Tokay Gecko – A Beginner’s Guide

Tokay Gecko
Tokay Gecko
Source: Thomas Fuhrmann

A Tokay Gecko is one the most beautiful, largest, and arguably the scariest Gecko in the world. They are very vocal reptiles and they make a unique croaking that sounds a lot like “To-kay!”. This is also how they got their “Tokay Gecko” name.

Scientifically known as Gekko Gecko, these beauties can either be the best pet for an experienced reptile handler, or a serious challenge for a beginner. Compared to other Geckos, these magnificent creatures have above-average intelligence. This makes them incredibly popular among reptile lovers.

Experienced reptile owners prefer getting them from the wilderness, as they’re very clever and interesting to observe. But when it comes to beginners, getting a calmer one from a certified breeder is a much better choice.

Size (inches/cm): 15in/38cm

Life Expectancy (years): 10 years on average

What does a Tokay Gecko look like?

Besides being the second-largest type of Gecko, they’re widely known for their vibrant colors and beautiful spots. Typically, they have a blue-gray color along with blue, red, and bright orange spots.

The color of their bodies is a very important part of their lives as they use it for camouflage. They are capable of darkening or lightening their skin color so they can blend in with the environment.

They have thick, cylindrical bodies, and their heads are set apart from their necks. Their limbs are well-defined and can be very powerful. The same can be said for their jaw that can do a lot of damage while defending itself.

Tokay Geckos are an arboreal species that live in trees and on cliffs. This means that their toe pads are adhesive, which helps them climb trees, walls, ceilings, and more.

Their beautiful skin folds have their purpose as well. As the folds open up completely, they keep the Tokay Gecko from casting a shadow while it rests. They have the ability to blur the line between their body and the tree they rest on.

Tokay Geckos – Temperament and Habits

Baby Tokay Gecko - Juvenile
Source: Bernard Duponte

Having an above-average intelligence and territorial treats, these reptiles are known for being somewhat aggressive. Unlike many geckos that can be tamed within a few weeks or months, their beautiful cousins may take a longer time to calm down.

Tokay Geckos love their hiding places and will only explore their enclosure when you’re not around. If you’re handling them wrong, they will go as far as casting their tail off in defense, which will move violently for several minutes. This will leave both you and your Tokay Gecko with something to recover from.

To handle a Tokay Gecko, you will need patience and experience. If they feel attacked, they can end up biting your hand and attempt to leave with whatever they latched their teeth on. Then again, that would be the reaction of plenty of other pets, if they feel like they are in danger.

But once you’ve become friends with your new beauty, they can become magnificent pets. And if you opt for a Tokay Gecko that’s bred in captivity, you might get all the lovely parts without the anger issues.

Are Tokay Geckos nocturnal?

Tokay Geckos belong to the nocturnal side of the Gecko world. This means that they’re only active at night. During the day, they will sleep away from sight, and in a head-down position.

Once the lights go out, the Tokay Gecko waits a few minutes then it comes out. Generally, they need between 12 and 14 hours of daylight and a subsequent night cycle.

As mentioned before, these intelligent little creatures are very vocal. This means that they will turn your night sleep into chaos if you’re keeping them in your bedroom.

Despite their unique “To-kay!” sound, these reptiles are capable of making up to 8 different sounds. And they’re all very loud. This will prove very helpful in finding them when they escape from their enclosure.

Are Tokay Geckos aggressive?

Orange Tokay Gecko lizard
Source: Thomas Brown

The aggressive side of Tokay Geckos is not a secret. In fact, many owners name these intelligent creatures evil names, like Lucifer, as a joke to show how dangerous they can be.

If you got a Tokay Gecko from the wilderness, they are often full of scars. They are very territorial and they are not scared to fight back. This makes them a very bad pet choice for children.

But even if you get one that’s been bred in captivity, you should never place it in the same enclosure as another aggressive Tokay Gecko. Two males can end up killing each other and the females might end up with various injuries.

Even when you’re pairing a male with a female, their aggressive personalities might make them a very bad match as well. This is why they’re so hard to be bred in captivity.

Where do Tokay Geckos live?

Tokay Geckos are native to most of Southeast Asia, including places populated by humans. Despite the fact that they can make their way inside homes, many people let them thrive as they get rid of unwanted pests.

They thrive in areas where the humidity is always between 60% to 80% and they often make trees their homes. If the humidity drops below 40% for a longer period of time, they often can get sick and start looking for a new home.

These beautiful creatures love man-made environments, which is why they can live up to 10 years in captivity. It’s very important that their enclosure mimics their natural environment.

