Cockroaches can be a nuisance in homes, but do geckos provide a natural solution? Many home owners wonder if the geckos they spot on their walls feast on these uninvited six-legged guests.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: Yes, geckos do eat cockroaches. They are opportunistic predators that will consume a variety of insects, including cockroaches.

In this nearly 3000 word guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about the gecko and cockroach relationship, including what types of geckos eat roaches, how they hunt them, how effective they are at controlling populations, whether certain roach species are avoided, and tips for encouraging hungry geckos to move into your home.

Which Gecko Species Eat Cockroaches?

House Geckos

The house gecko (Hemidactylus species) is a common pet gecko that originated in various parts of southern Asia. These nimble climbers enjoy eating a variety of insects, including cockroaches. In fact, house geckos are often introduced to homes and buildings specifically to help control cockroach populations!

With their excellent hunting abilities and appetite for roaches, house geckos can eat up to 10-15 cockroaches per night. They particularly seem to relish hunting down young nymphs and adult females who are loaded with high-protein eggs.

The house gecko’s small size also allows it to easily chase cockroaches into cracks and crevices. Overall, the house gecko is one of the most effective cockroach predators around.

Tokay Geckos

The Tokay gecko (Gekko gecko) is a large, vocal lizard from Southeast Asia. Growing up to 15 inches long, Tokays are relentless hunters that will eat almost any prey they can overpower, including sizeable cockroaches.

In fact, Tokays are able to consume up to 50 heavy-bodied cockroaches per week. Their huge mouths allow them to swallow cockroaches whole, while their powerful jaws and teeth make short work of crunching tough exoskeletons. They are also quick enough to snap up fleeing roaches.

With their substantial appetite and ability to access hard-to-reach places, Tokay geckos can significantly reduce cockroach populations in homes.

Leopard Geckos

The leopard gecko (Eublepharis macularius) is probably the most popular pet lizard today. These stocky geckos hail from the deserts of south Asia, where they fill their bellies with all kinds of prey including beetles, crickets, spiders – and cockroaches.

While they are not specialized roach hunters, leopard geckos certainly enjoy eating cockroaches when given the chance. Their lightning fast strikes allow them to snatch up even speedy young roaches. Leopard geckos may consume 2-3 adult cockroaches every few days.

Though they may not eliminate roach infestations entirely due to their smaller size, leopard geckos can put a dent in the cockroach population.

Crested Geckos

Native to New Caledonia, crested geckos (Correlophus ciliatus) are colorful, eye-catching lizards. They are primarily fruit eaters in the wild but can be trained to eat insects in captivity. Though cockroaches are not their favorite prey, crested geckos will readily eat small roaches if offered.

Their gentle nature can make crested geckos timid hunters at first. But once they get used to targeting roaches, they can become quite adept at catching and consuming 1-2 cockroaches per feeding. Combine their willingness to eat roaches with their ability to climb smooth walls, and crested geckos have potential as natural cockroach controllers.

How Do Geckos Catch and Eat Cockroaches?

Hunting Behavior

Geckos are effective and ingenious hunters of cockroaches. They rely on their lightning fast reflexes and specialized adaptations to track down and capture their prey. When hunting, geckos use their large eyes to scan the environment and their acute sense of smell to locate hiding and running cockroaches.

They will stealthily stalk their target, moving slowly and methodically to get within striking distance. Once close enough, geckos will open their mouths wide and use their long, sticky tongues to snatch up cockroaches with deadly speed and accuracy.

Their powerful jaws and vice-like grip make it nearly impossible for cockroaches to escape. Geckos are such gifted hunters that they can even detect movements of cockroaches in total darkness! With specialized toe pads that can grip smooth surfaces, geckos can climb walls and ceilings to hunt cockroaches hiding in hard-to-reach places.

Patient, determined, and precise, geckos are consummate cockroach-catching machines.

Biting and Chewing

Geckos make short work of cockroaches with their strong jaws and rows of backward-curving teeth. They have a bite force that is powerful relative to their body size, which allows them to crunch through the hard exoskeleton of cockroaches with ease.

Unlike snakes that must swallow prey whole, geckos use their teeth to tear cockroaches apart into smaller, more manageable pieces. Their teeth also help to immobilize struggling cockroaches attempting to escape. Geckos shake their heads violently from side to side to subdue cockroaches in their grip.

Once cockroaches are disabled, geckos chew them into pulp using vertical movements of their lower jaws. Their teeth shred cockroaches while sticky saliva helps form the pulverized insect parts into a more easily swallowed meal.

Leaving nothing to waste, geckos will devour cockroaches completely including wings, legs and antennae!

Consuming Other Insects

In addition to feasting on cockroaches, geckos are opportunistic feeders and will eat a wide variety of insects when available. They particularly relish moths, crickets, flies, spiders, beetles, grasshoppers and larvae.

With over 80,000 insect species inhabiting the gecko’s environment, there is never a shortage of potential prey! Geckos regulate their prey consumption based on abundance – the more insects, the more a gecko will eat.

