Sex-specific discrimination of familiar and unfamiliar mates in the Tokay gecko

This is a Preprint and has not been peer reviewed. This is version 1 of this Preprint.

Add a Comment

You must log in to post a comment.


There are no comments or no comments have been made public for this article.


Download Preprint


Marie-Ornelia Verger, Maëlle Devillebichot, Eva Ringler, Birgit Szabo


Social animals need to keep track of other individuals in their group to be able to adjust their behaviour accordingly and facilitate group cohesion. This recognition ability varies across species and is influenced by cognitive capacities such as learning and memory. In reptiles, particularly Squamates (lizards, snakes, and worm lizards), pheromonal communication is pivotal for territoriality, reproduction, and other social interactions. However, the cognitive processes underlying these social interactions remain relatively understudied. In our study, we examined the ability of male and female Tokay geckos (Gekko gecko) to chemically differentiate familiar and unfamiliar mating partners. Our findings suggest that both sexes can make this distinction, with males responding stronger to the odour of a familiar mate, and females responding more to unfamiliar mates. The lizards maintained their discriminatory abilities for two to three weeks but not up to six weeks after separation, indicating a potential involvement of memory. This research highlights the efficacy of using pheromones as social stimuli for investigating social cognition in lizards, a promising avenue to better understand social cognition in these animals.



Behavior and Ethology, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Life Sciences


mate choice, pheromones, recognition, Squamata, tongue flick, vomerolfaction


Published: 2024-02-23 13:51


CC BY Attribution 4.0 International

Additional Metadata


Conflict of interest statement:

Data and Code Availability Statement: