Tokay Geckos are insectivores, which means that they need a balanced diet of insects to remain healthy and happy. While animals aren’t as pretentious as us when it comes to food variety, it never hurts to offer your gecko different types of insects as long as they’re good for it.
While Tokay geckos are typically recommended to more professional lizard keepers, the feeding part is actually the easiest to do. They will eat almost any insect they find so you won’t have any trouble getting it the food it likes.
In this article, we’ll talk about the diet of Tokay geckos and how much you should feed them.
Tokay Gecko Diet – What do they eat?
Tokay Geckos are not hard to feed as their diet consists of various insects. You can also offer them a little bit of fruit puree from now and then, especially banana, papaya, and other tropical fruits. It’s recommended to get baby food with some of these tropical flavors as it’s more affordable. But if money isn’t a problem, a teaspoon of fresh tropical fruit puree would be better.
Before you even decide to get a Tokay gecko as a pet, you need to inform yourself very well about its diet. These geckos need the insects they eat to be alive, otherwise, they won’t touch the corpses. Giving your gecko dead insects is like giving them a spoiled meal, even if the insects just died a few hours ago. If getting or raising live insects is a problem, you should consider another pet.
If you have an exotic pet shop around you, there’s a big chance there’s also someone that supplies food for these pets that’s not too far away. You should ask the exotic pet shop employees where you can find the insects you need and how to keep them until it’s time to feed your gecko.
Getting the insects from a supplier is a good idea as long as you only have one gecko. The more geckos you have, the more recommended raising your own feeder insects it is. Feeder insects are the insects your Tokay gecko needs to eat. This includes staples, regular feeders, and treats, which is all your Tokay gecko will ever need.
When you get your insects, you should also get a good gut-loading composition from the supplier and a supplement powder. The insects need to be gut-loaded with nutritional food at least 24 hours before feeding them to your gecko. This will make the insects more nutritious and the gecko will benefit even more from eating them.
Staple feeders are insects that are very easy to gut-load and they’re often a big part of your gecko’s meal. This includes crickets and roaches. You can purchase a composition for gut-loading from your seller or make it yourself. You can use peppers, carrots, potatoes, sweet potatoes, etc.
Regular feeders are insects that can’t be gut-loaded but are still a big part of the regular diet. This includes stick insects, silkworms, hornworms, isopods, etc. They’re still very healthy for your gecko and you should mix them up with every single meal. Since your gecko is entrapped in a cage, it’s all up to you to make sure it gets all the nutrients it needs.
The last type of insects you will have to raise is the treats. While puree made from tropical fruit works as an occasional treat, you should still have a few insects nearby. These insects may or may not be gut-loaded, and if they do, you might have to struggle a bit with them. They’re naturally fattier and hard to keep them gut-loaded. This includes super worms, mealworms, waxworms, etc.
Crickets and Tokay Geckos
The easiest type of insect you’ll find is the cricket and it’s also the easiest to raise at home. While it isn’t the healthiest for your Tokay, you can use it regularly as long as you’re mixing in some other type of insect. Two crickets and a cockroach, or something like that is a good mix for a Tokay’s regular meal plan.
Crickets are distantly related to grasshoppers and they can be found all over the world, as long as the temperature allows them to thrive. But you won’t find them at latitudes of 55-degrees or higher. And the biggest diversity is in the tropics. This means that you will be able to find a reputable supplier anywhere you live.
But you don’t have to pick them up personally. If bagged properly, insects can travel all across the globe without any problems. This means you can search for a good supplier online and get your crickets the next day at your door. If you’re not sure what supplier to get, ask your local exotic pet shop or the online exotic pet shop you got your lizard from.
If you plan on rising your own crickets, you need to keep in mind that they are omnivorous. This means that they easily accept a very wide range of organic food. Most species can be kept on a diet of ground, commercial dog kibble. But you will have to inform yourself about the species of crickets you’re breeding.
Some species of crickets can be completely herbivorous and you’ll need to feed them flowers, leaves, fruits, etc. On the other hand, some cricket species are more predatory and you’ll need to provide invertebrate eggs, pupae, larvae, scale insects, aphids, and molting insects.
Another important part of a Tokay’s diet is the mealworm. They’re not typically recommended for other species of geckos as the worms might be too large for them. But a Tokay gecko absolutely loves them and can eat them with ease. These worms are the larval form of the mealworm beetle. And similar to crickets, these mealworms are widely available all over the world.
