Tokay Gecko

Tokay Gecko

Reptiles

SCIENTIFIC CLASSIFICATION

COMMON NAME: tokay gecko, common gecko
KINGDOM: Animalia
PHYLUM: Chordata
CLASS: Reptilia
ORDER: Squamata
FAMILY: Gekkonidae
GENUS SPECIES: Gekko (Malayan) gecko (named for the barking sound the Asian species makes)

FAST FACTS

DESCRIPTION: Greenish gray lizard with gray and orange-brown spots covering body; body is slender with a large head; eyes are prominent in all species; broad fleshy toes with inner folds
SIZE: 25-30 cm (10-12 in.) average total body length; maximum length of 35 cm (14 in.)
WEIGHT: No data
DIET: Insects, baby birds, and small mammals such as nesting mice
INCUBATION: 100-182 days
CLUTCH SIZE 2 eggs
SEXUAL MATURITY: 3 years
LIFE SPAN: Up to 20 years
RANGE: Southeast Asia and Malayan Isles; northeast China, Indonesia, and Thailand
HABITAT: Arboreal; bushes, trees and on or around rocks
POPULATION: GLOBAL No data
STATUS: IUCN No data
CITES Not listed
USFWS Not listed

FUN FACTS

1. Nearly all geckos have a voice, ranging from a small squeak to the deafening whistles of the African whistling gecko.
2. The gecko sticks its eggs to walls or rocks near cracks or holes. More than one female may use the same 'nest'. The eggs are soft-shelled at first with a very sticky surface. They harden soon after they are laid.
3. Tokays have padded toes with sticking power, which has long been the obsession of scientists. However, knowing what research has found, it's not surprising. Each of its four feet has five toes. Each toe has fine hairs 1/10 mm long, packed at 5,000 hairs per sq mm (3,000,000 per sq inch). Each hair has 400-1,000 branches that end in a spatula-like structure about 1/50,000 inch long. Each hair is strong enough to support an ant's weight. One million hairs can support a small child!
4. Tokay Geckoes are solitary creatures, only encountering the opposite sex during the breeding season. They are territorial and will defend their space against intruders of the same species and of other species, ensuring less competition for food.
5. These geckoes can inflict severe bites if they are sufficiently threatened.
6. Their nose is used for breathing and also for detecting scents. A large number of sensory cells on a membrane in the nostrils and the Jacobson's organ help tokays to hunt. Their tongue is used to carry scent particles to the holes in their palate. These particles are then transported to the Jacobson's organ, which tells their brain about the environment (smell and taste).
7. They have folds of skin that prevent them from casting a shadow while resting on a tree. By opening up the skin fold completely, it allows them to blend in with the tree bark.
8. Another important feature of the tokay is its ability to cast off its tail in defense and later regenerate a new one. The cast off part will continue to move for several minutes, giving the gecko time to escape. 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.
9. In parts of Southeast Asia, tokays are regarded as bringers of luck, good fortune, and fertility.

ECOLOGY AND CONSERVATION

Tokay geckos are important in controlling pest populations such as cockroaches and locusts. Unfortunately, because they are able to pack a powerful bite, most people do not want them around. Though they are not in immediately danger, habitat destruction and the pet trade will eventually take a toll on their populations.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Barlett, R.D. and Patricial P. Bartlett. Iguanas. Barron's, New York. 1995.

Halliday, Tim R., and Adler, Kraig. The Encyclopedia of Reptiles and Amphibians. New York: Equinox Books, 1986.

Flank, Lenny Jr. Herp Help. New York: Howell Book House, 1998.

geocities.com/Athens/forum/8318/gecko.html

Utah's Hogel Zoo. hoglezoo.org/reptiles/gecko.htm