Why Do Geckos Have a Neck Pouch?

Close-up of gecko looking out of aquarium
Close-up of gecko looking out of aquarium (Image: Joanna_Harker/iStock/Getty Images)

With their big, triangular heads and fat tails, geckos may strike you as having a comical appearance. Add a puffed-out throat, and your pet may appear simply ludicrous. Geckos throat pouches -- sometimes called a dewlap -- perform many day-to-day functions, but a puffy pouch also could be a sign of trouble.

Everyday Versatility

Geckos are the only lizards who can vocalize. Their throat pouches help them sing the sweet song of love or sound a warning. The throat pouch moves as part of normal respiration, and will be very noticeable when he is stressed or excited. Bulging the throat helps a gecko to smell a larger quantity of air, helping him to locate prey. A gecko's throat pouch also normally bulges when he eats and drinks.

The Battle of the Bulge

When your gecko is getting ready to molt, he will puff out his throat pouch and cheeks. This helps him to loosen the skin he is about to shed. Don't worry if he sits in this puffed-up position for a day or so, as it takes a few days to shed the skin. If your gecko's tail is thin, if he's wheezing or if he has bubbles coming out of his mouth or nostrils, this could be a sign of respiratory illness or other infection. Call your herp vet to schedule an appointment.

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