tokay gecko, gekko gecko, south east asia, vietnam, large aboreal gecko species, phillipines, AIDS, HIV, infertility, impotence

My adult Gekko gecko enclosure

This enclosure houses one adult male Tokay Gecko (Gekko gecko), although it has housed a breeding pair in the past, and hopefully will in the near future.

  • South East Asian forest setup
  • Aboreal Exo Terra vivarium (45cm x 45cm x 60cm)
  • Custom plywood background provides a range of light and temperature levels
  • Live plants native to forests of South East Asia
  • Bioactive substrate with various "free range" feeder insects
  • tokay gekko gecko planted habitat, vivarium terrarium paludarium aquarium exo terra, driftwood live plants Background design
    Like most aboreal geckos, Tokays are adept climbers, and make ample use of any vertical space in their enclosure. Their highly evolved feet allow them to climb most surfaces, including glass. However, glass is not very good at insulating heat, and being transparent, offers very little sense of security to a gecko.

    Exo Terra vivariums do come with a rock-effect polystyrene background, however this offers the opposite problem; polystyrene is an excellent insulator, and so there is very little in the way of a temperature gradient. Whilst they are reasonable looking, and easy to install, I eventually got tired of the fake looking rock-effect, and decided to construct a sturdier, more natural background of my own.

    The idea for my background came from what is commonly known in the reptile hobby today as a Retes' stack, developed by Varanus breeder Frank Retes for Monitor lizard species. A Retes' stack works by providing a pile of plywood shelves, from the substrate up to near the basking bulb. The lizard can bask and hide at any level, from cool and humid at the base, to hot and dry near the basking area.

    From this, I designed a background where a large sheet of plywood, covering a side of the tank, was divided vertically by thin slats of more plywood, each 1-2" in width. Whilst the background doesn't hold heat and humidity like a Retes' stack, it provides a range of temperatures and light levels, allowing the Tokay to seek out an area most comfortable to it. It can bask in bright light, close to the bulb, or in an artificial "crevice" to either side, at any distance. Whilst this doesn't look entirely natural, it is merged in areas with sections of driftwood, which I collected locally, and provide an even greater range of hide/basking spots.

    Planting and Substrate
    tokay gekko gecko planted habitat, vivarium terrarium paludarium aquarium exo terra, driftwood live plants drainage layer hydrolecca expanded clay pebbles For a long time, I used cocopeat and compost directly in the bottom of the vivarium, without a drainage layer, however this caused problems with growing live plants, and regulating the amount of water that was available to them. To solve this, I removed all the plants and reconstructed the substrate layer, with a base of hydrolecca (expanded clay pebbles) which drain excess water, and act as a reservoir when plants and soil start to dry out. Hydrolecca also has the advantage of being lightweight, as opposed to gravel or large rocks, which could also have been used.

    tokay gekko gecko planted habitat, vivarium terrarium paludarium aquarium exo terra, driftwood live plants drainage layer weed fabric liner Once the hydrolecca was in place (approximately a 1 inch deep layer), a synthetic weed fabric was placed over the top to form a barrier between the drainage layer and the substrate on top. This is to stop the substrate and drainage layer mixing together, and will make it easy for me to remove the substrate and hydrolecca if I want to use them in another project later. This is also to prevent critters from the bioactive substrate drowning in the drainage water.

    tokay gekko gecko planted habitat, vivarium terrarium paludarium aquarium exo terra, driftwood live plants substrate soil compost sand cocopeat ecoearth bedabeast The substrate layer is a mixture of orchid bark, cocopeat, building sand and fertiliser-free compost. My earlier attempts at this habitat used mainly cocopeat, which is great for keeping humidity high, but is difficult to rehydrate once it dries. Sand and bark have been added to increase soil drainage, and compost provides both the plants and bioactive substrate with nutrition.

    tokay gekko gecko planted habitat, vivarium terrarium paludarium aquarium exo terra, driftwood live plants ferns, south east asian asia forest

    Plants and Water
    This vivarium currently only has one species of plant (Bird's Nest Fern - Asplenium sp.), which is native to SE Asia, however I am currently trying to grow various SE Asian plants from seed, which will eventually work their way into this enclosure.

    Water is provided in a small plastic container, mainly to keep humidity up. Tokay geckos tend not to drink from standing water, and lick droplets of water from plants and vivarium decorations instead. To allow this, the tank is misted every night as the lights go out, when the gecko becomes most active.

    tokay gekko gecko planted habitat, vivarium terrarium paludarium aquarium exo terra, driftwood live plants ferns, south east asian asia forest

    Lighting and heating
    The only equipment used on this enclosure is a 60W spotlight, which is positioned above the top-right of the vivarium. Whilst a UVB bulb could also be beneficial, Tokays are nocturnal by nature, so their requirement for UVB lighting is questionable, and I opt not to use one. The spotlight also maintains a stable basking temperature of 32°C during the day, and an ambient temperature of 25°C, which drops to 21°C at night when the bulb is off. The plywood background helps insulate the back wall, and the left hand side is insulated by a layer of black sugar paper and polystyrene sheeting on the outside, to prevent the temperature fluctuating too much.

    Diet
    I feed my Tokay a mixture of livefoods, mainly adult male Dubia roaches (Blaptica dubia), which are offered once a week, along with ~20 mealworms. The substrate of this vivarium is also bioactive, with tropical and common woodlice, springtails and buffalo worms breeding in it. This allows some "free range" food for the gecko to hunt at will. If I ever buy waxworms, I throw any cocoons into this enclosure, as the hatching moths make an excellent enrichment for the gecko.

    If you have any questions about this enclosure, dont hesitate to email me,
    Paul Edmondson
    info@insectivore.co.uk



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