One of the least uncommon American household exotic pets, known as the Tokay gecko comes all the way from Indonesia. While commonly found in Indonesia, other key places you can find the Tokay gecko are: India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan, the Southeast Philippines and New Guinea. In urbanized areas, it’s common to find them at night trying to scale walls in search for food. However, they more commonly are found in rainforest trees and living on cliffs.
There are different names for the Tokay gecko depending on where you go. In Bengali, they refer to the Tokay as the Tiktiki. In Manipuri, they refer to it as the hukok. The Philippines call it a tuko and finally Indonesian residents call it the tokek.
Appearance and Behavior
Tokay geckos are the second largest gecko species in the world. Once they reach full adulthood, males can expect to grow up to 20 inches and 19 inches for females with 11 inches being the shortest for males and 7 inches being the shortest for females. They’re very light weighted, only weighing in at anywhere from 5.3 oz. to 14 oz.
Tokay geckos can be distinguished by their bluish or grayish colors on their body. Some of them will also have very distinctive spots on them that can be bright red or all the way down to a light yellow. The males can be determined by examining these spots because the males will have brighter colors. Tokay geckos have a slit pupil in the middle of their eyes that are vertical. Eyes are commonly brown or green but it’s not entirely uncommon to have orange or yellow eyes.
The males of the Tokay species are not the friendliest however. They’re one of the most territorial species and will attack without warning any other gecko or Tokay that enter into its territory that it has claimed. Males and females will not share much interaction between each other because they only meet up during mating season. After a successful mating period, the female will lay a clutch of eggs (sometimes there’s only one and sometimes there’s two). The female will then protect the eggs until they hatch.
Tokay geckos have an abnormally hard bite because in the rainforests they primarily feed on insects and cockroaches. They need a hard bite to crack the shell of the cockroaches that inhabit their natural habitats. However, Tokay like other gecko will primarily feed on any kind of insect you give them. Coming from locations with steep cliff walls, they’re also amazing climbers. They can latch onto any steep surface without much effort or coordination for a lengthy period of time.
When examining the build of the Tokay, they have a very robust and rough build compared to other geckos. They have very muscular jaws and a larger than normal head. Tokay geckos are not recommended for inexperienced pet keepers because of their aggressive nature towards inexperienced handlers and their bite is a nasty one.
Tokay Gecko Mating Call
Like a frog, the Tokay gecko will emit a loud croaking noise when they’re looking to mate. It sounds highly similar to the Gekko smithii (a rather large forest gecko). When U.S. soldiers were stationed in Vietnam, they would commonly hear this mating call and even gave it a name. They called it the “F U Lizard”.
Tokay Gecko Trade and Value
In the Philippines, the Tokay gecko’s presence is threatened because of illegal hunters. If you choose to hunt, collect, transport or trade these geckos without a license, you could wind up in prison for 12 years and have to pay 1,000,000 pesos. This law was designed under the Republic Act 9147 and is also in addition with other international laws. However, law enforcement officials have a hard time keeping track of these illegal trades because there’s so many of them and the deals are so profitable that it makes it worth the risk to some people.
It’s speculated that Chinese buyers have taken up into this illegal trade because of their medicinal value. It’s been said that some Chinese buyers will pay thousands of USD just for one large specimen. Vietnamese buyers have also favored this particular type of Gecko specifically for their medicinal value.
Tokay Gecko Subspecies
As of today, there are only two official types of subspecies that are recognized.
1) The G.g gecko, also known as the Linnaeus which was found in 1758 in tropical Asia.
2) The G.g azhari Mertens, which was found in 1955 in Bangladesh.