Tokay and Gargoyle Geckos: A Side-by-Side Pet Comparison

Welcome, fellow reptile enthusiasts! If you’ve landed on this page, it’s likely because you’re considering adding a gecko to your family. You’re torn between the exotic allure of the Tokay Gecko and the captivating charm of the Gargoyle Gecko. Fear not! We’re here to help you make an informed decision.

Geckos, known for their sticky feet and incredible climbing skills, make fascinating pets. Among the vast variety, two species—Tokay and Gargoyle geckos—stand out for their unique traits and qualities. In this comprehensive article, we’ll deep-dive into each of these species, comparing their characteristics, habitat needs, health issues, breeding habits, and cost considerations. By the end of this guide, you’ll be well-equipped to decide which gecko makes the best fit for your lifestyle. So, buckle up and let’s embark on this exciting reptilian journey!

Understanding Tokay Geckos: Their Origins, Characteristics, and General Traits

Tokay Geckos, scientifically known as Gekko gecko, have an undeniable allure. Hailing from Southeast Asia, these lizards are named after their distinctive “To-kay!” vocalizations. They have been a part of folklore and traditional medicine, admired for their colorful patterns and nocturnal behavior. However, before adopting one, it’s crucial to understand their fundamental characteristics.

Physically, Tokays are one of the largest gecko species, typically ranging from 8 to 15 inches in length when fully grown. Their bodies are adorned with a striking pattern of bright blue or gray background with spots of red or orange. The combination gives them a captivating, somewhat mystical appearance. However, their beauty isn’t just skin-deep. These geckos have the unique ability to change the intensity of their color, usually becoming darker in the evening and lighter during the day. This phenomenon is often mistaken for mood changes.

Behaviorally, Tokays are quite assertive, even aggressive at times, and are not known to appreciate frequent handling. It’s a trait that prospective owners should bear in mind. They are predominantly nocturnal, meaning they are most active during the night, a period they use for hunting, exploring, and interacting.

Tokay Geckos are excellent climbers, thanks to their specialized toe pads that allow them to scale vertical surfaces and even walk upside down. In the wild, they often inhabit trees and building walls, making themselves comfortable in a variety of environments.

As for their diet, Tokay Geckos are insectivores, with a strong preference for live prey, including a variety of insects, and sometimes even small rodents or other lizards. They are skilled hunters, patiently waiting for the perfect moment to strike their unsuspecting prey.

Understanding Gargoyle Geckos: Their Origins, Characteristics, and General Traits

Gargoyle Geckos, known scientifically as Rhacodactylus auriculatus, are a unique and interesting species native to the forests of New Caledonia, a group of islands in the South Pacific. Named for their horn-like bumps on their heads that resemble the mythical Gargoyle, these geckos have won the hearts of reptile enthusiasts worldwide.

Physically, Gargoyle Geckos are somewhat smaller than Tokay Geckos, typically reaching a length of 7 to 9 inches when fully grown. Their skin is a canvas of colors, displaying a diverse range of patterns and hues, including grey, white, orange, red, and brown. It’s this variety of colors and patterns that make Gargoyle Geckos a visual treat.

Gargoyle Geckos are often considered more docile and tolerant of handling compared to their Tokay counterparts. They have a relatively calm temperament and are less likely to bite, making them potentially a better choice for those who wish to interact more with their pet. Like Tokay Geckos, they are nocturnal creatures, preferring to rest during the day and become more active during nighttime.

Unlike the Tokay Geckos, Gargoyles don’t have the adhesive toe pads for climbing. However, they are excellent jumpers and climbers, often found in trees and high places in their natural habitat. Their muscular tails also serve as a crucial balancing tool when navigating through branches.

In terms of diet, Gargoyle Geckos are considered omnivores. They enjoy a mix of insects and fruit-based meals, giving owners a bit more flexibility in their dietary plans. Care should be taken to maintain a balanced diet to ensure optimal health.

Life in Captivity: Comparing Tokay and Gargoyle Geckos

When deciding on a pet, it’s not just about the animal’s characteristics, but also about the kind of care and environment you can provide. In this section, we’ll look at the housing requirements, dietary needs, and handling temperament of both gecko species in captivity.

Housing Requirements

Both Tokay and Gargoyle Geckos require a secure and spacious terrarium that mimics their natural habitat. As they are arboreal, vertical space is as important as horizontal, with plenty of climbing opportunities. A minimum size of 20-gallon tank is recommended for an adult, though larger is always better.

