Feeding ecology and diet

Nearly all geckos survive on insectivorous diets. Most small species eat only arthropods, but some larger species take small vertebrate prey. Tokay geckos (Gekko gecko), for example, can

The knob-tailed gecko (Nephrurus stellatus) eats spiders, insects, scorpions and smaller geckos. (Photo by G. E. Schmida. Bruce Coleman, Inc. Reproduced by permission.)

The knob-tailed gecko (Nephrurus stellatus) eats spiders, insects, scorpions and smaller geckos. (Photo by G. E. Schmida. Bruce Coleman, Inc. Reproduced by permission.)

overpower and eat small snakes, lizards, and mammals as well as nestling birds. One species of New Caledonian gecko (Rha-codactylus auriculatus) has specialized fanglike teeth for piercing the bodies of other lizards. Burton's snake lizard (Lialis burtonis) has hinged teeth that permit it to feed on hard-bodied prey, such as small skinks, whose skins are reinforced by osteoderms (bony plates embedded in the skin). In New Zealand and on other islands, both diurnal and nocturnal geckos often supplement their diet with the fruits, nectar, or pollen of plants. In some cases, these lizards may play important roles as both pollinators and seed dispersers.

Geckos hunt using a combination of visual and chemical cues. Eublepharines and probably some other geckos forage widely and use chemical cues to locate prey. Most other species, however, are ambush predators, moving little and relying on vision to identify arthropod prey that come within striking range.

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