Kasey Talks Critters Episode 5 With Dakotah of DBCB Exotics - Tokay Geckos
Hey Zen Friends, it’s me, Kasey, and I am back with another episode of Kasey Talks Critters. This is a show that we're doing once a month where we focus on one specific animal and we bring on an expert who knows all about them. So today I have Dakotah of DB CB Exotics. He's got this awesome YouTube channel. We're going to be talking about Tokyo Geckos today. And yeah, like his channel, is so funny. Like, this dude gets bit all the time and it's amazing. I mean, he's so brave, and I'm really excited to talk about tokay geckos. If you are enjoying this series, make sure you subscribe to our YouTube channel like this video, and hit that notification bell so you can be notified for more videos coming up like this. So Dakotah, I guess my first question for you is, what is your experience with animals in general?
I think I have like quite a few experiences with animals. I started out when I was about 19 or 20. I was working at a doggy daycare and I did that for a little bit. And then I moved up to working in an actual kennel place, so I did the kennel and the daycare. Afterward, I started dabbling in some dog training, so I’ve trained dogs for a little bit. After became a veterinary technician, moved up to hand-raising exotic birds. So, I would hand feed the little baby like hyacinth macaws, anything as big as a hyacinth macaw to like a parakeet or anything like that. So, I hand-raised exotic birds for a little bit. And then I started dabbling in reptile breeding. I was breeding reptiles probably the whole way since I was about 19. I did crested geckos for a couple of years, stopped for about a year, and then once I moved into a house, I was like, Hey, let's actually like do a big go of this thing. And now I'm sitting in a reptile building filled with 200 reptiles.
So amazing. Absolutely. And it's your job, that's amazing. So, why do you think tokay geckos are so cool?
I absolutely love the tokay gecko. I think the Tokay gecko is the most intelligent gecko that you can own here in captivity. They're an absolutely amazing species coming in as the second largest gecko you can also own and just get a bad rap for saying like they're aggressive, blah, blah, blah, a nasty animal. But as you can see, Bert is not a nasty animal. He’s very nice, calm tokay. Yeah. So I think the misunderstanding comes from the fact that people don't understand that fear doesn't equal aggression and meanness. These are scared animals because they have the brain capacity to realize that we are scary creatures. Once you realize that, "oh, hey, this dude's not that bad." They're just like a little crested gecko. Let's just look at that pattern, man.
I know. I mean, if you look at the color wheel that those are opposite colors, so they have to go together. It's perfect. Nature made perfect. So I personally don't have a lot of tokay experience. I've only seen like a handful when I was working in clinical practice, you know, that would come in for checkups or sick geckos, etc. But my experience is pretty limited. So I'm really excited to talk about this because it's not something that I have a lot of knowledge on. So what was your first introduction to tokays?
So when it came to tokays, I fed into all the stereotypes. I thought they were nasty, mean little dudes, but my wife really wanted a tokay gecko. And so, you know, when, when the wife wants an animal, you say, yes, because that means you can get more animals. And so I said yes. And I just fell in love with these little dudes. At the time I was really green with the DBCB exotics. We were only doing, I think two pairs of crested geckos and I just loved watching this dude so much that was like, this is going to be the next project. I want to do some tokays. So I bought some more imported wild-caught dudes and then found out about mutations for them and I realized how much the mutations were, so I didn't buy any. But ever since then, they've quickly become my favorite species to work with. So now we have, I don't know, like 50 right now, including babies for sale, and then we have about 20 to 25 breeders and I've poured probably $30,000 into tokay mutations because I just think they're the coolest little dudes and I want them in every single color.
Absolutely. And I think, you know, I like to not think of them like, you know, not saying that they're aggressive, I like to call them spicy. It's not their fault that you know, they're small.
Yeah, I actually say spicy or fresh.
