What Can My Tokay Gecko Eat?
Tokay Geckos are one of the most in-demand pets in the reptile trade, they are brightly colored, can grow as much as 14 inches (which makes them the second largest gecko in the world, second only to the New Caledonian Giant Gecko also known as Leachie Geckos) with very apparent dappled red spots on their skin. Natives of Southeast Asian countries like Bangladesh, Philippines, and Malaysia their unique appearance is what has made them become as popular as they are, but they are not the friendliest of geckos. They can be wary of humans and are able to deliver quite a painful bite. Even so, they do make great pets as long as cared for properly and treated with kindness and patience.
In their natural environment, Tokay geckos are presented with many different options when it comes to their diet. As opportunistic hunters, they will usually eat anything that crosses their path and they are very good at hunting their meals. Pretty much anything that they go for during a hunting session will be devoured by them, this can include smaller animals like mice, small birds, and even other small lizards as well as the insects in their diet. Due to the rapid deforestation of the tropic areas where Tokay Geckos live, they have been forced to live closer to human-populated areas; even living in people's homes and eating the insects they find there. They will hide in dark corners and on ceilings of homes in their native countries, coming out at night to hunt unwanted insects, it is actually considered lucky to have a Tokay Gecko in your home they have become a welcome houseguest that helps to control the pest population.
In captivity Tokay Geckos are mainly insectivores, some people also feed their gecko small prey animals such as pinkie mice but although this is okay to do so on occasion this isn't an essential part of their diet. There are some cases of people feeding their Tokay Gecko pre-packaged commercial diet foods, canned, and frozen crickets among other products. Although some geckos can have these as their staple diet, Tokay geckos are more carnivorous and require live prey, but these packaged diet products can also be used to supplement their diet or in certain situations where you cannot obtain live feeders or your gecko has trouble hunting them due to health reasons.
How Often Should I Feed My Tokay Gecko?
The number of times you’ll feed your gecko would depend on its size and age.
Hatchling to baby (0 - 6 months) geckos need to be fed two to three times daily, their diet should consist of extra small to small feeder insects and small amount of commercial diet food if you are using that.
Juvenile (6 - 12 months) Tokay Geckos need to be fed once per day, they can be fed small to medium sized live feeder insects and can have more of the commercial diet food than babies can, they just don't need feeding as often as babies.
Adult (12+ months) Tokay Geckos need to be fed every two to three days and can be fed large feeder insects and also small prey items such as pinkie mice as part of their diet, as well as a larger amount of commercial diet food.
What Insects Can My Tokay Gecko Eat?
Dubia Roaches are one of the best staple feeders for the majority of reptiles, being inexpensive and very easy to keep alive they are very popular and great to use. They don't smell, are very easy to gut-load, can't escape and are easy to care for just requiring an enclosure, something to hide in, and some food. Just ensure you use the correct size for the age of your Tokay Gecko.
Hornworms are a great staple, being soft bodied they have no chitin so are very easy to digest. They have a large amount of nutrients and vitamins, the only drawback is that they contain a lot of water so feeding too many can cause runny stools. They also grow very fast so for babies they can become too big to feed if they are left too long.
- Black Soldier Fly Larvae (Nutrigrubs)
BSFL or nutrigrubs are a perfect staple feeder, known for their high amount of calcium they can be fed regularly. The main drawback for they are their size, since they are so small they can be difficult to feed to larger size geckos to get them to eat enough of them.
- Superworms (high in fat)
Superowmrs are a decent staple, being well rounded in nutrients they can be fed to all ages. Similar to mealworms but they have less chitin making them easier to digest. They are easy to gut-load and easy to keep.
Crickets are good for your gecko nutrient wise, are cheap and easy to obtain. They can be easily gut-loaded but they also die pretty easily, smell quite bad and can be hard to keep being that they like to escape.
Silkworms are a good staple, being high in nutrients, they also contain a mild analgesic called serrapeptase which can be useful for sick reptiles. They are easy to gut-load as long as they have their pre-packaged silkworm food, but they can be expensive and difficult to find, making them inconvenient as a staple in some instances.
- Other Roaches (Discoid, Turkestan, orange head)
Most roaches other than dubia are pretty hard to find but they are similar to dubia in other respects.
Treat Bugs (2-3 times per week:
Waxworms are a good feeder with a soft body making it easy to digest, bigger than black soldier lfy larvae they are easier to feed to larger Tokay Geckos. However, they are very high in fat so feeding too many of them can lead to obesity.
Butterworms are very similar to waxworms in their nutrition, appearance, and also in the way that they are high in fat. Not quite as high in fat as waxworms but still high enough to make them a treat rather than a staple.
Make sure that you NEVER give your Tokay Gecko any wild-caught insects, they can be contaminated by pesticides and/or infected by parasites and carry nasty diseases which can make your gecko very sick. This includes any bugs that you have caught around your house as these have come in from outside. Always source your live feeders from a reputable supplier.
These are bugs that for various reasons are very bad for your Tokay Gecko. You should use your best efforts to prevent your gecko from eating these. Should they end up eating them, because accidents do happen, you should seek veterinary attention as soon as possible and relay to them what your gecko has swallowed and see what they advise as the best course of action. Some are worse than others, for example, fireflies can cause death within an hour, while some ants can be eaten and your gecko will be fine but other ants may cause a severe allergic reaction. You can buy activated charcoal to give to your gecko should they end up swallowing something they shouldn't have, though you should still seek a vet while you doing this.
