Tokay Gecko

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Species group:

Scientific name: Gekko gecko

The basics:
In spite of (or, for many fans, “because of”!) their pugnacious attitudes, Tokay Geckos continue to grow in popularity year-by-year. The ultimate “big lizard in a small package”, they make fascinating pets, are beautifully-clad in an array of colors, and are not shy about exhibiting a range of fascinating behaviors (or about anything else!).

The huge natural range extends from Nepal through northeastern India, Bangladesh, southern China and most of Southeast Asia to Indonesia. Introduced populations are established in Hawaii, Florida (of course!), Texas, Martinique, Belize, Guam, and Taiwan.

Tokay Geckos are nocturnal and entirely arboreal, being found on tree trunks and rock faces in rainforests, overgrown thorn scrub, riverside thickets and similar habitats. They also adapt well to human presence, often colonizing farms, plantations, and homes within villages and even in such bustling cities as Hong Kong, Bangkok, and Miami. Alleged medicinal properties have led to local extinctions in parts of Thailand, Vietnam and China.

Appearance / health:
Tokay Geckos are stoutly built. Males may reach 12-14 inches in length, while females generally top out at 8-10 inches. Among geckos, they are exceeded in length and bulk only by the New Caledonian Giant Gecko and its relatives. They vary greatly in appearance from one another, but all are attractive. The body color may be cream, gray or blue-tinted, and sports innumerable speckles of orange, various shades of red, and brown. Hobbyists have developed several unique color morphs.

With proper care, Tokay Geckos can reach 20 years of age. Respiratory diseases can take hold if your pet is kept at sub-optimal temperatures, and metabolic bone disease is common in animals that are not provided with ample calcium and/or Vitamin D3. Rodent-heavy diets have been linked to intestinal blockages and kidney/liver diseases.

Behavior / temperament:
Tokays bite readily and hard, and they hold on for dear life. They will violently resist being grabbed or otherwise restrained, but some allow themselves (after much time!) to be gently nudged ono a hand. Most owners treat them as “hands-off” pets. They are not suitable pets for children.

Tokay Geckos are highly arboreal and do best suited in “high style” aquariums of 20 gallon capacity or larger. The terrarium should be stocked with plentiful hiding spots in the form of rolled cork bark, above-ground caves, and sturdy live or artificial plants. A mix of cypress mulch and sphagnum moss makes an ideal substrate. Tokays and other nocturnal geckos do not require UVB radiation. Red/black night-viewing bulbs will enable you to observe them after dark.

Ambient air temperatures should range from 75-82 F, with a basking spot of 86-90 F. Large enclosures will allow your pet to thermo-regulate by moving from hot to cooler areas. This behavior is important to long-term health, and is usually not possible in small cages. Humidity may be kept at 50-85%, but they are relatively undemanding in this regard. Males call out Tokay-Tokay! on a near-nightly basis to reinforce territorial claims, and both sexes vocalize upon as a means of communication - best to locate their terrarium well-away from bedrooms!

Male Tokay Geckos are territorial and should never be housed together. Pairs, youngsters, and all-female groups usually co-exist, but must be watched carefully.

The natural diet is comprised mainly of beetles, moths, spiders, tree crickets, roaches, and an array of other invertebrates. Small lizards, snakes, rodents, nestling birds, over-ripe fruit, nectar and sap are taken on occasion.

Captive Tokay Geckos need a varied diet. Crickets alone, even if powdered with vitamin/mineral preparations, are not an adequate diet. Earthworms, roaches, locusts, crayfish, calci-worms, crickets, butterworms, silkworms, and other commercially-available invertebrates should be offered regularly. Insects should themselves be provided with a nutritious diet for 1-3 days before being offered to your pets. Adults can be offered a pink mouse every 7-10 days. Do not use adult mice, as the fur may lead to impactions. A mixture of papaya/apricot baby food, honey, liquid reptile vitamins and water should be offered weekly.

Food (other than vertebrates) should be powdered with a calcium supplement. Vitamin/mineral supplements should be used 2-3 times each week.

Tokay Geckos rarely drink from bowls, but will lap water that is sprayed onto foliage.

Mature males exhibit exceed females in length and weight, and exhibit larger pre-anal pores and a bulge (indicating the hemipenes) at each side of the cloaca. Breeders should be at least 1-2 years of age. Your pets may reproduce without temperature manipulation, but more consistent results will be had by subjecting them to 4-6 week period of slightly cooler temperatures (72 F by night, 76-82 F by day), lower humidity levels, and a reduced day length of 10 hours.

Pairs must be watched carefully, as females are bitten behind the neck during copulation. Clutches containing 2 eggs (rarely 1) may be produced 3-4 times each year. The eggs are typically glued to aquarium glass, bark, or within the leaf whorls of sturdy live plants. Those that cannot be removed without damage may be incubated in place by securing a plastic cup over the clutch. Eggs so held should be lightly misted every-other day. Eggs removed for incubation should be set a mix of 1 part vermiculite to 1 part water (by weight) at 80-85 F. Incubation time varies greatly, even at similar temperatures, and may range from 50-180+ days.

Written by Frank Indiviglio


prettiest geckos, coolest looking lizards, Great hearty lizard, orange polka-dots


wild caught ones, little punks, nasty lil bite, handling, Ouch!, wild caught, feisty temperaments


barking, largest geckos, loud bark, nocturnal arboreal species, bug killing machines

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