gecko has become a popular pet which is helped by their distinctive colouration.
Throughout parts of their range the tokay gecko is seen to bring good luck and fertility.
By Nick Hobgood – Flickr, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5728751
Thomas Fuhrmann / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)
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