Tokay Gecko Fact Sheet

Tokay Gecko Naming:

Tokay gecko’s scientific name (Gekko gecko), family name (Gekkonidae) as well as all the regional and common names are originated from its loud, recognizable “To-kay!” calling sound. Tokay is a lizard from the family geckos that was the first to be scientifically named by Linnaeus in 1758.

The regional and common/generic names for tokay gecko is listed as below:

  • “Tokay Gecko” in English common name (or Vernacular name)
  • “Gekko Gecko” in Scientific/Binomial name
  • “Tuko”, “Toko” or “Tiki” in the Philippines.
  • “Tokek” in Indonesian/Javanese/Malay/Thai
  • “Tokeh” or “gecko” in other generic name
  • “トッケイヤモリ” in Japanese language.

  
Tokay Gecko Vocalization or Call:

Tokay gecko is easily distinguished by its loud vocalization. In it’s native habitat the most common call to be heard is that of a loud high pitched hiss or noise. This recognizable call can be heard from long distances, and is mainly produced by male Tokays trying to draw attention of the females, or as a warning to other male Tokays that they are intruding on another’s marked territory.

Tokay gecko’s mating call is often described as sounding like “To-Kay! To-kay!”, “Token!”, “Tock, Tock, Tock-eh!”, “Gekk-gekk!” or “Poo-Kay!”. Such distinctive call is similar to the call produced by the Large Forest Gecko (i.e. Gekko Smithii).

Tokay geckos can also make a variety of barks, clicks and squeaking sounds and are commonly known as the most vocal of all the family geckos. Female Tokay sre generally quieter and less likely to produce loud call as frequent as the males.

Watch the video of a tokay gecko calling in its recognizable and loud vocalization:

Tokay Calling

Tokay Gecko Sizes:

As the 2nd largest species in the gecko world, a mature male Tokay gecko in the wild can reach up to 326 grams (11.5 ounces) in weight and 40 cm (15.7 inches) in total length. Wild female Tokay geckos are slightly smaller in size averaging 28 cm (11 inches) long and weight around 250 grams. It may take up to 3 years for a Tokay gecko to reach its full sexual maturity and adult size in the natural environment.

Tokay Gecko's Weights and Lengths

Tokay Gecko's Weight and Length

Bear in mind that across the internet there are many conflicting reports about the maximum size (i.e. weight and length) of an adult Tokay gecko. For example, the news of capturing a giant Tokay in one of the Indonesian islands has caused some controversy over how big an adult Gekko gecko can reach in its natural habitat.

Giant Tokay Gekco 64 kg

Giant Tokay (see the image above) ever found in the Indonesia rainforest of Borneo island has a weight of up to 64 kg, which is then sold for US$17,9 million to a buyer reportedly from either South Korea or China.

Note: In reptiles, the standard measurement of body length is taken from the tip of the nose (snout) to the cloacal opening (anus or vent), and excludes the tail. It is referred to as Snout To Vent (STV) or Snout-Vent length. (Source: SDNHM.Org’s Glossary of Reptile Terms – http://www.sdnhm.org/fieldguide/herps/glossary.html)

Tokay Gecko Lifespan:

The average life span of healthy Tokay geckos is around 7-10 years in their natural habitats, but can be anything of average 10-20 years with proper care in captivity.

Tokay Gecko Wild Distribution & Natural Habitat :

Tokay geckos are common in some of the Southeast Asia countries (e.g. Malaysia, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam) and the warmer regions of Japan, northeastern India and Bangladesh, southern China, and northern Australia.

Due to the high number of Tokay populations distributing in large natural habitat areas across different countries (highlighted in red in the map below), the species is not classified as a protected species of endangered animals and it is thus not an offence to capture and/or rear the reptile in some of these countries (e.g. Indonesia and Thailand). You can always check with the department of wildlife for the latest information and regulations concerning Tokay gecko protections in your country.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Tokay was introduced into Florida, Hawaii, Martinique, Texas, Belize and several Caribbean islands via the pet trade, where it can be considered an invasive species (see note below) in the regions.

Note: Besides eating pests such as cockroaches and locusts, Tokay geckos also eat small mammals, birds, frogs and other small reptiles, which makes them a potentially harmful species to the eco-system in regions where they have been introduced.

