Tokay Gecko vs Madagascar Giant Day Gecko: Which One is Right for You?

Madagascar Giant Day Geckos vs Tokay Gecko

Welcome to the world of geckos, where vibrant colors, intriguing behaviors, and unique adaptations rule the day. In the realm of pet reptiles, two species stand out due to their popularity and distinctive qualities—the Tokay Gecko and the Madagascar Giant Day Gecko. Both exhibit enchanting charm and distinctive character, but choosing between them as a pet might not be a straightforward task.

This article will serve as your comprehensive guide, drawing a detailed comparison between these two fascinating species. We’ll explore their origins, appearance, dietary needs, temperament, care requirements, and much more to help you make an informed decision. So, let’s embark on this intriguing journey of discovery!

Origin and Natural Habitat

To fully appreciate and adequately care for these wonderful creatures, understanding their origins and natural habitat is crucial.

Tokay Gecko: Native to Southeast Asia and parts of the Pacific, the Tokay Gecko, scientific name Gekko gecko, can be found in countries like India, Philippines, Malaysia, and Indonesia. They are also widely distributed in warmer regions such as southern China. Named after their distinctive “To-kay” mating call, these geckos inhabit a variety of environments, ranging from tropical rainforests and bamboo groves to human residences. As nocturnal creatures, they are adept climbers, taking refuge in tree hollows and under bark during the day.

Madagascar Giant Day Gecko: On the other hand, the Madagascar Giant Day Gecko, or Phelsuma grandis, as the name suggests, originates from the island nation of Madagascar. This species prefers the tropical rainforest environment, particularly the eastern and northern parts of the island. Unlike the Tokay, these geckos are diurnal, meaning they are active during the day, mostly dwelling in the tree canopies. They also adapt well to human-altered habitats and can be found near human settlements.

These diverse origins significantly impact their care requirements, behaviors, and interactions in a captive environment. Understanding their natural habitats allows us to simulate similar conditions at home, ensuring their wellbeing and longevity.

Appearance and Size

Appearance is often a crucial factor in choosing a pet, and geckos, known for their striking looks, are no exception. Here’s what sets the Tokay Gecko and the Madagascar Giant Day Gecko apart.

Tokay Gecko: The Tokay Gecko is one of the largest gecko species, typically reaching lengths of up to 14-15 inches when fully mature. The males are slightly larger and more robust than females. They boast a vibrant color palette—featuring a gray to blue-gray base with bright red to orange spots, which offer excellent camouflage in their native habitats. Their eyes are large and mesmerizing, typically a brilliant blue with a vertical pupil.

Madagascar Giant Day Gecko: The Madagascar Giant Day Gecko, true to its name, is also a sizable creature, reaching lengths of up to 12 inches. While not as large as the Tokay, they compensate with their stunning coloration. Their bodies display a bright green to turquoise hue with red markings on the head and back, which beautifully contrast against the lush greenery of their natural surroundings. Their eyes are round with a horizontal pupil, often a captivating red, orange, or yellow color, adding to their charm.

Both of these gecko species have skin that is slightly granular to the touch. They have well-developed limbs with sticky toe pads equipped with specialized scales called setae. These allow them to effortlessly climb vertical surfaces and even walk on ceilings, a typical gecko characteristic that never ceases to amaze.

Lifespan and Health

Ensuring the long and healthy life of a pet is paramount for any caring pet owner. With the right conditions and care, both the Tokay Gecko and the Madagascar Giant Day Gecko can thrive and live to a ripe old age.

Tokay Gecko: The Tokay Gecko, being one of the largest geckos, also boasts a relatively long lifespan. When properly cared for, they can live for around 10 to 15 years in captivity. However, like any pet, they can encounter health issues. Their most common health concerns are typically related to poor husbandry, such as incorrect temperatures, humidity, or diet leading to metabolic bone disease, parasitic infections, or respiratory issues. Proper veterinary care and a well-maintained habitat can prevent most of these problems.

Madagascar Giant Day Gecko: The Madagascar Giant Day Gecko is also known for its longevity. A well-cared-for Giant Day Gecko can live up to 20 years in captivity, which is quite significant for a gecko. Their health concerns are somewhat similar to the Tokay’s, with malnutrition, improper humidity or temperature, and parasitic infections being among the common problems. Regular health check-ups and maintaining a suitable environment can greatly reduce the risk of these issues.

