The Geico Gecko is a charismatic creature that has been Geico’s mascot for a number of years. The Geico Gecko was inspired by a common mispronunciation of the company’s name. Sadly, the company doesn’t explicitly state which species of Gecko they used for their inspiration.
However, the gecko appears to be one of the species of the genus Phelsuma. In all likelihood, it’s probably a Giant Day Gecko, though it can be hard to determine the exact species from a cartoon.
The Giant Day Gecko is brightly colored in hues of yellow and green. Therefore, it fits the Geico Gecko pretty closely.
What is the Giant Day Gecko?
The Giant Day Gecko is a large species that grows up to 12 inches. They’re native to Northern Madagascar and some of the surrounding islands. They spend their lives living in trees and feeding on insects and fruits. Their skin is bright green with red markings. They’re also known for their very large eyes.
This Gecko can be a popular pet. However, it isn’t recommended for beginners, as it is very skittish.
These Geckos spend much of their life in trees in the lush vegetation of the rainforest. They won’t touch the ground for much of their life, and this lifestyle must be considered when designing a habitat for a pet Giant Day Gecko. This lizard is also diurnal, which means that it is active during the day. It’s territorial and will defend its home range from other geckos. Therefore, you cannot keep several in the same cage.
They communicate similarly to other geckos. They can change colors somewhat and will detach their tails when threatened. You may even hear them make several vocalizations.
These geckos are omnivores, which means they consume a variety of insects and fruits. In captivity, they’re fed whatever insects are available, including crickets and mealworms. They need their food dusted with a calcium and vitamin supplement—like most lizards kept in captivity. They’re also fed fruit purees, usually bananas, mango, papaya, and similar fruits.
Can You Keep a Giant Day Gecko as a Pet?
Keeping these geckos in captivity requires setting up their habitat very carefully. It must be well-ventilated and mirror their natural habitat. The minimum size is 18 x 18 x 24 inches. The enclosure should have a substrate of peat moss, coconut fiber, or a similar substance to help maintain moisture, as these geckos need high humidity.
There should be plenty of plants, branches, and vines for your gecko to explore. As arboreal geckos, they would spend much of their time exploring the environment and climbing.
As you might guess, these geckos are cold blooded, which means they cannot regulate their body temperature. Therefore, you must keep a consistent temperature gradient of 75 to 85 °F during the day and 65 to 75 °F at night. The basking area should be kept at 90 to 95 °F. These differing gradients allow the gecko to control their own body temperature.
These geckos also need high humidity levels of 75% to 85%. They’re from the rainforest, after all. You can achieve this by misting their enclosure twice per day or using a humidifier.
If you can achieve these requirements, then you can keep these geckos as a pet. However, it does take quite a bit of work and commitment, especially because these geckos can live for up to 8 years in captivity (with some living for even longer).
Of course, just because the Geico Gecko looks like the Giant Day Gecko doesn’t mean it absolutely is. There have been several other possibilities put forth. For instance, it may be an Asian House Gecko, which is brown or gray with dark spots. However, the Geico Gecko doesn’t match the physical characteristics of this gecko very closely.
We never actually get to see the back of the Geico Gecko, which is one reason why it’s so hard to identify it. We only have his general coloration and face to go off of, which isn’t very much in the gecko world.
In the end, it’s likely that the Geico Gecko is probably a mixture of several different gecko species with added stylization. It’s clear that the company wasn’t concerned with matching a specific gecko exactly.
Is Geico a Lizard or Gecko?
The Geico mascot is a gecko—not a lizard. The mascot is based on a common mispronunciation of the company’s name. The mascot was created in 1999, making it extremely long-lived. The Geico Gecko is green with yellow spots and red eyes.
The Geico Gecko wasn’t made to follow any particular species exactly. Plus, the cartoon animation isn’t exactly an accurate depiction of any gecko (it is an animation, after all), and we’re never shown the back of the Geico mascot. All of these factors make it hard to determine the exact species the mascot is based on.
However, he does appear to be a Giant Day Gecko, which is the largest species in the genus Phelsuma. This gecko is sometimes kept as a pet, though it is skittish and has very particular habitat needs.
In the end, this mascot was probably based on several different species, even if he did end up resembling the Giant Day Gecko the closest. There has been a lot of stylization added to the character, as well.
Featured Image Credit: DomenicBlair, Pixabay