Understanding Hawaiian Geckos: Species and Mythology

Discover Hawaii’s vibrant geckos, their role in local mythology, and how they symbolize good luck. Spot these captivating creatures in national parks and botanical gardens across the islands.

Understanding Hawaiian Geckos: Species and Mythology
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Geckos, known for their vibrant colors and intriguing behaviors, are a captivating sight for travelers exploring the Hawaiian Islands. These small lizards are essential to the local ecosystem and hold a unique place in Hawaiian mythology. In this article, we will discuss the various gecko species found in Hawaii, their role in Hawaiian mythology, and where to spot these fascinating creatures during your travels.

Gecko Species in Hawaii

Hawaii is home to several gecko species, both native and non-native. These geckos display a variety of colors, patterns, and sizes, each with its own preferred habitat and unique characteristics. Some of the most commonly encountered geckos in Hawaii include the Mourning Gecko, Stump-Toed Gecko, Gold Dust Day Gecko, and House Gecko.

Native Geckos: Mourning Gecko and Stump-Toed Gecko

The Mourning Gecko (Lepidodactylus lugubris) and Stump-Toed Gecko (Gehyra mutilata) are the two native gecko species found in Hawaii. Mourning Geckos are small, nocturnal lizards with a distinctive mourning call, which inspired their name. Stump-Toed Geckos are also nocturnal and can be identified by their short, stumpy toes. Both species play a crucial role in the Hawaiian ecosystem by controlling insect populations and serving as a food source for other animals. Conservation efforts aim to protect these native geckos and their habitats from threats posed by non-native species and habitat loss.

Non-native Geckos: Gold Dust Day Gecko and House Gecko

Non-native gecko species, such as the Gold Dust Day Gecko (Phelsuma laticauda) and House Gecko (Hemidactylus spp.), have established populations in Hawaii. The Gold Dust Day Gecko is recognized for its striking green color and gold dust-like spots, while the House Gecko is a small, pale, nocturnal gecko often found in and around human dwellings. Although these non-native geckos can negatively impact native species and ecosystems, efforts are underway to manage their populations and minimize their impact.

Hawaiian Mythology and Geckos

Geckos hold a special place in Hawaiian mythology, often featured in legends and stories. Ancient Hawaiians considered geckos to be guardian spirits or ‘aumakua, protecting families and individuals from harm. Their presence was believed to signify that the gods were watching over the people, providing guidance and protection.

Geckos as a Symbol of Good Luck

In Hawaiian culture, geckos symbolize good luck and are thought to bring blessings and prosperity to those who encounter them. This belief has fostered a positive relationship between locals and geckos, with many people considering it fortunate to have geckos living in and around their homes.

Where to Spot Geckos in Hawaii

Travelers can find geckos in various locations across the Hawaiian Islands, from nature reserves and parks to local accommodations. Some popular spots to observe geckos include Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Waimea Canyon State Park, and the numerous botanical gardens throughout the islands. When observing geckos, it’s essential to be respectful of their environment and avoid disturbing them or their habitats.


Geckos serve a unique and vital role in the Hawaiian Islands, both ecologically and culturally. By learning more about these fascinating creatures and their significance in Hawaiian mythology, travelers can deepen their understanding and connection to the islands. During your next visit to Hawaii, take a moment to appreciate the beauty and wonder of these captivating lizards, and perhaps even experience a bit of good luck along the way.


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