Yeah, they're fresh. Freshy boys. I love them. And they're so fun. So I guess we can get into talking about them specifically. So I've been seeing a big boom, so I've been going to a lot of expos lately and everyone has tokays now, well, not everyone, but there are a lot more tokays that I've seen recently than in the past. Why are there so many in captivity? Is it because they're a popular pet or what do you think?
So you don't see much of like the crested and leopard gecko crowd also breeding tokays. But I think when you get in more of the mentality of like the breeders. So I've seen them and stands like obviously, New England Reptiles have been doing them forever. I just saw some captive-bred sources with Leaping Leachies over at the New England show. I think people are starting to see the mutation side of how these things are. So a lot of these people that I'd say probably I'm one of the few handfuls of people and I've just started dabbling only around four years where I have friends, you know, 15, 20, 25 years doing this, we've only just started being able to productively reproduce the genetic mutations that they are and figure out, you know, what's recessive, what's co-dominant, so on. So the building blocks are pretty much set for a lot of these mutations. I think people are starting to get an eye on that and realize, oh, these things are pretty cool. They're now going for a lot of money. I remember I was talking to my friend Josh at CPX Reptiles used to sell his platinums for $200, $300, $500. Right? It's his own line of his mutation. He made this, he proved it out, and now he's selling them for $3500 to $4000. So the market is especially within like I'd say, the last three years or so when I first started, it's absolutely booming. I think people are starting to notice that tokay gecko breeding is a pretty cool thing. Not only do these guys have parental instincts, I do absolutely nothing with the eggs. The moms lay the eggs, the dad guards the clutch and then they take care of the babies. Much like your crocodilians. Alligators, crocodiles, or the more common red-eyed crocodile skink. You see the same parental instincts with these guys. But no, I think there's nothing cooler than the parental instincts for these guys. I think it's so cool, like seeing the adult animals take care of the little babies. You'll see the little babies tucked under Dad's chin. This guy isn’t a breeder male. You can see still I want to say he's about a year old or so, so still needs to fill out a lot more. But he is around the size you would see of an adult tokay.
Yeah. Oh, I find that so fascinating. I love reptile species that take care of their young because, you know, they're like, ooh, reptiles are. They don't care. They're just like leaves. Go ahead. Like sea turtles. I'm like, but no, there are lizards and there are other animals taking care of their babies. And I think that's so like it's just so cute and like wholesome and like heartwarming and stuff. I guess my next question is going to be, are they tricky to establish? And have you found methods that are useful for someone who's interested in bringing home a tokay? How is getting them settled in?
So I think so. I think the issue with tokay geckos is there's still a high import demand for them. So most of the shows you're going to see, you're going to see these giant 10 to 12-inch geckos that are wild caught going for $15 to $20. And when we're talking about establishing a wild caught imported animal, whether that be from Florida or Indonesia, where they're originally from, I think there's a lot of misconceptions around that. I know everyone, especially in Facebook groups, love to preach that immediately take it to a vet a deworm it. I find that's not really the best thing to do for the animals, simply because deworming is very difficult on the digestive system, the stomach, and everything like that. Not only are you getting rid of those parasites, but you're also getting rid of all that fauna that's been growing in there. And not to mention that a lot of these dewormers are giant dehydrators. And if you're getting these animals that are shipping from Indonesia, it's not overnight. It goes from days to possibly weeks, depending on how much they're being held in customs. These animals are dehydrated. You're going to dehydrate that animal even further. So when establishing a wild-caught animal, hydration is the number one key, and even trying to get some food in that system, once you think it's at a good size where it's starting to be acclimated a little bit more, drinking and eating readily, then you can definitely look at deworming. But I don't know. I think that the biggest problem I see right now is groups as anything that's wild-caught. Everyone just simply preaches vet and deworming and not taking into account the side effects of deworming and the stress of taking this animal to a vet that's already just been moved to this new space.
