SE Asia, these relatively large (12") geckos are pale gray with bluish
spots when they have been in the dark, darkening to dark gray with reddish
spots in the light. Like most geckos, tokays are oviparous insectivores.
are 2-3" at hatching. Eggs are laid in rocky crevices or under the
eaves of houses. The 2-3 eggs, laid several times a year, are sticky and
adhere to surfaces. In captivity, they may be laid on the glass sides
of their terraria. Incubation time for the eggs ranges from 2-6 months
for the oviparous Gekko species.
have the specialized lamellae on the pads of their toes which enable them
to walk on vertical surfaces, including ceilings. Contrary to popular
misconception, these pads are not "sticky" but rather are composed
of tiny, microscopic filaments which find equally tiny imperfections in
surface - including glass.
lizards, tokays can darken or lighten their ground and spot colors to
better blend in with their background.
fact that they follow human habitation, finding human dwellings to be
great places to find prey, Tokays are the least lovable of the geckos.
They are known for their nasty temperament, cheerfully biting the hand
that feeds, cleans or otherwise comes into anything resembling close proximity
to them. Their bites are powerful--one might say they are the pit bulls
of the gecko world...they hang on and let go only when it suits them.
Equipped as they are with numerous sharp teeth, the bites can bleed profusely
and, even barring subsequent infection, are annoying for days. Note that
while I am a strong believer that almost any animal can be habituated
to human contact, such contact can be stressful for many species, and
geckos as a whole are known for their marked preference to be left alone.
A note on taming...
My tokay actually
spent a great deal of his time out, exposed in his tank, during the day.
As time permitted, I started working with him to habituate him to being
touched and held. He was okay with the touching in the tank, looked rather
puzzled when held, and periodically felt compelled to reach around and
gnaw on my knuckles...
Some people report
that their tokays have become rather tame. Be that as it may, it should
not be assumed that they will all become tame, so if you are looking for
a gecko you can handle without any problems, get a leopard or fat-tailed
gecko rather than a tokay.
so named because of their distinctive "TO-kay! Tokay!" rather
booming bark. They also emit a trilling sound. I had one escape (thanks
to an iguana who dislodged the top of the tokay tank) who ended up in
the closet behind the tank. He started barking and trilling around 3 AM
which enabled me to locate him (on the wall behind the boxes of software
on the top shelf, of course) and place him back in his tank. If he is
hungry and I am not fast enough with the food, he will emit a sound somewhere
between the trill and the bark.
for Vietnam Vets
I occasionally get letters
from vets who stumble around trying to figure out how to nicely ask me
if I know of a lizard called the "[four-letter word denoting a normal
biological activity]-you" lizard. While I am not sure how tokays
may have gotten that sobriquet, other than their attitude when bothered
by a large, hairy, heavily armed mammal dozens of times its size, this
is, indeed, that lizard.
Tokays can certainly
be set up in a properly furnished terrarium...note, however, that they
may rarely be seen as they are strictly nocturnal. A woodland setting
(orchid bark from a nursery) planted with small potted plants or leafy
silk branches provide hiding places and help keep up the humidity. Tank
should be at least a 20 gal to allow enough room for the gecko to grow
and to be able to properly establish a temperature gradient (75-90/days,
70-80/nights). Being nocturnal, they do not require a UVB-producing fluorescent.
If a light bulb is used for night time heating, a non-white light heat
source must be used (such as a nocturnal reptile bulb, ceramic heating
be fed daily (crickets [properly gut-loaded for at least 24 hours before
feeding out], Zoophobas or, for smaller tokays, mealworms [also gut-loaded]).
Larger tokays may take pink mice.
will not drink out of a bowl of water, so one area of a tank wall should
be sprayed every day (evening) to furnish water for them to lap up. Another
way to boost humidity and provide water for lapping is to place some ice
cubes on top of the screened top over the plants...the meltwater drips
on the leaves for easy lapping.
of the tokays in pet stores are wild caught and, like all wild caught
imported reptiles, heavily stressed, usually dehydrated, often emaciated,
and always parasitized. Take a fresh fecal to a reptile veterinarian for
a fecal flotation to determine if the animal is infected with worms; if
so, treatment is required (generally, oral medication administered 2-3
times over a period of 2-3, or 4-6 weeks).
Diversity Web (University of Michigan; includes photo). Good site
for more information on natural history, reproduction, and more.
Breen, J. F. Encyclopedia
of Reptiles and Amphibians. Neptune City, NJ: TFH Publications. 1974.
Reptile Database: Gekkoninae
Obst, F. J., et al.
The Completely Illustrated Atlas of Reptiles and Amphibians for the Terrarium.
Neptune City, NJ: TFH Publications. 1988.
Wynne, R. H. Lizards
in Captivity. Neptune City, NJ: TFH Publications. 1981.