Indo-Pacific Gecko (Hemidactylus garnotii) – Introduced

Indo-Pacific Gecko (Hemidactylus garnotii) - Introduced

Photos by J.D. Willson unless otherwise noted

Description: 4 – 5.5 in (10 – 13.5 cm). Unlike any native lizard, geckos have sticky toe pads, vertical pupils, and lack eyelids. Indo-pacific geckos are generally gray to brownish in color with large eyes and smooth but not shiny skin. This species is most easily distinguished from the similar Mediterranean gecko by its smooth skin.

Range and Habitat: As its name implies, the indo-pacific gecko is native to Southeast Asia. It has been introduced in many tropical areas worldwide. This species can now be found throughout much of Florida and will probably be discovered in Georgia in coming years. In almost all areas, this species is associated with human development, and they are seldom found far from buildings with outdoor lights.

Habits: Introduced geckos are almost completely nocturnal. Their sticky toe pads allow them to climb walls and they are often observed perched on walls around outside lights, waiting to grab insects attracted to the light. By day, these lizards hide in cracks, crevices, and under tree bark.

Prey: Geckos eat a wide variety of insects, spiders, and other invertebrates.

Reproduction: Amazingly, this lizard is unisexual. Reproduction occurs by a process known as parthenogenesis: the development of unfertilized eggs. Eggs are laid in pairs under bark, in crevices, or in moist soil.

Abundance: The indo-pacific gecko is well established in Florida and is spreading northward. It is almost always associated with human development and is an abundant species in suburban and urban areas.

Notes: This species’ adaptability and unisexual mode of reproduction has made it a very successful invader. It is unknown what impact the introduction of this and other species has and will have on native wildlife. Unlike most lizards, geckos are capable of vocalizing, often making squeaking or barking noises in territorial disputes or to deter a predator.

species photo

Vertical pupils characteristic of geckos