Yeah, no, you are absolutely right. And as a vet tech, I definitely preach that. Bring your animals to the vet. But you are absolutely correct. Hydration, feeding, and acclimation, all need to happen first. And when we, you know, when we do deworm them, you're absolutely right. It does take a toll on the body. We're getting rid of the good gut flora, and it can be catastrophic depending on the status of that animal. So, yeah, I 100% agree. I think it's important for them to get dewormed, but we need to go through the acclimation period first. So this is why we talk about quarantining animals and it's why quarantining is so important because you don't want to bring in this tokay and potentially spread parasites to the rest of your collection. I totally agree with that. So thank you for bringing that up. Do you think these guys are going to be bigger in the future? Do you think they're going to keep increasing in popularity?
Absolutely. Just from I mean, again, like three years, man. I remember getting my first powder blue patternless for $300. That same animal is now $900 to $1100 for babies. I bought a $300 subadult female. It's absolutely wild just how much this market has exploded in, how much these guys are worth these days, which is absolutely fantastic. I never thought this species was, really any species, for that matter, is worth that low price tag of $5 to $15. It's just not it. I know Brian Barczyk also preaches the same message. If there was not the level of importation that these guys had, this would be just as valuable as, say, the leachianus gecko. It's the second largest gecko, only rivaling the leachianus. Opinionating, I know, I think it's a cool-looking gecko. I mean, the leachianus is cool. I like the greens. It's got that pink, high pattern. But you can't beat this. I mean, not only with that but with the mutations that we have over here. You don't get mutations. There's no leucistic or pied leachies going on. But there are with tokay geckos.
Yes. Yes, absolutely. And for me, it's their eyeballs. I just love tokay's eyes like I think they're so pretty.
Yea, they got nice big eyes. When they bite, tokays are able to bite they actually have so much muscle you'll see the males look at these giant muscles in the jaws. They actually have so much bite force that when they bite down, their eyes will indent into the back inside their skull. So they want to bite you. They'll bite you.
I didn't know that. What kind of animal keeper or hobbyist do you think the tokay gecko would suit? Do you think they're more of an intermediate species? Beginner. Are they very difficult? What? Who do you think they're good for?
I always find that's a tough question because it's like a mixture of two things. I guess it always depends on, like, what does beginner mean to the individual person, right? Well, like, I don't know man. Like even for a first-time reptile owner, I mean, they're very forgiving. Whereas some species where if you don't have your humidity, right, for instance, that's very detrimental to the animal, it's not as detrimental to tokay geckos. Heating and cooling, not as detrimental. They're a very forgiving species when it comes to the rookie mistakes that every new person is going to make. However, as much as I love them, I know that this personality is not for everyone. And so with that being said, some people can be turned off by reptiles in general if they mistakenly get this really cool-looking gecko and realize that it's not like a leopard, it's not like a crested where it's going to bite you, and can draw some blood. Full adults tend to pack a little bit of a punch. I've gotten so many at this time, I really don't think it's that big of a deal. But I know for the first time person it can be a little intimidating with people. It can turn people off from the hobby. So yeah, I always get a little concerned when saying I think personally they make great beginner pets if you're fully aware of the personality of the tokay. If you're afraid of getting bit. They can make beautiful display animals. This isn't going to be like your standard, a lot of these, day gecko species that are very flighty and skittish and will try to jump out. Tokay geckos, especially when they reach adulthood, love to stand their ground. But this definitely isn't going to be an animal. I mean, I even have tokays where, I mean, most of them aren't tame as this. Most of these guys aren't Bert-level. But I can open the cage. They're on top of the door and I can open the door spray and close it. They're not going to try to run off. So for the person that is afraid of getting bit, they can make a great display species. And for the person that wants a little bit more of a challenge than your standard gecko species that are out there, is a great fit.
Yeah, I know. Absolutely. And I'm a big fan of like all the spicy animals. So when I did work like dog and cat medicine, like I'm like, give me all the fractious cats. I love them. I'm for it. But that makes sense. And I agree. I don't like the term beginner for that reason because it's like it's no animal is like a beginner animal because everything is going to take a level of care. But I like that you brought up more so the fear like because I know a lot of people who only keep lizards because they're afraid of being bit by a snake or you know. So I feel like this kind of goes into that same sort of thing, like, you know, yeah, because this is a Zen Habitats show, does Zen have an appropriate product for the tokay gecko?
