Resource Center Menu
Tokay Gecko

Tokay Gecko Care Sheet

Developed with and approved by a qualified veterinarian.

tokay care sheet

Overview

Gekko gecko

Tokay geckos are medium-size, tropical lizards native to Southeast Asia, Indonesia and the Philippines. They are now also found in Florida, Hawaii, Belize and Martinique, where they will live among humans as long as food (typically insects) is available. More unusual looking than most other gecko species, tokay geckos are also typically more nervous and aggressive than other gecko species. They are often kept as pets for their beautiful colors despite their feisty nature and tendency to bite. They are good pets for experienced reptile pet parents and are better for people who want to observe, rather than handle, their pets.

 

Typical appearance and behavior

  • Tokay geckos are nocturnal (active at night)
  • Adult females may grow to 8 to 12 inches long, while adult males may reach 13 to 16 inches. Females are not as vibrantly colored as males
  • These geckos are easily stressed and do not like to be handled; some become aggressive and bite when handled. If bitten, do not try to pry the gecko off, but instead set the animal down on a flat surface until they relax and let go
  • They have blue-gray skin with either red or black spots and large gold eyes with slit-like pupils
  • Their upper and lower eyelids are fused together and transparent
  • They can lighten or darken their skin color to blend better (camouflage) into their environments to hide from predators
  • They are territorial and fight when housed with other geckos, so they are best housed alone
  • They communicate with each other with a specific vocalization (that sounds like “to-kay”) to locate breeding partners and with hissing or croaking sounds for defense against predators
  • They should never be restrained by their tails, as they commonly release their tails as a defense mechanism when predators catch them by their tails. Their tails will grow back in a few weeks after they are “dropped” but will not look the same
  • They have a very strong grip because their toes have hair-like projections (called setae) on them that form molecular bonds to smooth surfaces (even vertical surfaces or upside-down!), enabling them to stick to these surfaces under 450 pounds of pressure
  • They have the remnant of a third eye on top of their heads that helps regulate their activity in response to changes in light
  • They are arboreal (climb trees and large rocks) and live in tropical rainforests

 

Characteristics

Care Difficulty Advanced
Average Life Span Up to 10+ years with proper care
Average Adult Size 8-16 inches
Diet Insectivore
Minimum Habitat Size Minimum 10-gallon tank for a juvenile and 20-gallon tank for one adult

 

Habitat

 

Habitat size

Tokay geckos are territorial and are best housed individually, unless a male and a female are housed together as a breeding pair. A juveniles may be housed in a 10-gallon aquarium, while the minimum habitat size for a single adult is 20 gallons. Pairs thrive in 30-gallon or larger tanks. Tokay geckos will reach adult size in 18 months, under ideal conditions.

 

Building your habitat

Tanks should have securely fitting screened lids to help prevent escape and allow adequate ventilation. Provide an appropriately sized and shaped habitat to accommodate normal behaviors (such as climbing) and exercise.

  • Décor – Tokay geckos do well in habitats that mimic their native tropical environments with places to climb and hide. Provide commercially available thick branches, driftwood and large rocks for climbing on; tall, dense, nontoxic live or artificial plants or pieces of cork bark for hiding behind; and hiding places such as caves, hide boxes, logs or tunnels. Ideally, hiding spots should be elevated, as these geckos like to hide off the ground. Since they are nocturnal, tokay geckos need to have snugly fitting hiding areas where they can sleep and feel secure during the day
  • Substrate – Commercially available paper-based bedding covered with a layer of sphagnum moss, coconut fiber or cypress mulch to hold in moisture works well as a substrate. Bedding should not get too wet, or it may stick to geckos’ feet. Moist substrate should be changed frequently to prevent mold growth
  • Temperature – Tokay geckos are ectothermic reptiles who rely on their environmental temperature to control their body temperature. To help them regulate their body temperatures, provide a temperature gradient (80 to 85°F for the warm end and no lower than75°F for the cool end/nighttime) as well as a basking spot at 90 to 105°F. Heat may be provided by an incandescent bulb or ceramic heat bulb. Heat sources should be attached to thermostats to regulate temperatures. Hot rocks should not be used as a heat source, as they can burn reptiles. Reptiles not kept at the appropriate temperature ranges are more likely to become immunosuppressed and get sick
  • Lighting - Tokay geckos are nocturnal in their native habitats and often spend the daytime hiding; they can survive without ultraviolet (UV) B lighting as long as they get vitamin D3 in their food. However, providing them with a low-level UVB light helps establish a clear day/night cycle (with 10 to 12 hours of daylight), and studies have shown that they thrive with low levels of UVB exposure. UV bulbs should be replaced every six months, as their potency wanes
  • Humidity – Tokay geckos require high humidity (60 to 80%) but good ventilation. They do not do well in very wet conditions, as they develop fungal and bacterial infections. While they must be allowed to dry out at times, too dry an environment leads to problems shedding. Humidity can be increased by leaving an open bowl of shallow water in the habitat and misting as needed, especially at night, when these geckos are active. Geckos will absorb water through their skin and drink droplets off of leaves. Automatic dripper systems on timers also can be used to regulate humidity

 

Cleaning your habitat

Thoroughly clean and disinfect water and food bowls daily. The habitat should be spot-cleaned daily to remove droppings. Thoroughly clean the habitat at least once a week:

  • Place the gecko in a secure habitat
  • Scrub the tank and furnishings with a reptile habitat cleaner or 3% bleach solution
  • Rinse the tank and all furnishings thoroughly with water, removing all traces of habitat cleaner or bleach smell
  • Dry the tank and furnishings before putting the gecko back into the habitat

