Different Types of Geckos

Gold Dust Day Gecko
Gold Dust Day Gecko | Source

Popular Gecko Pets

There are about 1500 different species of geckos, lizards in the suborder gekkota. They are fascinating reptiles that are able to climb, even smooth surfaces, like glass and walk on ceilings, because of adhesive pads on their toes.

These have been the subject of much scientific study, each pad is covered in thousands of hairs, known as setae, each of which is subdivided into hundreds of spatulae, which are 0.2 micrometer long. It is thought that the incredibly strong adhesive forces of the gecko's foot is produced by Van der Waals forces between the spatulae and the surface.

They are also the only lizards that can vocalise. In fact the name gecko comes from sound the sound the tokay gecko makes. A pair of the reptiles will interact with each other by making chirping sounds, as well as bobbing their heads or wagging their tail.

Geckos can easily lose their tails as a form of defence. The tail will grow back, although often it will not look the same as the original tail and will not have the same colour. Therefore when keeping these animals it is important to make sure they do not drop it. Never catch a gecko by its tail, and avoid touching it.

Out of all the species of geckos found around the world, several species are bred in captivity. The following is a description of the different types of geckos commonly available for people who want to keep them as pets.

The leopard gecko is great for the beginner keeper
The leopard gecko is great for the beginner keeper | Source

The Leopard Gecko

The leopard gecko, Eublepharis macularius ,is the most common gecko kept as a pet. Native to the deserts of Pakistan and NorthWest India, it is very hardy and easy to care for. Leopard geckos are unusual differ from the majority of geckos, in that they are ground dwelling and do not climb. They are nocturnal, spending the hot days hidden under rocks or in holes in the ground, and when kept in a terrarium appreciate hiding places.

Through selective breeding a huge variety of colour morphs is now available. These range from albinos, to lizards with patterns that are different from the wild type bands, known as jungle, lizards that have a large amount of orange pigment, ones with one long band running from the head to the tail, and many others. The absolute leader in the field of breeding morphs is Ron Tremper who was the first to develop many of the different colour variations and still breeds amazing geckos today.

Leopard geckos are fairly docile and can easily get used to being handled by their keepers.

Orange phase crested gecko
Orange phase crested gecko | Source

The Crested Gecko, Once Thought Extinct, Now A Very Popular Pet

These remarkable geckos, are only found in the forests of New Caledonia. They were once thought extinct, and were only discovered again in 1994. Now, through a program of captive breeding in the United States and Europe, they are one of the most popular reptile pets, and they are very easy to find by hobbyists looking to keep them.

The common name of Rhacodactylus ciliates derives from the hair-like skin projections above each eye, and running from the eyes to the tail. This has also given it the name 'eyelash gecko'. These lizards are nocturnal and arboreal. Their adhesive toes end in little claws which help them to cling to surfaces. The tail is also semi-prehensile and ends in an adhesive pad.

These are fairly hardy geckos, that are easy to keep and tolerate being handled by their owners. As well as insects, they feed on fruit, and can be maintained on a commercial diet, rhapashy, sold as a powder. They require a tall vivarium with many branches to climb, and preferable live plants.

Giant Madagascar Day Gecko
Giant Madagascar Day Gecko | Source

The Day Geckos of Madagascar

Phelsuma day geckos are endemic to Madagascar and surrounding islands. They are very brightly coloured, often green with red markings, although the neon day gecko, has a yellow head and two neon blue lines running down its side. Blue markings are also present on other species such as the amusing blue eye shadow that the gold dust gecko uses.

Unlike the majority of species, Phelsuma geckos are diurnal, active during the day. They love sunning themselves on a branch, and need strong UV light to allow them to absorb calcium and bring out their best colours. They are more sensitive to errors in their husbandry than the previous species, but with careful research and set up they can do very well in the terrarium and are fairly easy to breed.

They tend to be very aggressive, but only towards each other, and are usually kept as a pair. Two males housed together will fight to the death of one of them. A male and a female will usually co-exist well, but when a pair is introduced to each other they must be watched carefully to make sure they are getting along. They tend to be quite shy, and need to get used to their keeper before they allow themselves to be observed. Because of their very fragile skin they should not be handled.

To help them feel at home, their tall terraria should be well planted and furnished with a variety of bamboo tubes, in which they hide and sleep. If you cut some small wholes in the bamboo, you will be rewarded with the sight of the little geckos sticking their heads out, after the lights switch on to survey their surroundings.

Baby neon day gecko peaking out of bamboo
Baby neon day gecko peaking out of bamboo | Source
Pair of P. cepediana day geckos
Pair of P. cepediana day geckos | Source
My electric blue gecko, William, exploring the ceiling on a brief, accidental trip outside.
My electric blue gecko, William, exploring the ceiling on a brief, accidental trip outside. | Source

The Electric Blue Gecko

Lygodacylus williamsi geckos definitely deserve their common name of electric blue gecko, although it is only the males who sport the brilliant blue colour, females range from drab brown to green. These small lizards were discovered in the Kimboza forest of Eastern Tanzania in the 1950s and it appears to be the only place on earth where they can be found.

Unfortunately their natural habitat is being destroyed by logging, so their numbers in the wild are likely to diminish alarmingly. As of March 2012 export of wild caught lizards has been completely banned, so all future pets will have to come from captive breeding the small number of lizards already exported. After the ban their prices have soared, however as more are bred they might well fall down again.

Overall this is a rather welcome development since captive bred geckos are far more hardy and easy to keep than wild caught animals.

The electric blue gecko is often referred to as a day gecko, but it does not belong to the genus Phelsuma, so is not a true day gecko. However its care is very similar to Phelsuma geckos, it is also active during the day, requires a tall, planted tank, and eats insects and nectar. Males are territorial and only one should be kept in an enclosure.

