Tokay Gecko Cage Setup & Care – Terrarium Complete Guide

Exo Terra Terarium for Tokay Geckos

Tokay Geckos are some of the most beautiful lizards, thanks to their vibrant colors and spots. Generally, they have a blue-gray color and various bright orange and blue spots.

Their scientific name is Gekko Gecko and they can get up to 15 inches long. This makes them one of the biggest Geckos in the world. They’re also known to live around 10 years in captivity.

Tokay Geckos inhabit much of Southeast Asia and they don’t shy away from areas populated by people. Their natural environment is warm and has a high level of humidity. You will have to mimic that in their enclosure if you want them to be happy and healthy.

These Geckos love climbing and they spend most of their time off the floor. They love trees and can even find their way inside people’s homes through open windows.

Tokay Geckos are nocturnal and they prefer temperatures around 27 degrees Fahrenheit. And they want their humidity level to always be around 70% and never drop below 50%.

Despite the fact that Geckos are often recommended for beginners, Tokays are not. They are known to be highly territorial and their bite will hurt. You will need to spend a lot of time with them and be very careful if you want to tame them.

But once you’ve become friends, Tokay Geckos can become some very friendly pets and they’re extremely interesting to observe.

Tokay Gecko Cage Setup

Exo Terra Terarium for Tokay Geckos

Setting up a Gecko’s cage for the first time is not very easy but it can be done if you pay attention to their needs. And the best part about Tokay Geckos is that they’re not incredibly picky about their enclosure.

The things you should keep in mind when preparing your Tokay’s habitat is getting right the needed space, hiding spots, humidity, and temperature. You won’t have to worry much about the types of items you use to set up their cage, as long as they’re not dangerous to the reptiles.

Tokay Geckos can be just as happy in an enclosure with a substrate made of newspaper as it would be if their habitat had the finest materials you can find on the market. The more you spend on an enclosure the better it will look. But it’s not a must.

This means that if you can’t find everything you need in your area, or if shops are closed, you can find replacements. And with time, you’ll be able to replace them with better cage decorations.

Fake plants are just as good as real plants. Newspapers do a great job as a substrate. Paper towels that haven’t been bleached and that are free of any ink drawings can be used to deal with your Tokay’s shedding.

What size tank does a Tokay gecko need?

One thing you’ll see very often is that your Tokay can be housed in a 10-gallon tank. And while it can do alright, the more space your Gecko has, the better. You need to take into consideration how big they will get eventually. Housing one Tokay in a 10-gallon tank and 2 Geckos in a 20-gallon tank might not be enough.

Once your Tokay Gecko has reached maturity you will quickly realize that they are much better off in a 20-gallon tank if they live alone. And if you have the space, a 30-gallon tank is excellent for a pair of two or even three.

Tokay Geckos love to climb and love to go and inspect their enclosure. If their vivarium is too small, they could end up unleashing their destructive nature and turn the whole place upside down looking for a way out.

These Geckos can be very aggressive and you don’t want them roaming around your home, especially if you have small children. You can compromise how much you spend on decorating their vivarium and focus on getting a tank that’s big enough for their size and curious nature.

Substrate in the cage

The substrate is the first material that’s placed inside your Gecko’s cage, right at the bottom. Its job is to help maintain humidity and try to mimic the look and feel of your lizard’s natural habitat. You can even try various substrates before deciding on which one is the best for your Tokay Gecko’s vivarium.

The substrate you choose needs to have moisture-retaining capabilities. This includes orchid bark, cypress mulch, and coconut husk-based substrate. You’re the only one that can choose which one is the best for your Gecko’s needs and your budget.

If you’re looking for the most affordable option besides newspapers, you should opt for orchid bark substrate. This is the best choice if you plan on getting a big enclosure for your Tokay Gecko.

You can also use a cypress mulch substrate if you need to maintain a high humidity level inside the vivarium. The coconut husk substrate should be mixed with either orchid bark or cypress mulch to help enhance the moisture-retaining capabilities.

As mentioned before, if you need an emergency option, that’s as cheap as possible, you can opt for a newspaper substrate.

Heating Requirements For Enclosure

Tokay Geckos come from a pretty hot habitat, although not as other Geckos (the desert ones, for example). This means that you will have to do your best and mimic their natural environment in their new tank. The heat is a very important factor in their health.

During the day, you can use an incandescent bulb to provide all the heat your Tokay needs. You need to place a thermometer inside the enclosure and make sure the temperature is always between 80F to 90F.

On the other hand, during the night, you will need to use a nocturnal reptile bulb or ceramic heat element so you can mimic the day-night cycle. They prefer just a little bit cooler at night so make sure the temperature always remains between 70F and 80F.

You might be inclined in using a heating pad. However, you need to take into consideration the fact that Tokay Geckos are climbers. This means that they prefer for the heat to be provided from above the tank.

Humidity Requirements in a Vivarium

Besides warmth, they also need humidity to thrive, along with good ventilation. You need to be very careful about the humidity you provide. The best way to ensure that the perfect humidity is maintained, is by installing a Hygrometer (Humidity Meter) inside the cage.

You can find a mix between a Thermometer and Hygrometer made specifically for monitoring a reptile’s habitat.