How many Tokay Geckos can be housed together?

Pairs of two or groups of three are the most popular choices. You can put together a male and a female, or a male and two females. Both enclosures will thrive as long as they are introduced properly.

You should never attempt to introduce a female to a male and female pairing, even if they were originally three, and one of the females died. If left unsupervised, in the morning you might find the new female dead.

There is a bigger chance of introducing a new male if the previous one died. But it must be done very carefully and with a lot of patience.

Tokay Gecko in tree
Gekko Geko


If the pair have been properly introduced and they accept each other, breeding will be fairly easy. And if you plan on breeding a group of three, make sure the females have absolutely no rivalry between one another, and that they have a very big enclosure.

Otherwise, the females will eat each other’s eggs. But despite popular beliefs, a female would never eat her own eggs. She will eat the infertile ones and the male will eat the ones he sensed are from another male.

Tokay Geckos will breed year-round. The female will lay two eggs each 30 days, in the same place, until she has up to 6 or 8. And if the male is not removed after that, she may continue to lay eggs. This can exhaust her mineral reserves.

The incubation time greatly depends on the temperature. If it’s between 80F to 86F, it can take between 90 to 120 days for the eggs to hatch. But if the temperature is lower, it can take up to 200 days.

What do Tokay Geckos eat?

Tokay Gecko tailWhen it comes to feeding a Tokay Gecko, you’re in luck. They eat a wide range of insects, including crickets, mealworms, cockroaches, and even small mammals, like little mice. It’s very important that their food is alive.

Crickets are not the healthiest, but they’re the easiest to purchase or raise at home. And although they’re too large for some home Geckos, mealworms are perfect for Tokay Geckos.

And if you need special treats, you can feed them waxworms and superworms. They’re very rich, which means you should only spoil your Gecko with them once a week or so.

You should never forget to gut-load the insects before feeding them to your Gecko. This means feeding the insects an extra-nutritious diet with for 24h before they become your pet’s meal.

Most pet stores will provide a prepared diet to gut-load your insects. And you’ll also have to dust them with a nutritious powder. Your Tokay Gecko will benefit from the last meal of the insects it eats.

How much do they eat?

Tokay Geckos don’t have a specific amount of insects that they eat at a specific time. You should always feed them a few insects at a time until they’re not too eager about eating anymore.

Some of them even prefer eating directly from the long tweezers. You should never just throw a lot of insects inside and let them there “for later”. Letting your gecko overfeed is not ideal.

After your pet finished eating, get into its enclosure and remove all the dead insects. Otherwise, they can rot and contaminate the Gecko’s environment.

How often do you feed a Tokay Gecko?

How often you feed your Tokay Gecko depends on whether he’s young or mature. Otherwise, you might end up either starving him or overfeeding him.

Young Tokay Geckos need to eat every single day. Insert one insect at a time until he doesn’t feel like eating anymore.

But if your Tokay Gecko is an adult now, it’s best to feed him every other day. And if he also eats from tweezers, feed him one or two insects at a time as well.

Another thing that determines how much they should eat is their activity. The more active they are, the more often they might need to be fed.

How do Tokay Geckos drink?

Almost any pet you could possibly have should have his own bowl of clean water. This will ensure that he won’t get dehydrated. You should always make sure this water is clean.

Tokay Geckos would rather hydrate themselves using the water drops that are found on leaves. This is why having a misting system is so important. If you don’t have one, spray the enclosure with water before going to sleep, and then first thing in the morning.

Some Geckos get very offended when you spray them with water as they hate to get wet. So be careful when you spray the enclosure if you don’t have a misting system.

Caring for a Tokay Gecko

Tokay Gecko lizard
Source: BacLuong

Tokay Geckos are pretty easy to be taken care of as they’re not very pretentious. But as mentioned before, it’s best not to place them inside your bedroom.

If you have a room in your house that’s away from anyone’s bedroom, that might be a great place. Their vocal nature will wake you up hundreds of times at night as they’re louder than an alarm clock.

And if you live in an area with serious winters, you need to think thoroughly if you can maintain the room hot for the entire winter.

Type of enclosure/cage needed

Tokay Geckos thrive in enclosures that mimic their natural environment. They love having as much space as possible and a lot of hiding spots.

If you plan on keeping a Tokay Gecko in a small enclosure with delicate decorations, you’ll be in for a shocking surprise. They will quickly unleash their destructive side and turn the whole enclosure upside down.

They prefer simple set-ups, but bigger enclosures. Since they are an arboreal species, they appreciate space.