When insects are scarce, geckos can survive on relatively little food due to their cold-blooded metabolisms. Their flexible diets enable them to thrive in varied habitats from rainforests to deserts. No matter the ecosystem, geckos can almost always find insect prey to stalk, kill, and devour!

Are Geckos Effective for Controlling Cockroaches?

Impact on German Roaches

Geckos can be quite effective at controlling German cockroaches, which are one of the most common cockroach species. Studies have shown that a single house gecko can consume up to 320 newly hatched German cockroaches per day.

This is because geckos are insectivores that actively hunt for prey at night when cockroaches are most active.

In particular, the common house gecko (Hemidactylus frenatus) and Madagascar day gecko (Phelsuma madagascariensis) have shown appetite and ability to prey on various life stages of German cockroaches.

Their hunting effectiveness comes from having specialized toe pads that allow them to climb smooth vertical surfaces with ease as they chase down the fast-moving roaches.

Geckos may be especially useful for controlling German cockroaches in places like restaurants and commercial kitchens where chemical pesticide use faces restrictions. Their natural pest control can suppress roach populations without posing health risks to the human occupants.


However, geckos do have some limitations when it comes to controlling German cockroaches long-term:

  • Geckos may fail to access all cockroach hiding spots – Roaches can squeeze into cracks and crevices too small for geckos to reach.
  • Cold climates – Geckos become less active in temperatures below 20°C/68°F.
  • Daytime activity – Geckos sleep during daytime hours when roaches may still venture out.
  • Roach egg capsules – Geckos prefer consuming nymphs and adults but usually avoid breaking open egg capsules.

So while geckos can definitely thin out German cockroach populations through active predation, some supplementary control measures may still be required. Their natural pest suppression should be viewed as part of an integrated pest management program rather than the sole control tactic.

What Roach Species Do Geckos Avoid?

When it comes to hunting and eating insects, geckos are quite opportunistic. However, there are certain types of cockroaches that geckos tend to avoid or have difficulty catching and consuming.

Australian Roaches

Australian cockroaches, also known as Periplaneta australasiae, can grow over 30mm in length. With their large size and rapid movement, these roaches pose a challenge for most household geckos.

Additionally, the hard and glossy exoskeleton of the Australian cockroach makes it difficult for a gecko to gain purchase and chew. Thus, unless the roach is already injured or moving slowly, many geckos will not engage with these intimidating insects.

Oriental Roaches

Oriental cockroaches (Blatta orientalis) also have physical and behavioral traits that discourage predation from geckos.

These roaches have a stronger armor covering their body that is problematic for gecko teeth. The protein crystals in an Oriental roach’s exoskeleton are more tightly packed than other roaches. This fortified exterior prevents easy penetration from gecko bites.

Additionally, Oriental roaches are very fast runners compared to other household pests. With quick reflexes and agility, oriental roaches can rapidly escape from geckos before they have time to strike.

Roach Type Exoskeleton Speed
Australian Hard, glossy Moderate
Oriental Very strong Very fast

Research indicates that the locomotion rate of Oriental roaches can reach up to 50 body lengths per second as they dart away from threats (Source). This rapid movement, coupled with durable exoskeletons, causes most geckos to ignore Oriental roaches.

How to Encourage Geckos

Providing Shelter

Geckos love to hide out in small, enclosed spaces that make them feel safe and protected. An easy way to attract geckos to your yard is by providing lots of hiding spots for them. You can do this by stacking bricks, rocks or firewood in corners or along walls and fences.

These stacks create little nooks and crannies for geckos to crawl into and sleep during the day. You can also install wooden gecko boxes designed specifically to give these beneficial lizards shelter.

Turning on Lights

Geckos are nocturnal creatures that become more active in the evening when temperatures cool down. Turning on outdoor lights at night will draw insects to your yard, creating an all-you-can-eat gecko buffet!

The light gives geckos visibility to spot prey while the darkness provides cover for them to hunt from. Yellow bug lights work best since geckos can see the ultraviolet wavelengths. Just be sure to install lights away from doors and windows so you don’t end up with geckos inside.

Letting them Thrive Outside

Allowing geckos to thrive naturally in your yard is the most sustainable way to control cockroaches. Once established, geckos will return year after year. Compared to chemical pesticides which can be toxic, geckos offer a safe biocontrol solution.

A 2021 University of California study found that letting geckos live undisturbed resulted in the most abundant and resilient gecko populations over time. The key is providing permanent shelter, food sources and protection from predators like birds and cats.

Geckos will then multiply and continually feast on those pesky roaches!


Geckos can be powerful allies in controlling pesky cockroach infestations. Many common house geckos readily feast on a variety of cockroach species. Understanding how these insectivorous lizards hunt and consume roaches can help you assess whether encouraging geckos in and around your home could provide natural pest control.

While geckos may not fully eliminate an extensive cockroach population, they certainly help curb it. Their presence alongside other integrated pest management techniques can significantly reduce numbers and minimize the nuisance, damage, and health risks posed by these unwanted pests.

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