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Day Gecko (Phelsuma spp.)

Care of your Day Gecko


Care of your Leopard Gecko

Geckos of the genus 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 many of the day geckos species have many common requirements, there are also many different care needs for certain species.

Hatchlings- Hatchlings are generally hardy and easy to care for, especially if you obtain a captive bred animal. They do well on a diet of crickets of an appropriate size (for hatchlings, eighth inch crickets or smaller). The right size food item will be no longer than the width of the lizards own head. It is important to supply vitamins and minerals to your growing gecko. This can be accomplished by “gut-loading” crickets by feeding them such items as orange slices, carrots, salad greens, fish flake food, or a commercially available cricket food prior to giving them to your lizard. Additionally, the crickets can be dusted (coated in powder) with a quality commercial vitamin/mineral powder just before providing them to your gecko to eat. Hatchlings should be fed every day to maintain a healthy growth rate. It is a good idea to vary the diet from time to time by offering some other insect prey such as mealworms, waxworms, or butterworms. Remember to keep the prey size appropriate and use these worms sparingly, as they are mostly fatty of chitinous. Most day geckos also eat fruits including papaya, mango, and fruity baby foods. It is easy to mix phosphorus free calcium and vitamin supplements right into the baby foods and should be provided at every other feeding. I recommend keeping a small water bowl available at all times, just be sure to clean it regularly and spray the hatchlings 1 or 2 times a day to ensure proper hydration.

Adults- The adults are maintained in much the same way. Using a larger prey item feedings can be scaled back to two to three times a week. They don’t need vitamin supplementation quite as often either, maybe with every other to every third feeding. You can offer adult geckos an occasional pinkie mouse to vary the diet and supply a more complete diet. This is good for breeding females as well, to keep on a little extra body weight to compensate for reproductive energy expenditures.

How to Care for your Leopard GeckoGeneral- Day geckos are diurnal (active in the daylight hours) which is in contrast to most other species of geckos. They are also very territorial and they are very colorful. These lizards come equipped with feet that allow them to climb vertical surfaces with ease. For this reason, a vertically oriented terrarium will be most suitable to keep them in. Most day geckos do not tolerate handling and should be thought of as a viewable pet instead of an interactive one. These lizards are great inhabitants for a well designed planted vivarium. At the very least, select a tall tank and provide many tall plants and bamboo, cork, or branches to climb on. Smaller species can be housed in a minimum of a 10 gallon enclosure for a pair of day geckos. 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.

Temperature/Humidity- Most species of day geckos require daytime temperatures of 80 to 88 degrees Fahrenheit (27 to 31 degrees Celsius) and a nighttime temperature drop to around 70 to 75 degrees F (21 to 23 degrees C). A relative humidity level of 50 to 85 percent can be maintained by misting the enclosure several times a day. Keep a heat pad available at all times on one end of the tank. The day temperatures are best achieved with the use of incandescent lighting over the tank, and specifically positioned over slanted perches where the lizards are able to select their optimal basking temperatures.

Lighting- Adequate lighting is required for the day geckos and plants in the enclosure. Full-spectrum fluorescent lights should be placed at the top of the enclosure. Vitalights or other reptile fluorescent lights that produce UVA and UVB wavelengths of light should be used. Most types of plastic and glass block a large percent of UV light, so use these lights on a screen cover. An 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.

Helpful Links:

www.phelsumania.com-species lists, care info, nice site!

Other Helpful Info:

̃ Always buy a healthy captive bred animal and learn as much as you can from the source that you are buying it from, such as age, sex, what is it eating, etc.

̃ Find a local veterinarian who is knowledgeable about reptiles before any problems arise!

̃ Buy a good book about Day Geckos or at least a book with a decent section about these animals and keep it on hand for reference. This care sheet contains only initial information to get you started and is by no means complete.

̃ Enjoy your Day gecko! These are fantastic and rewarding pets.

Breeding- The breeding season is determined by temperature and photo period if the proper climate and diet are provided. As lighting hours and temperature increase in the 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

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