Going Loco Over Geckos

I have heard quite a lot of stories about the so-called buy and sell business of gecko lizards which is said to be thriving here in the Philippines. I think it’s been circulating for about a number of years now here in our Davao locality. What was quite unbelievable with it was the price that went with every captured gecko lizard which is said to reach a million depending on the weight.

At first I merely disclosed it as pure “sabi-sabi” or hearsay simply because I would not believe that someone would risk spending a fortune on something as seemingly ordinary as a lizard. But I was up for more surprising things about it when a neighbor told me that the gecko trade is alive here in Mindanao.

This is what happened. Our neighbor was asking me if I know of someone who is willing to sell captive geckos and even ordinary house geckos. Ever the curious girl that I am I immediately asked her why. She proceeded to tell me that she has access to a so-called “direct buyer” from abroad who buys geckos in the Philippines as well as from various parts of Asia. Our neighbor told me that the buyer’s purpose is to sell the geckos in turn to doctors and persons in the medical field. So I was like saying “huh?”, “really?” At that instant I was partially convinced that this gecko thing is something that is getting serious.

Good Morning, Mr. Gecko
Good Morning, Mr. Gecko

That night I went around our house staring up and about, hoping to catch a glimpse of that elusive gecko or “tuko” as we call it here, because of its sound which is normally heard during late afternoons and even way into the night time. Our place here in Panabo is densely populated with coconut trees which is also a favorite haven/nesting place of geckos.

One quick glance at our ceiling and sure enough, there it was, with its great, scary eyes. I immediately felt like in a combat mode that evening, ready to try my hand at catching a “tuko”. However, my hubby warned me not to get near it or else suffer the wrath of its fury. So we ended up looking for helpful facts online regarding this seemingly hard-to-catch lizard. What I discovered was quite unbelievable. I found out that the buying and selling of geckos is openly advertised even on so-called advertising sites.

Hello Gecko
Hello Gecko

So why would foreigners and even local persons alike seem so keen in buying and selling geckos? These are at least the major reasons given: for medical purposes, as pest control method and as exotic pets. The reason why more and more foreigners are said to be on the prowl for geckos is because it is a probable cure for AIDS, specifically its tongue and saliva while the blood and bile are supposed to suppress tumor among cancer patients(Source:tocaygeckoprice.blogspot.com). As a pest control method I’d say it is somewhat valid since lizards have always been known to feed on ordinary bugs and insects.

Well you may be wondering what was the ending of my so-called gecko encounter. So then, here is the continuation of my not-so-ordinary experience. As my neighbor volunteered to bring in her cousins who are said to be experts in the field of capturing geckos, my hubby and I decided to why not give it a try. P50,000 for a 300gram gecko is quite a steal if it indeed was true so the next night a couple of teenagers were crawling atop our ceiling in search of big and mighty geckos. They caught 2 geckos, one with a head as big as a spoon. However, I was disappointed because it did not meet the minimum weight requirement of 300g according to them. I was instructed to feed it with left-over rice and raw chicken liver. The works!! I was given an empty aquarium wherein the 2 poor geckos would be billeted and fattened until they reach the minimum weight. Two days passed and then four, five days. I kept on peering at the glass cage. I felt that the lizards were not too happy with the course of things and I noticed that instead of fattening them up they are actually shrinking in size! Squinting my eyes I was afraid it wasn’t just my imagination, the poor lizards sure were thinning out and the eyes seemed to bulge out even more.

So my hubby and I decided once and for all, we had to set the geckos free. I could see flying money (goodbye, p50,000) in my imaginary cloud but gently shrugged it off. My conscience got the better of me and we decided to release the geckos, leave them to their usual hiding places and give them the peace they deserve.

To date, I still haven’t heard of someone having been paid a million for a gecko weighing at least half a kilo. Maybe there really were true cases or maybe none at all. Money is something that is really big deal everywhere especially when you’re talking millions so I am thinking maybe there were no true confessions out in the open (if indeed someone received a million bucks by selling captive geckos) to avoid attracting negative minds, to say the least. As for me, I am happy and contented to be seeing an occasional gecko around our house and I smile quietly when an occasional gecko’s head sticks out of our window. They are truly at home here and I’m fine with that, honestly.

