Gecko Tattoos: History, Meanings & Designs

Gecko Tattoos: History, Meanings & Designs

Geckos are a great animal to immortalize in a tattoo! They come in so many shapes, sizes, and colors that the design possibilities are endless. But, are there specific symbols or meanings to geckos?

Many cultures have similar meanings for lizards. They are symbols of intelligence, good luck, and connection to the earth. But the meaning behind them can be whatever you want them to be!

Your tattoo will be part of your body forever, so it’s essential to know where to place it and what styles to choose. You may be looking for a way to portray certain things that are important to you. Here are the symbolism, meanings, and more behind gecko tattoos!


What is the History of Gecko Tattoos?

While gecko tattoos may seem like a modern phenomenon, several cultures have included them in tattoo art for centuries. One of the earliest known references is in Polynesian tattoos.

In Polynesian culture, the tattoo itself isn’t the only thing that holds meaning. The placement of the tattoo also has a lot of significance. 

  1. Head: Often associated with wisdom, spirituality, intuition, and knowledge.
  2. Higher trunk: Represents generosity, honor, reconciliation, and sincerity.
  3. Lower trunk: Symbolizes courage, independence, procreation, sexuality, and life’s energy.
  4. Upper arm and shoulder: Used by chiefs or warriors to show strength and bravery.
  5. Lower arm and hands: Represents creativity and creation.
  6. Legs and feet: These represent choice, moving forward, and progress. Because our feet keep us in contact with Mother Earth, they can also mean concreteness.
  7. Joints: Tattoos on the joints often symbolize a union or commitment.

These different body positions are then tied with symbols from various aspects of island life. In Polynesian tattoo art, there are two ways a gecko is represented: either as an individual animal or as a repeating pattern.

Many Polynesian myths tell of gods coming to earth under the guise of a lizard or gecko. For this reason, they are very powerful. They believed lizards brought good luck and prosperity. However, those who disrespect the gecko could receive bad omens.


What Do Gecko Tattoos Symbolize?

Lizards and geckos represent many things for different cultures.

Greeks and Romans also saw them as bearers of good luck. They felt geckos emitted positive energy to the wearer. These cultures rarely see them in a negative light.

Ancient Egyptians also saw geckos as a source of knowledge and wisdom. They’re intelligent creatures and are capable of solving many problems on their own. So it’s easy to see why they saw them as symbols of intelligence!

Many cultures also saw them as symbols of resurrection or eternity. Before ancient peoples fully understood reproduction, they often believed that reptiles seemingly sprung up from the ground. They saw them not as babies but as fully formed adults, which led to the idea that they never died.

Reptiles also seem to have a sixth sense. It’s tough to sneak up on one to catch it. So many cultures see them as having a connection with the deeper universe. This is believed to give geckos their intuitive powers.

What Do Gecko Tattoos Mean?

The meaning of a gecko tattoo changes depending on what style you are interested in. That gives you a lot of freedom to make the meaning personal to you!

If you are looking for a more Polynesian-style tattoo, it symbolizes power and good luck. But be careful that you respect it! You don’t want any bad luck!

Maybe you had a lizard growing up that was very special to you. If you have a picture of them, you could get a realistic tattoo of your little friend. That way, they are immortalized and always close to you!

You could also combine the tattoo with other artistic styles to change the meaning.

For example, a galaxy gecko could represent god-like powers more literally. Or it could symbolize that knowledge is the center of all things.

Because geckos are such agile animals, they’re also associated with physical ability.

They can represent speed, flexibility, and perception. Catching a lizard is tough, so these meanings are spot on!


Where Do Gecko Tattoos Usually Go?

The placement of your tattoo is a very personal experience. If you subscribe to the Polynesian ideas about tattoos, then the placement has a profound significance to the meaning. But, the placement of a tattoo can also change how the artwork will look.

Because geckos are such long, slender creatures, tattoos that feature them are often placed on more extended body parts. Forearms and calves are great places for a tattoo of this type. It gives you a lot of creative freedom.

However, if the size doesn’t matter, you can incorporate the tattoo into other areas. A tiny gecko behind your ear would be a great secret tattoo! You could also put the tattoo on the top of your foot to strengthen your connection to the earth.


Characteristics and Styles of Gecko Tattoos 

Your tattoo style will depend on what type you like and your tattoo artist’s skill. For example, it may not turn out right if you want a watercolor artist to do a Polynesian tattoo. On the flip side, a Polynesian-style artist may not be comfortable with a realistic-style tattoo.

Gecko tattoos often feature a long-bodied gecko with a curly tail. However, you can change this design depending on the species of gecko you want to feature. For example, crested geckos have triangular-shaped heads with chubby bodies. A tattoo focusing on the head might be best to capture their characteristic crests as well.

You can also experiment with different colors to change the style of the tattoo. For example, an all-black tattoo would make the shapes used more prominent. But, if all-black isn’t your style, then you could do a full-color tattoo instead.

Whatever style you choose, it should be something you will love for years to come. Don’t settle for something you aren’t comfortable with. If you have a specific style in mind, you must be sure your tattoo artist is comfortable with it too! That will give you the best results.


The gecko can symbolize many different things across several different cultures. But, what’s most important is what it means to you! If you had a pet gecko growing up, it might symbolize friendship or happiness. Your culture may have a specific meaning associated with the gecko too.

Getting a tattoo is a very personal experience. So whatever meaning you want the tattoo to portray will be correct!

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