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What Are the Different Gecko Species?

Cynde Gregory
Cynde Gregory

Most folks might be able to pick a leopard or crested gecko out of a lineup because they are among the most popular gecko pets. Few people, though, would be unlikely to know the answer to a game show host’s “How many kinds of geckos are there,” even if it meant winning a million bucks. For anyone studying up for just such an eventuality, the answer is that there are over 1,000 gecko species.

Cat and dog lovers might spend endless, relaxed hours gazing into their pets’ eyes, but gecko owners know better than to try to win a stare down with their own little darlings. Some geckos do have eyelids that blink, but they can stare longer than most mammals. Two of the five gecko subfamilies can wink away, while the remaining three subfamily gecko species can’t.


The subfamilies Eublepharinae and Aeluroscalabotinae can flirt with abandon, assuming geckos think eyelash batting is cute. Eublepharineae includes the popular leopard gecko species that hails from Afghanistan and Pakistan. The subfamily Aeluroscalabotinae, whose sole species member is Aeluroscalabotes felinus and is more commonly known as the cat gecko, arrives on foreign shores from Malaysia. Both are considered nocturnal, but leopard gecko owners know them to be party animals that are sometimes willing to stay awake into the brightly lit hours if there’s a reason.

The biggest gecko subfamily, Gekkoninae, has to send subfamily reunion invitations to over 400 subspecies and 900 gecko species. It counts among its members the ever-popular Gekko gekko. It may sound like the name of a garage band, but this tropical gecko, also known as the Tokay gecko, is the second largest of all the species, with males ranging up to 15 inches (40 cm).

Teratoscincinae is a gecko subfamily at the other end of the spectrum. These desert lovers creep their way across Pakistan, Afghanistan, Russia, and China. Some geckologists assign six gecko species to this subfamily, while others claim seven. Also known as the wonder lizard or wonder gecko, their immovable eyelids have earned them the nickname of frog-eyed gecko.

Lizard members of the subfamily Diplodactylinae live both on the ground and in trees. This subfamily is also large, though not as big as Gekkoninae. Species in this group are flashier than some others, wearing bright colors and patterns with aplomb. Should anyone get too close, though, many of these subfamily members will use their tails as effective leave-me-alone clubs.

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