A Guide to the Amphibians
and Reptiles of California

Indo-Pacific Gecko - Hemidactylus garnotii

Dumeril and Bibron, 1836

Also known as: Fox Gecko, Garnot's House Gecko, Assam Greyish Brown Gecko
Click on a picture for a larger view
Red: Areas where this non-native species
is apparently established

Click on the map for a topographical view

Map with California County Names

If you see a lizard that looks like this living in the wild
anywhere in California please contact me
and send a picture if you can for verification.

List of Non-Native Reptiles and Amphibians
Established in California

observation link

This species has been introduced into California. It is not a native species.

Mediterranean House Gecko
Adult, Huntington Beach, Orange County
Mediterranean House Gecko Mediterranean House Gecko Mediterranean House Gecko
Adult, Huntington Beach, Orange County
Mediterranean House Gecko Mediterranean House Gecko Mediterranean House Gecko
Adult, Orange County
© William Flaxington
Adult, Huntington Beach, Orange County Adult, Vista, San Diego County
© Mike DuTemple

Pictures of Indo-Pacific Geckos from Outside California
Mediterranean House Gecko Mediterranean House Gecko Mediterranean House Gecko
Adult in dark phase,
Miami-Dade County, Florida
© John Sullivan
Adult, Dominical, Puntarenas Province, Costa Rica © Twan Leenders Adult, Manuel Antonio, Puntarenas Province, Costa Rica © Twan Leenders
Mediterranean House Gecko Mediterranean House Gecko  
Adult, Santo Tomas Heredia,
Costa Rica © Fabio Hidalgo
Adult, Quepos, Costa Rica
 © Fabio Hidalgo
Adults are 4 - 5.5 inches in length (10 - 14 cm) including the tail. Head-body maximum length is 2.5 inches (6.4 cm).

A small gecko with sticky toe pads and large eyes with vertical pupils and no eyelids.
The snout is relatively long and thin, longer than the distance between the eye and the ear-opening (similar to that of a fox, which explains the name Fox Gecko.)
A single saw-tooth row of enlarged, spine-like scales along the lateral edge of the tail.
The skin is smooth, but not shiny.
Color and Pattern
Generally brown or gray in color, sometimes marbled with darker brown.
Darker in the daytime, becoming pale and almost translucent at night.
Small whitish dorsal spots of varying sizes and shapes.
Sometimes there are faint crossbands on the tail.
The belly is often lemon-yellow and the underside of the tail is sometimes pale red.
Hatchlings are 7/8 - 1 inch in length with a distinct pattern and dark crossbands on the tail.
Comparison with the similar Mediterranean Gecko - Hemidactylus turcicus
The best way to differentiate these two species is the skin: the Indo-Pacific Gecko has smooth skin, while the Mediterranean Gecko has conspicuous large bumpy tubercles on the skin. The Indo-Pacific Gecko also has a yellow belly while that of the Mediterranean gecko is pale but not yellow.

Comparison with the similar Common House Gecko - hemidactylus frenatus
The Common House Gecko has been found in the wild in California, but it is apparently not yet established in the state.

According to geckoweb:

"The Indo-Pacific Gecko may have small tubercles restricted to its dorsum or dorso-lateral rows, and the Common House Gecko has only small or no tubercles, whereas the ... Mediterranean Gecko have enlarged tubercles across the back. ... In the Indo-Pacific Gecko, spines are only found along the sawtooth edges of the tail, however in the Common House Gecko, rows of enlarged spines encircle the tail."

Life History and Behaviors
Activity is almost completely nocturnal.
Hides in cracks and crevices and underneath ground surface objects during daylight.
Sticky pads on the toes allow this gecko to climb vertical surfaces. They are often seen on walls of building around outside lights where they wait to jump and catch with their open mouth nsects that are attracted to the light.
Eats a variety of invertebrates including insects and spiders.
Reproduction and Young
This species is all female.
Reproduction is by parthenogenesis - the development of unfertilized eggs.
One individual is capable of establishing a new population.

Eggs are laid in pairs in dark places such as crevices, moist soil, and in crevices.

In California, this species is associated with human development, mostly found on buildings with outdoor lights.


Natural Range

This gecko is native to South and Southeast Asia, the East Indies, and many South Sea islands, including Northeast India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Myanmar, Thailand, the Malaysian Peninsula, Southern China, Taiwan, the Philippine Islands, Indonesia, New Guinea, new Caledonia, Polynesia, Fiji, Western Samoa, Vanuatu, the Cook Islands, and Tonga.

Introduced Populations

Established in Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Texas and California, and in the Bahamas and Costa Rica.