The geckos communicate through a series of chirps, inflating their throats, bobbing their heads and wagging their tails. They are bold geckos, easily tamed, and although too small and fragile to be handled, will learn to climb onto their owners hands and take food from it.

Is being able to handle a pet important to you?

  • No, I'd be happy to watch the geckos do their thing
  • Yes, if I have a pet I want to be able to hold it
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Comments 18 comments

LetitiaFT profile image

LetitiaFT 4 years ago from Paris via California

I actually saw that day gecko in Madagascar. I think I have a fuzzey picture of it somewhere! What delightful creatures, geckos. If I didn't spend so much time away, I'd be tempted to have one, though only captive bred. I was glad to read the progress on that front.

AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 4 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

Thanks for the information and the lovely photos, aa lite. Geckos are interesting animals! Your hub will be very useful for someone thinking about buying a gecko for a pet.

aa lite profile image

aa lite 4 years ago from London Author

@Letitia, wow seeing wild geckos in Madagascar must be something else! I believe the gold dust geckos have taken over Hawaii, lots of people who've been there report seeing them everywhere. Apparently they come into peoples' kitchens and help themselves to any fruit or sweets that are left in the open.

@AliciaC, thanks, I highly recommend geckos as pets. Of course there are also frogs, and chameleons, and many reptiles, so little space!

Gamerelated profile image

Gamerelated 4 years ago from California

This article is excellent. It makes me want to breed some Geckos. How long does it take for Geckos to become mature adults and lay eggs? How long do the eggs take to hatch? How did you become interested in Geckos?

aa lite profile image

aa lite 4 years ago from London Author

Hey Gamerelated, keeping geckos is quite a lot of fun, for day geckos, the ones I keep, they definitely are sexually mature when they are a year old, often before that, I imagine this is true for most medium sized ones, like crests and leos. Big animals usually take longer to reach adulthood.

With my first pair of geckos, I got them when they were juveniles (probably 3 months old) in July, and i saw the first babies the following March. The eggs take 40-50 days before they hatch, it really depends on temperature. They usually lay 2 eggs at a time. Did you know that the sex of the babies is determined by the incubation temperature, not genetics?

I always liked frogs and lizards, then I worked for somebody who really liked geckos and used to keep a huge collection of all sorts of reptiles and amphibians before he moved to the UK. He then got a pair of gold dust geckos for the office, and I looked after them when he was away. Then I decided to get a pair for myself, the another pair...........

ajwrites57 profile image

ajwrites57 3 years ago from Pennsylvania

Gecko's are cool. Thought I'd like to own one at some point...You forgot one though. The Geico Gecko! Nice Hub! :o)

aa lite profile image

aa lite 3 years ago from London Author

Thanks ajwrites! And thanks for reminding me about the Geico Gecko. I hadn't actually forgotten about it, but as far as I know, scientists had not yet agreed on which Genus it belongs to and what its habitat in the wild is, as soon as these issues are resolved I will include it in the hub :)

DrMark1961 profile image

DrMark1961 3 years ago from The Beach of Brazil

I walked into my kitchen the other night and caught a pair of geckos making little geckos! I like your question about handling a pet, because they are entertaining but even if they were tame they would not be touchable.

Nice article, shared.

aa lite profile image

aa lite 3 years ago from London Author

That is so cool DrMark. Was this in Brazil? I must look up and see what kind of geckos are native there.

When I lived in the UAE as a child, there were lots of geckos on the walls. They looked exactly like my day geckos, but were basically sand coloured, very monochromatic.

ellesvoice profile image

ellesvoice 3 years ago from Queen Creek

Geckos are interesting and very beautiful pets to admire! Great hub, thanks for sharing and being so informative!

aa lite profile image

aa lite 3 years ago from London Author

Thanks for reading ellesvoice. I do love my geckos!

A.A. Zavala profile image

A.A. Zavala 3 years ago from Texas

Fascinating! Love the pictures and the information regarding the different species.

Pengwendolyn101 18 months ago

Two question is there really that many different types of geckos or is there more than 1,500 different types of geckos? How long have you had geckos?

I really love geckos I used to have some but that was when I was 11 I can't remember what they were. Now I wish I had some but I can't have a pet in this house it is sad :(

aa lite profile image

aa lite 18 months ago from London Author

Hi Pengwendolyn, yes, if you take 'type' to mean species, there really are about 1500 different species of geckos. There are several thousand (around 5000?) different species of lizards in the world, and geckos represent a big group (within that).

I've kept geckos for around 8 years by now. Actually the only ones that I kept were Phelsuma, the very colourful ones from Madagascar and surrounding islands. I have very recently been thinking of getting some crested geckos for a change. In theory I'm not supposed to keep pets in my flat either, but most people don't mind something like a gecko or fish, which are contained in their terrarium and don't do any damage.

Pengwendolyn101 18 months ago

Is it true that the sex of the babies is determined by the incubation temperature, not genetics?

aa lite profile image

aa lite 18 months ago from London Author

I think that is true of at least the geckos that I know about. I'm not sure if that is true of every gecko species out there.

Pengwendolyn101 18 months ago

Ok I was just wondering

Danni Baird profile image

Danni Baird 12 months ago

Geckos are not the only lizard able to vocalize. I have a red eyed crocodile skink and she makes some cute vocilizations sometimes.

Search for a you tube video of red eyed crocodile skink vocalize and you'll find some cute stuff!

I have several different gecko types and they are quite amazing lizards love em, just had to point out that there are other lizards that can vocalize too.

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