Most reptiles are silent, but the distinctive call of the male tokay gecko (Gekko gecko) is hard to mistake. As one of the largest forest geckos, this colorful orange and white spotted reptile calls out with a repeated long, guttural “tok-tok-tokeeeh” that lingers in the jungle air. Active at night, these geckos prefer forests and rocky outcrops and tend to sit and wait for beetles, termites and other prey to pass by.
All geckos have remarkable feet that allow them to scamper on rock surfaces, climb up vertical walls and zip across ceilings. Lacking claws, millions of microscopic hair-like structures (think velcro) cover its toe pads and cling and conform to any surface. So even the sizable tokay gecko can be seen cruising inside a house in search of its next meal.
Normally a forest dweller, the tokay gecko is abundant throughout eastern tropical Asia. Introduced to several U.S. states, including Hawaii, Florida, Texas, the gecko is now considered an invasive species outside of its natural range. They rest in a head down position and snatch insects and invertebrates with their large and powerful mouth. Its bite is very strong as it latches on with pit bull voracity and refuses to let go. Though you can collect and hold these marvelous lizards, it is best to observe them without the stress of a struggle.
The tokay gecko is a solitary animal. Females lay two, hard, white eggs stuck together on rock surfaces by a glue-like liquid. Growing as long as 15 inches, its body color is a bluish gray and can be seen basking in sunspots in late afternoons or resting on the side of trees. A beautiful specimen for photography, these lizards are not skittish, they will sit and pose for you, giving you plenty of time to take a great wildlife image.