Although not as popular as leopard geckos, tokay geckos are just as fascinating as their relatives.
They are the second-largest species of gecko and are distinguished by their vivid colors and markings.
They are not recommended for novices because of their reputation for being quite aggressive. But once you’ve set up their tank, taking care of them is quite simple.
If you’re a new tokay gecko owner or are considering getting one as a pet, then we’re here to guide you through how to care for it.
With this article, you’ll be able to give your tokay gecko a long and happy life.
Tokay Gecko: Overview
Tokay geckos are native to areas of Asia and a few Pacific Islands. They are an arboreal species that lives in trees and on cliffs.
They are vocal animals that have a distinctive croaking sound that resembles the words “To-kay! To-kay!”, which is how they got their name.
Some myths claim that they will bring you luck. However, because they are used in some therapeutic treatments, they are regrettably frequently targeted by poachers in the wild.
Here is a quick species overview so you understand the basics of caring for a tokay gecko:
- Common name – Tokay gecko
- Scientific name – Gekko gecko
- Family – Gekkonidae
- Size – 10-16 inches
- Life span – 10-20 years in captivity
- Diet – Mealworms, crickets, and cockroaches
- Tank size – 30 gallons
- Temperature – 80-87F
- Humidity – 60-80%
Average Size And Life Expectancy
Tokay geckos are among the biggest varieties of geckos, which is something you should be aware of when caring for them.
They have been observed to reach lengths of 15 to 20 inches and weights of up to 400 grams when kept in captivity. At between 8 and 12 inches, females are slightly smaller than males.
With the right diet and care, tokay geckos can live up to ten years on average, and some have even been known to reach twenty.
Morphs Of Tokay Gecko
Although the tokay gecko in its natural state is a beautiful creature, tokay gecko breeders have produced a number of variants that have gained popularity among tokay gecko keepers.
High red tokay geckos produce more red pigment than others.
This tokay gecko morph can express itself in a variety of ways, from larger red dots to a full red hue.
By removing red pigment, the granite tokay gecko morph creates a powder blue-gray tokay gecko with black spots that resemble the grain of granite.
Blue and yellow granites both have specks and patches of yellow, but blue granites are more obviously blue.
Similar to the “piebald” mutation that can be found in horses, dogs, and snakes, calico tokay geckos have white patches that disrupt their normal pattern and background.
With the exception of a few black flecks, a high-calico tokay gecko morph can be almost entirely solid white.
The “powder blue” tokay gecko morph also goes by the name “patternless.”
A tokay gecko of the wild variety lacks spots and other markings, leaving just a sky-blue backdrop, while the heads of patternless tokay geckos are often green.
The amount of black pigment generated rises in the melanistic tokay gecko morph.
The melanistic morph can result in any variety of gecko, from one that appears “heated up” to one that is a dark charcoal-gray.
A solid white tokay gecko with sapphire blue eyes is the outcome of the leucistic tokay gecko morph.
The term “leucism” has been applied to high-white calico tokay geckos with black eyes, although the genuine condition entails a total lack of melanin.
Behavior And Temperament
As nocturnal animals, tokay geckos are most active at night. The tokay gecko will doze off head-down during the day.
Tokays have very large heads in comparison to other geckos and are superb climbers.
Furthermore, they have powerful jaws and prehensile tails that can hold objects and detach when they need to flee from a predator.
These geckos are well known for being fiercely possessive in the wild. Male tokay geckos, in particular, will attack any other animals they see as threats, including other tokay geckos.
Tokay geckos are known for being rather hostile and having a nasty bite. They can become less hostile with regular interaction, but they are typically difficult to handle.
Therefore, this is not a pet for a home with small children or a novice herpetologist. They are intelligent, so these geckos will bite if they feel threatened.
The tokay gecko’s diet in the wild consists primarily of whatever it can capture. As an ambush predator, they wait still until their prey approaches before charging in with a swift bite.
Insects, including moths, grasshoppers, crickets, and beetles, make up the majority of their diet. In fact, they primarily evolved that powerful bite to crush the exoskeletons of huge tropical beetles.
However, if given the chance, they will also consume mice, smaller reptiles, and snakes.
The tokay gecko has no trouble getting enough food because insects are numerous in the tropical and semitropical habitats they call home.
When keeping a tokay gecko as a pet, you should feed it a variety of insects each day, such as crickets, cockroaches, beetles, mealworms, and grubs.
Tokay geckos are not picky eaters, so make sure to dust their insects with calcium powder and a vitamin D3 supplement to maintain their bone strength and prevent metabolic bone disease.
The majority of tokay geckos will drink moisture droplets that gather on plant leaves in order to stay hydrated.
But you must also offer a dish of shallow water. The bowl could be used by your gecko for drinking, soaking, or even excrement. They need access to clean water in any case.
To avoid accidental drowning, choose a shallow dish and keep it full of fresh water at all times.
