Day geckos
Gold dust day gecko, Phelsuma laticauda
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Family: Gekkonidae
Subfamily: Gekkoninae
Genus: Phelsuma
Gray, 1825

43 species; see text.

The genus Phelsuma consists of several lizards in the gecko family, commonly referred to as Day Geckos.



Yellow-throated day gecko, Phelsuma flavigularis

In contrast to most other gecko species, day geckos are active mainly during the day. Other diurnal geckos are members of the genus Lygodactylus and the genus Gonatodes. Day geckos have rounded pupils and a clear, fixed plate covering their eyes which they clean with their tongue. Day geckos do not have eyelids. Many species have bright green, red and blue colors which make them popular terrarium or vivarium pets. These brilliant colours play a role in intraspecies recognition and also serve as camouflage.

The length of the different Phelsuma species varies between about 6.5 to 30 centimetres (2.6 to 12 in), but the extinct Rodrigues Giant Day Gecko was even larger. Day geckos have toe pads consisting of tiny lamellae which allow them to walk on plain vertical and inverted surfaces like bamboo or glass. The inner toe on each foot is vestigial. Males have well-developed femoral pores on the undersurface of the rear limbs. These pores are less developed or absent in females. Females often have well-developed endolymphatic chalk sacs on the sides of their necks. These sacs store calcium, which is needed for egg production. Those eggs can often be seen through the ventral surface of the female's body shortly before they are laid. The hatchlings reach sexual maturity between 6-12 months. Smaller species may live up to ten years whereas the larger species have been reported to live more than 20 years in captivity.

Distribution and habitat

Day geckos inhabit the islands of the south-west part of the Indian Ocean. The exceptions are Phelsuma andamanense, which is endemic to the Andaman Islands in the Bay of Bengal, and Phelsuma dubia, which is also found on the East Coast of mainland Africa, although it is possible that it was introduced there. Most Phelsumas are found in Madagascar, which may also be the origin of the genus. Some species are found on neighbouring island groups, including the Mascarenes, Seychelles, Comoros. Due to human introduction, they are also often found on some of the Hawaiian Islands, including the Big Island and Kauai, and the state of Florida, where they were introduced as a form of pest control. The different Phelsuma species can be found from sea level up to 2,300 meters. Most day geckos are arboreal. They inhabit, amongst others, coconut palms and banana trees, but can also be found near human settlements, in gardens, on fences, houses and huts. An exception to this rule is Phelsuma barbouri, which is a terrestrial species.


Gold dust day gecko

Day geckos feed on various kinds of insects and other invertebrates in the wild. They also eat nectar, pollen and occasionally soft, ripe and sweet fruits such as bananas.

In captivity, such a diet is simulated. Insects which may be used include: (wingless) fruit flies, various flies, wax moths, crickets, small super worms, small butter worms and mealworms. Fruit, which is required a few times a week, may be small pieces of papaya, banana, fruit based baby food, or commercial gecko nectars.

In 2008 a BBC film crew took footage of a Day gecko successfully begging a Planthopper insect for honeydew.[1]


The genus Phelsuma was first described by the British zoologist John Edward Gray in 1825 and named after the Dutch physician Murk van Phelsum. The genus consists of about 70 known species and subspecies.

Two Phelsuma species (Phelsuma gigas and Phelsuma edwardnewtoni) are now considered to be extinct, probably due to the destruction of their environment by human settlers and their domestic animals. Many day gecko species are endangered today because an increasing percentage of their natural habitat, especially tropical forest, is being destroyed by human activity.

