Gecko Care – communication
Geckos are thought to communicate in three different ways using body language, chemicals and sounds. The most common sound to be heard is that of a loud high pitched hiss or scream, this is often heard from young babies who will make the noise whenever they think they are threatened, some report it as very disturbing. The noise is similar to the noise from air releasing from a balloon when you stretch the sides.
There are noises often reported to sound like that of a crackle, gurgle, chirp or clicking sound, many different people describe this differently but it is usually how the sound is described if a handler has picked up a gecko that does not want to be picked up.
A gecko’s body language consists of its tail movements. It is very common for baby geckos to move their tail a lot at the site of you or other geckos, this seems to calm down as the gecko gets older with age.
Similar to how a dog wags it’s tail a gecko will wag it’s tail rapidly when it gets excited. When a gecko is stalking its prey, the end of their tail will rapidly move from side to side, this could be aiding them with their hunt or it could just be because they are excited that they are about to eat. This same movement can be observed in male geckos when they are interested in mating with a female. Sometimes the end of the tail moves so fast is makes a buzzing sound similar to a wasp flying past your ear.
When a gecko is under threat, its tail movements are slower and more deliberate. A female can also make these movements when they see a mating partner, this could be observed as a kind of dance or ritual to let the male know they want to mate. The female will also stand up as tall as they can while at the same time arching their back.
The chemical communication between geckos is the most discrete communication the gecko can offer. It is similar to our sense of smell but as humans we cannot detect it so well. Geckos have an organ known as the Jacobson organ that is located in the roof of their mouth that is very sensitive to these chemicals. Sometimes when a gecko is flicking out their tongue they are detecting these subtle chemical discretions.
When geckos are handled outside of their tanks and they want to go back in the tank a slight musty smell can be sensed in the air. This could be interpreted as them saying to put them back in the tank for whatever reason.
When keeping your own geckos you should record any signs of communication that you notice so you can look for it again in the future, at meal times they may display certain behavior along with when another gecko is introduced into their tank. The longer you observe the geckos the more you will notice communication is constantly going on, despite them seeming to be fairly quite reptiles.