8 Types of Geckos in Hawaii

Hawaii has its fair share of gecko species. Some are endemic to the islands, while others have been introduced. They all vary in terms of appearance and behavior. But you can see all species throughout the state, from forest reserves to urban dwellings.

Want to learn to distinguish local gecko species accurately? Keep reading! I will tell you everything you need to know about Hawaii’s eight most popular geckos. If you ever visit the state, there’s a high chance you’ll encounter at least one of these species. So, it’s best to know ahead of time which geckos are friendly and which ones to avoid.

Mourning Gecko

mourning gecko

  • Other common names: Common smooth-scaled gecko
  • Scientific name: Lepidodactylus lugubris
  • Family: Gekkonidae
  • Origin: Coastal regions and islands of the Pacific and Indian oceans
  • Habitat: Tropical and sub-tropical lowland regions, mainly rainforests
  • Size: 3.3-4 inches
  • Lifespan: 10-15 years
  • Conservation status: Least concern

The mourning gecko is among the most widespread gecko species. It occurs naturally in over 20 regions bordering the Indian and Pacific oceans. It’s part of the local wildlife in Hawaii and is also commonly sold and kept as a pet in the reptile hobby.

This is a tiny species, measuring up to 4 inches from snout to tail. The maximal snout-to-vent length is just 1.7 inches. Mourning geckos have stout-looking bodies and proportional tails and heads. Their skin is free of tubercles and remarkably smooth.

The ground body color ranges from light tan to dark brown, sometimes with a greyish tinge. The dorsal side is covered in irregular dark patterns, which help with camouflage. Hawaiian morphs are more colorful, typically with yellow bellies and contrasting dark speckles on the back.

Captive-bred morphs are even brighter, typically with a pale-yellow dorsal color. Mourning geckos can also naturally change color. They switch from lighter to darker colors at different times of the day.

The mourning gecko has a unique breeding style. Nearly all of the specimens are female and reproduce asexually through parthenogenesis. This means that females can grow fertilized eggs without insemination. On the rare occasion that male geckos are born, they’re always sterile.

Their unique breeding strategy makes them very easy to breed in captivity. And let’s not forget their small size and high adaptability to different living conditions. All those reasons, combined with this gecko’s docile and friendly nature, make this species an ideal pet for reptile lovers of all ages and experience levels.

Stump-Toed Gecko

stump toed gecko

  • Other common names: Pacific gecko, Common four-clawed gecko
  • Scientific name: Gehyra mutilata
  • Family: Gekkonidae
  • Origin: Southeast Asia, primarily Indonesia and the Philippines
  • Habitat: Woodlands, rocky areas, sandy beaches, human dwellings
  • Size: 4.7-5.5 inches
  • Lifespan: Unknown
  • Conservation status: Least concern

This species is native to Southeast Asia but was later introduced to other parts of the world. In Hawaii, this lizard is readily found on the island of Maui, primarily on sandy beaches. It’s considered an invasive species locally.

This is a small gecko, measuring only 2.25 inches from snout to vent. Its tail is equally long, adding 2.25 inches to the total size. The stump-toed gecko has smooth skin, a stout body, and a plump, tapered tail. The defining characteristic of this species is the absence of claws on the inner toes, hence the name “stump-toe.”

This gecko has a pale belly and earthy-colored back. The shade varies and can be either tan, pale to reddish brown, or a tinted grey. The dorsal side is covered in small dark speckles and small, interspersed cream dots. Like most geckos, this species is nocturnal.

The stump-toed gecko is highly adaptable and can make itself at home in various environments, to the dismay of locals in Hawaii. This lizard thrives in the state’s tropical climate. It often sneaks into people’s houses, searching for shade and insects to eat. Luckily, this little lizard is calm and friendly and won’t be causing a commotion.

Fox Gecko

fox gecko

  • Other common names: Info-Pacific gecko, Garnot’s house gecko
  • Scientific name: Hemidactylus garnotii
  • Family: Gekkonidae
  • Origin: Southeast Asia, the Philippines, India, Australia, and Polynesia
  • Habitat: Rocky outcrops and forested areas in the wild; also commonly seen in urban environments
  • Size: 4-5 inches
  • Lifespan: Unknown
  • Conservation status: Least concern

The fox gecko is yet another exotic species native to regions of Southeast Asia or the central Pacific. It has also been introduced to several US states, including Hawaii, Florida, and Georgia. It’s considered an invasive species locally and is commonly spotted around buildings with well-lit exteriors.

