Tokay geckos (Gekko gecko) are one of the largest known geckos, growing 10-12” long on average and sometimes as long as 16”! They are native to Indonesia, parts of India, and the Philippines, where they live in tropical rainforests as well as rural human dwellings.
Tokay geckos can be identified by their large heads, prominent eyes, bumpy skin, semi-prehensile tail, and sticky toe pads. Their coloring is pale gray/blue with orange/red spots, although captive breeding efforts have produced a wider array of colors and patterns.
Although fairly common in the pet trade, tokay geckos make challenging pets due to their generally defensive and even aggressive dispositions. This can be overcome with patience and training, but at the end of the day they make better display animals than handleable pets. With good care, tokays live an average of 10 years.
Minimum terrarium size for tokay geckos
The absolute minimum terrarium size for a single tokay gecko is 18”L x 18”W x 36”H. Of course, larger is always better!
Housing multiple tokays in the same terrarium is not recommended, and is likely to result in fighting and injuries if attempted.
Do tokay geckos need UVB?
Technically they can survive without it, but it’s still highly recommended to enable them to thrive in captivity. UVB lighting helps provide a clear day/night cycle, provides all of the vitamin D that your pet needs, strengthens the immune system, facilitates better digestion, and offers other benefits as well.
The best UVB bulbs for tokay geckos housed in an 18” x 18” x 36” terrarium are:
For best results, house the UVB bulbs in a reflective fixture. Position the lamp on the same side of the terrarium as the heat lamp, 8-10” above the basking branch. UVB is blocked by glass and plastic, so placing the terrarium in front of a window doesn’t count as “free UVB” — in fact it can make your terrarium too hot due to the greenhouse effect.
Lights should be on for 12 hours/day. And don’t forget to replace your UVB bulb every 6-12 months according to the manufacturer’s recommendation!
Best temperature for tokay geckos
Tokay geckos should have a basking temperature of 90-105°F, as measured by a digital probe thermometer with the probe placed on the basking surface. In order to allow for proper thermoregulation, the enclosure should also have a cool area that stays between 80-85°F. Nighttime temps should be between 75-80°F.
Provide daytime heat for your tokay gecko with a halogen heat bulb. Halogen bulbs are the best way to imitate the warmth of sunlight indoors, and considered to be a superior form of reptile heating by experts. However, you will need a lightless heat source for nighttime — ceramic heat emitters and deep heat projectors work well for this when controlled via thermostat.
Best humidity levels for tokay geckos
Tokay geckos are tropical lizards, so the humidity inside their enclosure should be fairly high: 70-80% on average. Humidity should be measured via digital probe hygrometer, with the probe placed in the middle of the terrarium.
Increase humidity by misting your gecko’s enclosure 1-2x/day with a spray bottle. Mist first thing in the morning and then again at night if needed. Aside from raising humidity, this also provides your gecko with an important source of drinking water!
If you have difficulty maintaining high humidity levels, running a reptile humidifier at night can help.
Best substrate for tokay geckos
Providing a layer of naturalistic substrate (“bedding”) will help maintain correct humidity levels and also helps make your enclosure more attractive! We recommend the following substrates for tokay geckos:
Layering clean, chemical-free leaf litter on top of the substrate can also help with humidity.
Substrate should be at least 2” deep and completely replaced every 3-4 months. Remove poop and urates daily, along with contaminated substrate.
How to decorate a tokay gecko terrarium
An empty terrarium makes for a bored gecko, reducing its quality of life. Keep your pet entertained and engaged with its environment with the strategic use of décor items that encourage it to exercise natural behaviors!
Since tokay geckos are arboreal, at bare minimum you will need a branch for your gecko to bask on and some live or artificial foliage for it to hide in. However, it’s best to include other items, such as:
Make sure that any live plants you use are sturdy enough to withstand your gecko!
What to feed to a tokay gecko
Tokay geckos are carnivores, which means that they need to get their nutrition from insects and other animal prey such as smaller lizards, frogs, mice, and even snakes! Young tokay geckos should be fed daily, while adults should be fed just every other day. Offer as much food as they will eat in about 5 minutes. If they start getting chubby, reduce the amount of food offered.
Pinky/fuzzy mice can be offered 1-2x/month. Feeder anoles and house geckos can also be offered.
You will also need calcium and vitamin supplements to help keep your gecko healthy. We recommend Repashy Calcium Plus LoD, lightly dusted on all feeder insects. It’s okay to occasionally skip a dusting.
Of course, don’t forget a small water bowl and feeding ledge for your gecko to drink from! Change the water daily and scrub the bowl with a reptile-safe disinfectant weekly, or whenever it becomes soiled.
How to handle your tokay gecko
Reptiles generally don’t appreciate petting and handling in the same way that dogs and cats do. Tokay geckos are one of the types of reptiles that are best to leave alone rather than attempt to handle regularly. If you want to interact with your pet, try hand-feeding it with a pair of feeding tweezers. However, taming a tokay gecko isn’t impossible — it just requires a lot of patience. For tips, read this article by Kevin McCurley of NERD.
*This care sheet contains only very basic information. Although it’s a good introduction, please further your research with high-quality sources. The more you know, the better you will be able to care for your pet!