Geckos

Tails to Toepads

Geckos are among the most adaptable lizards–more than 1,000 species have conquered habitats from balmy tropical beaches and lush rainforests to frigid mountain slopes and parched deserts. They range from shadowy nighttime hunters with unbelievable camouflage to neon-colored nectar eaters that scamper around in daylight. Bulging eyes, night vision, “sticky” toepads, squawking voices, and disposable body parts–welcome to a gecko’s world!

Geckos – Tails to Toepads features bold backlighted graphics, clever interactives, and living examples from around the globe. Lush, naturalistic habitats anchor the exhibit and draw audiences into the geckos’ realm. Visitors can experience gecko night vision, listen to gecko voices, try to spot camouflaged geckos, and build a custom gecko for various environments.

Exhibition Components

Geckos – Tails to Toepads

This traveling exhibition introduces visitors to the close-up, secret world of geckos and is designed for a family audience. The exhibition includes 20 living habitats complete with naturalistic decor, filtration, and life support systems; 10 interactive components; a mini theater; and over 30 informative panels.

Scientific Advisor: Dr. Aaron Bauer, Professor of Herpetology, Villanova University

Booking Facts

Booking Period: 12-week minimum

Space Required: 2,500 to 5,000 square feet; modular design permits tremendous layout flexibility.

Gallery Conditions: Requires a secure indoor space at room temperature.

Shipping: Host institution is responsible for inbound shipping of exhibition components (one 53′ trailer) and round-trip live gecko/plant transport (per mile fee).

Please contact us for exhibit pricing and availability.

Exhibited Species

Exhibited species are subject to change, but typically include the following:


Giant Day Gecko (Phelsuma madagascariensis grandis) This is what most people think of when they hear the word ‘gecko.’ GEICO’s famous spokescreature is modeled after the giant day gecko. This striking lizard sports emerald green skin with crimson red highlights, and scampers boldly about in daylight, eating nectar and fruit.

Gliding Gecko (Ptychozoon kuhli) Although they can’t truly fly, these geckos get around in a spectacular way—they hang glide! When leaping from a tree, loose folds of skin along the sides, around the tail, and between the toes open like parachutes. Their tails help them steer in flight, and their adhesive toepads allow them to ‘stick’ every landing.

Frog Eyed Gecko (Teratoscincus scincus) This gecko has large, overlapping scales like shingles on a roof. When threatened it waves its tail in the air, rubbing the scales together. The rasping scales produce a sawing sound that scares away predators.

New Caledonian Giant Gecko (Rhacodactylus leachianus) This is the world’s heavyweight gecko, growing up to 16” long. Like most geckos it eats insects, but this giant also occasionally eats fruit. And a big part of its diet in the wild is other geckos!

Halmahera Gecko (Gehyra marginata) Like most geckos, these large tree-dwellers can’t blink. They have a transparent scale covering each eye and no movable eyelids.

Bibrons Gecko (Pachydactlus bibroni) These stout, rugged geckos live among rocky outcrops in the vast, unforgiving Karoo desert of South Africa. They have followed the spread of civilization, attracted to insects that congregate around outdoor lights.

Jewel Day Geckos (Phelsuma klemmeri, P. laticauda, P. lineata, P. quadriocellata) A variety of tiny, neon-colored geckos live in the forests of Madagascar where they eat soft fruits and sip nectar. ‘Jewel’ day geckos are adorned in bright colors and patterns. Like four-legged hummingbirds, they dart about in daylight, pollinating flowers as they go.

Crested Gecko (Rhacodactylus ciliatus) Species all over the world are going extinct—this is one of the few that came back! Crested geckos were thought to be extinct for over one hundred years and were re-discovered in the wild in 1994. These colorful geckos are now known to be common on the islands of New Caledonia.

Fan Fingered Gecko (Ptyodactylus hasselquistii) Some geckos are good at climbing smooth vertical surfaces, some are built for clambering over rocks, and others are adapted to running over hot sand. This gecko can do it all. Its streamlined body is excellent for squeezing between rocks; its huge toes allow it to glide over hot shifting sands; and its adhesive toepads allow it to stick to almost any surface.

Giant Leaf-tail Geckos (Uroplatus fimbriatus & U. lineatus) These large geckos are specialized forest dwellers from Madagascar—some perch on tree bark, others on bamboo. Although harmless, many Malagasy people fear leaf-tail geckos, believing they are ‘devil lizards’.

Tokay Gecko (Gekko gecko) Not all geckos are small and shy—this one is big and ferocious! When fighting with other geckos or attacking an intruder, the Tokay gecko emits a startling cry that sounds like its name (toe-kay). If that isn’t enough, the gecko will chase the enemy and deliver a surprisingly painful bite.

Chinese Cave Gecko (Goniurosaurus lichtenfelderi) Almost nothing is known about these secretive lizards except that they live in the mouths of caves and eat cockroaches. They probably make a living by catching insects that are attracted to accumulations of bats guano deeper in the cave.

Skunk Gecko (Gekko vittatus) Skunk geckos are found in the lush tropical forests of Indonesia and New Guinea. They spend most of their lives in trees and squawk loudly to communicate during courtship.

Leopard Gecko (Eublepharis macularius) If you think dogs and cats are the only pets selectively bred for desirable traits, think again. Leopard geckos are the most popular reptile pets and breeders have been changing their genetics for over a decade. These lizards showcase the power of selective breeding with ‘morphs’ in almost every color of the rainbow.

Interactive Highlights

Build a Gecko – Most geckos have the same basic body plan, but specialized accessories have allowed them to conquer a huge range of environments. Try combining different eyes, feet, skin, and tails to ‘customize’ a gecko for a particular habitat.

Is that a Gecko? – Many people don’t know what a gecko really is. Can you pick out the real geckos among images of other lizards and salamanders.

Geck-Nology: The Secrets of Gecko Adhesion – This short theater program explores the cutting edge science of gecko adhesion and how it may revolutionize the future of adhesive technology.

Predator Challenge – Some geckos are incredibly good at blending into their environments. How quickly can you spot the hidden geckos in these environments?

The Hunt for New Species – Activate a video interview of Anthony Geneva of the Academy of Natural Sciences to learn the importance of sequencing gecko DNA to catalogue biodiversity.

Test Your Gecko IQ – Test your gecko knowlege on subjects from basic to bizzare.

What Does a Gecko See? – Look at insects in the dark with night vision optics.

Loud Mouths – Activate recordings of various gecko calls.

Ask the Gecko Expert – Get answers to common questions about geckos and learn about cutting edge research from Dr. Aaron Bauer, of Villanova University.

Designer Gecko – If you think dogs are the only selectively-bred pets, think again! This short video program showcases the work of Ron Tremper, the pioneer of leopard gecko breeding, and explores the power of artificial selection.