Posted by on 6/30/2019 to Tokay Gecko Care
Tokay Gecko Care (Gekko gecko)
A tokay gecko can make an excellent pet for a seasoned reptile owner who is willing to put some time into training and be patient as the gecko is adjusting. They are timid and secretive by nature but can warm up to their masters with regular interaction. Some people even consider them to be good luck. Native to the rainforests of Southeast Asia, tokay geckos often live among humans where they can be found on walls and ceilings catching unwanted insects.
The second largest species of gecko, tokay geckos are recognized for their bright colors and spots. The most popular color scheme to find them in is gray with bright blue and orange or yellow spots. Tokay geckos can lighten or deepen their color to blend in with their surrounding habitat. They have larger heads than other gecko species, thick bodies and strong jawlines. They also have tails that detach when threatened, though they do grow back in a matter of weeks.
Tokay geckos have a bad reputation for being feisty, aggressive when handling and prone to biting. They are forceful, with painful bites that may draw blood! Be very careful when handling them and try not to lose them because they are nimble, and their unique toe pads allow them to climb almost anything. Begin getting to know your tokay gecko by trying to coax it out of its hiding area. Then have it sit on your hand above the terrarium for a few minutes every couple of days to build its trust in you. Keep your hand as flat as possible, so the gecko doesn't have a chance to bite. With regular interaction, the tokay gecko will begin to warm up to you.
Fun Facts about Tokay Geckos
- Tokay geckos are quite vocal and make a distinctive croaking noise to attract mates – their name actually originates from the noise they make, which sounds like "to-kay!"
- Baby tokay geckos like to hide in tiny cracks
- Tokay geckos have something that looks like a “third eye” on top of their heads which scientists think helps them navigate different lighting conditions
Average Size and Life Expectancy of a Tokay GeckoTokay geckos are one of the largest types of geckos. In captivity, they are known to grow up to lengths of 15 to 20 inches long and up to 400 grams. Females are smaller than males at about eight to 12 inches. Tokay geckos can live up to 10 years on average, and some have even been reported to live 20 years with proper nutrition and care.
Housing Your Tokay GeckoFor a small tokay gecko, a 10-gallon aquarium or terrarium is a good selection. It is most beneficial to upgrade to a 20-gallon or larger enclosure once your gecko is fully grown, especially if you plan on housing more than one together. Never put two males together because they are territorial and will fight aggressively. Tokay geckos are arboreal, meaning they live in trees in the wild. In captivity, they thrive in spacious habitats with many spaces to climb and hide to simulate their natural environment. Decorate with both live and artificial plants, vines, branches, driftwood, sticks and caves to hide in. Be cautious about housing the gecko’s terrarium in your bedroom as their croaking noise is quite loud and may wake you up at night.
Hiding spots are very important, the tokay gecko will use them as safe places to sleep during the day or areas to retreat to when it feels threatened. For a more humid hiding spot, consider making your gecko a special area out of a small cardboard box filled with moist moss. Other hiding accessories include logs, bamboo tubes and reptile tunnels. A PVC pipe is also great because it can come in a wide variety of different sizes.
Tokay geckos, especially the young, like their hiding spots to be very snug fitting to make them feel secure. Provide a few different hiding place options as the geckos like to move around to different temperature and humidity levels as they please. For example, one hiding spot can be in a warmer place and another in a cooler place. A different hiding spot can be very humid, and one can be more on the drier side. As you play around with the setup, you will learn what your particular gecko likes the best.
Tokay Gecko SubstrateThere are a variety of different types of substrates that you can consider using in your tokay gecko terrarium, including:
- Newspaper: We are listing this first because it is the simplest option. Though it is not the nicest aesthetically, it is effortless to change so you can easily keep the terrarium floor clean and free of bacteria.
- Cypress mulch or orchid bark: These can be excellent choices for contributing to the humidity in the terrarium.