For Tokay Geckos, it’s essential to include various hiding places and foliage to ensure they feel safe and secure. They thrive in a warm and humid environment, so maintaining a temperature gradient between 78-82°F and a humidity level of 60-80% is crucial.

On the other hand, Gargoyle Geckos are more adaptable to temperature fluctuations but do best in a moderate climate, with temperatures ranging between 72-78°F. Their humidity needs are similar to Tokay Geckos, but they also require a dry period during the day.

Dietary Needs

As we mentioned before, Tokay Geckos are strictly insectivores, so their diet should consist of a variety of live feeder insects like crickets, mealworms, and roaches. Occasional supplementation with vitamins and calcium is essential for their overall health.

Gargoyle Geckos are omnivores, and they enjoy a combination of insects and fruit-based diets. This can be achieved using commercial gecko diets that offer balanced nutrition. It’s important to provide a calcium supplement, especially for females, who require extra during breeding seasons.

Handling and Temperament

The temperament difference between the two species is most apparent when it comes to handling. Tokay Geckos are known for their aggressive nature, and they may bite when threatened. They aren’t the best choice if you’re looking for a pet to handle frequently.

Gargoyle Geckos, while not as comfortable with handling as some other gecko species, are generally more tolerant than Tokays. Their docile nature allows for limited handling, though care should be taken not to stress the animal.

Health and Longevity: Common Health Issues and Lifespan

Geckos, like any other pets, can experience a range of health issues. A good understanding of these potential concerns will help ensure that your pet lives a long and healthy life.

Both Tokay and Gargoyle Geckos can live a long time in captivity when cared for correctly. Tokay Geckos can live up to 10-15 years, while Gargoyle Geckos have a slightly longer lifespan, with some reaching up to 20 years.

One of the most common health problems in both species is Metabolic Bone Disease (MBD), which is caused by an insufficient intake of calcium or an imbalance in calcium to phosphorus ratio in the diet. Signs include weak and deformed bones, lethargy, and loss of appetite. It’s a preventable condition if a balanced diet supplemented with calcium is provided.

In addition, both species can experience shedding problems, often due to insufficient humidity. Stuck shed can cause discomfort and can lead to health issues if it isn’t addressed. Regular misting of their habitat can help maintain the necessary humidity levels for proper shedding.

Parasitic infections, often resulting from unclean environments or contaminated food, can also occur. Regular cleaning and feeding of fresh, clean food can minimize this risk.

In terms of specific issues, Tokay Geckos, given their aggressive nature, can be prone to injuries from fights if kept with other geckos. On the other hand, Gargoyle Geckos may suffer from obesity if their diet is not properly managed due to their omnivorous nature.

Breeding: Differences in Breeding Patterns and Hatchling Care

If you’re considering breeding geckos, understanding their reproductive behaviors, egg-laying practices, and the care needed for hatchlings is crucial. It’s worth noting that breeding any species should not be taken lightly and requires a certain level of commitment and understanding of the species.

Tokay Geckos

Tokay Geckos reach sexual maturity at about 1 to 2 years of age. They are quite prolific breeders, and females can lay a pair of hard-shelled eggs every month during the breeding season, which typically lasts from spring to summer.

These geckos are known for their unique adhesive eggs which stick to the surface where they are laid, often in hidden or protected areas. Because of this, it’s important to provide suitable laying sites in the enclosure. Once the eggs are laid, the parents generally show no interest in them, and the eggs should be carefully incubated at a temperature of about 80-82°F for successful hatching.

Gargoyle Geckos

Gargoyle Geckos are sexually mature around 18 months to 2 years of age. Like the Tokays, they also lay a pair of eggs, but their breeding season can be somewhat flexible, often influenced by environmental conditions such as temperature and food availability.

Unlike Tokay Geckos, Gargoyle Geckos’ eggs are not adhesive, and females will bury them in a moist substrate. This behavior necessitates the inclusion of suitable laying sites filled with a substrate like moist sphagnum moss or vermiculite. Once laid, the eggs can be incubated at a temperature around 72-80°F.

In both species, hatchling care is essential. Newly hatched geckos should be housed separately to avoid cannibalism. They generally eat the same diet as adults but in smaller portions.

