Common House Gecko

Hemidactylus frenatus

"Best Choice" Pet Best Choice

The House Gecko is native to much of southern Asia and has established breeding populations in eastern Africa, New Guinea, Mexico, Madagascar, Australia, and other tropical areas. It is found in a variety of habitats and gets its name because it is common near human habitations. Like other geckos, House Geckos have specialized toe pads that enable them to cling and move effortlessly along walls and ceilings. They are frequently seen at night near light bulbs hunting for insects.

Common House Geckos are very popular among pet owners because they are small, inexpensive, and relatively easy to keep in captivity. They vary in color from yellowish tan with darker spots or blotches to pale grayish-white; they sometimes appear paler at night. These geckos reach an adult length of 3 to 5 inches (including the tail) and can live for 5 to 10 years in captivity.

Did You Know?

House Geckos have specialized toe pads that enable them to cling and move effortlessly along walls and ceilings.

Source Sustainability Best Choice

Does the harvest for wildlife trade or captive breeding of this species harm wild populations?

Little Cause for Concern

House Geckos are believed to be common within their native range and are not at risk of extinction in the wild.

PetWatch Recommendation:

When possible, purchase a captive-bred animal, as this will decrease the demand for wild-born individuals. In general, captive-bred reptiles will be healthier and live longer than wild-caught animals. Only acquire a pet that is from a reputable USDA-licensed breeder or dealer to ensure that you are not buying an illegally wild-caught and/or imported animal.

Invasion Threat Fair Choice

Does the release or escape of this species into the wild harm the environment and/or economy?

Some Cause for Concern

House Geckos are established in numerous tropical regions outside their native range, including Hawaii and Florida. They prey on native insects, but it is not clear whether they have caused significant declines or extinctions in any species. In Hawaii, House Geckos have displaced native geckos from preferred foraging locations on buildings, and to a lesser extent in the native gecko’s natural forested habitat. House Geckos are thought to have become so widely distributed by hitchhiking rides on ships and other transports, or as eggs in the soil of nursery plants; however, owners should be careful not to contribute to the problem by releasing their pets into the wild.

PetWatch Recommendation:

Before obtaining a House Gecko, check to make sure that it is legal to own one in your state of residence and check for permitting requirements. Always keep your pet gecko inside a safe and secure enclosure. Never release a pet into the wild.

Animal Welfare Best Choice

Does harvest, captive breeding, transport, or being kept as a pet harm individual animals?

Little Cause for Concern

Common House Geckos are fairly easy to maintain in captivity, although they should not be handled roughly as they can lose their tails. They are fast runners and climbers, and so can easily escape if not watched carefully. Like many animals in the pet trade, an unknown but potentially significant number of wild-caught animals die in transit.

PetWatch Recommendation:

Before acquiring a pet House Gecko, be sure to research its specific care requirements. Talk to your veterinarian about the proper diet and how to maintain a healthy weight for your pet. Because these animals can be carriers of disease (see Health Threat, below), acquire an animal only from a reputable USDA-licensed breeder/dealer. Be sure that it is legal to own a House Gecko in your city and/or state of residence.

Health Threat Fair Choice

Does this animal pose a health risk to native wildlife, humans, livestock and agriculture?

Some Cause for Concern

A number of parasites have been documented in Common House Geckos but these are not known to be harmful to humans or other animals. Also, like all reptiles, House Geckos can carry Salmonella. If ingested by humans, Salmonella can cause vomiting and diarrhea; these symptoms are usually mild in healthy adults but can be fatal to infants and young children, or anyone with a compromised immune system. It is important to wash hands before and after handling an animal. Salmonella can be transmitted from exotic pets to any member of a household, even those who do not handle the pet directly.

PetWatch Recommendation:

Due to the potential for disease transmission to humans and other household pets, acquire a House Gecko that was captive-bred, has a documented health history, and is from a reputable USDA-licensed breeder/distributor. Be sure to ask for proof of a clean bill of health and that the animal has been checked by a certified veterinarian. Obtain a list of any medical treatments the animal has received.

EcoHealth Alliance works at the intersection of ecosystem, animal and human health through local conservation programs and develops global health solutions to emerging diseases.
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