- Fireflies (lightning bugs)
- Monarch butterflies and caterpillars
- Ants (not all but the bites of some can cause severe allergic reactions)
Supplementing Your Feeder Insects
Supplements are a critical part of your Tokay Gecko's diet, they need supplements to ensure that they get the full range of nutrients in their diet that will keep them healthy and enable them to live as long as possible. Since they do not have fruits and vegetables that are loaded with vitamins and minerals in their main diet you will need to use the powdered supplements in order to support their health.
The three supplements that you need are calcium powder, calcium plus D3 powder and also a multivitamin powder.
You must rotate your supplements on a schedule, see the following example:
Calcium no D3 x 3 per week
Calcium plus D3 x 2 per week
Multivitamin x 1 per week
Calcium no D3 x 2 per week
Calcium plus D3 x 2 per week
Multivitamin x 1 per week
Calcium no D3 x 1 per week
Calcium plus D3 x 1 per week
Multivitamin x 1 per week
Here are some high-quality products used for supplementation for your reptiles.
- Zoo Med Calcium No D3
- Repti-Calcium without vitamin D3
- Exo-Terra Calcium Powder without D3
- Exo-Terra Calcium Powder Plus D3
- Zoo Med Calcium Powder Plus D3
- Exo-Terra Multivitamin Powder
- Rep-Cal Herptivite Multivitamin Powder
Gut-Loading your feeder Insects
Gut-loading is an integral part of any insectivorous reptile's diet. Gut-loading your feeder insects is the process of passing on needed vitamins and minerals to your reptile by feeding your live insects with salad items that are safe for reptiles to eat for a few days before feeding them off to your reptiles.
Alternatively, you can use a pre-packaged commercial product to gut-load your feeders, these have been formulated to provide the correct range of nutrients to properly gut-load your bugs without you having to select and prepare a salad for your bugs. Using fresh fruits and veggies can be expensive, messy an attract unwanted insects so a lot of keepers prefer using this method. See below for some high-quality products you can use to gut-load your feeders.
Commercial Diet Food For Your Gecko
As mentioned above there are several pre-packaged gecko diet food products available for your gecko. These have been formulated by experts to provide a range of nutrients for your gecko and can add some variety as well as a healthy way to supplement their diet with some vitamins they may be missing out on. As long as you get a high-quality product then your gecko is able to have these a couple of times per week in their regular diet. See below for some products that we recommend.
- Pangea Fruit Mix & Insects
- Pangea Apricot Fruit Mix
- Pangea Fruit Mix Watermelon Mango
- Pangea Fruit Mix Banana Papaya
- Pangea Fruit Mix Gecko Treat
- Pangea Gecko Diet Fig & Insects
Can Tokay Geckos Eat Pinkie Mice?
Tokay Geckos are able to eat pinkie mice, in fact, it is actually a recommended part of their diet, they just can't be fed as a regular food, they can only be fed as a once or twice per month treat. Pinkie mice are very high in fat, protein and calcium. You have to ensure that any pinkie mice that you feed are actually pinkies and are not older mice, fuzzies are the next stage up in terms of age from pinkies and they have developed some hair and bones that can be very hard for your Tokay Gecko to digest. This can cause impaction if fed to your Gecko.
Feeding too many pinkie mice to your gecko can lead to gout from too much protein, and also obesity and other weight-related health problems due to overconsumption of fat. Only adult Tokay Geckos should be fed pinkie mice.
Can My Tokay Gecko Eat Eggs?
Yes, your Tokay may eat eggs. Eggs are full of protein and your Gecko can enjoy them as part of their diet. They shouldn't be given too often as they are high in carbohydrates and fat that can lead to obesity and other related health issues if they are fed too much. You should only feed eggs, once every two weeks or so.
Eggs can be prepared by hard boiling or scrambling them, as long as you do not add anything at all to the eggs. No salt, or any other seasoing can be added, as well as no milk, butter or any other product containing dairy. You may find your gecko prefers one or the other so you can see which one they like. Avoid feeding them the shells of any eggs as these can scratch them internally and cause problems.
Are There Other Small Animals I Can Feed My Tokay Gecko?
As well as pinkie mice there are other products available such as small feeder lizards, rats, and even birds that you are able to find for sale as feeders. Although pinkie mice are acceptable as a small part of the Tokay Gecko diet, even that is an issue with two sides in the community with some saying that they shouldn't be used at all. Other small prey animals tend to have more bones and hair than pinkies making them hard to digest, and this can cause impaction in your gecko. So these should be avoided and you should stick to the recommended diet for your gecko's health and wellbeing.
Tokay geckos are a reptile that needs access to a constant source of water. There are a few ways that you can do this.
- Water Dish - A large size water dish can be kept in the enclosure. This needs to be kept clean and replaced daily.
- Misting & Licking - Geckos can lick water from the sides of the glass and from the various surfaces inside their enclosure. It is important to keep your tank clean, you can mist their enclosure a couple of times per day so that they can do this. Usually, geckos will learn to drink from a dish but some, particularly younger geckos may need a few options to ensure that they get enough hydration until they learn to recognize still standing water.
- Water Dripper - You can use commercial products to allow water to drip down into the tank so that your gecko can lick the droplets. Zoo Med The Big Dripper is a great product to use for this purpose.
Tap water is usually okay to use, but some areas may have a worse standard of water than others if you are unsure of the quality of your water you should use a dechlorinating product to purify the water before letting your gecko drink. Zoo Med Reptisafe Water Conditioner is a great product to use for this purpose.