The Gecko Love Call – You Won't Believe Your Ears!

On a warm summer’s eve, in some tropical places around the world … if you listen very carefully you will hear a very special mating call. 

Truth be told, most people refer to the sound as a bark … but why don’t you click on this first video and see what you can hear! You are not going to see anything … the screen stays black as the recording was made at night (the creature making the sound you are about to hear is nocturnal).

The Tokay Gecko (Gekko gekko) ranges from northeastern India and Bangladesh, through southern China and Southeast Asia … all the way to the Indonesian Archipelago.  Recently, along with other reptile species such as iguanas, monitors and pythons, these geckos have also been introduced to some Caribbean islands as well as Hawaii and Florida.

Tokay’s are one of the largest geckos with some males typically reaching an adult length of approximately 12 to 14 inches!  Females tend to be smaller.  The only gecko species larger than a tokay are from New Caledonia in the south Pacific.

Despite the fact that it has one of the nastiest dispositions and most feisty personalities as far as geckos go, it is actually one of the most popular gecko sold in the pet trade. They have incredibly strong jaws and will not hesitate to bite anything that might offend them – including your fingers! And wow, do they ever bite hard!

When they are confronted with what they may perceive as an enemy, they will open their mouth … let out a long “Gecccccccck” sound … and then bite! And when they bite, they’re not about to let go anytime soon either!  They tend to hang on and tighten their grip at intervals they deem appropriate. Lots of fun for the unsuspecting victim!

While it is not uncommon to see a wild tokay out basking in the sun, it is a primarily nocturnal gecko species (as evident by the vertically elliptical pupils).

What you hear in the videos in this article, are the courtship calls of the male tokay.  To some it sounds like the gecko is saying “gecko-o, gecko-o, gecko-o-o-o-” while to others it may sound like “tukko-tukko”.  For most though their call sounds just like their name, “to-kay, to-kay.”

These geckos commonly live in people’s home … and in fact are encouraged by the residents to move in!  At night, while the household is sleeping the tokay will forage around for it’s preferred food: unwanted insects.

In Malaysia, the tokay gecko is actually a symbol of good luck. Did you know that a tokay’s call soon after the birth of a child (human) is actually believed to signify a happy life for the child?

In some parts of Southeast Asia, to hear a tokay bark seven times in a row is said to bring good luck.  But it is also believed that if a tokay stops barking or is found dead within the house, it is a harbinger of bad luck.

Unfortunately, in countries such as China and Vietnam, the tokays are often killed and their parts are used for medicinal purposes.  It is believed by some people that tokay parts will help cure them of a variety of respiratory problems such as coughs, asthma and tuberculosis.

Recommended Reading: Geckos: Day Geckos, Tokay Geckos Plus New Caledonians and More!

By Candace,


About Candace M Hansen

Wildlife advocate, conservationist and environmentalist.
This entry was posted in Lizards and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to The Gecko Love Call – You Won't Believe Your Ears!

  1. Zonnescherm says:

    How do you come up with all of this? You must have some good foundation on the subject right?

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