Tokay geckos are one of the largest gecko species. Their skin is soft to the touch and is generally gray with red speckles. However, Tokay geckos can change the color of their skin to blend into the environment. They are strong climbers with foot pads that can support the entire weight of the body on a vertical surface for a long period of time. Compared to other gecko species, Tokay geckos have a robust build, with a semi-prehensile tail, a large head, and muscular jaws. Though common in the pet trade, the strong bite of the Tokay makes it ill-suited for inexperienced keepers.
Tokay geckos are found in Asia and some Pacific Islands. They occur in northeast India, Bhutan, Nepal, and Bangladesh, throughout Southeast Asia, including the Philippines and Indonesia, and to western New Guinea in Melanesia. The native habitat of Tokay geckos is rainforest, where they live on trees and cliffs and are also frequently adapt to rural human habitations, roaming walls and ceilings at night in search of insect prey.
Tokay geckos are solitary creatures. Males are territorial and aggressive, attacking other males as well as other intruders. Tokay geckos are arboreal and active during the night. They communicate with the help of different sounds. Their mating call is a loud croak that is described as sounding like token, gekk-gekk or poo-kay. When threatened they will produce hisses or croaking noise. If not defending territory they will usually flee. If cornered, geckos will bite.
The mating season of Tokay geckos lasts around 4-6 months. During this period males attract females with a call that is repeated multiple times and is heard several meters away. The female finds a laying site and lays clutches of 1 or 2 hard-shelled eggs. She will guard them until they hatch. The incubation can range from 2 to 6 months. Hatchlings are fully developed from birth and reach reproductive maturity when they are one year old.
The biggest threat to Tokay geckos is hunting. They are poached for the medicinal trades in parts of Asia. These geckos are quickly becoming a threatened species in the Philippines due to indiscriminate hunting. Collecting, transporting and trading in geckos without a license can be punishable by up to twelve years in jail and a fine of up to Php 1,000,000.00. However, the trade runs unchecked due to the sheer number of illegal traders and reports of lucrative deals. Chinese buyers and other foreign nationals are rumored to pay thousands of dollars for large specimens, because of their alleged medicinal value or as commodities in the illegal wildlife trade.
According to IUCN, the Tokay gecko is locally common and widespread throughout its range but no overall population estimate is available. Currently, this species is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List.