Post Author: SharonMae (2 Posts)

My full name is Sharon Mae Roquia- Calingasan and I am Sharon or Shawie to my friends and close buddies and Bebot to my family and relatives. My nickname is kinda queer, because it’s almost always a nickname for guys here in Davao but was I glad because Black Eyed Peas released this “Bebot” song which is supposed to mean a hot chick! Seriously, I am a full-time mother of two hyper boys ages 8 and 6 and wife to an adorable Cavitenio man named Joseph. I work part-time online as a writer/rewriter through Odesk although I still have to really explore my capacities as an online worker. My interests are music, performing arts such as interpretative dances and literary works mostly fiction. I simply love to sing! My friends always try to compare me with the singer Sharon Cuneta but I am a hundred and one percent sure that I’m way better than her! Ops, I’m only joking hehe! Music is very much a part of my life and I adore ballads, jazz and r&b repertoire. Most modern singers are to die for when it comes to talent but for me nothing can surpass the talent of the late Karen Carpenter. Sorry this is getting so lengthy I almost forgot it’s just a short bio and not an article for review! Before I forget, I’d like to add in here that I live in San Vicente Village, Panabo City although we sometimes stay at my hubby’s hometown in Cavite so that leaves us as a family with NPA( No Permanent Address) I guess!  I think this will suffice things for now, thank you so very much for giving me this opportunity to be a part of LIP!!

How to Move to the Philippines Manual


  1. Don says

    I think trading in geckos is another of the problems of people not understanding the impact. The more rare or endangered the more value. First its the black corals and sea turtles. Now its geckos. The Philippines wont have any native species the way people capture and sell.

    And most geckos go to China for sale as medicines. There is no proven fact that geck spit cures anything, and wish people would not post such nonsense.


    • Dan says

      Yep…kinda sad rounding up all the little cute Lizards….and the Chinese have some very strange ideas as far as medicines go…

      • Don says

        In the US, there is a gecko spokesperson on commercial for GEICO. Competes with the Duck for AFLAC. The duck is funnier.

      • Ricardo Sumilang says

        Oh, I don’t know about that, Dan. If I were you I wouldn’t be so quick as to dismiss Chinese medicine as “strange.” Have you ever personally witnessed a dying cancer patient who went to China to seek traditional Chinese medicine after western doctors have given up on her? I have. I personally shook hands with this lady friend of mine and wished her well just before she left for China. She was skin and bones and had sunken eyes on the day we said goodbye to each other. Ten months later, she returned to the States with rosy red cheeks and eyes full of life.

  2. Steve Ames says

    Good timing on your article as I just read in the Sun-Star Davao online that the NBI is going to start going after the buyers of Gecko’s under the endangered species acts. The article lists the possible fines for buying them. Interesting that they are not going after the sellers just the buyers.

  3. chasdv says

    Hi Sharonmae,
    Interesting story,but it appears that many people don’t realise that its illegal in the PH to trap/farm Geckos.The penalty is Imprisonment.
    Those little Geckos that live in and around the house are not the ones the buyers want anyway,its the larger ones that mostly lives outside.
    Geckos are good to have around,eating scorpions,centipedes,mosquitos and unfortunately small Geckos.
    Those larger Geckos are nicknamed “Pit Bull” coz the give a nasty bite,and don’t let go easily.
    Hope this information is useful,

  4. Jay says

    Maybe my mom should make my dad catch the geckos instead of killing them. We have mostly the ugly brown, and not so colorful geckos here in Hawaii.

  5. ody says

    i am here in Tuguegarao City now in Cagayan Valley (northern part of the philippines.) my cousin is going gaga over this “gecko hunt” and i kept wondering why a certain person would want to buy a gecko or tuko for such an enormous amount.He even told me that they will go to a forest and stay there for 5 days just to catch a geckos..hay!

    • says

      hi ody, thanks for sharing your experience. That’s exactly what has been happening here for a couple of months already but when authorities started to go after these so called traders it seems the “tuko fever” has calmed down. Thanks for dropping by.

  6. Ms Caroline says

    Sad that people can be so naive and or easily fooled by this nonsense!!.What they don’t realized is that our natural resources are being stolen by foreigners and we Pilipinos are more than willing to let it happen for monetary gain.

    • Dave Keiser says

      Explotation of natural resources is nothing new to the Philippines. The teak forests on Negros were so large that a railway was used to harvest them and haul them to the port for export. The forests are GONE, the steam engines are quiet, one on static display, and the industry gone. Is this the fault of the Foreign users of the teak wood, or the Pinoy companies that killed the trees faster than they could grow? Illegal lumbering is a huge problem still, and I don’t see an American flag painted on the doors of the trucks that sneak down through Lapayanbaha on the mountain rock roads. Please, Caroline, lets point the finger of disgrace towards the “me first, and me only” attitude that pervades so many here, and the corrupt governmental agencies that look the other way for a few pesos.
      Foreigners sends thousands of tons of used clothes here, for free, and yet we see a lively trade in okai, okai making money for customs workers, and PNP officers that take bribe money to let the clothes pass into the country. Selling used clothes is supposed to be illegal here, but the only time there was ever a crackdown in Dipolog, it was due to a certain PNP official getting cut out of the loop.