Madagascar Giant Day Geckos

Housing and Habitat Requirements

Creating a comfortable living environment that closely mimics their natural habitat is key to keeping your gecko happy and healthy. Both the Tokay and Madagascar Giant Day Gecko have specific housing and habitat needs due to their distinct natural environments.

Tokay Gecko: Given their large size, Tokay Geckos require a spacious enclosure. A vertical terrarium measuring at least 18x18x24 inches is generally recommended for a single adult, with larger spaces necessary for pairs or groups. These geckos thrive in high humidity levels of around 70%-80% and temperatures ranging from 78-82°F during the day, with a slight drop at night. An area for basking should be provided with temperatures around 90°F. As they are nocturnal, the enclosure should include hiding places for them to retreat to during the day, such as hollow logs, cork bark, or foliage.

Madagascar Giant Day Gecko: These geckos also require a vertically oriented enclosure due to their arboreal lifestyle, with a minimum size of 18x18x36 inches for one or two adults. The humidity levels should be maintained around 50%-70%, with regular misting to simulate their natural rainforest habitat. Daytime temperatures should be kept between 78-85°F, with a basking spot of around 90-95°F. As these geckos are diurnal, they require UVB lighting to properly metabolize calcium. Their enclosures should feature plenty of climbing and basking areas using branches, vines, and foliage.

When setting up an enclosure for either species, it’s important to use a substrate that maintains humidity, such as coconut fiber or moss, and to clean the enclosure regularly to prevent bacterial and fungal growth. Both species can be quite active, so providing them with a stimulating environment with plenty of places to explore is ideal.

Diet and Nutrition

Feeding your pet gecko a balanced, species-appropriate diet is one of the most important aspects of their care. Here’s what you need to know about the dietary needs and preferences of the Tokay Gecko and the Madagascar Giant Day Gecko.

Tokay Gecko: As omnivores, Tokay Geckos have a diverse diet in the wild, which includes insects, small mammals, birds, and even other geckos. In captivity, a staple diet of gut-loaded and dusted insects, such as crickets, mealworms, and roaches, will suffice. The occasional treat of a pinkie mouse can also be offered to adults. Tokay Geckos are nocturnal hunters, so feeding should take place in the evening or at night.

Madagascar Giant Day Gecko: Madagascar Giant Day Geckos are also omnivores, but their diet leans more towards the frugivorous side compared to Tokay Geckos. In the wild, they consume insects, nectar, pollen, and fruits. In captivity, they thrive on a diet of insects and commercially prepared gecko diets that include fruit. These diets mimic the nutritional content of fruits and insects they would consume in the wild. It’s also advisable to offer fresh, mashed fruits as treats. Unlike the Tokay, they are active and feed during the day.

In both cases, it’s crucial to dust the insects with a calcium supplement and a multivitamin to ensure your geckos are getting all the nutrients they need. Remember, overfeeding can lead to health issues like obesity and organ damage, so monitor your gecko’s food intake and body condition carefully.

Behavior and Temperament

Just like us humans, geckos have their personalities and behaviors, which can significantly impact your experience as a pet owner. Let’s delve into the typical behaviors and attitudes of the Tokay Gecko and the Madagascar Giant Day Gecko.

Tokay Gecko: The Tokay Gecko is known for its feisty and aggressive temperament. They are notorious for their strong bite, which they are not hesitant to use when they feel threatened. It’s this trait that can make them less ideal for first-time gecko owners or those looking for a pet to handle regularly. However, with patience, consistent interaction, and respect for their boundaries, they can become more tolerant of handling over time. Being nocturnal, they are most active during the night when they hunt and explore their surroundings.

Madagascar Giant Day Gecko: On the contrary, the Madagascar Giant Day Gecko is typically more docile and less aggressive. They can be handled, but it’s important to note that their skin is delicate and can tear easily, so any interaction should be gentle and infrequent. Being diurnal, they are active during the day, often seen basking, climbing, or hunting for food. Their daytime activity and more amenable disposition can make them more appealing to potential owners who want to observe their gecko during normal waking hours.

