Vorax vs. Marginata | The Herpetocultural Identity Crisis

Authored by Ryan McVeigh Marketing Brand Manager Zilla Reptile Supplies

Vorax Geckos and the elusive truth

Recently, a friend came to me with a question. He had been to a local reptile show and had picked up a gecko labeled “Vorax Gecko.” He believed it to be mislabeled, because a true Gehyra vorax gecko is VERY rare, and has nearly never been in captivity. However, the seller assured him that it was indeed a Gehyra vorax, and you could tell by the eye color. According to him, and many others in the hobby, the Gehrya marginata have green eyes, and the G. vorax have gold or brown eyes.

Had the rarity of the G. vorax changed? Is this really a way to tell them apart? What exactly did he have?

I wanted to answer this question with certainty, but I couldn’t. I knew that the geckos coming in labeled “Vorax Geckos” was incorrect and that the actual Gehyra vorax were incredibly rare, however I had no exact knowledge to lead him to an answer. I began my search for answers online. As usual, this lead to some of the same conclusions the dealer and others had about the eye color, while others challenged the notion with no other ideas of how to tell them apart. Even looking for pictures of G. vorax was difficult, as most of them were clearly G.marginata, since this species has been mislabeled for years. My search for answers finally ended when I contacted renowned gecko expert, Jon Boone. Jon helped to insure me that my notions about the rarity of G. vorax were correct. There have only been one or two pairs of these in captivity. Gehyra vorax is endemic to only Fiji, and heavily protected. So this brought me to the common discussions of eye color showing the difference between the two, and what visual differences actually exist.

Vorax gecko

Gehyra vorax Courtesy of Rod Morris

Other than the fact that it is nearly impossible to get G. vorax, the major differences include color, size, toe pad size, and body shape. This may seem like attributes that would easily distinguish two animals, and when you actually see the right pictures of them, it does. G. marginata’s colors are in the spectrum of grays and browns, while G. vorax’s colors are composed of black, shades of yellow, and any color in between. The Vorax Geckos are much more vibrantly colored. When it comes to the size and body shape, the G. vorax are much larger and their body and tails are round in structure. G. marginata has a laterally compressed tail and body shape, and while very large, are smaller in comparison to G. vorax. The next easily noticeable difference between the two is their toe pad size. G. vorax has toe pads that are noticeably larger than the diameter of their eyes, whereas the G. marginata toe pads are smaller. With these distinctions and seeing photographs of the actual species, they are very distinguishable, and there is little confusion.

G.marginata Gecko

Gehrya marginata Courtesy of Jabberwock Reptiles

One common myth within the herpetocultural community is that the color of the eyes determines the species, as they are difficult to distinguish otherwise. We have already discussed that they are, in fact, easily distinguishable, so what’s the deal with the different eye colors? While there is no 100% answer as the species has not been heavily studied, there is one very probable theory. G. marginata has a very large natural range encompassing much of Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, and other islands of the South Pacific. Because their range is so vast, it is likely these are natural variations within separate localities. There is also a possibility of different species which have yet to be described, or subspecies of G. marginata that have this distinguishable characteristic.

In the end, it is important to know that no matter what the gecko is called, be it Vorax Gecko, Halmahera Giant Gecko, Banana Gecko, or any other common name for this species, if it is available to you in the hobby, it is indeed Gehyra marginata.