Fox geckos measure up to 2.3 inches from snout to vent. They have long, slender, and ventrally-flattened tails which measure up to 2.6 inches. The tail is bordered by lateral rows of spiny scales. These geckos have thin bodies and pointy, elongated snouts.

Their belly color ranges from pale yellow to orange. The dorsal color during the day varies between grey, sandy green, tan, or brown. The upper side is also covered in irregular dark and pale speckled spots.

These geckos can also change color, taking a paler appearance at night. This is considered a well-established exotic species in Hawaii. It was commonly found around houses, as it likes hiding in wall crevices.

However, this species has slowly been driven out to forested areas by the common house gecko. Like the mourning gecko, the fox gecko is a parthenogenetic species. Almost all specimens are female, and they reproduce asexually.

Common House Gecko

common house gecko

  • Other common names: Wall gecko, House lizard, Asian house gecko, Pacific house gecko
  • Scientific name: Hemidactylus frenatus
  • Family: Gekkonidae
  • Origin: South and Southeast Asia
  • Habitat: Urban environments, especially in cities and close to well-lit buildings
  • Size: 3-6 inches
  • Lifespan: 5-7 years
  • Conservation status: Least concern

The common house gecko originated in Asia but was later introduced to the US. It’s most common in the deep southern regions, as well as Hawaii. It’s considered an invasive species, especially in Central America and the Pacific islands. This gecko has already displaced local species, including mourning and fox geckos.

This is a small gecko that reaches 6 inches at most from snout to tail. The tail is the longest part of the body, while the gecko’s total snout-to-vent size is typically 2.24 inches. The tail is also dorsally flattened, and its margins are lined with one vertical row of spikey scales on each side.

This gecko has a thin body and long, slender limbs. Its snout is moderately-sized and pointy at an obtuse angle. The dorsal color ranges from grey to light brown and is accompanied by small, randomly dispersed dark speckles. The belly is pale and uniformly colored.

This gecko has successfully outcompeted local species and can now be widely seen in city dwellings. They’re attracted to porch lights and climb house walls searching for insects. The common house gecko might sometimes also eat baby geckos of competing species.

Tokay Gecko

tokay gecko

  • Other common names: Common gecko
  • Scientific name: Gekko gecko
  • Family: Gekkonidae
  • Origin: Northeast to Southeast Asia, Pacific islands
  • Habitat: Rainforests in the wild; urban environments, especially near buildings
  • Size: 10-16 inches
  • Lifespan: 10-15 years
  • Conservation status: Least concern

This species isn’t native to the US but has established itself after accidental introduction. Nowadays, tokay geckos also occur in Hawaii and Florida. Currently, this gecko is classified as a species of “least concern” by the IUCN. However, wild specimens are protected by CITES.

This is one of the largest documented geckos. The average specimen reaches 10-12 inches from snout to tail. However, some can grow as large as 16 inches. This gecko has a strong-looking body and a flattened underside. Its limbs are proportionally-sized.

This gecko also has a large head and a powerful jaw. The skin is smooth, and the eyes sport vertical pupils. The body’s typically blue-grey all over and covered in orange or red spots. Males have brighter coloration than females.

Besides its remarkable size, the tokay gecko also stands out for its atypical behavior. These large lizards are extremely territorial and aggressive. Biting is very common. Their diet extends beyond insects. Tokay geckos will also eat small mice, rats, and snakes.

Despite their hostile behavior, Tokay geckos are becoming more popular as pets. Captive-bred specimens are easy to tame when handled from a young age. Several captive-bred morphs already exist, including albino, caramel, melanistic, and super red tokays.

Orange-Spotted Day Gecko

orange spotted day gecko

  • Other common names: Mauritius lowland forest day gecko
  • Scientific name: Phelsuma guimbeaui
  • Family: Gekkonidae
  • Origin: Western coast of Mauritius
  • Habitat: Palm and Mulga forests
  • Size: 3.5-6 inches
  • Lifespan: 7-10 years
  • Conservation status: Endangered

This beautiful gecko is native to the lowland forests of Western Mauritius. It has also been introduced to Hawaii, where it’s now established on the island of Oahu. The natural habitat of the Orange-spotted day gecko is rapidly shrinking due to deforestation. As a result, this species is now classified as “endangered” by the IUCN.