Mealworms can be used as food for almost any adult Tokay gecko, and even various fish and birds. This is because they’re very high in protein and can help the Tokay to get everything it needs from the worm. You can either get them in bulk or try to breed them yourself. But since they’re so affordable, it’s highly recommended to just buy them.
These worms usually come in containers that also have bran or oatmeal as food. More than that, commercial growers undergo some special procedures to help maintain the mealworms in their lava form. This allows them to last a lot longer so they won’t die or evolve to the next stage when you’re keeping them stored.
They use juvenile hormone to do this and it also helps make the larva bigger and longer than it would usually be.
Waxworms and Superworms
Waxworms are the larvae form of wax worms, which are the number one enemy of bees and beekeepers. And the best thing about these waxworms is that they can go a very long time without eating, especially if they’re kept at lower temperatures.
Unlike mealworms, which are full of nutrients, waxworms barely have any nutrients and have lots of fat. This is why they should only be used as treats. It’s very common for uninformed keepers to accidentally make their lizards obese by overfeeding them waxworms. This is because reptiles have a very low metabolism.
If you plan on growing them yourself, it’s a pretty easy thing to do. They can be raised on a mixture of honey, bran, and grain. They’re known as waxworms because they eat the honey from the bees, even if they don’t directly attack the bees.
Superworms are the larva form of the black beetle. Unlike waxworms, superwoms are actually quite similar to mealworms, just a bit fattier. They have lots of proteins but they also have lots and lots of fat. And while this makes them very attractive to many lizards, they can easily get obese because of them.
These worms can go between one and two weeks without eating, making them widely available as commercial feeder food. And if you’re breeding them yourself, you should keep them at higher temperatures. More than that, be careful when handling them as they can bite when they feel threatened.
Flies are probably some of the most hated types of insects by humans. They seem to be everywhere during the summer and they’re very hard to get rid of. In the wilderness, geckos don’t usually eat flies simply because they can’t catch them all the time. While they’re fast, sometimes that’s not enough. But in captivity, you can definitely feed them some flies from time to time.
However, since they’re really not nutritious, they won’t help the lizard too much. Geckos that live in areas that are also occupied by humans eat a lot more flies. This is because flies and moths are attracted to light and lizards spend a lot of time on walls and nearby trees. And if they’re close enough when the flies come to a window, they can easily catch them.
This means that you don’t have to worry if a fly made it into your gecko’s enclosure and it ate it. While it’s not worth it to breed them as feeder insects, the occasional fly is OK. Just opt for a supplier as the ones in your homes definitely have too many chemicals on them as they live outside.
Do they eat fruit? What types?
Most geckos eat insects while others eat fruits as well. And Tokay geckos definitely love to relish in a good puree of tropical fruits. This should never make it into their regular meal as they’re still insectivores and need the nutritions live insects to provide. But if you’re looking for a tasty treat that will help you tame your Tokay gecko, this is it.
The most affordable option is buying baby food as it’s very easy for them to digest. You can find baby food that already has tropical-fruit flavor, but you can also add your own. Just make a different puree in a bowl then mix it with baby food. Make sure you’re using only small quantities as the Tokay gecko should not eat more than two teaspoons. You can give it the mix on a very small plate or a plastic lid.
To prepare the puree from scratch it might cost a bit more but the gecko will love it. Begin by washing the fruits and veggies you’re going to use and cut a very small piece out of each of them. If it needs to be peeled off, make sure you do that, then put everything in a blender.
If you don’t have a blender, put everything in a bowl and use a fork to make it puree. If you used some veggies that are very hard, use a veggie shredder and use the smallest razors. Then all you have to do is mix everything very well and give it to your gecko. You can also add a little bit of baby food to the composition and mix everything very well.
Before giving any type of fruit or veggie to your Tokay gecko, make sure you’ve consulted your exotic vet. This also stands for switching your gecko’s whole diet or replacing any insects. You need to keep in mind that some insects are fattier than others and some are richer in nutrients. This means that if the meal is not balanced, the gecko could get too much of some nutrients, and get deprived of other necessary nutrients.
