Em Lock Talks Tokays
Hong Kong and Tokay Geckos, So Emzotic
Hong Kong is a reptile lover’s dream.
For Em Lock, growing up there allowed her to have an up-close look at reptiles, learn about them, and come to love them.
“My childhood was spent in Hong Kong,” explained Em. “Despite it being a densely populated island, reptiles have adapted to Hong Kong’s explosive population growth. They can be found everywhere, from geckos living in the air conditioning units of high-rise apartment blocks, to snakes taking a dip in the numerous swimming pools on the island.”
Her passion led her to create her popular YouTube channel, Emzotic. There she highlights all kinds of exotic animals, many of them reptiles, for her over 700K subscribers.
Tokay Gecko, Cult Following
“My knowledge for the care of Tokay Geckos stems from what I have observed in both pet and wild specimens,” she explained.
In fact, they have reached cult status in the reptile world.
“There is something of a cult following for this temperamental and snappy species, so keepers are very eager to share their tips and discoveries with one another, which is invaluable in terms of learning,” she said.
Beauty is in the Eye of Many Beholders
Em was drawn to Tokay Geckos because of their magnificent coloring.
“I believe the Tokay Gecko to be one of the most beautiful reptiles,” she said. “Their sky-blue bodies, bejeweled with orange and red spots make them incredibly striking.”
Em noted that the colors are rarely seen together in nature, and seem to go against the typical lizard coloration, which is often muted and serves for the purpose of camouflage. “In this respect the Tokay seems to have evolved to stand out,” she added.
Tokay Geckos are extremely social, another characteristic she finds endearing.
Em said, “They are also a highly social reptile, capable of forming tight, monogamous bonds with one another, as well as living socially in small groups or harems.”
“They seem to have a higher level of consciousness when compared to other species of reptile. They form close bonds with the geckos they share territory with and have been well documented helping each other when there is danger,” she continued. “They’ve been filmed fearlessly attacking snakes which have coiled around other Tokays.”
Husbandry Tips for Tokay Geckos
Through her vast experience with Tokay Geckos, there are tips Em has learned along the way.
“I’ve found humidity to be of vital importance for the Tokay Gecko. They can tolerate drops in heat fairly well, however, they don’t seem to cope well in a dry climate,” she said. “They will sometimes forgo eating for long periods of time if they are not adequately hydrated.”
Additional tips from Em:
- Invest in quality UV lighting: “Despite being a nocturnal species, Tokay Geckos will readily bask when given the opportunity, which is why I highly recommend Tokay keepers to invest in quality UV,” she said.
- Give them height: Em explained, “I’ve also noted that every Tokay Gecko I’ve kept seems calmer when they are at a height which is greater than the human standing in front of their enclosure.”
- Hides are helpful: “Having hides placed near the top of an enclosure (such as cork hollows or hollowed bamboo) will be utilized and appreciated by this arboreal species,” she said. “Many captive Tokay Geckos can be found hiding lower to the ground, because this is often where hides are placed by keepers. Being an arboreal species, they will appreciate hollows and foliage placed at the top of their enclosure to hide in.”
- Females need extra calcium: Em said, “Extra care should be given to female Tokay Geckos which rely heavily on calcium. On top of dusting gut loaded live feeder, having a dish of high-quality calcium available in the enclosure at all times will be greatly appreciated by females - particularly breeding females.”
Quarantine is Crucial
If you decide to get a Tokay Gecko, it’s important to keep them separated from your other pets the moment you bring it home.
“There are a number of high-quality breeders in North America, however, the majority of Tokay Geckos which are found at expos and pet stores are often either imports, or captured invasive specimens from Florida,” Em explained.
She said it’s a good idea to quarantine any Tokay you buy, as well as having your veterinarian conduct a fecal to check for parasites.
Em’s Other Pets
Em has a special place in her heart for reptile rescues. “At home I currently keep a select group of mostly rescued reptiles, including Okey-Tokay and Vexxus, two elderly Tokay Geckos,” she said.
Em has Kaa, a 14-year-old Ball Python, an elderly Kingsnake with cataracts, named Zombie, and Sploot, a baby Crested Gecko.
Career Exposes Em to Rare Species
Em has had the opportunity to work with some unusual reptiles.
“In the past, I have had the privilege in my animal career as an Animal Educator and former Zookeeper to have worked with exceptionally rare and challenging species, such as the Boelen’s Python, King Cobras, and Spectacled Caiman,” she noted.