English name: Tokay Gecko
Scientific name: Gekko gecko
Thai name: Tuk-kae Ban
Description: To 40 cm long. Snout to base of tail is up to 18.5 cm. A huge gecko with a robust body. Grey to bluish-grey with bright red or orange spots. Most individuals also have pale to light blue spots, which sometimes can join together to form bands. Scales are granular, giving the skin a rough appearance, and tubercles form lines going down the body. Head is very broad and powerful. Tail is banded light and dark, vividly so in juveniles but fading in adults.
Similar Species: The large size and bright colors of the Tokay Gecko make it unmistakable in our area.
Habitat: Found in forests, parks, and near homes. Despite its large size it can be seen and heard throughout Bangkok. Is strictly arboreal, hiding in hollow trees and roofs during the day before becoming active on trees and walls at night.
Contribution to the ecosystem: Helps control insect populations as well as the populations of smaller geckos. Will also eat rodents and small snakes. Provides food for large snakes.
Danger to humans: Is large and strong enough to inflict a nasty bite, and should not be handled. Cannot do any real damage other than skin lacerations.
Conservation status and threats: This species is often collected for the pet trade and for use in Chinese medicine, and as a result its numbers have dropped in some areas. However, it is widespread and adapts well to human habitation, so there are no known large-scale conservation issues. Is listed as Endangered in China.
The Tokay Gecko has been introduced to several locations in the Americas, including Florida and Belize. Its large size and aggressive nature have led to concerns that it may be threatening local lizard populations.
Interesting facts: The Tokay Gecko gets its name from the recognizable “TOHK – AY” sound it makes from late afternoon through the night. In several parts of the city I have been unable to find the geckos due to their secretiveness and the heights they prefer, but can still hear their calls.
The Tokay Gecko is one of the largest species of gecko in the world, and its size sets it apart from other local geckos in a number of ways. It is the only gecko species in Bangkok to take vertebrates as prey, including young rodents, small snakes, and smaller species of gecko. While other geckos have many predators, the Tokay only has to worry about the larger snakes. And though the smaller geckos move quite quickly, a large Tokay Gecko can be amusing with its hefty “waddle” as it makes its way across a wall or tree branch.
Hong Kong University: Gekko gecko
National Zoo Fact Sheet: Tokay gecko
Wikipedia: Tokay Gecko
Ecology Asia: Tokay Gecko
Jail Warning to Save Philippine Geckos
Tokay Gecko established on South Water Caye, Belize
Thailand Office of Environmental Planning and Policy: A Checklist of Amphibians and Reptiles in Thailand
A Photographic Guide to Snakes and Other Reptiles of Peninsular Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand
A Field Guide to the Reptiles of South-East Asia
Hong Kong Amphibians and Reptiles (2nd Edition)