Tokay Geckos love a high level of humidity as their natural environment is between 60% and 80% humid. As long as you keep the humidity level at around 70%, your Tokay is going to be healthy and happy.

You can use various means to maintain the humidity inside the vivarium while also using a good ventilation system. Maintaining humidity through regular misting is the best way to go. You can do it using a spray bottle or a misting system.

It’s also important to have a substrate that retains water and a bowl of water that can be placed in the corner of the tank. You’ll rarely see your Tokay drink from it, but it should be refilled daily.

A vivarium that’s constantly wet or damp will cause various health problems for your Gecko, including fungal or bacterial issues. And if the humidity level is too low and the Gecko is too dry, it will suffer from stuck sheds.

Removing stuck sheds is not an easy job, especially around the toe pads. This is why it’s very important to maintain a good humidity level and a screen cover that allows the enclosure to breathe.

UVB Lighting

You might have heard that UVB lighting is an optional extra and that it’s not very important. However, experts have studied this species and their natural environment more and have found that it should actually always be provided.

It’s highly recommended to use a wide coverage of 5% UVB or a smaller covering of about 6-7% UVB. This is because the terrarium has a mesh lid that causes the strength of the UVB to be reduced while it’s being put into the enclosure.

You can opt for a compact top canopy that can hold E27 screw fit lamps. These types can also be matched with compact UVB lamps or basking lamps with low wattage. But the newest solution is the T5 canopies that can hold a single T5 UVB tube.

How effective your lamp is, can vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, but generally, compact lamps can reach a size of up to 9-12 inches. You also only have to replace them every 6 months or so. On the other hand, T5 UVB tubes have a 24in range and can be replaced only once a year.

Regardless of the lamp you choose, it should always be placed above the vivarium, towards the front or the back of the enclosure. This will allow your Tokay Gecko to find the perfect position within the tank, no matter what requirements he has.

Cage Decorations

When it comes to cage decorations, there are typically three types of people:

  • those that prefer fake decorations, as they’re easy to maintain,
  • those that prefer natural decorations, as they offer a more natural look,
  • and those that don’t really care and love playing mix and match.

The way you decorate your Tokay Gecko’s vivarium greatly depends on how much free time you have on your hands, as well as your budget.

If you prefer having as many fake decorations as possible, you need to start with a bedding of bark chips or soil. Forest moss is the best when it comes to maintaining humidity, but you can use any type of enclosure moss you can find in your area.

When it comes to making a vivarium that is as natural as possible, you’ll need a drainage layer for your live plants, dividing mesh or fleece, and also a nutrient-rich soil. If you want to make the enclosure bio-active, you’ll also need to add a few cleaning insects to the soils, like springtails.

After finishing with the substrate, you need to start placing the heavier branches and vines. The whole idea is to provide a sturdy structure that has multiple routes. This will get your Gecko from one side to the enclosure to the other, and from the bottom to the top.

It’s best to choose the branches that are covered in an absorbent material so they can help maintain the humidity throughout the day.

After that, it’s time to place as many water-catching decorations as possible. This includes artificial plants that are thick and trailing or raising ornaments. And for your live vivarium, you can use various jungle plants such as devils ivy, Philodendron scandens, or Ficus benjami.

It’s important that the live plants you choose are safe for your Gecko and that they can live in an enclosure with such a high humidity level.

How often do you need to clean a Tokay Gecko’s cage?

If you love the idea of keeping your Tokay Gecko in a bio-active vivarium, you will need to spot clean it every day and monitor it constantly. This includes getting rid of all the poop and dead insects if you’re feeding it in the same enclosure.

On the other hand, if you have a normal enclosure with various fake materials, you will need to spot clean every day, then perform a full cleaning job every four weeks. And if your Gecko needs its substrate changed very often, you will have to do that every week as well.

When it comes to cleaning detergents you need to be very careful as your Tokay can be pretty sensitive. You can use simple mild dish soap, reptile-safe cleaning agent, and make sure you rinse thoroughly.

To disinfect the cage you can use 1/2 cup of bleach to 1 gallon of water, or use white vinegar (which is safer) then wipe it out. A minimal amount of white vinegar should be enough to clean all the bacteria that are living and growing inside your Tokay’s enclosure. It should be used once every 4 months.

When it comes to cleaning the droppings, it’s best to use a cleaner that has a HEPA filter. This will help avoid the spread of allergens and allows you to dispose of them with care.

You can also wipe them with a damp cloth without touching them directly. After that, you’ll need to clean the surface with warm soapy water and baking soda.


Tokay Geckos are fairly easy to care for, despite their aggressive behavior. All you have to do is set up a nice enclosure for them, in which they’ll be able to feel at home.

It’s almost impossible to say how much setting up a Tokay Gecko’s enclosure is going to cost you as the options are endless. It all depends on the size of the enclosure and the quality of the substrate, heating source, and decorations.

Once the habitat is ready, you will start to notice pretty quickly what your Geckos needs more or less of. This will help you get even better at setting up a Gecko cage next time.

Regardless if you prefer a fake or a bio-active vivarium, setting it up is a lot of fun and anyone can do it.