Day Gecko (Phelsuma) General Caresheet
Author: Zachary Titus
Day Geckos of the genus Phelsuma durinal geckos mainly found on the island of Madagascar. Most species inhabit the rainforest area though a few have adapted to the more arid northern region of the island. Phelsuma are largely arboreal though P. barbouri is the one ground dwelling species of the family. Phelsuma grow to a total length of 10-24cm dependent on species with Phelsuma grandis being the largest species of the genus.
Phelsuma in Captivity
Phelsuma caging should be well ventilated and provide UVB lighting. Animals kept in high intensity lighting will show better coloration then animals that have not had good access to high light levels. All Phelsuma can be kept at a base temperature of around 26C, and provided with a hot spot of 33-35C and humidity of 60-70%. Many speices of Phelsuma have been sucessfuly kept in specalized reptile rooms as free roaming animals. If doing so you should be sure to make the room as safe as possible for the animal.
Phelsuma in general are flighty and not good a good species to handle, added to this most species have thin skin that will tear away to allow escape, leaving a large open wound. Phelsuma are best caught with a box or net when you need to remove them from their cage.
The smallest species of Phelsuma are easily housed in pairs in 35 x 35 x 60 cm cages. For the largest species a 60 x 60 x 100 cm cage is good for a pair of adult geckos. A soil based substrate is best for these geckos and will provide a stable humidity for the cage. The cage can be decorated with bamboo branches and plants for cover (live or fake). One live plant that I find very helpful in keeping Phelsuma is sansevierien it is readily used by many species of Phelsuma as a hiding area and as a egg laying site. It is also very easy to grow and propagate.
Food and Water
The cage should be misted daily to provide water, though a water bowl should always be provided. Phelsuma can be fed a verity of insects such as crickets, flies, and roaches. They also will eat pollen and sweet fruits like pureed banana and various berries. Young animals should be fed insects daily, adults should be fed no more than 3 times a week. A feeding of fruit can be supplemented once every, or every other week.
Most species of Phelsuma are mature within their first year of life, though larger species take 18 months to mature. Many species can be sexed from the 5-7th month of age. Before breeding the pair should be cycled by allowing the temperature to drop to around 22C during the day with about 16C at night for 3-4 months. After bringing the temperature back to normal pairing should be seen. Females lay up to 10 pairs of eggs at 30-40 day intervals throughout the breeding season. Some species glue their eggs to the walls of the cage or leaves. If glued to the walls they are best left to incubate in place a cricket box can be placed around the eggs to protect them from water and the adults when they hatch. The eggs can be incubated at 24-28C and take 60-75 days to hatch based on incubation temperature. Phelsuma are a Temperature Dependent Sexual Dimorphic (TDSD) species. Meaning that the incubation temperature depicts the sex of the offspring, lower incubation temps in the first three weeks will result in more females and higher temps will result in more males. Females normally pick the best egg site for a 50/50 ratio of males and females.