Common wonder gecko (Teratoscincus scincus)

Common wonder gecko
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Common wonder gecko fact file

Common wonder gecko description

GenusTeratoscincus (1)

One of the largest and arguably most beautiful geckos in its range, the common wonder gecko (Teratoscincus scincus) is a fairly robust species with a broad head, long and powerfully built limbs, and a rather short tail (2) (3). The adult is yellowish or buff, with darker and lighter spots or broken stripes. The belly and sides are white. Hatchling wonder geckos are more brilliantly coloured than the adults, being bright yellow with black bands (2) (3)

The eyes of the common wonder gecko are large, lidless and quite prominent, giving this species the alternative name of the ‘frog-eyed gecko’ (2) (3) (4).

Unlike many other geckos, the common wonder gecko lacks the expanded toe pads used in climbing (2) (3). Instead, the toes have a fringe of comb-like scales that allow the wonder gecko to move more easily in sandy habitats (2). The scales of the head are small, while those of the body, limbs and tail are noticeably enlarged, particularly along the upper side of the tail (2) (3).

In addition to producing a sharp call, the common wonder gecko is able to produce a loud, defensive hissing or scraping sound by writhing the tail, causing the large scales to rub together (2) (5).

Also known as
common plate-tailed gecko, frog-eye gecko, frog-eyed gecko, skink gecko, wonder gecko.
Total length: c. 15.9 cm (2)

Common wonder gecko biology

The common wonder gecko is active at night and is an excellent digger, excavating burrows down through the dry surface layers of sand and into moister subsurface layers. These burrows help the common wonder gecko to reduce water loss through its rather permeable skin during the day (2) (5).

The skin is particularly thin and delicate, and easily tears if the gecko is handled. The tail is also easily shed, as an escape strategy, but can be regenerated (2) (5). If threatened, the common wonder gecko displays a distinctive defence posture in which it stands on tiptoe, with the mouth open, the throat area expanded, the back arched and the tail writhing. If provoked further, it may squeak, dart forward and bite, before retreating to the burrow (2).

Little information is available on the diet or breeding behaviour of the common wonder gecko. In captivity, it may feed on insects such as beetles, crickets and grasshoppers, as well as snails, baby mice, and even its own hatchlings (2) (3). The female wonder gecko lays two hard-shelled eggs, which hatch after around 70 to 100 days (2) (4). The lifespan of the common wonder gecko in captivity may be up to 15 years or more (3).


Common wonder gecko range

The common wonder gecko has a fairly wide distribution within the Caspian Basin, being found in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzistan, Tadjikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

Its distribution extends as far as western China (2) (3) (6).


Common wonder gecko habitat

The common wonder gecko inhabits deserts and other arid areas, including sand dunes and gravel plains, below elevations of around 200 metres (1).


Common wonder gecko status

The common wonder geckohas yet to be classified by the IUCN.


Common wonder gecko threats

Little information is available on the threats faced by the common wonder gecko. However, Teratoscincus species are common in the pet trade, and most specimens are reported to be wild-caught (2) (3), potentially posing a threat to wild populations. 


Common wonder gecko conservation

There are no specific conservation measures in place for the wonder gecko, and its conservation status has yet to be assessed by the IUCN. Further research is needed into the biology, ecology and populations of this colourful gecko, and the impact of collection for the pet trade is likely to need monitoring.

View information on this species at the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre.
Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi is a principal sponsor of ARKive. EAD is working to protect and conserve the environment as well as promoting sustainable development in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi.

Find out more

To find out more about reptile conservation see:

  • International Reptile Conservation Foundation:


Authenticated (03/09/11) by Olivier S.G. Pauwels, Research Associate at the Royal Belgian Institute for Natural Sciences, Brussels, Belgium.



A population usually restricted to a geographical area that differs from other populations of the same species, but not to the extent of being classified as a separate species.


  1. TIGR Reptile Database (July, 2009)
  2. Bartlett, R.D. and Bartlett, P.P. (1995) Geckos. Barron’s Educational Series, New York.
  3. Bartlett, P.P., Griswold, B. and Bartlett, R.D. (2001) Reptiles, Amphibians, and Invertebrates: An Identification and Care Guide. Barron’s Educational Series, New York.
  4. Halliday, T. and Adler, K. (2002) The New Encyclopedia of Reptiles and Amphibians. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
  5. Hiller, U. (1974) Morphology and function ofthe dorsal sound producing scales in the tail of Teratoscincus scincus (Reptilia: Gekkonidae). Journal of Morphology, 144: 119-130.
  6. Macey, J.R., Fong, J.J., Kuehl, J.V., Shafiei,S., Ananjeva, N.B., Papenfuss, T.J. and Boore, J.L. (2005) The complete mitochondrial genome of a gecko and the phylogenetic position of the Middle Eastern Teratoscincus keyserlingii. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 26: 188-193.

Image credit

Common wonder gecko  
Common wonder gecko

© Rafaqat Masroor

Rafaqat Masroor
Zoological Sciences Division
Pakistan Museum of Natural History
Garden Avenue
Tel: 0092-51-9252084
Fax: 0092-51-9252087


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