I set out to do some birding in the fading light of the day on the outskirts of Agartala (Tripura). In the short time that was left of the day I enjoyed the company of Racket-tailed Drongos, Red-breasted Parakeets and a few other birds. The light faded quickly and everything around me was quiet.
This is when I heard a two syllable call that went “tok-kay” or “tuck-too” from a nearby tree. For a moment my mind scanned through all the bird calls that I was familiar with. I drew a blank. Then it occurred to me that this was indeed a gecko and named after the call it utters – the Tokay Gecko Gekko gecko (also known as the Tuctoo Gecko) and the largest gecko in India!
Later in the evening the call of this nocturnal gecko was heard several times. So, I went around the old buildings searching and finally managed to see the monster of a gecko. I had not seen such a large, and at the same time beautiful, gecko. I was really lucky. The adult that I spotted was also accompanied by four young ones ! They were all very shy and photographing them was not easy.
Though the Tokay Gecko is known to grow to about 14 inches, the adult that I saw was about 8 inches long. It was pale bluish grey with orange spots.
The young ones were equally colourful with orange spots spread all over the body with bands of white spots interspersed in between. The banded tail was also characteristic.
Naturally, the Tokay Gecko lives on trees and rocky cliffs. However, in many parts of NE India and parts of SE Asia, the Tokay Gecko is known to live in residences too.
The Tokay Gecko was incidentally described by Linnaeus way back in 1758. However, today, this gecko has sadly become prey to misconceptions. In several parts of SE Asia they are caught and used as a remedy for several ailments. This has led to this gecko being collected and traded illegally. Besides, it also can be part of pet trade.