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Taming the Tokay (new Addition!)

Discussion in 'Tokay Geckos' started by cassicat4, Jun 12, 2013.

  1. cassicat4

    cassicat4 Subscribed User Premium Member

    So a couple weeks back, I picked up a "standard evil" sub-adult Tokay from an individual off Kijiji. While they had taken care of the gecko just fine, he had never been handled, and as such, had the temperament you'd expect from the typical Tokay. ;)

    However, I am stubborn. I personally believe every reptile I own should be handleable to a degree in the event of needing vet care, hand-feeding, wound-cleaning, or the like. I also find that all of my notoriously shy species are much more active and spend a lot more time in the open than expected for the species, and I believe it's because they no longer see me as such a threat. As for Tokays, since I plan on breeding this species at some point in the future, I have spent a lot of time learning from keepers and breeders far more experienced than I about how to successfully tame this gecko.

    It is not by any means easy. Not that I expected it to be, but I have seen countless posts and threads on a variety of forums lately about people interested in this gecko as a beginner reptile, and I wanted to share my experience (and gecko!) to provide another perspective.

    If you want to tame a Tokay, you need to expect to be bitten. And if you're bitten, it will hurt, and often times, bleed. As a general rule, Tokays learn through consistent cause and effect that if they bite you and you don't react, and persist in interacting with them, that biting you has no effect. But it takes time, and daily interaction to get them to this point (and even tame Tokays are still prone to bouts of unpredictability). They also need to learn your scent so they can associate you with trust, so the vast majority of my time working with my gecko was bare-handed (only used gloves to initially remove him from his tank on day 1, and then to handle him for the first half hour or so).

    An exception to this rule is in their enclosure. Tokays are notoriously territorial, especially the males, and they will fight you if you're in their space. Even my youngest, sweetest, tamest little Tokay, whom I've had since he was barely 3 months old, will still pull his huff-and-puff-inflatable-gecko routine and bark and nip at me if I try and grab him in his enclosure. The key is getting them outside of their tank, usually through removing a piece of their decor with them attached to it.

    For this gecko in particular:
    Total tame time (i.e. easily handled with bare hands outside of enclosure with no defensive/aggressive responses): 5 days.
    Total working hours: 7-8 hours.

    I have been bitten several times; barked and gaped at even more. His new favorite place to sleep is underneath a piece of cork bark, so it's a daily challenge to actually herd him onto one of his cork bark pieces so I can remove him from his tank. I almost always get nipped or threatened (i.e. gaped at) in the process, but these are more warning bites rather than intent-to-dismember bites, so it's not that bad. ;) And once he's on his decor, it's like night and day; he'll go from gaping at me from atop his cork bark in his tank, to literally closing his mouth and licking me the minute I have him (on the same cork bark) outside of the tank. Quite surreal actually.

    Anyway, onto the pics.

    First up, some of my taming war wounds (likely the most entertaining part for some people here ;) )
    *WARNING - HUMAN INJURY PICS TO FOLLOW*

    Only two of these were the result of an actual taming attempt outside of the enclosure (days 1 & 2), and both were inflicted when I was bare-handed. The other two were the result of in-tank defensiveness. They were also entirely my fault. So I could truly understand the extent of their territorial nature (and because I have been spoiled with my first gecko), I tried to forego the "removing the gecko from the tank on a piece of decor" technique in favor of trying to actually pick up the gecko myself (by scooping him, not grabbing him). This trial was very short-lived. As well, because of how quick they are, I knew that if I persisted, I was likely to have a gecko loose in my house because he made several attempts to escape the tank (and me). I now always remove him using his decor, and it's much less stressful on both of us!

    wound2.jpg wound1.jpg wound3.jpg wound4.jpg

    And now my favorite pics, those of my tame little goober now: :)

    9027190344_9d04772004.jpg
    Keres7 by cassicat4, on Flickr

    9024957677_44c52ed6c8.jpg
    Keres6 by cassicat4, on Flickr

    9024936701_103b7dda5d.jpg
    Keres3 by cassicat4, on Flickr

    9027320810_a0fce92716.jpg
    Keres12 by cassicat4, on Flickr

    9027309250_d86bee504c.jpg
    Keres11 by cassicat4, on Flickr

    9027177550_6e0ec3a02c.jpg
    Keres5 by cassicat4, on Flickr

    Hope you found this interesting and/or entertaining. ;)
     

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    Last edited: Jun 12, 2013
  2. tbron

    tbron Elite Member

    love the post. very helpful. gives a real incite on what taming is really like. thanks
     
  3. murrindindi

    murrindindi Elite Member

    Lucky you that he`s just a youngster, the "oldsters" bite hard, REALLY hard!
     
  4. cassicat4

    cassicat4 Subscribed User Premium Member

    Haha this I have heard and seen evidence of! That's why I appreciate the opportunity to learn on a younger one (and develop higher pain tolerance), so I'll be better prepared for an older one. There's a "very mean and angry" adult gecko I'm looking into purchasing in the next few months, and I know that's going to be the ultimate challenge! ;)
     
  5. Munch

    Munch Active Member

    I am looking to get one of these how hard would the husbandry on these ?
     
  6. Jflores

    Jflores Elite Member

    Very interesting post, Love the tokay pics!!!
     
  7. cassicat4

    cassicat4 Subscribed User Premium Member

    Heat, humidity, and security are the most important factors. I find once they're properly established, they're no more high maintenance than, say, crested geckos. They're a hardy species, but big eaters, and that's where I noticed the impact the most - in my rapidly depleting cricket and worm supply. ;) You'll also need to prepare for a large enclosure - 18x18x24 is the recommended size for a sub-adult -adult gecko. They're a fascinating species, whether tame or display only, and I do recommend them - they just require some work to begin with, and more if you plan on taming them.
     

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