If your gecko refuses to eat a type of insect, there might be something wrong with that specific batch of insects. It’s best to get a new batch than to force the gecko to eat something that’s bad for its health.
How much should you feed a Tokay Gecko?
The amount of food each Tokay gecko needs completely depends on its, size, age, and how active it is. If it’s injured and doesn’t move around too much, it may not be able to eat so much anymore. You’ll need to pay attention to its behavior and feed it accordingly. But a Tokay that isn’t eager to eat should be taken to the exotic vet as soon as possible.
Tokay geckos absolutely love to eat and will look very eager when it sees you coming with the insects. You can move the gecko into an empty container every time you’re feeding it. This will make gathering all the remaining insect parts without struggling to find them between the substrate. And since dead insects can gather lots of bacteria and even get a gecko very sick if it eats it, you should be careful with removing the dead parts after each meal.
If any of the insects you’re about to feed the gecko are dead, it’s recommended to put them aside and throw them away later. Even if you breed feeder insects and you know the insects have died just a few minutes ago, you should still discard the dead insect. Geckos won’t eat prey that is dead and you will end up starving your beloved Tokay gecko.
If you plan on breeding the geckos, you need to keep in mind that the hatchlings need to be fed various times a day. And again, since they’re closed in a cage, it’s all up to you to make sure you have the necessary time to feed the hatchlings a few times a day. At first, you need to start feeding them twice, maybe thrice a day. And as they get older, you can feed them only once a day.
When it comes to juveniles, they typically need one meal a day and that’s all. You might already be used to this type of feeding as some lizards are purchased as juveniles. A juvenile could start needing food almost twice a day, and then slowly get to one meal a day or less. You might have to feed an older juvenile twice every three days.
Adult Tokay geckos need to be fed once every two or three days. You won’t have to feed them more than three times a week, maybe four if they’re still young. When the gecko is full, remove the live insects that are still in the cage. The natural behavior of the gecko will make it run after the insect and eat it even if it’s full. But if there are too many live insects, they might hurt your gecko instead and cause an infection.
Hatchlings will need one or two very small insects per meal, while juveniles typically need around three. But adult geckos need to be fed as much as they want. You will know when to stop the moment the gecko doesn’t seem so happy about new crickets in its cage. This is usually after 3-5 insects, depending on their size.
Regardless if you’re feeding a hatchling or an adult gecko, it’s extremely important to keep in mind that the insect should never be larger than the space between the gecko’s eyes. That’s the size it can eat without choking or developing other digestive problems.
Special Dietary Considerations for Tokay Geckos
As with any pet, certain stages of life or conditions may require special dietary adjustments. For Tokay Geckos, these include differences between juveniles and adults, nutritional needs during pregnancy, and recognizing and rectifying overfeeding or underfeeding.
Young vs Adult Nutritional Needs: As mentioned earlier, juvenile geckos have a faster metabolism and hence, need more frequent feeding compared to adults. Their diet should be rich in protein for proper growth. On the other hand, adult Tokay Geckos require fewer feedings per week. It’s also crucial to avoid overfeeding adults, as they can easily become overweight, leading to health issues.
Nutritional Adjustments for Pregnant Geckos: Female Tokay Geckos require additional nutrients during breeding seasons, particularly calcium, to ensure the healthy development of eggs. During this time, supplement dusting should be increased to support the additional nutritional demands.
Overfeeding and Underfeeding: Signs and Solutions: An overfed gecko can become obese, which poses numerous health risks. Signs of obesity in geckos include a bloated belly and fat deposits in the legs, tail, and neck area. On the flip side, underfeeding or malnutrition can lead to a lack of energy, weight loss, and eventually, severe health issues. The ribs and hip bones will be noticeably protruding in a malnourished gecko. Both conditions require immediate dietary adjustments. If you are unsure, consulting a reptile vet is the best course of action.
The Role of Supplements in a Tokay Gecko’s Diet
Even with the best efforts to provide a balanced diet for your Tokay Gecko, some essential nutrients may still be lacking, especially when considering the diversity of their natural diet in the wild. This is where supplements step in, helping to fill the nutritional gaps and ensure your gecko stays healthy.
Importance of Supplements: Supplements, mainly calcium and vitamin D3, are essential for a Tokay Gecko in captivity. Calcium is crucial for healthy bones and neurological function, while Vitamin D3 aids in calcium absorption. A deficiency in these nutrients can lead to serious health issues, like Metabolic Bone Disease.
