Tokay Gecko

Gekko Gekko

Intro

Tokay Geckos (Gekko Gecko) are from Southeast Asia. This Crepuscular Species is known for their aggressive temperament. Most found are typically Wild Caught, although strides have been made in breeding them. Tokays grow to anywhere between 10-14 inches and Males are typically a bit larger than females. Tokays can also live anywhere between 15-20 years in captivity but typically 10 at max in the wild.Tokay Geckos (Gekko Gecko) are from Southeast Asia. This Crepuscular Species is known for their aggressive temperament. Most found are typically Wild Caught, although strides have been made in breeding them. 

Enclosure Design & Info

Tokays are arboreal crepuscular geckos so a tank that is taller rather than wide is recommended. Babies should be kept in a smaller tank such as a standard 12x12x18 until they are large enough to be moved to a bigger enclosure. Once they reach the sub-adult age they should be moved to their final tank. Personally I believe an adequate enclosure to be 24x24x36 for fully grown Tokay geckos. Keep in mind that if you keep more than one in the tank it should be larger. If keeping a pair together a 1:1 male/female of equal size can be kept in a minimum 24x24x48 however a 36x36x48 would be ideal. 

Keep in mind, just like most species of geckos these are solitary animals. Only house more than one if you are experienced and have the intention to breed. In no other case should you cohabitate this species. Hides should be added to the tank to allow the Tokay a place to hide during the day. Typically there’s a hide on the cool side and one on the warm side. Since they are arboreal cork rounds or hollow bamboo works really well for this. Keep many plants and wood(grapevine, ghostwood etc) in the tank to simulate a dense forest. This gives your tokay room to climb and explore and the dense foliage allows them to feel secure. 

Substrates can vary but I recommend a natural soil or coco fiber substrate. Plus it just looks nice. Remember that if you use soil to get organic potting soil that contains no pesticides or fertilizer. A water dish should be added and kept clean to provide drinking water, but misting daily is essential because some will refuse to use the water bowl and lap up water after being misted. For this reason live plants are recommended within the vivarium as they will not become as dirty. Also live plants help keep the humidity higher.

Humidity, Lighting, and Feeders

The tank itself should be able to be kept at a higher humidity. At all times the humidity should be between 65-75% and at least once a day the humidity should be brought to 100%. This is typically done by misting the enclosure down right around dusk. When misting your enclosure try not to directly spray the Tokay. It can be stressful for them and you don’t want to create a daily habit of stressing your gecko. 

Tokay geckos are a crepuscular species so technically full spectrum lighting is not necessary. However in my experience my Tokays have thrived on full spectrum lighting. Due to that I will only recommend it. Tokay geckos need three things as far as lighting goes. Visual light to see and regulate a healthy photoperiod, heat to bask and maintain temps in the enclosure, and UVB to maintain healthy D3 synthesization and skin health. For visible light and heating a 60-75w Incandescent Light bulb in an 8in dome will provide enough visible light and provide just enough heat to hit that basking temperature. For UVB you’ll want a 5% T5 or T8 UVB bulb. Whatever length you need is determined by the size of the tank. You’ll want the bulb to cover the length of the enclosure. If you have live plants you may also want to invest in a 6500k LED bulb for plant growth.

For feeders the Tokay gecko is an insectivore. Your two primary feeders will be either crickets or dubia/discoid roaches. Superworms, silkworms, hornworms, and wax worms will also work but as a treat, never as a staple feeder. I feed my Tokays 10-15 crickets or 6-8 approriately sized dubia every other day. Some feeders recommend feeding pinky mice to tokays. I do not recommend this other than to females about to lay eggs. Even then it’s a monthly treat. Obesity in captive tokays is common and this is an extremely fatty meal.  

Handling, General Care, Common Illnesses or Issues

Unfortunately at this time the vast majority of tokay geckos on the market are WC or Wild Caught. These are wild animals that have been captured and sold as pets. This unfortunately brings a whole host of issues keepers have to deal with. If you can, always always buy CBB, they may seem more expensive but in all reality, you’re saving a lot of money, time, and headache. Wild caught tokays typically are extremely stressed, extremely defensive, and typically in pretty rough health. This is why these geckos have gotten a pretty bad name in the community. Due to this they are typically pretty fragile upon arrival. Your primary focus if you get a WC tokay is to get to a vet and get a fecal analysis done. That is step one, even if you buy it from a reputable place. The next steps are getting it in a proper enclosure and eating and drinking. Accomplish these three things and you’ll more often than not have a happy healthy tokay. But keep in mind, just like any wild caught animal they are prone to rapidly deteriorating in health. Sometimes there’s very little you can do. This is another reason to really try and find a captive bred tokay. 

Tokay geckos are typically pretty defensive and against being handled. During the Vietnam War US soldiers gave them the nickname the “Fuck-you Lizard”. Anytime after getting a Tokay it is recommended to give them up to 3 weeks to get acclimated to their enclosure. Like any other gecko you need to work slowly with them. Start with tong feeding them treats to get used to your presence. After that you can begin to attempt to start handling them. Tokays are extremely fast and will try to run. They are also known for their powerful bite. Tokays have two types of bite a quick nip used to scare you away and a powerful bite where they bite and hold on. It can be very painful so gloves are recommended. If you are ever bit make sure to rinse it and put medicine on it to prevent any infection. When you want to pick up a Tokay do not try to grab it from behind or manhandle it. Hand flat in front of the gecko and move very slow. You want them to see you. Slowly try to slide your hand underneath them, once you’ve done that you can slowly pick them up. Keep in mind they may bolt so make sure you’re in a place where they cannot go far. Until they get used to you avoid petting the head and back. Start by petting the underside of the tail and under their mouth on their neck. As they begin to tolerate you more and more you can try the head and back.

Some common things to watch for in Tokay health are lethargy, consistently “fired up”, undigested feeders in feces, rapid weight loss, and sunken eyes. These are the first things I look at when evaluating a Tokay Gecko. Each has a relatively simple fix, but like I mentioned earlier sick Tokays are very fragile and can drop off very quickly healthwise. Sunken Eyes by itself is usually a sign of dehydration. Check your humidity and make sure clean water is being provided. It’s pretty uncommon to see sunken eyes by itself, it’s typically paired with other symptoms of a bigger problem.  Undigested feeders in feces is more often than not a sign that the enclosure is too cool. Check your ambient temps and your basking temps. Rapid weight loss and lethargy are typically seen together. If your tokay isn’t running away or biting at you like it normal would that’s a sign of alarm for tokay keepers. More often than not this is a mixture of a large parasite load and stress. If your tokay is consistently “fired up” or extremely dark in color(usually dark grey and bright orange spots) that’s a sign of stress. Make sure you’re not seeing this coupled with other symptoms and if you’re not you need to reevaluate your enclosure. The tokay is most likely stressed because it feels uncomfortable in that environment. It is normal for them to stay fired up for the first couple weeks you have them.  

When trying to work with your Tokay never grab or approach from the top. Always approach from the front with your hand flat. Try to scoop them up like you would a burger patty.

Always verify before you buy if your Tokay is captive bred or wild caught. If it’s wild caught your next trip should be to a vet for a wellness checkup!

Conclusion

In conclusion Tokays are a very rewarding species. They are a bit misunderstood but in time I have a good feeling they’ll be more widely understood. After owning a considerable amount of species I never stop being fascinated by Tokays. They have such big personalities and are incredibly intelligent. It’s no wonder they’re popular in the pet trade!

Tags: Gecko, Gekko Gekko, Tokay Gecko
Up to date as of 3/1/2021.