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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.

Frequently Asked Questions

How many species of geckos are there?

There are over 1,600 species of geckos, according to the Reptile Database. These species are spread across various genera, with new species still being discovered. Geckos are incredibly diverse, inhabiting ecosystems ranging from rainforests to deserts across the globe.

What are some of the most common gecko species kept as pets?

The Leopard Gecko and the Crested Gecko are among the most popular pet species. Leopard Geckos are favored for their docile nature and ease of care, while Crested Geckos are known for their unique eyelash-like crests and the ability to climb glass due to their specialized toe pads.

Can geckos really regrow their tails?

Yes, many gecko species have the remarkable ability to autotomize, or self-amputate, their tails as a defense mechanism. The detached tail will continue to wriggle, distracting predators while the gecko escapes. Over time, the gecko can regenerate a new tail, a process that varies in duration among species.

What adaptations do geckos have for survival?

Geckos have evolved numerous adaptations, such as toe pads with microscopic hairs that allow them to adhere to surfaces, including vertical walls and ceilings. Many species also have excellent night vision, camouflaged skin, and the ability to communicate through chirps and clicks for social interactions and territorial claims.

Are all geckos able to climb walls and ceilings?

While many geckos are known for their climbing abilities, not all species can scale vertical surfaces. The ability to climb depends on the presence of specialized toe pads equipped with setae. Some ground-dwelling geckos lack these adaptations and are therefore not able to climb as effectively as their arboreal counterparts.

Do geckos pose any danger to humans?

Geckos are generally harmless to humans. They are non-venomous and not aggressive. In fact, geckos are often welcomed in homes in tropical regions as they help control insect populations. However, like all animals, they can carry pathogens, so it's important to practice good hygiene after handling them or cleaning their habitats.

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