 

Feeding

A well-balanced tokay gecko diet consists of:

 

Things to remember when feeding your tokay gecko:

  • Fresh, clean water should be available all the time
  • Feed appropriately sized insects based on your gecko’s size. Insects should be no larger than the space between the gecko’s eyes
  • Feed juveniles daily, adults every other day
  • Commercially available feeding cups can be mounted in the habitat off the floor so that geckos can eat while perched on plants, as they do in nature
  • Feed them no more insects than they can consume in a 30-minute period
  • Sprinkle food with calcium supplement containing vitamin D daily for juveniles and two to three times per week for adults. Sprinkle food with a multivitamin/mineral supplement once or twice a week

 

Care

  • Geckos regularly shed their skin; ensure the humidity of the habitat is at the appropriate level to allow proper shedding
  • When geckos are shedding, mist the habitat more frequently to increase humidity

 

Where to buy tokay geckos

Tokay geckos are available for purchase at your local Petco Pet Care Center location. Please call ahead to check availability.

 

Supplies

 

Habitat mates

  • House adult tokay geckos separately, as they are territorial and will fight
  • Do not house different reptile species together

 

Health

Signs of a healthy tokay gecko

  • Active and alert
  • Clear, bright eyes with no swelling or discharge
  • Full, muscular body and tail
  • Supple skin with no sores, swellings or discoloration
  • Droppings are firm, not runny or bloody
  • Eats and passes stool regularly
  • Clear nose and vent

 

Red flags (If you notice any of these signs, contact your veterinarian.)

  • Weight loss or decreased appetite
  • Discharge or bubbles from eyes, mouth or nose
  • Lesions, swelling or discoloration of skin or retained shed
  • Lethargy
  • Sneezing, runny nose, difficulty breathing
  • Weakness or paralysis of limbs
  • Runny or bloody stool or lack of stool

 

Common health issues

Health Issue Symptoms or Causes Suggested Action
Health IssueGastro-intestinal disease Symptoms or CausesRunny or bloody stools, caked or smeared stool around the vent, weight loss, loss of appetite caused by bacterial, viral or parasitic infection. Suggested ActionConsult your veterinarian.
Health IssueMetabolic bone disease/vitamin deficiency Symptoms or CausesInability to absorb calcium due to insufficient UVB light or improper amounts of dietary calcium/vitamin D3. If untreated, can lead to deformed, softened or fractured bones, swollen limbs, decreased appetite, weakness and lethargy. Suggested ActionConsult your veterinarian and provide ample UVB lighting, a balanced diet and the proper amount of calcium/vitamin supplements.
Health IssueRespiratory tract disease Symptoms or CausesLabored breathing, mucus and/or bubbles in the mouth or nose; can be caused by inappropriate habitat temperature and humidity, leading to secondary bacterial, viral or fungal infection. Suggested ActionConsult your veterinarian and ensure habitat hasi the proper temperature and humidity.
Health IssueSkin problems Symptoms or CausesRedness, swelling, lesions, discoloration of skin. May be due to infection with bacteria, fungus or parasites, or to an unclean habitat or inappropriate humidity Suggested ActionConsult your veterinarian, thoroughly clean the habitat, and ensure habitat is at appropriate temperature and humidity.
Health IssueDysecdesis (problems shedding) Symptoms or CausesRetained pieces of skin anywhere on body, especially over the eyes or around toes; caused by dry habitat or underlying disease. Suggested ActionIncrease habitat humidity; contact your veterinarian if there is no improvement.

 

FAQs

  • What do tokay geckos eat? Tokay geckos can be offered a variety of insects, including gut-loaded (recently fed) crickets, roaches, mealworms, hornworms, calci-worms, superworms and waxworms; some tokay geckos also will eat frozen/thawed fuzzy mice.
  • How big do tokay geckos get? Adult tokay gecko females may grow to 8 to 12 inches long, while adult males may reach 13 to 16 inches..
  • How long do tokay geckos live? Tokay geckos can live up to 10+ years with proper ca
  • Where are tokay geckos from? Tokay geckos are medium-size, tropical lizards native to Southeast Asia, Indonesia and the Philippines. They are now also found in Florida, Hawaii, Belize and Martinique.
  • How does a tokay gecko see their prey? Tokay geckos have clear vision when it is very light out because they can constrict their pupils down to slits. They can hunt prey at night because they have highly sensitive rod cells in their retinas that focus light even when it is dark out.
  • Where does a tokay gecko live? Tokay geckos are medium-size, tropical lizards native to Southeast Asia, Indonesia and the Philippines. They are now also found in Florida, Hawaii, Belize and Martinique.
  • How many tokay geckos can be housed together? Tokay geckos are territorial and fight when housed with other geckos, so they are best housed alone. Only breeding pairs can be housed together.

 

Additional care sheets

Notes and resources

Ask a Pet Care Center associate about Petco's selection of products available for the care and happiness of your new pet. All products carry a 100% money-back guarantee.

Because all reptiles are potential carriers of infectious diseases such as salmonella bacteria, always wash your hands before and after handling your reptile or habitat contents to help prevent the potential spread of disease.

Pregnant women, children under the age of 5, senior citizens and people with weakened immune systems should contact their physicians before purchasing or caring for reptiles and should consider having a pet other than a reptile.

Go to the Centers for Disease Control at cdc.gov/healthypets for more information about geckos and disease.

 

The information on this Care Sheet is not a substitute for veterinary care. If your pet is sick or if you need additional information, please contact your veterinarian as appropriate.