Caring for Your New Tokay Gecko
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Tokay Gecko Factoids

Origin

S.E. Asia

Food

Smaller critters

Size Grows to 14 inches
Climber Can climb your walls and ceiling
Hider Needs a hide box

Temperature

Room temp fine, 80+ better

Schedule Prefers the night shift

Biggest Threats

Escaping and starving

Water

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LA
Tokay geckos are among the most attractive lizards.

  
LA Pic
Tokay gecko "hiding" at top of his cage.

Not the Insurance Gecko.  If you want a mild-mannered, insurance executive, little lizard that calmly sits on your shoulder adding up insurance premiums and enjoying life, this ain’t the one.  Mr. Tokay Gecko will take off like a bullet, right after he bites your ear, that is.

LA
Beautiful but bitey.  Grab new tokay geckos with gloves.

LA
Gardeners gloves with rubber dots for traction work well. 

LA
You might say your tokay will "open up" to you.  Catch those pupils.

LA
Still in the shipping container and wanting to bite YOU.

Handle with Care.  Mr. Tokay Gecko ranks at the top of the biter list.  When you see his picture in any reference book, his mouth is always open.  Once he gets to know you, he’ll calm down a little.  He won’t bite as often or as hard, but he will still bite.  Handle this guy with gloves.  Kids should handle them with kid gloves.

 

LA
This tokay gecko calmed down fairly quickly.  And he's smiling.  Getting ready to bite?

LA
Here's another easy-going guy.  Don't count on yours being nice.

LA
This guy is mellow except when pestered.

Geckos Bark.  At night you can hear the males “barking” at each other and trying to coax females to hang out with them for a while.  Tokay geckos get their name from the sound of their bark -- the “gecko” sound.  Remember, his bite is worse than his bark.

Very Attractive Colors.  Most lizards fall within a basic green or brown color category.  The Tokay Gecko looks totally different.  He’s usually a bluish-grey color with red and orange spots.  Since there are several subspecies, there’s lots of variation.  People keep Geckos for any number of reasons:

  1.   Very attractive.

  2.   Economical.

  3.   Easy to keep.

  4.   Easy to feed.

  5.   Fun to chase girls with.

Strange Eyeballs.  Geckos have no eyelids to keep out the light.  Rather like cats' eyes, the golden eyes of the Geckos have vertical slits that open and close to control the amount of light that enters their eyes which look like glittering jewels.  The entire appearance of the Tokay Geckos makes them look like imaginary creatures created in a ceramics class.

LA
Shows his toes and tail.  Lots of energy stored in this tail.

Strange Toes.  Each toe is a series of adhesive pads that enable him or her to walk up walls in search of insects.  He can even scuttle across your ceiling as fast as you can run across your floor.  If yours escapes, you need a net to recapture it. Catching a tokay is great training for the Olympics.

The Recapture Process.  How hard can it be to capture a foot-long lizard?  Pretty darn hard when he hides all day in cracks and crevices you didn’t even know existed.  Happily enough, he will eat up any unwanted bugs running around your house.  So, loose Tokay Geckos are not all bad.  And don’t worry, he won’t attack you.  If you see a little mound of black and white pellets building up in one location, you can tell where he’s hiding.  Sometimes it takes two people to corral an escapee.

Their Original Home.  Tokay Geckos come from all over Southeast Asia.  They’ve adapted to people crowding out their habitat by moving into peoples’ homes.  And since they eat insects and other nasty little varmints that people like less than Geckos, no one worries about kicking them out in a hurry.  Not everyone in our neck of the woods is quite so open minded.

LA
Belly shot and top shot of a 12-inch male.

How Big Do They Get.  Tokay Geckos grow to about 10 inches their first year of life.  They attain sexual maturity soon after.  They grow as large as 14 inches, but most top out at about a foot.  And that’s pretty good size for a critter that can run across ceilings.

LA

How Do They Breed?  Well after your Tokay Geckos return from their honeymoon, the female attaches several clutches of two eggs each to the side of her container.  The sticky eggs harden and probably can’t be removed.  They really harden.  High humidity plays an even more important part at this point in their life.  Too little and the eggs shrivel and die.  Too much and they won’t survive either.

LA
She's probably not protecting these eggs.

How Long do the Eggs Incubate.  Just sit down and patiently wait three to six months for them to hatch.  Sit there and carefully watch them.  They did all the work, all you have to do is wait and watch.

