Tokay Gecko

Gekko gecko

The tokay gecko is the world’s second-largest gecko species, growing up to 15 inches long. It is native to rainforest and cliff habitats from northeast India and Bangladesh, through Southeast Asia, to Indonesia and western New Guinea. It frequently adapts to rural human habitations, roaming walls and ceilings at night in search of insect prey. In the late 1980s, these geckoes were introduced to Hawaii, Florida, Texas, Belize, and several Caribbean islands; self-sustaining populations are now established in these locations. The species typically lives 7 to 10 years in the wild, but some individuals have survived more than 18 years in captivity. Tokay geckoes are renowned for their loud vocalizations.

Did You Know?

The tokay gecko is the world’s second-largest gecko species.


Does the harvest for wildlife trade or captive breeding of this species harm wild populations?

Little Cause for Concern

Wild populations of tokay geckoes are not at risk of extinction.

EcoHealthy Recommendation:

Only acquire a pet that is from a reputable breeder or dealer to ensure that you are not buying an illegally wild-caught and/or imported animal.

Invasion Threat

Does the release or escape of this species into the wild harm the environment and/or economy?

Some Cause for Concern

The tokay gecko was introduced to Hawaii, Florida, Texas, Belize, and several Caribbean islands in the late 1980s and early 1990s and established self-sustaining populations in these locations. At this time, little is known about the potential impacts of these introduced geckoes on native wildlife or habitats.

EcoHealthy Recommendation:

Before obtaining any non-traditional pet, check that it is legal to own one in your state of residence and check for permitting requirements. Only acquire a pet that is from a reputable breeder or dealer to ensure that you are not buying an illegally imported or wild-caught animal. Always keep your pet inside a safe and secure enclosure. Never release a pet into the wild.

Ease of Care

Does harvest, captive breeding, transport, or being kept as a pet harm individual animals?

Some Cause for Concern

Ease of care of many non-traditional pets depends on the individual owner’s years of experience and knowledge caring for a particular species. For the purposes of this website, we have geared information toward the benefit of the beginner.

Tokay geckoes often have voracious appetites and require daily meals of live prey such as crickets, mealworms, cockroaches, and baby mice. Male geckoes are very territorial; they will attack other males, other gecko species, and almost anything else in the territory. The tokay gecko is best kept as a solitary pet.

EcoHealthy Recommendation:

Before purchasing a tokay gecko, be sure to research the animal’s specific care requirements. Talk to your veterinarian about the proper diet and housing for your pet.


Health Threat

Does this animal pose a health risk to native wildlife, humans, livestock and agriculture?

Some Cause for Concern

Tokay geckoes are large and aggressive, and often bite their owners. They have a powerful bite and are considered the "bulldogs" of the gecko world because once they bite, they may hold on for hours; in fact, they generally cannot be forcibly extracted from the victim without injuring the gecko. Tokay geckoes are not suitable pets for children.

Tokay geckoes may carry Salmonella, which if ingested can cause vomiting and diarrhea; these symptoms are usually mild in healthy adults but can be fatal to infants and young children, or anyone with a compromised immune system. It is important to wash hands before and after handling a reptile. Salmonella can be transmitted from exotic pets to any member of a household, even those who do not handle the pet directly.

EcoHealthy Recommendation:

Reptiles often do not show signs of illness when harboring Salmonella. Regardless, when purchasing a pet ask the seller if the animal has been checked by a veterinarian and obtain a list of any medical treatments the animal has received. Always wash your hands after handling a reptile.


EcoHealth Alliance works at the intersection of ecosystem, animal and human health through local conservation programs and develops global health solutions to emerging diseases.
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