Yeah, I think most enclosures made by Zen Habitats can do it. I'm very partial to the 2x2x2. I think it would make an awesome tokay gecko enclosure actually hoping to get one. Speaking of leachies. I'm trying. I'm having to pay off a little hold on a breeding pair of leachianus. I want to get your guys 2x2x2 set up for them. But I think it would be really awesome. But a 2x2x2 or even the 2x2x4 would be awesome for these guys, right? I mean, go all out. See this 4x2x4 right behind me? Make a mansion for the tokay gecko.
I've joked about that for the cresties for sure. So in that case, can they cohabitate?
I don't recommend cohabitation for a couple of reasons. It can be done. It's just like any other species. The crested gecko is a great example. They can be done. Some choose to, and some choose not to. I'm the same way with tokay geckos. I don't really like cohabitation for them. Even I know people that keep their breeding pairs year-round. I'm not a fan of that. I always find that one or the other is going to get the majority of the food like I can already see. Right now I have one female that looks like a fatso, so she's obese and I know my reduced pattern in there is starting to look a little scrawny. And so it's that point actually today we're making a video where I'd be removing the males. Another one, my male is chunky as can be, and my female is kind of standard starting to get a little thin. So I run into issues with that. With most of my pairs. Males obviously will fight. Males don't get along. Females, I don't know, I've tried keeping females in the past just for not like not as breeding trios or anything, but I've noticed they do fight. I've seen you get nips on the tails and everything like that and it's just not something I want to do, just keep them alone.
Actually, I have one question before I get to the questions from our fans because we're talking about tail nips. So do they drop their tails like crested geckos or do they grow back?
Yes, they do grow back. So you can actually see right here. Look like he got a little nip. You can barely tell the difference. They're a lot less apt to drop their tails. I've never had an adult drop its tail and I've had very, very few babies do it.
We're big apes, you know, we could easily eat a tokay gecko if we wanted to. And they don't know that we don't want to eat them. So it's fair. So we got some really great questions from our fans. The first one is how big do they get? You said they were the second largest, so.
Yeah, tokays are the second largest gecko in captivity. Males can get anywhere from 12 plus inches something over 12 is a little bit that's when you start getting to rarity but around 10 to 12 inches is going to be your adult male and then females will get somewhere around the 9 to 10-inch range. He's a bad example. This is about how long Bert will get, but he'll just get a lot fatter and you'll see his cheek muscles will start to develop more, and his head will get bigger. But as far as like length goes, this is what you can expect for a full-grown tokay gecko.
Yeah. So it's a that's good-sized gecko definitely. So, my next fan question is why are they so quirky?
I think they have a little bit more spiciness to them just because they have a bigger brain capacity. I think there are a lot more of an intelligent gecko than your average most of like your New Calidonia stuff, leopard geckos, and anything like that. I think there are a lot more self-aware of their surroundings and with that become being afraid. Because as I say, with crescent geckos, they look like they got two brain cells just bopping around. Don't get me wrong, I love my cresteds. We have a lot of crested geckos, but I just think tokays are cooler, man. Yeah, they're more self-aware, which comes with a little bit of their quirkiness and feistiness, but it makes taming them down a lot better. I refer to them as the Monitor Lizards of the gecko world because I work with the same taming techniques as monitor lizards as I do with these guys. And it works very well as you get this little thing.
That is fascinating. Oh, you probably have me sold. I'm going to end up getting a tokay gecko this weekend at the next expo. We’ll see. All right. Have one more question from our fans and it is, how loud are they at night?