Male specimens typically measure 6 inches from snout to tail. Females are smaller, ranging from 3.5-5 inches. These geckos have short and stocky bodies. The limbs appear plump, with long toes and large toepads. The snout is short and pointy, and the jaw is small.

The belly is yellowish-white. The dorsal side is bright green with a large blue spot on the back of the neck. In some specimens, the tip of the tail and the toes are also blue. There are irregular orange bars and spots on the back. In some specimens, those spread from head to tail. Others display them primarily on the head and lower back.

This gecko is considered an invasive species in Hawaii. It’s diurnal and can often be seen climbing on large palm trees. Its diet consists of insects, nectar, pollen, and the juices of soft, ripe fruits. These geckos are docile and non-territorial. However, they’re shy and easily startled.

Giant Day Gecko

giant day gecko

  • Other common names: Madagascar giant day gecko, Crimson day gecko
  • Scientific name: Phelsuma grandis
  • Family: Gekkonidae
  • Origin: Northern Madagascar
  • Habitat: Tropical and subtropical forests,
  • Size: 9-12 inches
  • Lifespan: 8-15 years
  • Conservation status: Least concern

The giant day gecko is an exotic species in the US. It was introduced in Florida and Hawaii, where they’ve formed stable albeit small populations. It’s considered an invasive species because it endangers native wildlife. Giant day gecko males, in particular, are very territorial and aggressive against competing males and other geckos.

They aren’t called “giant” day geckos for nothing. This species can grow up to 12 inches long, especially the males. They have compact, powerful-looking bodies and well-developed jaws and necks. Some adult specimens might have noticeable sacs on their necks where they store calcium.

Giant day geckos are bright green and have one red stripe connecting the nostril to the eye on each side of the face. Their bellies are a pale yellow to an off-white color. Many specimens also exhibit orange or red spots or bands on their backs. The body coloration is the same in males, females, and juveniles.

The giant day gecko threatens natural biodiversity in Hawaii, as it competes with the local species for food (especially birds and native reptiles). Contact with wild giant geckos isn’t advised. These geckos are easily irritated, and they will bite you. Their powerful jaws and teeth can generate painful blisters.

Gold Dust Day Gecko

gold dust day gecko

  • Other common names: Broad-tailed day gecko
  • Scientific name: Phelsuma laticauda
  • Family: Gekkonidae
  • Origin: Northern Madagascar
  • Habitat: Forests, shrublands, plantations, other wooded areas, urban spaces
  • Size: 4-5 inches
  • Lifespan: 10-15 years
  • Conservation status: Least concern

The gold dust day gecko naturally occurs in Madagascar, Tanzania, and Comoros. It has also been introduced to Hawaii and other islands in the Pacific. This species was first brought to Hawaii in the late 20th century. Since then, this gecko has established itself and is currently considered an invasive species.

This is a small gecko with a compact cylindrical body and an average-sized head. The defining characteristic of this species is the tail. Its length roughly equals the distance between the snout and the vent. It’s stout and rounded instead ventrally flattened like in most geckos. The tip of the tail is round and creates a stubby appearance.

Gold dust geckos have bright green bodies with small, interspersed yellow scales, making the gecko appear covered in golden dust. These geckos have blue “eyelids” and three orange bars traveling from the snout to the top of the head. Adult specimens have three short, vertical red or orange bars on the lower back.

Gold dust day geckos are diurnal and social creatures. They often gather in small groups while feeding and can often be seen climbing outside walls or large trees. They feed off insects, flower pollen and nectar, ripe, juicy fruits, and sometimes other smaller lizards.


Hawaii’s islands are home to a huge variety of flora and fauna. Geckos are no exception! You can find many fascinating species, both endemic and introduced. The sweet and docile mourning gecko is perhaps the best-known native species. Most other geckos are introduced.

Stump-toed geckos, fox geckos, gold-dust geckos, and orange-spotted geckos are all beautiful, albeit invasive species that threaten the state’s biodiversity. Some species you should avoid include the tokay and giant day geckos. Don’t let the bright colors fool you! These lizards are aggressive and likely to bite.

Robert from ReptileJam

Hey, I'm Robert, and I have a true passion for reptiles that began when I was just 10 years old. My parents bought me my first pet snake as a birthday present, which sparked my interest in learning more about them. read more...