golddust day gecko Phelsuma laticauda on leaf Madagascar Hawaii

Phelsuma laticauda


Geckos (Suborder Gekkota: the geckos and pygopodids) are an extremely diverse and species rich group. Geckos comprise about 14% of all reptile species with over 1400 described species in 118 genera. Geckos are widely distributed in both the eastern and western hemispheres and can be found on numerous oceanic islands.
Geckos are perhaps best known for their climbing abilities. Hair-like bristles on their feet, known as setae, allow geckos to climb on a variety of surfaces, including glass. Individual seta possess branching projections at the tip. The contact of the finely branched setae with a surface produces millions of weak molecular attractions allowing the gecko to stick. Gecko feet never lose their “stickiness”. In fact, dead geckos still retain the ability to stick!

gecko toepad toe pad evolution Hemidactylus Phelsuma Sphaerodactylus Ptyodactylus adhesive pads

Adhesive toepads have been gained and lost many times during the course of gecko evolution. Geckos have also developed a variety of adhesive toepad forms. Above are just a few examples. Clockwise (from upper left) Ptyodactylus guttatus, Phelsuma laticauda, Sphaerodactylus elegans, and Hemidactylus frenatus.


House gecko toe

Hemidactylus garnotii toepad

Day gecko feet

Phelsuma grandis

Geckos are the only lizards to regularly vocalize. Many species use a series of short chirps in a variety of social interactions. Most geckos are nocturnal although there are some exceptions and diurnality seems to have evolved independently several times (e.g. Cnemaspis, Sphaerodactylus, Gonatodes, Lygodactylus, Narudasia, Phelsuma, Quedenfeldtia, and Rhoptropus).
Reproductive traits in geckos are extremely varied. Nearly all geckos are oviparous (egg-layers) with the exception of the New Zealand geckos (Naultinus, Dactylocnemis, Woodworthia, Tukutuku, Toropuku, Mokopirirakau, and Hoplodactylus) and Rhacodactylus trachyrhyncus (from New Caledonia) which are live-bearing. Oviparous geckos may lay hard-shelled eggs (e.g. Sphaerodactylidae, Phyllodactylidae and Gekkonidae) or soft-shelled eggs (e.g. Diplodactylidae, Carphodactylidae, Pygopodidae, and Eublepharidae). Most geckos reproduce sexually although there are some parthenogenetic forms such as Lepidodactylus lugubris, Heteronotia binoei, Nactus pelagicus, Hemiphyllodactylus typus, and several species of Hemidactylus which consist of all-female populations. Geckos posses both genetic sex determination (e.g. Coleonyx, some Gekko, pygopodids), with either male or female heterogametey, and temperature-dependant sex determination (e.g. Eublepharis macularius, Hemitheconyx caudicinctus and Phelsuma madagascariensis).

Tokay gecko Gekko gecko bite

Gekko gecko

Pachydactylus gaiasensis from Namibia

Pachydactylus gaiasensis


Click on the names below to see photos of representative species from each of the seven gecko families. Photos of over 160 gecko species in all!


Photo use information

Correlophus ciliatus crested gecko photo Rhacodactylus

Correlophus ciliatus

Rhacodactylus Correlophus ciliatus crested gecko closeup head morph

Correlophus ciliatus

Leaf-toed gecko Mexico

Phyllodactylus xanti

House gecko and moth

Hemidactylus mabouia and moth in Manaus, Brazil



The Reptile Database has a list of gecko species.

The Global Gecko Association

Geckos Unlimited - Forum

Copyright © 2003-2014. Tony Gamble
Updated: 30 July, 2012





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