Alternative common names:
The tokay gecko is a nocturnal arboreal gecko, ranging from northeast India, Bhutan, Nepal and Bangladesh throughout Southeast Asia and the Philippines to Indonesia and western New Guinea. It feeds oninsectsand smallvertebrates. Males are very territorial and will attack other male tokays and other gecko species, as well as anything else in their territory.
Where does this species come from?
Northeast India, Bhutan, Nepal, Bangladesh, throughout Southeast Asia and the Philippines to Indonesia and western New Guinea.
What is its invasive status in South Africa?
NEMBA Category 2.
Where in South Africa is it a problem?
KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo and Eastern Cape.
How does it spread?
It is spread via the pet trade. Foreign nationals are rumoured to pay thousands of rands for large specimens, reportedly because of their alleged medicinal value or as commodities in the illegal wildlife trade. Tokay geckos ‘glue’ their eggs onto objects, walls, and packing crates, which has resulted in them being transported throughout the world and becoming established where food and climate are optimal.
Why is it a problem?
Besides eating pests such as cockroaches and locusts, tokay geckos also eat small mammals, birds, frogs and other small reptiles, which make them a potentially harmful species to the ecosystem in regions where they have been introduced.
What does it look like?
Description: Tokay geckos are one of the largest geckos, reaching 35cm in length. The body is cylindrical, squat and somewhat flattened on the upper side. The limbs are well defined and uniformly developed. The head is large and set off from the neck. The eyes are large and prominent with vertically-slit pupils and the eyelids are fused together and transparent. There is a pineal body or ‘third eye’ on the top of the head, which is believed to coordinate their activity with light conditions. The ears can be seen as small holes on both sides of the head. The toes have fine setae on them. The skin is usually grey with several brownish-red to bright red spots and flecks. The tokay gecko has the ability to lighten or darken the colouring of its skin.
Habitat: It lives in tropical rainforests, on cliffs and trees, and as pets among human habitation. It is arboreal and cliff-dwelling. It can travel on floating debris to colonise tropical islands.
Breeding: The breeding season lasts about 4-5 months. Males copulate frequently with females, often grasping them with their mouths. During the breeding period, females lay eggs every month. The female looks for a laying site, then affixes the small, hard-shelled, oval eggs to a solid foundation where they are guarded by both parents until they hatch. Hatchlings are 5-7.5cm long. Upon hatching, the young eat their outer covering of skin. They are sexually mature in about one year.