Mourning Gecko

Lepidodactylus lugubris

Last updated: May 27, 2024
Verified by: AZ Animals Staff
© Peter Yeeles/


Mourning Gecko Scientific Classification

Scientific Name
Lepidodactylus lugubris

Read our Complete Guide to Classification of Animals.

Mourning Gecko Conservation Status

Mourning Gecko Facts

Insects, arthropods
Main Prey
Group Behavior
  • Colony
Biggest Threat
Climate change, humans
Other Name(s)
Common smooth-scaled gecko
Skittish, timid, social
Average Spawn Size
2 eggs per clutch
Temperate rainforest
Birds, snakes, larger lizards, rodents
  • Nocturnal
Favorite Food
Insects, fruits, nectar
Widespread; native to Asia, introduced worldwide
Average Clutch Size

Mourning Gecko Physical Characteristics

  • Brown
  • Grey
  • Dark Brown
  • Beige
  • Light-Brown
Skin Type
10 to 15 years

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Mourning Gecko Summary

“Mourning geckos are all female and reproduce via parthenogenesis!”

Also known as the common smooth-scaled gecko, the mourning gecko is a very small, all-female species of lizard. It reproduces asexually via parthenogenesis and essentially produces clones of itself. It averages just 3.5 to 4 inches in length. 

Thanks to its cryptic brown, gray, and tan coloration, the mourning gecko is able to blend in with its surroundings very well. It can also slightly change its coloration from light to dark and vice versa to further camouflage itself if necessary. Its body is covered in lots of tiny dark brown spots, as well as a small dark brown line running down the sides of its face from the ears to the tip of the nose.

Although it is primarily native to coastal Asian countries, it has an exceptionally widespread geographic range. It has been introduced to many countries throughout the Neotropics, as well as the Hawaiian Islands in the United States.

Mourning Gecko Facts

  • Mourning geckos are an entirely female species. This is thanks to a form of asexual reproduction, parthenogenesis, which allows the female mourning gecko to reproduce without any male intervention.
  • Mourning geckos have one of the most widespread geographic ranges of any gecko species in the world. They have been introduced well outside of their native range.
  • Within the exotic pet keeping community, these geckos have become quite popular due to their small size, ease of care, and social nature.
  • Mourning geckos are highly omnivorous and eat a wide range of insects, arthropods, and fruits.

Mourning Gecko Scientific Name

Lepidodactylus lugubris

Mourning Gecko Appearance

Measuring just 3.5 to 4 inches long when fully mature, the mourning gecko is one of the smallest reptiles in the world. Its body is a mottled brown, gray, and tan in coloration with many small brown spots. 

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Notably, the species has cryptic coloring, meaning its body resembles tree bark and blends in well with its surroundings. The species can also change its color slightly from light to dark and vice versa to better match its background. From the tip of the nose to the ears, a thin dark brown strip runs down each side of the face. 

As with most geckos, its feet are covered in tiny pads that allow it to stick to and climb vertically up surfaces like trees and rocks.

Mourning Gecko Behavior

Although they are timid and skittish around humans and other animals, mourning geckos are a highly social species. In general, they are non-aggressive. They tend to live in groups. Additionally, it’s best to keep them in groups in captivity, as they do not fare well in solitary conditions.

The species is also nocturnal and is primarily active at night. However, the geckos will occasionally become active during the day for short periods of time. The species is highly omnivorous and eats a wide range of insects, arthropods, and fruits.

Mourning Gecko Habitat

Notably, the mourning gecko has one of the largest geographic ranges of any reptile in the world. It is primarily native to Asia’s coastal regions and prefers temperate rainforests. However, it is highly adaptable and has been introduced to many areas well outside of its native range. This includes areas of the Neotropics as well as the Hawaiian Islands in the United States.

The species is mainly arboreal, meaning it prefers to spend most of its time high up in trees. The geckos are exceptional climbers despite their small, fragile size. This makes them quite well-suited to an arboreal lifestyle.

Mourning Gecko Diet

As omnivores, mourning geckos eat a wide range of foods. The bulk of their diet in the wild consists of tiny insects like flies and ants. They also eat small spiders, pill bugs, and other arthropods.

In addition, the species enjoys eating a wide range of tropical fruits, nectar, and pollen. In captivity, they enjoy many different feeder insects, provided the insects are small enough for the gecko to eat comfortably.

Mourning Gecko Predators and Threats

The main animals that feed on mourning geckos are snakes, larger lizards, birds, and rodents. Although they are currently considered to be of least concern on the IUCN Red List, climate change is a growing problem for them, as it affects the temperate rainforests they natively inhabit. Humans are also a concern, as the species has become very popular within the exotic pet trade.

Mourning Gecko Reproduction, Babies, and Lifespan

As they reproduce via parthenogenesis, all mourning gecko babies are clones of their mothers. Upon reaching sexual maturity at around 8 to 10 months of age, they will lay a single clutch of two eggs every 4 to 6 weeks. Mourning gecko eggs take around two months to hatch.

In the wild, mourning geckos can potentially live for up to 10 years, though this is fairly rare. In captivity, however, some individuals can live for up to 15 years with adequate care and a healthy diet.

Mourning Gecko Population

It is currently unknown exactly how many mourning geckos exist in the wild within both its native and introduced range. However, thanks to its incredibly widespread distribution, the species is classified as of Least Concern on the IUCN Red List. The exotic pet trade and human conservation have also helped further spread the species’ geographic range.

Mourning Geckos in the Zoo

As they are fairly easy to maintain in captivity and have a widespread geographic range, mourning geckos are quite popular exhibits in zoos and aquariums worldwide. For example, within the United States, they are housed at the Georgia Aquarium

Mourning Gecko FAQ

Do mourning geckos make good pets?

With the proper care, diet, and housing, mourning geckos can be good pets. They are becoming increasingly popular within the exotic pet trade thanks to their small size and social nature with one another. However, due to their small size and fragile nature, they require a very secure terrarium to prevent them from escaping and becoming injured.

Why are mourning geckos all female?

Mourning geckos are all female because they reproduce asexually via the process of parthenogenesis. Essentially, they give birth to clones of themselves, making males of the species unnecessary for reproduction.

How big do mourning geckos get?

As one of the smallest reptiles in the world, the maximum size for a mourning gecko is a mere 3.5 to 4 inches long.

Do mourning geckos like to be held?

In general, mourning geckos are fairly skittish and timid around humans, despite being highly social and gregarious with one another. It’s best to avoid handling them unless absolutely necessary to prevent injury to the gecko.

Are mourning geckos noisy?

Mourning geckos are highly social. They interact with one another by using a series of chirping and barking sounds, making them fairly noisy despite their small size.

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About the Author

Hailey "Lex" Pruett is a nonbinary writer at A-Z Animals primarily covering reptiles and amphibians. They have over five years of professional content writing experience. Additionally, they grew up on a hobby farm and have volunteered at animal shelters to gain further experience in animal care. A longtime resident of Knoxville, Tennessee, Hailey has owned and cared extensively for a wide variety of animals in their lifetime, including cats, dogs, lizards, turtles, frogs and toads, fish, chickens, ducks, horses, llamas, rabbits, goats, and more!

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