The Complete Tokay Gecko Care Guide

Tokay gecko pet lizards are becoming more popular these days. Their size and affordable price make them favorites of keepers who want something large and unique-looking. Tokay geckos climb walls, have huge eyes with night vision, and even make a barking call when active. They are one of the most charismatic pet lizards out there for beginners.

Tokay Gecko Care Guide

What are Tokay Geckos?

Tokay geckos are an Asian species of lizard. They are found from Eastern India all the way to Thailand, the Philippines, and Indonesia. People keep them as pets because tokay geckos are impressive-looking lizards. 

Most other species of gecko are small, rarely growing much beyond 5 inches. A full grown tokay gecko will reach at least 10 inches long and a rare adult will top 12 inches.

In fact, tokay gecko size is the third largest of all geckos. Only the Giant Leaf Tailed gecko (Uroplatus giganteus) and New Caledonian giant gecko (Rhacodactylus leachianus) are larger.

Geckos are very “verbal” compared to other lizards. The noise that giant tokay geckos make is how they got their name. East Asian languages name the lizard by this call – and English speakers translated it into “tokay.”

Here is what a tokay gecko sound effect is like. You will even hear the “tokay” mating call they make as the male chatters to other geckos:

These are not a good choice if you want a pet that is easy to handle, however. A tokay gecko bite is painful as these lizards have strong jaws and are not afraid to use them. 

They don’t ever become tame so you will have to enjoy watching them from afar. But their interesting appearance and nocturnal calls make tokay geckos worth keeping anyway.

  • Common Name: Tokay Gecko
  • Scientific Name: Gekko gecko
  • Origin: India and Southeast Asia
  • Length: 10-12 inches
  • Tank Size: 30 gallons
  • Diet: Carnivorous
  • Ease of Care: Easy

Tokay Gecko Setup

When designing a tokay gecko setup you need to be aware of not only the lizard’s size. But also its need for humidity and a nocturnal environment.

Tokay Gecko Setup

Tokay Gecko Tank Size

A tokay gecko enclosure should be 30 gallons in volume or more for a full grown adult. 20 gallon aquariums are often recommended. But they are a little tight for such a large, fast moving, and active pet lizard.

Tokay Gecko Humidity

Wild tokay gecko lizards live in the tropical rainforests where precipitation and evaporation from plants (transpiration) keeps the air very humid. You should ensure your setup is not only kept humid but also has decorations that maintain this humidity. 60-80% humidity is what they prefer so a humidity gauge should be added to the side of the tank.

Regular misting (or an automatic mister) also provides a tokyo gecko with their favorite way of drinking water. They prefer to lap up droplets from plant leaves and branches. 

But keep a small dish of clean water inside as well since a tokay gecko may decide to have a deeper drink. The water dish will also help keep the humidity in the enclosure high.

Tokay geckos are good lizards for terrarium setups, where live plants will coexist with live animals. Plants not only love humidity – they also help maintain it by transpiring water vapor straight into the air.

Substrate choices should also be made with humidity in mind. Coconut coir (coconut fiber) is a popular choice for this reason.

Lighting for Tokay Geckos

The tokay giant gecko is a nocturnal species. Since they spend most of their time hunting at night you don’t need to provide a standard basking light or even ultraviolet (UVb) radiation. 

Some reptile keepers do add light doses of UVb at dusk and dawn but others find this unnecessary. UVb radiation helps reptiles synthesize vitamin D3, a nutrient vital to calcium absorption. 

You may skip the UVb lights but make sure you instead offer vitamin and calcium-dusted prey.

Instead of a basking bulb that emits light you’ll want to use a heat pad and/or a ceramic heating element. These will keep the tokay gecko tank warm without adding unwanted light. Tropical temperatures of 80-90℉ during the day and 70-80℉ at night are ideal for these lizards.

A red nocturnal viewing bulb is also a good addition. Red lighting lets you see your tokay gecko at night without ruining its night vision.

What Do Tokay Geckos Eat?

What Do Tokay Geckos Eat?

Tokay geckos are carnivorous lizards. They eat insects they find among the tree canopies of Southeast Asia. Any insect free of stings or powerful pinchers is potential prey for them. 

You should use store bought regular insects like mealworms, crickets, and hissing roaches. And if you happen to catch wild bugs like caterpillars and moths in a pesticide-free zone, the gecko i’ll appreciate the variety in its diet. 

Any insects should be dusted with vitamin D3 and calcium powder before feeding them to your pet lizard. Tokay geckos should be fed every other day as adults. But a young lizard that is still growing needs to eat every day.

Make sure to gut-load any prey you provide as well. Gut-loading is feeding insect prey vegetables and fruit first before adding them to your lizard’s tank. Their pre-digested stomach contents of the prey animal get passed onto the lizard, boosting their nutritional content.

Handling Tokay Geckos

Tokay geckos have a lot of good qualities but their temperament is not one of them. They will bite readily and often when handled. You should handle a tokay gecko just when you have to do so. Such as when inspecting a wound or performing tank maintenance. These lizards prefer to be left alone at all times.


Tokay geckos are not as charming as leopard geckos since they are fierce biters. But their unique calls and eager appetite for insects makes them popular anyway. They place few demands on their keepers and will live for up to 10 years when well cared for.

More Frequently Asked Questions About Tokay Geckos

Tokay gecko care is not difficult so long as you provide them with ample humidity and lighting designed for darkness. And their vocal habits make them a great conversation starter. But is there anything else you should know before buying a tokay gecko for the first time? Here are some frequently asked questions I get about this species.

Are Tokay Geckos Good Pets?

Tokay geckos are good pets so long as you aren’t interested in handling your lizards. These geckos are very aggressive and have a strong bite. Tokay geckos never grow used to being held. And once they escape they will often straight run up the walls of your room and become a nuisance to recapture.

How Big Does a Tokay Gecko Get?

Tokay geckos are the third largest species of gecko in the world. A full grown tokay gecko will reach 10 to 12 inches long. An adult should have a tank at least 30 gallons in size to be comfortable.

Do Tokay Geckos Need Heat Lamps?

Tokay geckos should have a heat source but it does not need to be a traditional heat lamp. In fact, these should be avoided because these lizards are nocturnal. And the light most heat lamps emit is disturbing. Instead, you should use an under tank heating pad if it’s warm enough to raise the air temperature. If not then you should also add a ceramic heating element, which emits invisible infrared light only.