Gekko gecko Photo Fiona Sunquist ©
The hand-sized Tokay gecko is the largest gecko in Florida, and one of the biggest geckos in the world. They were first introduced to south Florida in the 1960’s, some were pets released when they were no longer wanted, others were deliberately released in garages and storage areas to control cockroaches and other insect pests. Tokay geckos are now well established in the Keys and in the southern half of Florida.
Tokays are large, aggressive geckos about 10-12 inches long, and easily identified by their blue-gray body covered with numerous reddish-brown dots. They have a squat, somewhat flattened body, a large head with prominent eyes and vertical-slit pupils. Their wide mouth can deliver a powerful bite. Large toe pads covered with fine bristle-like structures allow them to cling to and move rapidly on vertical walls and ceilings.
Tokays are extremely vocal, and get their name from their two-syllable call that sounds like “to-kay” sometimes described as “uh-oh”. If you hear the call, and mimic the “uh-oh” sound in reply you can sometimes get them to respond. During the mating season a male calls repeatedly to attract a mate, and the male’s calls carry over a wide area. Females lay small hard-shelled, adhesive eggs that stick to surfaces. Both parents guard the eggs until they hatch. Hatchlings are 2-3 inches long and come out of the egg ready to bite, just like the adults.
Tokay geckos are native to Southeast Asia and the Malay Archipelago, where they are found in tropical rainforests, on cliffs and trees, and in households, where they are used to control pests such as cockroaches, scorpions, insects, frogs, other lizards and possibly small rodents.
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