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Phelsuma Gecko Species Commonly Available as Pets

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Gold dust day geckos are widely available as pets.

Gold dust day geckos are widely 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 grandis subspecies of the giant Madagascar day gecko is the most colourful, and the most popular.

The grandis subspecies of the giant Madagascar day gecko is the most colourful, and the most popular.

The gold dust gecko is very colourful and relatively easy to keep making it a very popular pet.

The gold dust gecko is very colourful and relatively easy to keep making it a very popular pet.

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 are amongst the smallest species, but have amazing colours.

Neon day geckos are amongst the smallest species, but have amazing colours.

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.

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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.

My P. cepediana male.

My P. cepediana male.

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 lives up to its common name

The ornate day gecko lives up to its common name

Phelsuma ornata

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.

Sadly the clear pattern of the juvenile P. standing is lost in the adults.

Sadly the clear pattern of the juvenile P. standing is lost in the adults.

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.


The Grandson on November 06, 2013:

The green ones are Green Anoles. I think they are native. The somewhat translucent ones are Mediterranean Geckos, and they are nocternal. I caught them in Louisianna, kept them as pets, and released them at the end of the summer. The following summer, my house was covered with them; so, ofcoarse , I took some to Grandma's house.

aa lite (author) from London on October 19, 2013:

Thanks very much Alicia. Reptiles are getting to be more popular as pets, but I guess they are a bit of a specialty.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on October 19, 2013:

I love the gecko photos! The descriptions are interesting, too. Although I've had lots of pets in my life, I've never had a reptile in my home. They're interesting animals.

Jaye Denman from Deep South, USA on October 03, 2013:

If I ever get the opportunity to take a photo of one of the see-through babies, I'll send it to you. However, they move very fast and I've never had my camera in hand when I saw one.


aa lite (author) from London on October 03, 2013:

There could be two types, or there might be just one species, but the females have more subdued colours. The majority of geckos are nocturnal, so the fact that yours are sunning themselves during the day suggests they are day geckos. There are about 50 different species, I haven't listed them all in this hub.

Although there are also green diurnal geckos from New Zealand that are a completely different genus.

Interesting about the translucent babies, not something I've seen with the offspring of the species I keep.

Jaye Denman from Deep South, USA on October 03, 2013:

Actually, there seem to be two types though I'm not sure of their identities. One type is bright green with coloration (some reddish), but I didn't see the exact markings that are in your photos. The others are more subdued in color.

When the babies are very small, they are completely transluscent--it's fascinating to see through their skins.

Sometimes one of them will get inside the house, and I'm careful to catch it and place it back outside uninjured so my dog won't bother it. Although she's blind now, if one came up to her she might hurt it. I've become quite adept at gecko rescue!

I do enjoy watching them. Since the front of my house gets the morning sun, there's an entire colony sunning themselves on the front porch and brick walls beside the front door. When I walk outside, they scatter, but not very far. It's strange, but I never see any of them anywhere on my property but near the front and back doors.

My grandson (now an adult) thinks it's a real hoot that he began my gecko population with the ones he left here more than a decade ago.


aa lite (author) from London on October 03, 2013:

Thanks Jaye, I am so jealous, lots of wild geckos must be fantastic! What type of gecko are they? Are they colourful like the day geckos, or more subdued?

Jaye Denman from Deep South, USA on October 03, 2013:

I enjoyed your hub about geckos. While I don't keep any as pets, per se, I provide a home for hundreds (thousands?) of the little reptiles, thanks to one of my grandsons. He left some in my yard 13 years ago, and they've been reproducing ever since. They congregate near the front and back doors of my home.

I have a screened back porch, and when I turn on the light at night I can see up to eight of their undersides stuck to the glass storm door leading outside. Before I can open that door to take my dog out for a last potty break before bedtime, I have to click my fingernails on the door glass so they will scatter. (I don't want to accidentally close the door on any of them, even though I know their tails will grow back if lost.) They look so funny on that door, like those suction-cup toys people used to stick on their car's back windshield. "Gecko on Board!"

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