I get this question a lot. I'm not sure why. I don't know what's the thing is with tokay geckos being loud? I compare it to most frog species. So a lot of these frogs, White’s tree frogs, I've had tomato frogs call, most of the dart frog species have a specific call, I'm sure. Red eyeds. Throwing that out there like. Yeah, they're not loud, right? I think a lot of people are afraid that the tokay gecko noise is going to be an annoyance to them. And it's going to be like, Oh, my God, make this gecko shut up. I don't find that at all. I have 20 to 25 breeders and they go off. When they go off, it's like maybe less than a minute and maybe hear tokay geckos call like a couple of times a week. And keep in mind, that's with like 11 males going off, not just your one. Yeah, it's not that loud. I always find it fascinating. It's fun to hear. I mean, you're like in the other room and you hear: “toh-kay toh-kay.” It's cool. It's exciting.
No, I totally agree. I think the barks are really cute and that's how they got their name. So I think, you know, it's part of it the tokay gecko experience.
But yeah, it's a fascinating thing. You hear crested geckos call. I mean, come on. You don't want a gecko that makes noises? It’s a bonus, not a hindrance.
Okay. So we went through I think some really great questions and really great stuff about tokay geckos in general. In this next segment of our show, I like to talk to, you know, the animal professionals about their careers a little bit more so that it can help others who are interested in getting into an animal-centered career because that was something that was really big for me when I started. You know, I had a lot of mentors and, you know, I looked up to a lot of people. And I think that's really it's helpful if that's your budding career. You want to do this. It's great to have a resource for these people. So is there any advice you would give someone who's looking to pursue a career similar to yours?
I think my best advice would be to start YouTube. Now. I think for the longest time I was probably doing DB CB exotics for around seven months before I launched a YouTube channel, and even then I was just afraid of like, what content am I going to make? You know, it's not going to be good. It's never going to be good. That's the simple. If you go back to my very, I still have them up, my very first few videos, they are awful. They're not cropped correctly. So you've got this weird, blurry bar. I don't know. I didn't even know how to crop videos back then of any editing experience. Just make a couple of crappy videos. That way they're out there and even if they're bad, people will still subscribe if they have knowledge that they want from you. So start the YouTube journey as soon as you can, no matter if they're good or bad. I probably have my first 100 videos that are not good, they're not good videos and then you just get a little better each time. Focus on a specific thing that you want to improve on. To this day, mine is looking at the camera lens. I'm very bad at doing that. So you'll see me kind of do this? Yes. Instead of looking directly at little stuff like that, you improve a little bit each time you get better and better. You start getting that fun YouTube personality voice and your little mannerisms with YouTube rather than being like, “Hey guys, my name's Dakotah. Today we are going to talk about tokay geckos”. You'll learn you want to add some oomph. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not an extra extroverted person. I'm a very, very introverted, shy guy. But if I can make funny YouTube videos, anyone can do it, it’s just that easy.
All right. That's awesome. And I can say, I've only been doing this, like, YouTube thing for, like, a year and a half with Zen habitats, like, and before that, like, you couldn't take my photo, like, I didn't want to be on camera at all. So it’s definitely I'm still learning. So I, I'm here for that. Definitely. Is there a common myth about your profession that you want to debunk?
Oh, I mean, there's always like the animal hoarder one, which is annoying. I guess I wouldn't say it's so much more. It's like people call me an animal hoarder, but a lot of people always ask me and they're like, There's no way you can take care of all those animals. Or How do you afford all those animals? And it's always a weird thing. So it's like, Well, I do this for a living, I sell animals and then I buy more animals. That's yeah, it's kind of the name of the game. It seems like a very simple thing, but a lot of people like, don't believe me for some reason it's very surprising. I mean, I can totally understand someone that only has like three or one bearded dragon, maybe a couple, and they look at me and they're like, There's no way I could do this. But once you get past around ten, that 10 to 20 area, it all just becomes a lot easier. You start buying everything in bulk, so your costs start going down. Yeah, it's just, you know, I come up here for a couple of hours, I mist, I change paper towels, I feed, I look at my dudes. And every day is just kind of like a new task for me to do. And as long as you keep doing those tasks, you're kind of good to go. It's a lot easier, I think than people make it out to be. People make it out to be like this impossible task. And yeah, I'm just a dude like, I don't know, like 150 to 200 animals. I mean, yeah, there are dudes we got like Brian Barczyk with thousands of animals. Like if he's doing it, why would this be any more difficult? You know?