Care and Maintenance

While geckos might be relatively low-maintenance compared to traditional pets, they still require dedicated care to ensure their wellbeing. Here’s what the care and maintenance of a Tokay Gecko and a Madagascar Giant Day Gecko entail:

Tokay Gecko: Caring for a Tokay Gecko begins with setting up a suitable enclosure, as discussed earlier. Regular monitoring of temperature and humidity is necessary to maintain optimal conditions. They require fresh water daily and should be fed every other day, with the portion size depending on the gecko’s size and age. The enclosure should be cleaned regularly to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria or mold, with a full deep-clean at least once a month. Given their aggressive nature, handling should be minimized to reduce stress. If handling is necessary, be calm and gentle to avoid triggering defensive behaviors. Regular veterinary check-ups can also help ensure your Tokay Gecko stays healthy.

Madagascar Giant Day Gecko: Similarly, the Madagascar Giant Day Gecko requires a well-maintained habitat with consistent temperature and humidity checks. They need fresh water and a balanced diet of insects and fruit-based gecko diet. Proper lighting is also crucial for these diurnal geckos, particularly UVB lighting. Regular enclosure cleaning is a must to keep their environment hygienic. While they are more docile, handling should be minimized due to their delicate skin. Regular health checks are also beneficial for early detection and treatment of potential health issues.

Before you bring any pet home, it’s important to consider any legal restrictions and ethical implications. This is particularly true for exotic pets like the Tokay Gecko and Madagascar Giant Day Gecko.

Tokay Gecko: Tokay Geckos are abundant in the wild and are not currently classified as threatened or endangered. However, regulations about keeping them as pets vary widely. In some areas, permits may be required. It’s always wise to check local and state laws before purchasing. From an ethical standpoint, it’s important to ensure that any Tokay Gecko you purchase has been captive-bred rather than wild-caught, as the capture and transport of wild geckos can be highly stressful and contribute to population declines.

Madagascar Giant Day Gecko: The situation for the Madagascar Giant Day Gecko is similar. While they are not endangered, their habitat in Madagascar is rapidly shrinking due to deforestation, making it more crucial to avoid purchasing wild-caught specimens. Many areas require permits to keep them, so check your local laws and regulations. Again, always choose captive-bred geckos from reputable breeders or adoption from rescue organizations, promoting conservation efforts and the welfare of these beautiful creatures.


Choosing between the Tokay Gecko and the Madagascar Giant Day Gecko as a pet is not a decision to be taken lightly. Both species have their unique charm, from the striking colors and assertive nature of the Tokay to the bright, friendly demeanor of the Madagascar Giant Day Gecko.

Remember that both species require a substantial commitment in terms of time and care. They need specific habitats, diets, and conditions to thrive, not to mention a hands-off approach to handling due to their delicate nature or assertive temperament.

In the end, the best gecko for you depends on your personal preferences, lifestyle, and willingness to meet their needs. Whether you’re drawn to the nocturnal charisma of the Tokay Gecko or the diurnal elegance of the Madagascar Giant Day Gecko, either choice presents an opportunity to learn about and contribute to the care of these fascinating creatures.

Ensure you source your pet responsibly, contribute to conservation efforts, and adhere to local laws and regulations.


Are Tokay Geckos and Madagascar Giant Day Geckos good for beginners?

Tokay Geckos, due to their aggressive temperament and strong bite, may not be suitable for beginners. They require an owner who understands and respects their need for space and minimal handling. Madagascar Giant Day Geckos, on the other hand, are more docile but have delicate skin that can tear easily, which necessitates careful and minimal handling.

Can Tokay Geckos and Madagascar Giant Day Geckos be kept together?

No, these two species should not be housed together. Mixing species can lead to stress, territorial disputes, and potential health issues. Always house geckos with their own species, and even then, only if they have enough space and resources to prevent competition and aggression.

How often should I feed my gecko?

Generally, adult geckos should be fed every other day, while juveniles may require daily feeding. Always ensure the portion size is appropriate for your gecko’s size and age. Consult with a veterinarian to establish a feeding schedule that suits your specific pet’s needs.

Can I handle my Tokay Gecko or Madagascar Giant Day Gecko regularly?

Tokay Geckos are known for their assertive behavior and should be handled minimally, if at all. Madagascar Giant Day Geckos are more amenable to handling, but their skin is quite delicate, so any interaction should be gentle and infrequent. Both species are best appreciated from a respectful distance.

Where should I purchase a Tokay Gecko or Madagascar Giant Day Gecko?

Always purchase from reputable breeders or adopt from rescue organizations. Ensure that the gecko has been captive-bred rather than wild-caught to support conservation efforts and animal welfare. Remember to check local laws and regulations as permits may be required to keep these species.