10 Types of Gecko

The name "gecko" comes from the vocalizations emitted by these reptiles - a typical "geck" and "oh" sound can be heard among their different sounds
10 Types of Gecko
Cesar Paul Gonzalez Gonzalez

Written and verified by the biologist Cesar Paul Gonzalez Gonzalez.

Last update: 27 December, 2022

Geckos are a well-recognized group of reptiles that form part of the most diverse taxon of vertebrates in the world. These animals have adapted to different habitats, so it’s possible to find them in several different areas of the globe. This situation has led to the appearance of different types of gecko with incredible shapes and colors.

There are some problems with the taxonomic classification of these reptiles, but it’s generally accepted that the family Gekkonidae contains all species of geckos. This means that, despite looking a lot like common lizards, there are certain characteristics that make these animals unique. Read on and meet 10 types of gecko in this space.

What do geckos look like?

Geckos are small, nocturnal reptiles with scales along their bodies. These animals are found on all continents of the world except Antarctica. However, they’re extended most in equatorial areas, as they favor temperate climates.

Although their appearance is very similar to that of a lizard, these animals have particular unique traits. One of them is their great ability to climb thanks to their adhesive legs, which allow them to climb on smooth and vertical surfaces. In addition, they exhibit large eyes without eyelids, with pupils that change size.

Their scales are usually of the granular type, with different colors that depend on the area in which they live. Being animals that live constantly hiding from their predators, their shades match the environment to avoid detection. As if that weren’t enough, they’re able to regenerate their tail and sometimes use it as a defense mechanism (caudal autotomy).

Although most of these species are native to Asia and Africa, some were able to reach other geographical areas, which caused their diversification. The family Gekkonidae groups a total of almost 800 species and their shapes, sizes, and colors are different in each region.

Types of gecko

Geckos are animals with a bad reputation in several areas, as their appearance isn’t entirely pleasing to some. However, these species provide a unique ecological service, as they fight insect pests naturally. To top it off, they aren’t aggressive or poisonous, so they don’t represent a problem for society.

There’s a great variety of myths and legends about these reptiles, which has caused them to be hunted in several regions. To avoid this situation, we need to understand the diversity of these organisms, as well as their harmless characteristics. The following list compiles some types of gecko that exist in the world.

1. Lane’s leaf-toed gecko (Phyllodactylus lanei)

This specimen is endemic to the state of Nayarit in Mexico, and inhabits cliffs, trees, and mangroves. These reptiles are characterized by having “hooves” on their toes (hence their “leaf-toed” name), which are actually elongated and harmless scales. Exterminations have been carried out due to the belief that this species was poisonous. However, it has no toxins relevant to humans.

2. Common house gecko or Asian house gecko (Hemidactylus frenatus)

This species is a natural inhabitant of Southeast Asia, but has invaded other continents such as America, Africa, and Australia. The common house gecko stands out among other types of geckos because of its saw-shaped pupils, which give it an incredible appearance. In addition to this, the coloration of its body is usually quite clear and some morphotypes seem almost albino.

Like the previous one, these organisms have suffered from a notoriously bad reputation, so they’re usually eliminated from areas close to the population. It’s worth remembering, however, that they function as great pest controllers, as they feed on insects such as cockroaches and various types of mosquitoes. Eliminating them is a very serious ecosystemic loss.

A gecko.

3. Turnip-tailed gecko (Thecadactylus rapicauda)

These specimens are found from southern Mexico to northern Ecuador. It’s an arboreal species, so it inhabits humid and temperate forests. On the other hand, the extremities of this gecko have wide toes with claws that it uses to defend itself. Likewise, its tail can resemble the shape of a turnip when it regenerates.

A gecko on a tree.

4. Common wall gecko (Tarentola mauritanica)

This species of gecko is the most common one in the Iberian Peninsula, as it’s usually found in populated areas and inside houses. The coloration of this reptile is very unattractive, as it is based on greyish-brown tones. In some places, these geckos are mistakenly referred to as “scorpions”, as they’re believed to be capable of spitting venom.

These reptiles are completely harmless and don’t produce any toxins.

A common gecko.

5. Crested gecko (Correlophus ciliatus)

The crested gecko is native to New Caledonia, which is also home to members of the giant gecko group. These organisms were considered extinct until their rediscovery in 1994, so they’re now under protection. The distinctive characteristics of this reptile are the ridges on the upper part of its eyes, with small “hairs” over them.

This species is kept domestically, but wild populations are threatened.

A lizard on a leaf.

6. New Caledonian giant gecko (Rhacodactylus lechianus)

Also known as Leach’s giant gecko, this species can reach sizes greater than 30 centimeters (12 inches) in length, which makes it one of the largest. Like the crested gecko, this reptile is endemic to New Caledonia and lives in the trees. Among its most distinctive features are its clear, almost white eyes that contrast with its broad, brownish-green body.

A giant gecko.

7. Phelsuma grandis

This type of gecko is endemic to Madagascar and lives in the subtropical forests of the area. This species rivals the giant gecko in size, as they also exceed 30 centimeters (12 inches) in length. They’re diurnal specimens that exhibit a bright green coloration with red spots, which makes them easy to spot in their habitat.

Phelsuma grandis.

8. Satanic leaf-tailed gecko (Uroplatus phantasticus)

This is another endemic species of Madagascar that stands out for its peculiar appearance, as it has a leaf-shaped tail and “eyelashes” over its eyes. The typical colors of these specimens are usually brown, although there’s a great variety of morphotypes that include dark, purple and orange tones.

9. Turquoise dwarf gecko (Lygodactylus williamsi)

The turquoise dwarf gecko, which also goes by the name of William’s dwarf gecko, is a peculiar and exuberant species that stands out for its coloration. This small reptile can only be found naturally in the Kimboza forest (Tanzania), from where it has been illegally extracted for sale. Not all specimens exhibit the bright blue color, as morphotypes vary between black, gray, and blue shades.

A blue gecko.

10. Tokay gecko (Gekko gecko)

This species has a very wide distribution, because, even though it’s native to Asia, it lives on most continents. It’s a colorful reptile, as the predominant colors of its skin are a combination of gray, red, blue, and brown. As if that weren’t enough, its vocalization is quite loud and distinctive.

The male of this species vocalizes to attract the female or scare away other males.

A tokay gecko.

As you see, there’s such variety among geckos with their different colors and shapes, and we’ve only selected a tiny percentage of them today.

Although it may seem that these organisms make excellent pets, not all of them are adapted to survive in captivity. Remember that some species are only beautiful if they’re in their natural habitat.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

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  • Bauer, A. M., Jackman, T. R., Sadlier, R. A., & Whitaker, A. H. (2012). Revision of the giant geckos of New Caledonia (Reptilia: Diplodactylidae: Rhacodactylus). Zootaxa, 3404(1), 1-52.
  • Fieldsend, T. W., & Krysko, K. L. (2019). Madagascar giant day gecko (Phelsuma grandis) established in Homestead, Miami-Dade County, Florida, USA. Reptiles & Amphibians, 26(2), 159-160.
  • Flecks, M., Weinsheimer, F., Böhme, W., Chenga, J., Lötters, S., & Rödder, D. (2012). Watching extinction happen: the dramatic population decline of the critically endangered Tanzanian Turquoise Dwarf Gecko, Lygodactylus williamsi. Salamandra, 48(1), 12-20.
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This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.