Tokay Geckos Wild Distribution

Though wild Tokays are not in immediately danger, deforestation, urbanisation and the global pet trade will subsequently take a toll on their wild populations. For example, Tokay geckos are now rarely seen in Singapore due to the intensive urbanisation of the small island nation.

Furthermore, Tokay geckos also are eaten, and in some countries (e.g. Thailand, Indonesia) are considered a delicacy / exotic food (watch video below). The high demand for specimens for traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and other homemade/local remedies, also has severely impacted their global distribution and population in the wild.

Eating Tokay Geckos

If wild Tokay geckos becoming exceedingly scarce and the trend is continues, a possible solution would be to start farming the species, much like is being done with green iguanas (another type of lizard species) in the Latin America.

As an arboreal species (tree-dwelling, wood-dwelling and cliff-dwelling), Tokay geckos are commonly found in tropical rainforests. They can also be found in houses (especially on walls and ceilings with sources of light that attract insects at night) and they often act as good vermin control for buildings (i.e. Tokays love to eat pest insects in building).

Tokay Gecko Arboreal Species

Tokay Geckos in Terrarium (Housing Habitat):

When Tokay geckos are housed in a terrarium, daily misting the terrarium is important to provide humidity and water droplets for drinking to the Tokays. It is also important to have a shallow bowl of clean water in the terrarium.

To make the Tokay gecko’s housing habitat as natural as possible, landscaping the terrarium to provide a basking area, good hiding places, and wood branches or rocks for climbing. Area under the hiding places should be kept damp through adequate daily misting.

The favorable temperature range for Tokay geckos is by day 25°-31°C (77°-87°F) and at night 18°-23°C (65°-75°F). A well-equipped Tokay gecko terrarium should always be fitted with an under tank heating pad or a good quality heat lamp at one end, so that to provide an optimum temperature range to the Tokays it housed.

Equip the Tokay gecko terrarium with specialized reptile lights for viewing nocturnal animals would provide a suitable lighting condition for the Tokays in the terrarium. About natural food supply for Tokay geckos in a terrarium, it may include fresh crickets (watch video below), newborn mice, mealworms, chicken feed pellet, and cooked rice.

Tokay Gecko Eating Cricket Video

Tokay Gecko’s Other Unique Features:

  • Wild Tokay gecko is easily recognised by its body size and specific form of reddish-orange to whitish-yellow spots on a blue-grey (for male Tokays) or grey (for female Tokays) body background.
  • The coloration of a Tokay Gecko is very important to its lifestyle in which both the male and female Tokay geckos have the ability to lighten and darken their skin colours to some extent to help them blend seamlessly into their surroundings.
  • Tokay geckos will react with a distinctive “gaping” body language in which they will open their mouths to its full extent and puff themselves up in an aggressive display in response to threats they perceive around them. Their pinky-red tongue and black throat is exposed during their defensive gape display.
  • Tokay gecko’s round toes are covered in lamellae (a series of minuscule hairs) that enable the bottoms of these toes “suck” on to most natural or man-made surfaces, including glass, wall and ceiling. The lifting of these toes through a 30° angle can release the “suction” of toes and allow the Tokays to move across surfaces freely.
  • Wild Tokay geckos have a physical hearing range of 300-10000 Hertz.
  • It is possible to see straight through the ear opening situated on either side of a Tokay gecko’s head, though the ears appear as small holes.
  • Male Tokay geckos are extremely territorial even when they are juveniles in which sibling aggression may begin to occur after 6 months of age. Sometimes an alpha male Tokay will fight other male Tokays and resulted in fatal injury to one or both of them.

References:

  1. deVosjoli, Philippe. 1994. The Lizard Keeper’s Handbook. Advanced Vivarium Systems. Santee. CA.
  2. Das , I. 2004. Lizards of Borneo. Natural History Publications, Kota Kinabalu, Borneo
  3. Aowphol, Anchalee; Thirakhupt, Kumthorn; Nabhitabhata, Jarujin; Voris, Harold K. 2006. Foraging Ecology of the Tokay Gecko, Gekko Gecko in a Residential Area in Thailand. Amphibia-Reptilia 27 (4): 491-503
  4. Bauer, Aaron M.; Montri Sumontha , and Olivier S. G. Pauwels 2008. A New Red-eyed Gekko (Reptilia: Gekkonidae) from Kanchanaburi Province, Thailand. Zootaxa 1750: 32-42

Comments on this entry are closed.