For one Tokay Gecko, a 10-gallon aquarium might be enough. But for a pair, a 20-gallon tank might be just OK.

The perfect enclosure for a pair is 21/2ft long, 1ft wide, and 2 to 21/2 feet tall.

Tokay Gecko lizard hiding
Source: Bernard Duponte

Substrate required in a Gecko’s tank

One of the easiest to maintain substrate for your Tokay Gecko’s enclosure is newspaper. It may not be the best looking, but it saves you a lot of time.

But if you want something that can maintain the humidity, you can use cypress mulch or orchid bark. Another option is coco peat and sphagnum moss. However, these may stick to your pet in damp situations.

You can also use a 3- to 4-inch layer of substrate that can be misted to offer your pet effective bedding. And a protective layer of long-fiber sphagnum moss prevents the Gecko from making too much of a mess.


During the day, your pet will need a temperature that’s between 80F to 90F (27C to 32C). While at night, it’s best to keep the enclosure between 70F and 80F (21C and 27C).

For Tokay Geckos, it’s very important to use a heating source that can mimic the day-night cycle. This means that while an incandescent bulb can be used for warming up the enclosure during the day, it shouldn’t be used at night.

You might want to invest in a nocturnal reptile bulb or in a ceramic heat element. They’re pretty affordable and your pet will love them.

It’s also ideal that the heat would be provided from above the tank, instead of a heating pad. This is because Tokay Geckos are climbers.

Humidity levels

Source: Richard Ling

It’s very important to achieve the perfect balance of humidity and ventilation for your pet’s enclosure. Otherwise, the Tokay Geko might develop various skin and health problems.

You must keep the humidity between 60% and 80%, and absolutely never let it fall under 50%. A screen cover will allow the enclosure to breathe.

Misting, a substrate that retains water, and a bowl of water can be the perfect way to maintain humidity. And to find out the humidity level you’ll need to use a hygrometer.

The more comfortable the Tokay Gecko lives, the healthier he is, and the better your chances of taming him are.

How much light does it need?

This species of Geckos love around 13 hours of daylight and another 11 hours of darkness. And you can provide the needed daylight by simply using a UVB-emitting fluorescent bulb. But it should not be left on constantly.

If there’s too much light, the Tokay Geckos may get anxious and their secretive nature will be disturbed. You will quickly notice that your pet will like to bask near the UVB coil bulbs.

This is probably because in their wild environment they will expose themselves to natural sunlight from time to time. This will help regulate vitamin D3.

And this is why dusting the insects he eats with a powder that contains vitamin D3 is ideal.

Keeping Tokay Geckos as Pets

It all comes down to whether you want a wild Tokay Gecko or one breed in captivity. And as mentioned before, it’s important to know how to handle one before getting it.

Wild Tokay Geckos are the most aggressive and often come with various scars and skin problems. This means that you will have to bring it back to health and tame it. And these are better left for experts.

On the other hand, those bred in captivity tend to be much easier to calm down and tame. They can even make extraordinary pets if you’re patient with them. But some of their anger issues will still remain and you’ll need to be careful when handling them.

Health of Tokay Geckos

Tokay Geckos might develop mouth rot or stomatitis. The first symptoms are some reddish spots around the mouth and a cheesy-looking ooze. And if your pet deals with excessive saliva, he might have a respiratory infection.

There are also various skin problems he can develop. This includes parasitic infections and difficulty shedding completely.

The good news is that all these conditions can be treated if caught early. You should always consult a veterinarian that specializes in reptiles, and never attempt to treat these at home by yourself.

Stay away from “home remedies” and other things you might find online.

Are Tokay Geckos good pets?

These reptiles are not ideal for novice herpetologists, and definitely not recommended for children or houses with children. However, with proper care and patience, they can make wonderful pets.

Tokay Geckos are known for being pretty feisty but they are often poorly understood. Their above-average intelligence makes them much more aware of their surroundings.

They’re also not good for handling if you don’t have the time to tame them. This means spending time every single day with them.

But once you’ve gained their trust, they make a clever and incredibly beautiful companion. All you need is some free time and a lot of courage.

Tokay Gecko and insect
Source: Len Worthington

How much do Tokay Geckos cost?

Tokay Geckos are incredibly affordable. They’re the second-largest type of Gecko, yet you can purchase one between $20 and $50.

But like any pet, the real money goes on taking care of it. This includes the enclosure, health check-ups, food, and more. Not to mention the money spent heat if you live in a cold area.

One way to reduce some of those costs is to grow your own insects for your pet. It’s a little bit more work, but they save you a lot of money in the long run..