If your gecko makes a mess in the water, clean it up right away to prevent bacterial problems in the future.
Making sure that your tokay gecko has a suitable place to live should be your top priority.
With the right enclosure, heat, light, humidity, and substrate, your tokay gecko will be a happy and healthy pet.
First, you should never house male geckos together. As territorial and independent creatures, they will almost definitely fight with each other, so the gecko needs its own habitat.
As large geckos, they need at least a 20 gallon tank, but a 30 gallon tank is ideal. You should also provide sturdy branches for them to climb, as well as reptile-safe plants.
They will also appreciate plenty of hiding spots, so consider adding half logs, caves, or cork bark to their enclosure.
You should also make sure that their enclosure is secure. Tokay geckos are notorious escape artists and are quite strong for their size, so if the opportunity to escape arises, they will try.
Securing their enclosure ensures that you and your household members are safe, as they will bite if they feel threatened.
In order to improve the environment for your gecko, decorations are essential.
To enhance overall welfare, enrichment items excite your pet’s natural instincts, encourage movement, and stimulate activity.
Of course, they also improve the appearance of the enclosure.
Your tokay gecko’s enclosure is nothing more than a glass box with dirt and a feeding ledge, without any decorations.
Tokay geckos should still have access to alternative climbing resources even though they can climb up glass. Additionally, they require shelter that is not on the ground.
Consider using branches, vines, live or artificial plants, cork hollows, and magnetic ledges.
Set up these items so that your gecko will be encouraged to climb and explore, will have lots of shelter, and will have places of both sun and shade.
Tokays geckos are nocturnal, therefore, you should avoid intense UVA heat lamps. It is better to use ceramic heaters or under tank heating to create a basking area for your tokay gecko.
The ideal temperature range for tokay geckos is from 80 to 87F.
You definitely shouldn’t rely on your gut instincts when it comes to temperature because a properly heated enclosure is crucial to the health of your tokay gecko.
Your tokay gecko enclosure can be kept at the ideal temperature with the help of a good temperature gauge, a rheostat, and a timer.
Tokays can endure brief periods of warmer or lower temperatures, but they will do better if you stay away from either extreme.
Additionally, you must guarantee that your tokay gecko habitat experiences some darkness.
Since they are nocturnal, tokay geckos only emerge at night. Your pet will experience unnecessary stress if the lights are left on all the time.
To metabolize calcium, they do not need UVB light. Tokays don’t actually require any artificial lighting at all.
They should absorb enough sunlight to maintain their circadian rhythms if the room they’re kept in has a window.
The humidity levels in a tokay gecko enclosure should range from 60% to 80%.
Misting your tank in the evening is the best way to achieve this. Carefully wipe clean the glass walls of your gecko’s habitat so they can climb on them after you’ve finished.
Additionally, make sure your tokay gecko has access to a dish of clean, fresh water at all times.
Your tokay gecko will use the water as a drinking fountain and a toilet, so check the water frequently.
The substance that coats the bottom of your gecko’s tank is called a substrate.
Certain substrates can mimic the appearance and feel of a gecko’s natural environment, and they also aid in maintaining humidity.
Orchid bark and coconut-husk based substrates are particularly good for retaining moisture.
No matter what material you choose, keep it clean. In a dirty tokay gecko habitat, mold, bacteria, and other organisms can proliferate and cause respiratory and skin illnesses.
Use your oven’s lowest heat setting to bake any local soil, driftwood, or branches for several hours to kill any mites or parasites that might make their way into your tokay gecko’s enclosure.
You can also use paper towels to help with cleanliness when the gecko is shedding. Make sure to get unbleached, ink-free paper towels.
Tokay geckos are typically more of a “look but don’t touch” animal than a pet that you can handle frequently. But if you’re prepared to put in the effort, you can tame them.
Gaining a tokay gecko’s trust is essential to training it. Tokays are simply difficult to tame and not very forgiving.
Using soft-tipped feeding tongs to introduce insects or treats is the best approach to establishing trust.
The gecko may eventually be persuaded to climb onto your hand or arm before retreating to its container as it grows accustomed to you. But you shouldn’t ever grab it.
Before attempting to introduce yourself to the gecko, give it at least two weeks to adjust to its new home.
Common Health Problems
Although tokay geckos are typically robust lizards, there are some health issues that a tokay gecko owner has to be aware of.
Metabolic Bone Disease (MBD)
You must add calcium and vitamin D3 to your tokay gecko’s food. You can give your gecko’s insects a variety of nutrients to help keep its bones strong, dense, and healthy.
If you don’t give your tokay gecko those nutrients, they could develop metabolic bone disease (MBD).
Tokay geckos that don’t get enough nutrition initially appear to be in good health, but the geckos’ limbs bend and their tails kink as their bones become more flexible.
