Day Geckos: Care and Characteristics

The Phelsuma genus consists of day geckos, tropical arboreal reptiles of exemplary beauty. Even so, they're delicate pets with many factors you should consider.
Day Geckos: Care and Characteristics

Last update: 02 December, 2020

Phelsuma, or day geckos, are a genus of reptiles belonging to the Gekkonidae family. Because of their unparalleled beauty and gentle temperament, these animals have made a name for themselves in the exotic pet market in recent years. But are they good pets?

Unfortunately, there are several aspects you should take into account before considering having a day gecko as a pet. That’s because we’re dealing with a fragile, nervous animal with very specific requirements. Read on if you want to find out more about beautiful daytime geckos.

Initial considerations

First of all, we need to emphasize that all species of the genus Phelsuma are included in Appendix II of CITES. This is an international convention on the sale of endangered living beings in their natural environment. This means that one must be very careful when acquiring a specimen and ensure that it comes from a captive breeder.

Species such as Phelsuma madagascariensis or Phelsuma laticauda are in good condition in their natural environment. However, on the other hand, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) classifies other species, such as Phelsuma antanosy, as critically endangered.

Despite this worrisome data, many species of daytime gecko are successfully bred in captivity.

Besides these reports, it’s essential to know that there are multiple species of day geckos on the exotic pet market. These differ in size and small environmental factors, but we’ll outline the care and characteristics of the most common variety: Phelsuma madagascariensis.

The underside of a day gecko.


Caring for day geckos

As their name suggests, these geckos are generally active during the day. This distinguishes them from many other exotic species, and you can enjoy them more. Even so, these diurnal habits carry with them a series of special requirements.

In general, we can summarize the basic care of day geckos in the following points:

  • Terrarium size: This depends on the species, but, in general, a glass terrarium measuring 24 inches high by 12 inches wide and long is usually sufficient for one specimen. Remember that they’re climbing animals and can reach more than 8 inches in length.
  • Environmental enrichment: These animals require multiple branches and plants in their terrarium. They’re tropical reptiles, and also a bit nervous. Therefore, the presence of multiple natural refuges is especially necessary for any species belonging to the genus Phelsuma.
  • Temperature: The temperature should range between 80.6 F and 87.8  degrees during the day, with a decrease of 41 degrees at night. You can achieve this variation with the use of heating bulbs and thermal blankets.
  • Humidity: This parameter should be between 60-80 % relative humidity. You can achieve this by spraying the terrarium with water two or three times a day, or by using an automatic watering system.

Special considerations

In general, all the above parameters are quite common for different exotic species. Even so, the day gecko has diverse needs that other reptiles don’t require. We’ll tell you about them below.

First of all, all species in this genus need a UV light source outside the terrarium to illuminate the facility during the day. As diurnal animals, they require the sun’s rays for various metabolic processes. A fluorescent tube that emits a high level of UVA rays is best.

At the same time, the feeding of these reptiles is also quite specific. Their diet consists mainly of insects as, even in captivity, they continue to be predators. However, they drink fruit juices. You can buy pre-prepared purees for them in specialized stores and, without a doubt, these supplements are always the best option.

Finally, it’s essential to point out that handling can seriously hurt these animals. This reptile’s skin is extremely delicate and any violent grip or movement can leave open wounds.

For this reason, it’s important to keep handling to a minimum and, if necessary, to do so using no-contact boxes.

A green day gecko with red spots on its back and head.


A delicate pet

As we’ve seen in the above paragraphs, the genus Phelsuma is not a good option for someone who’s just entering the world of exotic pets. The requirements of day geckos are very specific, and, therefore, to consider the acquisition of a specimen, you must have some prior experience.

Even so, if you give it the necessary care, this wonderful reptile can live for more than 15 years. Of course, its daytime activity and fascinating appearance make it a treasure for any person passionate about the world of terrariums.

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