GGA Cares For…. Gekko gecko

Reprinted from “Chit Chat” the Newsletter of the Global Gecko Association #6 ©2000

Common Name:

Tokay Gecko

Scientific Name:

Gekko gecko (Linnaeus, 1758)

Description:

Tokay geckos are among the largest geckos, with adults averaging 10-12" in total length. They usually have a greenish background color, sometimes more blue or gray, and numerous light blue and orange or red spots and some tubercular scales. The tails have bands of these colors. Males have noticeable rows of pre-anal pores around which there is often a visible yellowish waxy substance. Adult females are generally smaller and less robust than males.

Tokay geckos are almost universally noted for their aggressive attitudes, but can become accustomed to interacting with humans especially if raised in captivity and handled regularly and sensibly.

Distribution:

Indigenous to Asia, parts of India, Indonesia, and the Philippines, they have also been introduced to Hawaii, Florida, and some Caribbean Islands.

Natural History:

Tokay geckos are an arboreal species, mainly from rain forests, but in many parts of their range they are commonly found in people's houses. In different parts of the world they are considered good luck to have in the house. Unfortunately in many other places they are considered food and are also used in some Chinese medicinal preparations of questionable effectiveness. Tokays are nocturnal geckos. They will come out of their hiding/resting places in the evening to look for food. They have a distinctive call, from which comes the name "tokay" - the call is said to sound like "to-kay" or variations thereof.

Housing in Captivity:

Tokays can be kept in pairs or larger groups containing one male and two or more females. Males should not be kept together as they are extremely territorial and will almost certainly fight. To truly thrive Tokays need to have plenty of space available. A vertically orientated enclosure with a height of one meter is ideal. It is a good idea to provide a variety of branches or other cage furnishings for them to climb on, though they often choose to just hang on the walls of their enclosures.

The vivarium should include sufficient hiding places, which can be tubes, slabs of cork bark, caves, or just about anything big enough for the gecko to get under or behind. They will frequently hide throughout most of the day.

Temperatures should reach the mid 80°F's during the day, and a temperature gradient within the enclosure is desirable. This can be accomplished by the use of lamps or heat emitters. Undertank heating methods are not a good choice as Tokays do not normally spend much time on the ground. Night temperatures can drop 10°F. Using lights on a timer will usually satisfy the temperature requirements as well as giving the geckos a simulated day-night cycle. The photoperiod can be adjusted according to the seasons, longer in the summer and shorter in the winter.

Tokays do not require extremely high humidity, but still should not be kept too dry. At least 50% relative humidity is recommended. Misting the enclosure once a day should be sufficient. If you have live plants growing in soil in the enclosure this will help. Plants should be sturdy, as these large geckos will want to climb on them and they will damage small, fragile plants.

These geckos can give a painful bite, often gripping tightly for a long period of time. It is a sensible precaution to use a pair of gloves when cleaning the enclosure or handling your animal.

Food and Feeding:

Healthy Tokays tend to have large appetites and a varied diet is recommended. Crickets, superworms, mealworms, waxworms, grasshoppers, cockroaches, locusts are all good foods for Tokays. Pinky mice are also taken. Supplementation with calcium and vitamins such as Herptivite is recommended. Some Tokays have been known to eat fruit, but in general they are insectivorous.

Health:

Tokays are a fairly hardy species. Like most geckos, wild caught animals are almost certain to have parasites that should be treated as soon as possible. Lack of proper diet supplementation can lead to metabolic bone disease from calcium deficiency. They can also develop respiratory infections that can be dangerous. A healthy Tokay will be alert, have good skin condition, and a good appetite.

Breeding:

Breeding can be encouraged by increasing the humidity, the photoperiod and the available food supply in the spring. Breeding females should always be provided with plenty of food and calcium supplementation, including a dish of calcium in the enclosure. This is a good time to give them an occasional pinky mouse as well.

Females will lay their eggs in clutches of two, usually on solid vertical surfaces. Tokays are egg gluers and they will often lay their eggs on the walls of the enclosure. These eggs cannot be moved without damaging them. However, it is easy to provide them with attractive alternative laying sites that can include large bamboo tubes, cork bark, or wood tubes. These can be removed from the enclosure for incubation.

Eggs incubated on slightly moistened vermiculite at between 80° to 86°F will hatch in anything from 60 to 200 days but with most hatching at around 90 to 100 days. Lower temperatures will lead to longer incubation time. These geckos' sex is temperature dependent, with higher temperatures leading to male hatchlings.

GGA Rating:

2 - Some Previous Gecko-Keeping Experience Recommended

Recommended Reading

Henkel, F.W. & W. Schmidt. 1995. “Geckoes: Biology, Husbandry, and Reproduction”. Krieger Publishing Company. 237pp.

McKeown, S. & J. Zaworski. 1997. “General Care and Maintenance of Tokay Geckos and

Related Species”. Advanced Vivarium System. 60pp.

Seufer, H. 1991. “Keeping and Breeding Geckos”. T.F.H. Publications, Inc. 189pp.

 

Sandy Krueger