Day geckos of the genus Phelsuma are different from other geckos for several reasons. Unlike most other geckos, day geckos are diurnal (active during the day) hence their
name. They are also very territorial and they are very colorful. Most day geckos do not tolerate handling and should be thought of as a viewable pet instead of an interactive one. As with most animals
there are exceptions depending on the individual gecko. Phelsuma have some fairly stringent care requirements, and beginning day gecko keepers should start with some of the easier to care for species
such as Phelsuma madagascariensis grandis (Giant Day Gecko), Phelsuma laticauda (Gold Dust Day Gecko), and Phelsuma lineata (Lined Day Gecko). Even though most
day geckos species have many common needs, there are also many different care requirements between species
Most day geckos require a vertically oriented
enclosure with many tall plants and bamboo to climb on. Smaller species should be housed in a minimum of a 10 gallon enclosure for a pair of day geckos. The larger species should be housed in 20 gallon
or larger enclosures for pairs of day geckos. Individual animals and juveniles can be kept in smaller enclosures. It is also important to provide proper ventilation in the enclosure while keeping proper
humidity. Unlike most other day geckos Phelsuma barbouri requires a horizontally oriented enclosure.
Decorations / Substrate:
Bottom substrate should be made up
of a layer of tiny pebbles at least 1/2 inch (1.3 cm) thick for drainage followed by a 1.5 inch (3.8 cm) layer of peat moss or Styrolite-free potting soil. Fine grade well-washed orchid bark may also be
used as a top level substrate. Enclosures should be well planted with tall stiff leafed plants such as Sansevieria (Snake plant), Orchids, bromeliads, and other tropical plants. Both vertical and
semi-horizontal bamboo stalks should be provided for climbing and basking. The semi-horizontal bamboo pieces should be placed near the fluorescent and incandescent lights for basking. Cork bark makes an
excellent wall covering and also provides attachment points for epiphyte plants. It is also important to provide plenty of hiding places for day geckos which will help to reduce stress.
Temperature / Humidity:
Most species of day geckos require daytime temperatures of 81 to 89 degrees Fahrenheit (27 to 31 degrees Celsius) and a nighttime 10 degrees F. (5
degrees C.) temperature drop to around 70 to 80 degrees F (21 to 27 degrees C.). Most species of day geckos require a relative humidity of 50 to 85 percent that can be maintained by misting the enclosure
several times a day. Plants and proper substrate are important in maintaining required humidity levels.
Adequate lighting is required for the day geckos
and plants in the enclosure. Several full-spectrum fluorescent lights should be placed at the top of the enclosure. Vitalights or other reptile fluorescent lights that produce small amounts of UVA and
UVB lights may be used. Screen is recommended under the fluorescent bulbs because most types of plastic and glass block a large percent of UV light. A small low-wattage (20 to 60 watt) incandescent or
halogen basking light should also be provided on one side of the enclosure over specific basking areas so that the gecko can pick its preferred temperature. Lighting should be controlled by a timer and
varied seasonally from 14 hours per day during the summer to 10 hours per day during the winter, along with a small temperature drop for three to four months in winter.
The main staple of a day geckos diet are insects which include crickets, waxworms, waxmoths, wingless fruitless, and flies. Most day geckos also eat fruits including papaya, mango, and fruit
baby food. Phosphorus free calcium and vitamin supplements are very important in a day geckos diet and should be provided at every other feeding.
season is determined by temperature and photo period if the proper climate and diet are provided. As lighting hours and temperature increase in Spring, females should be provided additional food and
supplements. Day geckos are either gluers or non-gluers. Non-gluers lay two or one calcareous hard-shelled eggs in a protected location such as a leaf joint or open bamboo section. Gluers attach the egg
or eggs to leaves or other hard surfaces and are easily broken if an attempt is made to remove them. The eggs of gluers must be incubated in place unless the object to which they are attached can be
moved to an incubator.
Most fertile eggs can be incubated at a temperature of 82 degrees Fahrenheit (28 degrees C) with small variations in temperature and will hatch in 38 to 90 days depending on the species. Eggs can be hatched in an incubator by placing them on a small plastic lid placed on top of a bed of slightly moistened vermiculite (1:1 ratio of vermiculite to water by weight)
Recommended reading for specific species information:
‘Day Geckos in Captivity’ Leann & Greg Christenson 2003
'The General Care and Maintenance of Day Geckos' Sean McKeown 1993
'Geckoes' Henkel/Schmidt 1995 English version
'The Captive Maintenance and Propagation of Day Geckos' Tim Tytle 1989 The Vivarium 2-5
'Day Geckos' Eric M. Rundquist 1994
'Successfully Keeping the Smaller Day Geckos' Sean McKeown 1996 Reptiles 4-9
'Breeding the Smaller Day Geckos' Sean McKeown 1996 Reptiles 4-10
'Keeping and Breeding the Larger Day Geckos' Reid Taylor 1995 Reptiles 3-4
© Copyright Greg Christenson 1997, 1998, 2006