Yeah, no, totally. And I actually appreciate that you brought that up about the hoarding because I'm this is only the fifth episode that we've filmed. And actually, Maddy, who did the Crested gecko episode, said something very similar. So this is interesting to see, you know, from episode to episode what people are saying. So that's really interesting to me that it's the same thing.
I’m not sure, I don't know if I have anything that people talk like bad, you know. I think towards the big one I think it's very difficult, at least in my opinion. It's very difficult to be a professional breeder and make good YouTube videos. They don't go hand in hand very well because you kind of got to be quirky and you got to be I persona is I'm a little bit of a ditz, I'm kind of stupid and I get bit a lot, which isn’t made up for the camera. I just happen to get bit a lot. And you know, it's kind of like that. It makes into entertaining content and it's a very struggle trying to find what YouTube likes, and what people want to watch, versus how people are going to perceive me as a reptile breeder. But yeah, I always like my animals. Speak for themselves. I can be a stupid, unprofessional, weird guy covered in tattoos, but I have quality animals that look amazing. I obviously have time, and I care for all of them. All my breeders are looking exceptional. Yeah, if people think I'm just like this silly guy. Okay, man, as long as my animals look good. That's all that really matters.
Exactly. Like I know I'm very similar. Like, I have a lot of tattoos, too, and, like, I know the care of my animals is top-notch. Like, I know I'm doing a good job, and that's all that matters, right? So, oh, this one's kind of a tricky question. I want to see how you answer this one. If you could go back and give your 18-year-old self one piece of advice, what would it be?
Oh, that's a tough one, man. When I was 18, I was not in a very good place fighting a lot of demons in substance abuse at that time. So I think it would be to get off of that stuff. And I don't know, I guess mine would be things do get better actually. A video is releasing today in just a couple of hours. I'm actually eight years sober to the day, which is pretty cool. I got clean when I was 19 and I like telling my story and do I like tell my story once a year to give every time I do one of the I do them once a year and I get a couple of people that come in and they're like, Hey, you know, I'm struggling with the same thing. I don't want to say I hate saying like inspirational because it makes me sound like, I don't know, narcissistic. I don't know, man. I've got low self-esteem. So anything like that, that's not it. But at the end of the day, I like preaching the message that I made it through and I'm doing this now. It didn't, you know, I'm not the guy that came from money. I didn't get a bailout. I didn't have a high education status. I dropped out of high school when I was a sophomore. I just kept going. And no matter how hard it was, no matter how many hungry days I went, I just kept going on with it and kept rolling. And now I am here. So I think the big thing is just to keep rolling.
Yeah, no, I think that's. Yeah, no, that's really good. And again, like, kudos to you. Everyone needs to check out Dakota's channel anyways. So after you're done watching our video, go over to DB CB exotics and go watch Dakotah's videos. So good. We talked about a lot of things. We covered a lot of different topics. We learned, I learned so much about tokay geckos and I'm so excited. I am not going to impulse buy a tokay gecko, guys, I'm not going to do it. But maybe eventually.
You'll need it. You need an ambassador for your 2x2x2, a tokay gecko would be the perfect candidate. I mean, it's a write-off right there. That's your excuse.
Yes. There you go. Oh, I love it. Well, it has been a pleasure chatting with you this went so great. I'm so happy. Everyone needs to go watch Dakotah’s Channel again, it's DB CB Exotics. Thank you all for watching. If you like this video again, make sure you subscribe to our channel and hit the notification bell because we're doing this every month and I want you guys to be involved in these conversations. I think they're really great. But yeah, have a great day.