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Tokay Gecko  - Gekko gecko

Native to Southeast Asia, these relatively large geckos have a nasty temper. They can and will bite so be careful. Their bites are powerful and they hang on. They have numerous sharp teeth, the bites can bleed and if left untreated can cause infection.

Tokays have the specialized pads of their toes which enable them to walk on vertical surfaces, including ceilings. The pads are composed of tiny, microscopic filaments which find equally tiny imperfections in surface - including glass.

An important characteristic of the tokay gecko, much like leopard geckos, is its ability to cast off its tail in defense and regenerate a new one. The tail has several sections on it where it can break off. It takes about three weeks for these geckoes to completely regenerate a new tail although it is usually never as long as the original.


Average Size - Tokay gecko males can grow 12 to 14 inches and a female grows 8 to 10 inches

Life Span - The life span of a tokay gecko can be 7 to 15 years with proper treatment.

Diet - The main staple of a tokay gecko's diet are insects which include crickets, waxworms, wingless fruitflies, and flies. Remember to "gut load" crickets a day before offering to your pet. This can be done by feeding with any of the commercial insect foods available at pet shops. You should also dust crickets or other insects about twice each week with a calcium and vitamin supplement.

Feeding - Feed gecko adults every other day; juveniles daily. Feed as much as they will eat then remove any remaining insects to avoid possible bites to your tokay gecko

Housing - Preferably tall, large terrarium 20 gallon high tank is a good start for a single tokay gecko or a pair. Keep only one male per cage. Females sometimes fight as well, so keep an eye on any tokays housed together for signs of fighting or aggression (bites and/or one tokay that is always hiding, or not eating well are signs)

Substrate - If you are going to plant your enclosure with live plants the enclosure should be set up  as a terrarium. Plants such as Snake plants, Orchids, bromeliads, and other tropical plants are good choices. Both vertical and semi-horizontal tree limbs should be provided for climbing and basking. If you are going to use artifical plants, paper towels, artifical turf or coconut fiber would be good substrate choices. It is also important to provide plenty of hiding places for day geckos which will help to reduce stress.

Habitat - A woodland setting (orchid bark from a nursery) planted with small potted plants or leafy silk branches provide hiding places and help keep up the humidity

Temperature - 77-86°F daytime, 68-77°F nighttime. The basking spot should be kept at a higher temp then the rest of the cage. Heating can be provided by using either incandescent lights, a ceramic heater or heat pads.

Lighting - Adequate lighting is required for the tokay gecko. Full-spectrum fluorescent lights should be placed at the top of the enclosure. A full spectrum light should be used. Lighting should be from 12 to 14 hours per day.

Water - They generally will not drink out of a bowl of water, so one area of a tank wall should be sprayed several times a day to furnish water for them to lap up. Another way to boost humidity and provide water is to place some ice cubes on top of the screened top, the melt water drips for easy lapping. The humidity should be kept between 70% and 90% the cage should never drop below 50% this can be maintained by a medium dish of water in the cage.

Normal Behavior and Interaction Tokay geckos are solitary creatures. They encounter the opposite sex only during the breeding season. They defend their territory against intruders of the same species and of other species, ensuring less competition for food. The territory is generally guarded by males but is occasionally watched by the female. These geckoes can inflict severe bites if bothered or are threatened.

Description - The body of a tokay is cylindrical and somewhat flattened on the upper side. The limbs are well-defined and uniformly developed. The head is large and set off from the neck, and they have large, prominent eyes with vertically-slit pupils. The eyelids of these animals are fused together and transparent. The ears can be seen on the outside of the gecko as small holes on both sides of the head. Their toes that have fine setae on them, allowing them to cling to vertical and over-hanging surfaces and move at fast speeds. They have soft, granular skin that feels velvety to the touch. The skin is usually gray with several brownish-red to bright red spots and flecks but it has the ability to lighten or darken the coloring of its skin. 

There are obvious male and female differences in the tokay gecko. The male is more brightly colored than the female and generally the male is slightly larger than the female. A conspicuous difference between the sexes is the small amount of swelling at the base of the tail of the male, due to the presence of the two hemipenes. Also, the males have visible preanal and femoral pores and postanal tubercules.

Recommended Supplies:

  • Habitat with secure lid 
  • Thermometer 
  • Misting bottle 
  • Humidity gauge 
  • Book about Tokay geckos 
  • Vitamin/mineral supplement  Substrate 
  • Hide box or driftwood 
  • Water dish 
  • Undertank heat source 
  • Incandescent light or ceramic heater
Habitat Maintenance Change water daily and remove any droppings. Thoroughly clean the tank at least once week: set gecko aside in a secure habitat; scrub the tank and furnishings with a 3% bleach solution; rinse thoroughly with water, removing all smell of bleach; dry the tank and furnishings; and add clean substrate

Grooming and Hygiene Tokay Geckos will regularly shed their skin; ensure humidity of habitat is at appropriate level to allow your pet to shed properly. Always wash your hands before and after touching your gecko or habitat contents to help prevent Salmonella and other infectious diseases
Signs of a Healthy Pet: 

  • Consistent behavior 
  • Healthy skin 
  • Clear eyes 
  • Eats regularly 
  • Clear nose and vent 
  • Body and tail are rounded and full
Common Health Issues and Red Flags:

  • Mucus in mouth or nose 
  • Lethargic 
  • Swelling 
  • Labored breathing 
  • Paralysis of limbs or tail 
  • Abnormal feces 
  • Bumps, sores or abrasions on skin 
  • Weight loss or decreased appetite

If you notice any of these signs, please contact your exotic animal veterinarian.

As with all pets in this category, it is important that you find a veterinarian that practices in EXOTICS – this is critical. The typical small animal practitioner may not have sufficient knowledge in this area. Even this guide is general in nature and should not be used to diagnose your pet.

Page Last Updated: Wednesday, June 8, 2011 21:25 EST
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