Cost: Initial and Long-term Financial Considerations

The cost of keeping a pet is always an important consideration. Beyond the initial purchase, geckos require ongoing financial commitment for food, habitat setup and maintenance, vet care, and more.

The purchase price for both Tokay and Gargoyle Geckos varies, often depending on factors such as age, color, morph, and breeder reputation. As of my knowledge cutoff in September 2021, Tokay Geckos generally range from $20 to $100, while Gargoyle Geckos tend to be more expensive, ranging from $75 to $500 or more for unique morphs.

The initial setup cost for their enclosures can also be considerable. The tank, heating and lighting setup, substrate, and climbing structures can range from $100 to $300 or more, depending on the quality and complexity of the setup.

In terms of ongoing costs, both geckos require a steady supply of food. For Tokay Geckos, this primarily includes feeder insects, while Gargoyle Geckos will need a mix of feeder insects and fruit-based foods or commercial diets. Expect to spend around $10-$20 per month on food, although this can vary based on the gecko’s size and appetite.

Vet costs can be harder to predict, but it’s wise to budget for at least one annual checkup, which can range from $50 to $100. Unforeseen health issues could also arise, leading to potential additional costs.

Remember, a higher initial cost may be worth it if it means buying a healthy pet from a reputable breeder. Saving money on the initial purchase might lead to higher vet costs down the line if the gecko isn’t healthy.

Conclusion: Making Your Decision

We hope this comprehensive guide has provided you with valuable insights into the world of Tokay and Gargoyle Geckos as pets. These two species, while both fascinating, have different needs, behaviors, and temperaments that may suit different types of owners.

Tokay Geckos, with their stunning coloration and vocal nature, can make a fascinating display pet for those who prefer observing rather than handling their reptiles. Their bold personalities and robust nature offer a unique experience, but they do require a committed owner willing to respect their assertive nature.

Gargoyle Geckos, on the other hand, might be a better fit for those looking for a more interactive pet. Their tolerance for handling, combined with their own distinctive looks, makes them an appealing choice for both beginner and experienced reptile enthusiasts. However, their dietary requirements need careful management to avoid health problems.

Regardless of which gecko you lean towards, remember that both require a significant commitment of time, resources, and care. Providing them with the right environment, diet, and care are all essential steps towards ensuring they live a long, healthy, and happy life.


Can Tokay and Gargoyle Geckos live together?

It’s generally not recommended to house different species together due to differences in habitat requirements and potential for stress or aggression. Moreover, size differences could lead to one gecko bullying or injuring the other.

Can Tokay and Gargoyle Geckos be handled by children?

Due to their delicate nature, handling of any geckos by young children should be supervised. The Gargoyle Gecko is generally more tolerant of handling, but care must still be taken to avoid injury to the gecko.

How do I know if my gecko is sick?

Signs of illness in geckos can include lack of appetite, lethargy, changes in stool, shedding issues, and noticeable weight loss or gain. If you notice any signs of illness, it’s always best to consult a veterinarian.

Can I feed my Gargoyle Gecko only fruits?

Although Gargoyle Geckos are omnivorous and enjoy fruit, their diet should also include insects to provide necessary proteins. A diet solely based on fruit can lead to nutritional deficiencies.

Do Tokay Geckos really bite, and does it hurt?

Yes, Tokay Geckos can and do bite, especially if they feel threatened. Their bites can be quite strong and could be painful, particularly to a small child or a person with sensitive skin.

Do these geckos need companions, or can they live alone?

Both Tokay and Gargoyle Geckos can live happily alone. In fact, housing them individually can prevent potential issues related to territorial disputes or breeding.

How often should I clean my gecko’s enclosure?

Spot cleaning for waste should be done daily, and a full cleaning, which includes changing the substrate, should be done every month. Regular cleaning helps prevent health problems associated with bacteria and parasites.

How can I tell the difference between a male and female gecko?

Both Tokay and Gargoyle Geckos exhibit sexual dimorphism, meaning males and females have physical differences. Males typically have broader heads, larger bodies, and visible pre-anal pores and hemipenal bulges.

Are these geckos noisy at night?

Tokay Geckos are known for their loud vocalizations, particularly at night. Gargoyle Geckos, on the other hand, are typically quiet.

Can these geckos be trained?

While geckos can’t be trained in the same way a dog or cat can, they can become accustomed to a routine and may become more comfortable with handling over time with gentle and consistent interaction.