  7. says

    This is hard to believe that people are paying so much for geckos. I used to drive them out of mu house. Now am going to feed them crickets and make them fat 😛

  8. Dave Keiser says

    Well, I had to go back and reread this article tonight, as I just found out someone I know BORROWED money to go to Manila and catch gechos. The latest story now is that they are worth 200 MILLION pesos. It is so sad to see people falling for this stupidity! This is the father of one of my employees that was guilible enough to borrow money to search for geckos. Now the family wants a cash advance on the employee’s salary because the water was shut off and they have no money. The father went to Manila a while back and worked for JUST enough moey to make a downpayment on a motorbike. Bought the bike, quite the job, and sits on it all day hoping someone will hire him…….like the 20 or 30 other guys hanging around every corner hoping for a customer. Well, of course the bike ended up being repossesed, and now we are off chasing geckos. So sad!

  9. says

    GEcko Buyers are Scammers, actually it their middle man/broker who makes money, they will tell you finance us. We will be looking for Gecko, they know buyers who will pay them millions of pesos, When they will find one, they will tell you , the owner is willing to sell the Gecko for 2oK up, if your ignorant you will buys because according to the broker it will cost millions of pesos, actually it will be the broker in conivance with the so called buyer who will get rich, Imagine if the victims will range from hundreds to thousand.. and the funny there is no Gecko in the Phillipines with 500 grams up …hahahahaha

  10. jo says

    its just the same as what happened with SIGBIN in visaya a kangaroo look alike demon face animal, wich is was just a hoax,

    tigilan nyo na yan kalokohan yan

  11. Green Earth says

    This is nonsense! Really! Most of us are blinded with large amount of money. Not knowing the reasons behind all of this, but if carefully thought and analyzed, this will have a lethal impact on the environment. With all or most of the geckos gone, most of the insects which can cause illnesses and diseases will roam the planet! They are here for a reason, we are here for a reason, don’t you think?

    Think Again! Even this is true or not, our actions today will determine our futures.

    Green Earth

  12. says

    Hi…I am surprised upon reading about gecko lizard… because as what i had heared long time ago when I was young that this kind of animal can give you an answer if you ask a questions but it doesn`t mean that it speak but silense means yes, elderly people says: It is good for healing tuberculosis i don`t know exactly…. Just ” “ato-ato lang ni””as what other says, but i believed that gecko lizard are helpful too by controling cochroats, mosquitos, flies and other harmful insects at home… when it comes to buy and sale i`m also curious that makes my eyes open wide… and decide to read it all….till i found myself smiling alone…. and realized that money makes people become more energitic, even not so sure…. because to do is to learn….and …. to see is to believed….all I can say THANK YOU VERY MUCH….for knowing it.

  13. John H says

    We have several around our house believe me they are not endangered here. I have seen as many as 5 INSIDE our house at one time. Unfortunately none are 300 grams. I think the biggest one might b e 250. And their are usually several around the house as well. All the websites give 250 as the size limit for them but I know they do occasionally get bigger. If you catch the large ones it will likely help INCREASE the population as they are cannibals.

    I see the 300 gram limit as a great idea only rarely will they get that big so its not a tax on the population at all. I honestly think they should legalize it as long as they keep that 3oo gram (or maybe even 250) limit on size. Its a great way to bring in foreign money. And if it were legal their would be auctions and people wouldn’t be cheated nearly as often.

  14. dash says

    thank you for this article. it has been a curiosity to me since i heard about this gecko trading and one time i was trying bid a half kg gecko. i tell you the price is so unbelievable it even reaches a 600m pesos and i said “what” really? and that began my craziness attitude about it till i went home in our province and tried to convince my father. since he is a businessman, he was convinced to find for it thru hunters. till one time we have a transaction with the hunter. we left our house for like 10 in the evening i was excited then because of the millions in my head. halfway to the meeting place. i crashed the motorcycle i’m riding that almost broke my face. good thing i was wearing a helmet if not, that was my last night. but then we still continue and went to the meeting place. my father was ready with the cash of 25k pesos. we stayed in the place of my father’s agent and wait and contact for the owner of the gecko. my father’s agents went to the handler’s house but unfortunately there were police around and got a news that there will be a gecko transaction. mission was failed. with all our effort the buyer’s trustee was there and our initial money. until we know that the gecko lost it’s weight. after that damn transaction. i stop believing this damn thing. i almost died because of that. i can say whether this trading is true or not it is your fate determines your fortune and if it’s God’s will then you must be lucky… goodluck to everyone…

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