- Coco peat and sphagnum moss: These can be used to place on top of loose mulches and bark to keep them from getting all over the place. Try to find long-fibered types, as short fibers may stick to the gecko if they become very moist.
Temperatures for a Tokay GeckoTokay geckos thrive in warm temperatures between 80- and 85-degrees Fahrenheit. They are okay with nighttime drops to the mid-70s, but temperatures below that may upset them and make it hard for them to be active and hunt prey. Tokay geckos need a basking spot, which can be created by positioning a heat lamp over the screen of the terrarium and then placing a branch underneath, so the gecko can climb as close as it likes to the heat source. Keep the temperature under the heat lamp pretty hot – around 90- to 105-degrees Fahrenheit is optimal.
You will want to have two thermometers in the tokay gecko’s habitat, one to measure the heat under the lamp and another on the far side of the terrarium to make sure there is also a cool area. The gecko needs both warm and cold regions in the terrarium, so it can regulate its temperature.
Tokay Gecko LightingTokay geckos are nocturnal – very active at night and sleep during the day. They are very withdrawn and will stay concealed during the day or even at night if there is any movement happening around outside its cage. At night, when everything is quiet, the gecko will slowly emerge from its hiding place to begin exploring. You may notice the tokay gecko quickly rush back to its hiding place if it gets frightened.
Provide your tokay gecko with about 12 hours of UVB fluorescent light during the day to mimic daylight. This will help the geckos know what time of day it is, so they can regulate their sleeping and eating schedules. It will also provide them vitamin D3, an essential vitamin for the gecko’s energy.
Humidity for a Tokay GeckoTokay geckos need high levels of moisture to stay healthy and be prepared to shed their skin easily. Humidity levels around 60 to 80 percent are perfect. Without proper humidity, geckos can experience trouble molting their skin, especially in the small areas around their toes. However, adequate ventilation is also required for the terrarium to dry out in between periods of moisture. Otherwise, bacteria or fungus might grow and would be very unhealthy for your tokay gecko. A screen top on the terrarium will help to provide ventilation.
The most dependable way to provide humidity for your tokay gecko is to simulate a brief evening rainstorm by misting the terrarium with fresh, clean water from a spray bottle. You want the water droplets to remain in the terrarium for a few hours to allow the gecko to drink, but then they should dry up before the morning. If the terrarium is still very moist in the morning, you know you've sprayed too much. Try to avoid spraying the gecko directly, as they usually will get upset by the shock. You can also consider an automatic drip system, this will keep the humidity levels consistent and also water the plants at the same time.
Tokay Gecko WaterThough not all tokay geckos will recognize a water bowl as a way to get hydration, it is still a good idea to include one in the terrarium. A tip for limiting the feeder insects from getting stuck in the water bowl is to place a small stone or branch inside so they can readily climb out.
In addition to the water bowl, you must also spray the inside of the terrarium to provide juicy water droplets for the gecko to drink. The droplets will form on the side walls and accessories for the gecko to lick off. This is the most natural way for them to hydrate, and probably the way they will choose most often.
Tokay Gecko FoodTokay geckos are very enthusiastic about eating insects and even eat small lizards in the wild. Some of the best insects to feed your gecko include crickets, Dubia Roaches, mealworms, waxworms, hornworms and silkworms. The insects need to be gut loaded before you supply them to the gecko. Gut loading means feeding the insects a diet rich in vitamins and minerals at least 24-hours before serving them to the gecko. By doing so, you will pass along the nutritious diet to the gecko.
Insects also need to be dusted with a powdered calcium and vitamin D3 supplement to provide the proper nutrition necessary for the tokay gecko’s bone growth and healthy nervous system. You can dust the insects by placing them in a container or bag with the powder and gently shaking. In addition, you should place a shallow dish filled with the vitamin-packed powder in the terrarium, so the gecko can take what it needs.
In addition to insects, tokay geckos will like some dark leafy greens, vegetables and fruits as snacks a few times per week. Some will even like to eat a pinky mouse now and then.