As the process goes on, the jaw can end up rubbery, which would prevent your gecko from being able to eat.
If you give your gecko more calcium and vitamin D, you might be able to cure a minor case of MBD. A veterinarian might also be able to treat severe MBD with calcium injections or liquid calcium.
In most cases, these treatments will stop additional injury, but they won’t be able to fix any existing bone defects.
The majority of tokay geckos kept as pets are taken from the wild, and many of them arrive infected with intestinal worms and other parasites.
There is a significant probability that your tokay gecko is parasitized if it has a bloated stomach, is losing weight, is refusing food, or has foul-smelling, watery stools.
Even if you buy antiparasitic drugs online, you should really talk to a vet who can pinpoint the exact problem your gecko is having and administer the right dosage of a prescription that is specifically targeted.
After a parasite infestation, you must carefully clean your tokay gecko enclosure to avoid reinfestation.
Additionally, you should take precautions to keep any new reptiles you add to your collection safe and away from your other pets until you are assured they are parasite- and disease-free.
Similar to how lice prey on humans, mites are small, eight-legged creatures that feed on reptiles.
A tokay gecko enclosure with mites may result in considerable blood loss, skin rashes, and disease transmission from one lizard to another.
You might have mites if your tokay gecko spends a lot of time soaking in its water dish or if you notice white dust at the bottom of its habitat.
By thoroughly examining the cloaca and eye region of your tokay gecko, you can usually discover mites.
Put any tokay gecko that has been exposed to mites in a plastic container with a paper substrate and as few hides or other items as you can.
The enclosure should then be carefully cleaned and sprayed with an anti-mite spray.
You might need to seek the advice of pest control experts if your entire herp region is infested with mites.
Your tokay gecko can have problems shedding if the humidity in its habitat isn’t kept high enough.
Sheets and flakes of dead skin clinging to the head, tail, and limbs are indicators of shedding issues.
Keep a close eye on your tokay’s toes, tail tip, and eyes in particular because blocked shedding in those places can result in constrictive damage or other issues.
Your tokay won’t appreciate a rigorous rubdown with a soft, moist towel. However, you might be able to get away with spraying the area with warm water and peeling off the stuck portions.
If all else fails, you can wet and loosen the shed by placing your gecko in a container lined with warm, moist paper towels and covering it with a lid for up to 10 minutes.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do tokay geckos make good pets?
Care for tokay geckos is generally comparable to that of leopard geckos.
The tokay can survive in less-than-ideal conditions even though it doesn’t thrive in them, but it does require a little bit more heat, humidity, and climbing space.
The tokay gecko’s bite, not the care requirements, is what’s problematic.
Because tokay geckos are cage-defensive, they respond aggressively when you reach inside their habitat to remove them.
Blood can be drawn by the jaws’ surprisingly strong bite and tiny, needle-sharp teeth. And the tokay may bite much more forcefully if you pull back.
Because of this, tokay geckos are best kept by individuals who have previous experience with aggressive reptiles or who are not scared of being bitten.
Where can I buy a tokay gecko?
Although you can purchase tokay geckos from national pet retailers, a reliable breeder is your best option.
The majority of tokay geckos sold as pets are caught in the wild, and they are likely to enter your home infected with a variety of parasites and diseases.
A tokay gecko raised in captivity is more likely to be amicable toward people than one that was forcibly taken from its habitat and transported across the ocean in a cargo hold.
From breeders, you can also find beautiful tokay gecko morphs that have been specially proven.
How much do tokay geckos cost?
Tokay geckos are incredibly inexpensive when you consider their size and beauty.
They average $40, but if you’re seeking a specialty variant in a certain color, be prepared to pay much more.
Keep in mind that you will have to pay delivery if you buy your lizard from an internet retailer.
Typically, shipping costs range from $40 to $60 flat-rate, but that covers several reptiles in a single package.
Fortunately, tokay geckos are rather common, so you should be able to find one in a local store without having to pay shipping fees.
Look around, because tokay geckos are sold at several large chain pet stores as well. Tokay geckos should be available in all pet stores that focus on reptiles.
Are tokay geckos aggressive?
Tokay geckos are undoubtedly aggressive toward one another. The stronger tokay gecko will severely harm or perhaps kill the weaker one if you put two tokay geckos together.
It would be more accurate to describe the tokay gecko’s behavior toward its keepers as defensive.
Your gecko attacks because it wants to be left alone, not because it wants to assert its control over you.
Although it might not make you feel any better about the foot-long lizard biting you, knowing why your tokay gecko bites will help.
Try your best to maintain your tokay gecko’s serenity; you’ll both be happier for it.
Understanding and controlling the temperament of these lizards is essential to proper tokay gecko care.
You must understand how to deal with them and give them the correct kind of habitat given their propensity for aggression if you want to keep them content.
With this guide, you’ll be able to take care of your tokay gecko and give it a happy home.