Recommended Supplements: There are several reptile-specific supplements available on the market. Calcium supplements, both with and without D3, are vital. The choice between the two depends on your gecko’s exposure to UVB light, which naturally helps the body produce Vitamin D3. If you have a UVB light in your gecko’s enclosure, a calcium supplement without D3 is acceptable. If not, a calcium supplement with D3 is essential. Other beneficial supplements include multivitamins, which should be provided once a week.
How to Administer Supplements: Supplements are usually given by dusting the insects before feeding. The insects can be placed in a plastic bag with the supplement powder, and gently shaken until they are coated. Then, they can be fed to the gecko. Another method is gut-loading, where the insects are fed nutrient-rich foods before being offered to the gecko.
Common Health Issues related to Diet
A balanced diet and proper feeding habits are crucial for the health of your Tokay Gecko. Conversely, nutritional imbalances and feeding errors can lead to several health issues. Here, we will discuss some common diet-related health issues and ways to prevent or address them.
Understanding Metabolic Bone Disease: Metabolic Bone Disease (MBD) is a common issue in reptiles, caused by calcium deficiency, an imbalance of calcium and phosphorus, or inadequate Vitamin D3. MBD can result in deformities, weak bones that fracture easily, and, in severe cases, can be fatal. Ensuring your gecko gets enough calcium and Vitamin D3, either through diet or supplements, can help prevent MBD.
Dealing with Obesity in Tokay Geckos: Obesity is often a result of overfeeding and lack of physical activity. Signs of obesity include difficulty moving, fat deposits in the legs, tail, and around the neck, and trouble breathing. If your gecko is overweight, consult a vet and consider reducing food quantity, increasing physical activity by providing a larger or more enriched environment, and maintaining a feeding schedule.
Signs of Malnutrition and How to Address It: Malnutrition can be due to underfeeding or a diet lacking in essential nutrients. Signs include weight loss, decreased activity, dull color, and a sunken appearance. If you suspect malnutrition, a vet should be consulted immediately. Improving diet quality and feeding frequency, along with using appropriate supplements, can often resolve this issue.
FAQ – Frequently Asked Questions
Can Tokay Geckos eat calci worms?
While calci worms are very common and your Tokay will love them, it’s recommended to use them as treats. Three or four calci worms every two feedings should be enough as they’re a bit too fat.
Can Tokay Geckos eat mealworms?
Mealworms are typically a big part of a Tokay Gecko. You can mix these worms with crickets and other insects. Make sure you never run out of mealworms as they’re very important to a Tokay’s diet. If your supplier is not very close to you, raising them by yourself is not hard at all and it’s a lot more cost-efficient.
Can Tokay Geckos eat crickets?
Crickets are considered to be the backbone of a gecko’s diet, including the Tokay’s. They’re very nutritious and can be easily found no matter where you live. You just have to remember to never use wild crickets as they can be sick or full of chemicals.
Can Tokay Geckos eat cockroaches?
Tokay geckos are some of the largest geckos in the world, which means that they can eat bigger insects without any problems. This includes various species of roaches, especially if they’re young. But they can easily eat cockroaches and other bigger roaches as well.
Can Tokay Geckos eat pinkies?
Tokay geckos are some of the few geckos that are big enough to eat pinkie mice. But if they’re not bigger than the space between their eyes, the Tokay will very much appreciate the treat. It shouldn’t become a regular meal though.
Can Tokay Geckos eat fish?
Giving your gecko fish is a big No-No, regardless if it’s a large Tokay or other species. Fish contains bones that can easily choke a lizard, which can cause some serious problems. More than that, raw fish might contain parasites that will make any gecko very sick.
Can Tokay Geckos eat fruit?
Tokay geckos are insectivores, but captive Tokays absolutely love a teaspoon or two of fruit baby food. You can use various flavors, such as papaya, bananas, and other tropical fruits. Just make sure to not include fruits in their regular diet as they should eat a good amount of live prey as well.
Your Tokay might not appreciate a piece of raw carrot as it’s a bit too hard to chew. But you can definitely add a slice to their usual fruit puree. It’s actually recommended to offer your Tokay a mix of high-quality fruits and veggies mixed very well in a smooth puree.