Phelsuma Gecko Species Commonly Available as Pets
There are Many Day Gecko Species
At the moment there are over 60 species of Phelsuma day geckos documented. These beautiful diurnal lizards are native to Madagascar and other islands in the Indian oceans.
Many of them are kept as pets. They are generally though to be more demanding in terms of husbandry than leopard geckos, and cannot be handled. However, they make up for that with their beautiful colours.
Below is a list of the most commonly species. If you keep a gecko not on the list, or would like to see a species added, let me know in the comments.
Madagascar Giant Day Gecko (P. madagascariensis grandis)
There are several different subspecies of the giant day gecko. Grandis, being the most colourful is also the most popular. Sadly juveniles are generally more colourful than adults, and use many of their bright red spots as they mature.
As the name suggests these are big geckos, with adults reaching 12" in length. Although their larger size makes it more possible to handle them, this should be done with great care, or not at all. They have a very delicate skin, which can be damaged if you try to hold them and they wriggle resulting in ugly scars.
They need a larger tank than most day geckos. They need a humid tropical environment with daytime temperatures in the mid 80oF and a basking spot that is warmer by a few degrees. Optimal humidity is 75-85%.
These are fairly aggressive geckos, sometimes even attacking their owner's fingers. They should be kept in pairs, and even then it is important to keep an eye on the female to make sure she is not attacked by her mate.
P. madagascariensis granis is found in Norther and Northwestern Madagascar. Other subspecies are the nominate madagascariansis, and kochi.
The Gold Dust Gecko Phelsuma laticauda
The gold dust gecko gets its name from the golden speckles on its shoulders and neck. It also has the most impressive blue eye shadow, and three clear red teardrops on its green back.
It is a very popular species since it is fairly easy to keep in captivity. It does best in a subtropical tank, with a humidity of 60-75%.
Laticauda is a medium sized gecko with adults reaching 5". Males are a little bigger than females.
P. laticauda are native to Northern Madagascar and the Comoros Islands, although they have spread to other countries. There is a very healthy population of them in Hawaii, where they are often found inside houses helping themselves to anything sweet that has been left outside.
A subspecies P. laticauda angularis is very similar, except that it is a little smaller reaching a length of 4.3", and the red markings on its back are less distinct. It is not as easily available as the nominate form.
Neon Day Geckos, Phelsuma klemmeri
Neon day geckos are very appropriately named. Unlike the majority of Phelsuma they are not green but have a shiny blue bars on their flanks, contrasting nicely with the bright yellow heads.
They are one of the smallest gecko species reaching only 3.9" snout-to-tail. Klemmeri are also very slender, and can squeeze through the narrowest crack, making them superb escape artists, something that should be kept in mind when setting up their enclosure.
They need high humidity in the 80-85% range, best provided by a thickly planted terrarium and frequent misting.
They are particularly fond of bamboo, which is found in their natural environment in Northwest Madagascar. The inside of bamboo tubes is the preferred egg laying spot for females.
They are probably the most relaxed of day geckos, rarely fighting. Males should not be kept together although it is possible to keep a group of one male and several females. However, you might still find that only one female breeds, since the others are intimidated by her.
Not as easy to find to as the giant or gold dust geckos, it is still possible to obtain them in most countries. I breed these so if you are looking for juveniles and live near London, UK, you can contact me to see if I have any hatchlings.
Baby P. klemmeri Gecko
Peacock Day Gecko, Phelsuma quadrocellata
The peacock gecko gets its common name fro the 4 black spots surrounded by a ring of blue, behind each of its forelimbs, and in front of each hindlimb.
This is another medium sized gecko, with adults reaching a length of 4.7". They require a tropical terrarium with humidity of 75% to 85%.
This is a fairly hardy species, that is not too difficult to keep.
P. quadrocellata is naturally found on the coastline regions of Madagascar.
Blue Tail Day Gecko, P. cepediana
Phelsuma cepediana geckos have a reputation as being very sensitive to mistakes in husbandry and difficult to keep. However I have kept a pair of them for over three years and raised around 20 hatchlings with no problems. I suspect that, whereas wild caught specimen were difficult to keep well, captive bred ones are quite hardy.
Male geckos can colour up beautiful with a blue tint which is especially intense in the tail. However, the colours can be variable, depending on the male's mood, condition and genetics, and need really good terrarium illumination to look their best. Female's are duller in colour with less blue and less clear red spots.
They can be quite aggressive and territorial. Although my pair gets along well, I have heard of many other keepers' females being killed by the male.
Often when these are bred in captivity there are many more female hatchlings than male. Like most lizards the gender of the hatchlings seems to depend on incubation environment, rather than genetics. A group of breeders who set out to systematically discover the conditions required for obtaining males, concluded that higher incubation temperatures were necessary, although they led to higher mortality.
P. cepediana appear to require a higher percentage of their diet to come from fruit or other flower nectal substitute than other day geckos. Females will often not breed if deprived of fruit. However, juveniles should still be fed a protein-rich insect diet.
Blue tail geckos are native to Mauritius, they reach a length of 5.9" and require a medium sized tropical terrarium with a high humidity, up to 85%.
The ornate day gecko looks as if somebody painted a layer of green and red over a brown/grey lizard but didn't quite manage to get to the edges!
This small (4.5") species is native to Mauritius. Its humidity requirements are not too high, it is happy with a range of 60-65%.
They do require high intensity lighting to bring out their colours to their best advantage. They are also reported to be very shy, requiring many hiding places in their enclosures. However, I find these generalisations can be very misleading. I was warned that I would hardly see my cepediana geckos, another shy species. In reality they seem to be tamer than my klemmeri, a famously outgoing day gecko.
Standing's Day Gecko, Phelsuma standingii
Standing's day geckos are one of the bigger Phelsuma, reaching a length of 11".
Juveniles have a very pretty pattern of alternating brown and powder blue bands on the body, and brown and yellow heads, with an almost-like zebra pattern. However as they mature the bands merge, giving adults with almost no pattern.
These geckos live in the dry thorn forests of southwest Madagascar and are unusual in that they require an arid type terrarium, with few plants if any and daytime temperatures on the mid-to-high 80s with a basking spot around 95oF. Humidity should be between 50 and 60%.
They should be kept in pairs, in suitably large enclosures. It is reported that in the wild they mate for life.