LA
Male above.  Female below.  Males much more colorful.

How Do You Sex Geckos?  Look  for 10-14  “pre-anal pores” on the males.  By the way, your Tokay Gecko’s a little shy and probably will bite you when you pick him up to sneak a peek.

LA
Some geckos like to hide out.

LA
Some like to lurk.

Tank Décor.  To “jungle up” your Tokay Gecko cage, add some sturdy live or plastic plants.  Drape some from the lid to add to the jungle effect. They like sturdy pieces of wood (avoid twiggy branches).  Rock caves (preferably smooth ones) add to the décor and provide additional secure areas for them to repose within. 

Geckos Need a Cover.  Unlike snakes which spend 23.1 hours per day trying to push their lid off, Tokay Geckos rarely escape in that manner.  They rely on speed.  Just when you think you can trust them, they take off for the high country.  So nearly any type of lid will hold them in if they can’t find a hole small enough to squeeze through.

Tank Cleaning Tips.   Now that we have the little varmint securely housed, you’ll notice that you need to clean up after him every so often.  Wear gloves or put a barrier between your Tokay Gecko and your hand.  We usually use a fish net.  A piece of cardboard works equally well.  After he realizes you pose no threat, he’ll calm down and quit threatening to bite you.  If he still opens his mouth at you, use the barrier.

LA

Not a Kid’s Pet.  We really don’t recommend Tokay Geckos for little kids.  They’re easy to care for but sure like to bite when you first get them.  Once you get bitten, you’ll understand why we say keep your kids away from them.  It won’t draw blood (usually), but people always remember their Gecko bites very well.  Keep him warm, well fed and don’t pick him up by the teeth.

How to House Your Tokay Gecko

The Basics:  Bare minimum for Tokay Gecko you need a warm 10-gallon tank (bigger the better), a sturdy lid, a water container, and a hiding place.

LA
Tokay in front.  Less aggressive gold gecko in back.
Very skinny guy here.

Better:  Upgrade their quarters as soon as possible to a 20H or 20L.  A 29 really fills the bill.  It lets you decorate the place to your personal preferences and gives your Tokay Geckos more elbow room.  They really appreciate the extra room – particularly if you have two.  Add another hiding place, something to climb on, a “hot rock,” and a cleanable carpet on the floor.

Hiding Place:  Tokay Geckos are really nocturnal creatures -- in spite of keeping their eyes open 24/7.  They run around all night looking for bugs, baby rodents, and new “friends” to party with.  They have no eyelids and prefer protection from excess light.  Also, because they are predators themselves, they seek out hiding places to protect themselves from larger predators – thus their strong need for a hiding spot.

Heat Source:  Plenty of people keep these critters at room temperature, so we know it can be done.  But Tokay Geckos much prefer – look better and live longer – when kept at 75 to 86 degrees during the day.  They do fine down to 68 at night.  Since Geckos avoid strong light, your best bet for a heat source is a “hot rock” or under cage heat source.

LA
Tokay geckos spend little time walking on their cage floor.

Cage Carpet:  Since they spend little time on the floor, the bottom substrate probably makes little difference to them.  However, it does to you.  Cage carpets look good, are easy to clean, and help keep the humidity high.

High Humidity:  During our summers, our heat and humidity are ideal for Mr. Tokay Gecko.  Not so our winters.  In addition to a water bowl, he needs a couple of sprinklings or mistings per day to keep his humidity level where he prefers it.  Or use an aquarium air pump and add a bubbling airstone to his water dish.  Youll lose at least an inch of water per week to evaporation.

Foods Your Tokay Gecko Eats

LA
Pretty little rascals.  And this guy is a very mellow tokay.

LA
This much larger tokay is more typical of the species.  Nasty.  Loves to bite.

LA
Another 12-incher just as mean as the above guy.

Foods.  Tokay Geckos eat anything smaller than their mouth (which is very large) as long as it moves.  Most Gecko keepers use crickets to fill the bill.  Geckos really love those big American cockroaches that come up your basement drains.  They also love katydids and grasshoppers.  Mealworms work also – especially the jumbo ones.  Some people like to feed them small mice.  If your nerves are strong, try holding a goldfish by the tail and letting him eat out of your hand.  Sissies use tongs.  And because they like to look up at you with an open mouth, you can drop small pieces of soft dog food into their maw.  It’s not their natural food so feed it sparingly.  LA.

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