Tokay Geckos have a reputation for being a bit mean. While these stunning reptiles eventually mellow out, new owners may have to get to a few nips and aggressive behaviors beforehand.
Tokay geckos are mean because they are highly territorial creatures. In the wild, they are hunted extensively by other animals (and sometimes people!), and they have had to develop aggressive behavior to ward other creatures away from their territory. The Tokay Gecko is essentially aggressive because they have evolved to be.
Why Are Tokay Geckos So Mean?
As we said, Tokay Geckos are very territorial, which is why they may seem a bit mean sometimes, but this doesn’t tell the whole story. This is because some Tokay Geckos are perfectly fine.
Tokay Geckos come from one of two sources:
- They are harvested in the wild (i.e., wild-caught)
- They are captive bred.
Even Tokay Geckos that are shipped overseas could be wild-caught. A good deal of them are. Tokay Geckos can only be found in Indonesia, and there is a certain amount that enters the pet trade each year (there are quotas in Indonesia)
Wild Caught Geckos
If your Tokay Gecko is wild-caught, it tends to be much more aggressive than captive-bred Tokay Geckos. After all, they have been developing those territorial instincts in the wild. They have learned to be fearful of everything that comes close to them. They were then packed into a box with many other Tokay Geckos and shipped worldwide. They aren’t going to be too happy about it.
If you have a captive-bred Tokay Gecko, it will probably not be easy to handle at any point. The ‘meanness’ will already have been learned, and it isn’t much you can do about it.
Tokay Geckos that are captive-bred tend to be much more relaxed around people. They are still not going to be perfect.
They are evolutionary territorial, after all. However, in most cases, if they are aggressive, they are not used to being handled by others.
In other cases, it may be because you are handling them too much, and they want to be left alone. If you have put the Tokay Gecko in a tank with another Tokay Gecko, then there is going to be quite a bit of aggression there.
It is worth noting that some Tokay Geckos, wild-caught or captive-bred, or just born, ‘mean.’ There are countless stories of them hatching from their eggs and biting their handlers right away. These things are never taken naturally tame.
Finally, it would help if you remembered that a Tokay Gecko is a nocturnal creature. It sleeps during the day. It won’t be enjoyable if you are constantly hounding the gecko during the daytime.
How Do You Calm Down a Tokay Gecko?
If you have a wild-caught Tokay Gecko, you will probably never be able to handle it properly. They are probably always going to bite and display aggressive behaviors. A wild-caught Tokay Gecko will probably always be the sole domain of a herp-expert.
If you have a captive-bred Tokay Gecko, you may need to get used to it. You can probably calm down the aggressive behaviors with a few minutes of handling every few days. You want it to get used to you. However, remember that you will never be able to eliminate the potential of being bitten. This isn’t like a Bearded Dragon which you can handle regularly. The Tokay Gecko is an animal you should always observe rather than play with.
Finally, if you have multiple Tokay Geckos in the same tank, particularly two males, then separate the two. This is probably the primary source of aggression.
Your Tokay Gecko is mean because they are naturally mean animals. They are highly aggressive and defensive. It is an evolutionary trait. While captive-bred Tokay Geckos tend to be better than wild-caught geckos, they are still never going to be incredibly calm. This is an animal built for watching, not for handling.