Madagascar Info.




Picture left: Phelsuma Guttata, Photo by David Parks

All day geckos are in the genus Phelsuma, one of the many genera in the family Gekkonidae. There are over 68 known living species and subspecies of day geckos, most are from Madagascar and the surrounding islands of the Indian Ocean. Phelsuma andamanensis (Andaman Islands day gecko) is native to the Andaman Islands in the Bay of Bengal which is a considerable distance from the Western Indian Ocean habitat of other day geckos. Also one species occurs in South Africa, and another has been introduced to Tanzania.

Members of the genus Phelsuma are diurnal (active during the day), while most other members of the family Gekkonidae are active only at night (nocturnal). Phelsuma Day geckos have a clear, fixed plate covering their eyes and do not have eyelids. All day geckos have flattened toe pads that are covered on the bottom with dead, keratinized scales called lamellae. The lamellae scale surface is made up of long hair-like structures called setae, and each setae is divided and subdivided along its length making the setal tips very small. Because of the setae, day geckos are capable of climbing up glass walls and, across ceilings, making them great escape artists.

In the wild, day geckos feed on insects, other invertebrates, nectar and pollen. In captivity the most common foods are crickets, wax moths, houseflies, papaya and baby-food fruits. An important factor in nutrition is calcium and vitamin supplementation. Vitamin D3 is required for the effective absorption of calcium. Calcium and phosphorus, in correct ratio, are required for a number of metabolic functions. Day geckos need ultraviolet lighting in order to synthesize vitamin D3. Mesh screen is recommended under the lights because plastic and glass block a large percentage of the UV lighting from reaching the gecko.

Most day geckos come from habitats with humidity levels of 50-85% however day geckos from Southwestern Madagascar prefer it dry and hot. I am a firm believer in naturalistic cages simulating the species natural habitat as close as possible and providing plenty hiding places to reduce stress. A well planted vivarium will also help maintain the humidity levels between mistings. If the correct environmental and nutritional needs are met, a number of day gecko species will routinely breed in  captivity.