Documentation of this species in California was first published in December 2015. (Gregory B. Pauly and Glen S. Yoshida. Herpetological Review 46(4), 2015.) The authors do not mention the source of the introduction, but they do say that the evidence suggests that the introduction is recent, having been first observed in 2015.

So far (as of 4/20) my searches find that this gecko has been seen only in Los Angeles, Orange, and San Diego Counties.

* A population was found in Torrance, Los Angeles County, where it has been observed active during every month of the year since 2011. This population is apparently confined to one house lot.

* A population was found in Lake Forest, Orange County where adults and juveniles have been observed since 2009. This population was found in an area spanning eight house lots.

* A population was found in the city of Orange in Orange County in July 2014 by Anthony C. Huntle.

* A population of H. garnotii has been documented in a third county at a residence in University City in San Diego County. Residents reported seeing them at the location since 2015-2016. (Herpetological Review 49(4) December, 2018)

* Pictures of a gecko found in Vista, San Diego County, that I presume to be H. garnotii, were sent to me in 9/19.

* Pictures of this gecko were sent to me from Huntington Beach in 4/20

* iNaturalist records show them from Anaheim, Irvine, and Santa Ana. (Accessed 4/20)

I have also received reports with pictures of alien geckos that might be this species from Los Angeles, Anaheim, and Palm Springs but the species has never been confirmed.

Los Angeles County
Between Rancho Palos Verdes and San Pedro
West of San Pedro

Orange County
Huntington Beach
Lake Forest
Santa Ana

San Diego County
University City

Full Species Range Map
Estimated world range of Hemidactylus garnotii, including areas where it has been introduced.

Taxonomic Notes
See The Reptile Database for synonyms.

Conservation Issues  (Conservation Status)
This gecko is a very successful invader. The ability of a single lizard to start a new population and the species easy adaptability means it could become widespread in California. However since it prefers warm climates, it may be limited to the southern part of the state. It is not known what impact it might have on native wildlife.

Introduced into Hawaii, the species has apparently been pushed out of urban areas by another alien gecko, the House Gecko, but continues to be found in most other habitats.
Family Gekkonidae Geckos Gray, 1825
Genus Hemidactylus House Geckos Gray, 1825
Species garnotii Indo-Pacific Gecko Dumeril and Bibron, 1836

Original Description
Dumeril and Bibron, 1836

Meaning of the Scientific Name
Hemidactylus - half fingered (hemi = half, daktylos = toe or finger)

garnotii - in honor of French naturalist Prosper Garnot

Alternate Names
Fox Gecko
Garnot's House Gecko

Related or Similar California Herps
Mediterranean Gecko - Hemidactylus turcicus 
Tropical House Gecko - Hemidactylus mabouia (Woodslave)
Common House Gecko - Hemidactylus frenatus
Flat-tailed House Gecko - Hemidactylus platyurus
Moorish Gecko - Tarentola mauritanica  
Ringed Wall Gecko - Tarentola annularis (White-spotted Wall Gecko)
Keeled Rock Gecko - Cyrtopodion scabrum (Bow-footed Gecko, Keeled Gecko, Rough-tailed Gecko)
Peninsular Leaf-toed Gecko - Phyllodactylus nocticolus

More Information and References
Robert Powell, Roger Conant, and Joseph T. Collins. Peterson Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians of Eastern and Central North America. Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016.

Bartlett, R. D. and Patricia Bartlett. A Field Guide to Florida Reptiles ad Amphibians. Gulf Publishing, 1999.

McKeown, Sean. A Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians in the Hawaiian Islands. Diamond Head Publishing, Inc. 1996.


Savannah River Ecology Laboratory

The Reptile Database

Conservation Status

The following conservation status listings for this animal are taken from the January 2024 State of California Special Animals List and the January 2024 Federally Listed Endangered and Threatened Animals of California list (unless indicated otherwise below.) Both lists are produced by multiple agencies every year, and sometimes more than once per year, so the conservation status listing information found below might not be from the most recent lists. To make sure you are seeing the most recent listings, go to this California Department of Fish and Wildlife web page where you can search for and download both lists:

A detailed explanation of the meaning of the status listing symbols can be found at the beginning of the two lists. For quick reference, I have included them on my Special Status Information page.

If no status is listed here, the animal is not included on either list. This most likely indicates that there are no serious conservation concerns for the animal. To find out more about an animal's status you can also go to the NatureServe and IUCN websites to check their rankings.

This is a new species to California, so there are no status listings yet for the state.

Organization Status Listing  Notes
NatureServe Global Ranking Not Known
NatureServe State Ranking Not Known
U.S. Endangered Species Act (ESA) Not Known
California Endangered Species Act (CESA) Not Known
California Department of Fish and Wildlife Not Known
Bureau of Land Management Not Known
USDA Forest Service Not Known
IUCN Not Known

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