A Phelsuma lineata lineata in Madagascar's Mantadia National Park at Andasibe
  • Phelsuma abbotti
    • Aldabra Island Day Gecko, Phelsuma abbotti abbotti
    • Cheke's Day Gecko, Phelsuma abbotti chekei
    • Phelsuma abbotti pulchra
    • Assumption Island Day Gecko, Phelsuma abbotti sumptio
  • Andaman Islands Day Gecko, Phelsuma andamanense
  • Phelsuma antanosy
  • Seychelles Day Gecko, Phelsuma astriata
  • Barbour's Day Gecko, Phelsuma barbouri
  • Phelsuma berghofi
  • Phelsuma beufotakensis
  • Phelsuma borbonica
    • Agalega Day Gecko, Phelsuma borbonica agalegae
    • Reunion Island Day Gecko, Phelsuma borbonica borbonica
    • Phelsuma borbonica mater
  • Phelsuma breviceps
  • Blue-tailed Day Gecko, Phelsuma cepediana
  • Phelsuma comorensis
  • Dull Day Gecko, Phelsuma dubia
  • Rodrigues Blue-dotted Day Gecko, Phelsuma edwardnewtoni (extinct, last seen 1917)
  • Yellow-throated Day Gecko, Phelsuma flavigularis
  • Rodrigues Giant Day Gecko, Phelsuma gigas (extinct, last seen 1842)
  • Round Island Day Gecko, Phelsuma guentheri )
  • Orange-spotted Day Gecko, Phelsuma guimbeaui
    • Mauritius Lowland Forest Day Gecko, Phelsuma guimbeaui guimbeaui
    • Mauritius Upland Forest Day Gecko, Phelsuma guimbeaui rosagularis
  • Speckled Day Gecko, Phelsuma guttata
  • Phelsuma hielscheri
  • Reunion Island Ornate Day Gecko, Phelsuma inexpectata
  • Phelsuma kely
  • Yellow-headed Day Gecko, Phelsuma klemmeri
  • Broad-tailed Day Gecko, Phelsuma laticauda
  • Phelsuma lineata
  • Phelsuma madagascariensis
    • Madagascar Day Gecko, Phelsuma madagascariensis madagascariensis
    • Madagascar Giant Day Gecko, Phelsuma madagascariensis grandis
    • Koch's Giant Day Gecko, Phelsuma madagascariensis kochi
    • Boehme's Giant Day Gecko, Phelsuma madagascariensis boehmei
  • Phelsuma malamakibo
  • Phelsuma masohoala
  • Phelsuma minuthi
  • Modest Day Gecko, Phelsuma modesta
  • Thicktail Day Gecko, Phelsuma mutabilis
  • Island Day Gecko, Phelsuma nigristriata
  • Namaqua Day Gecko, Phelsuma ocellata
  • Mauritius Ornate Day Gecko, Phelsuma ornata
  • Pemba Island Day Gecko, Phelsuma parkeri
  • Phelsuma pronki
  • Phelsuma pusilla
  • Peacock Day Gecko, Phelsuma quadriocellata
  • Phelsuma ravenala
  • Robert Mertens' Day Gecko, Phelsuma robertmertensi
  • Seipp's Day Gecko, Phelsuma seippi
  • Flat-tailed Day Gecko, Phelsuma serraticauda
  • Standing's Day Gecko, Phelsuma standingi
  • Praslin Island Day Gecko, Phelsuma sundbergi
    • Seychelles Giant Day Gecko, Phelsuma sundbergi sundbergi
    • La Digue Day Gecko, Phelsuma sundbergi ladiguensis
    • Mahé Day Gecko, Phelsuma sundbergi longinsulae
  • Three Lined Day Gecko, Phelsuma trilineata
  • Phelsuma vanheygeni
  • Indian Day Gecko, Phelsuma v-nigra
    • Pasteur's Day Gecko, Phelsuma v-nigra pasteuri
    • Phelsuma v-nigra v-nigra
    • Anjouan Island Day Gecko, Phelsuma v-nigra anjouanensis
    • Grand Comoro Day Gecko, Phelsuma v-nigra comoraegrandensis

Explanation of the species epithets

  • abbotti: after W. L. Abbott.
  • agalagae: from Agalega.
  • andamanensis: from the Andaman Islands.
  • angularis: angular (refers to the tail).
  • anjouanensis: from Anjouan (island).
  • astovei: from Astove (island).
  • astriata: without stripes (in comparison to Phelsuma lineata lineata).
  • barbouri: after Barbour.
  • befotakensis: from Befotaka.
  • bimaculata: with two blotches, spots.
  • boehmei: after Wolfgang Böhme.
  • bombetokensis: from Bombetoka (bay).
  • borbonica: from Bourbon (now called Réunion).
  • breviceps: short headed.
  • cepediana: after Bernard Germain Étienne de la Ville, Comte de Lacépède.
  • checkei: after Anthony. S. Checke.
  • chloroscelis: with (leaf) green thighs.
  • comoraegrandensis: from Grande Comoros.
  • comorensis: from the Comoros (island group).
  • dorsivittata: back wrapped in ribbons.
  • dubia:
  • edwardnewtonii: after Edward Newton.
  • flavigularis: with a yellow throat.
  • grandis: big.
  • guentheri: after Albert Günther.
  • guimbeaui: after B. Guimbeau.
  • guttata: with teardrop formed spots.
  • hallmannii: after G. Hallmann.
  • inexpectata: unexpected.
  • kely: small (in the Malagasy language).
  • kochi: after K.L. Koch.
  • ladiguensis: from la Digue (island).
  • laticauda: with a broad, flattened tail.
  • leiogaster: smooth scales (belly).
  • leiura: smooth tail scales.
  • lineata: striped.
  • longinsulae: from Long Island.
  • madagascariensis: from Madagascar.
  • martensi: after Karl Martens.
  • menaiensis: from Menai.
  • minuthi: after W. Minuth.
  • modesta: modest.
  • mutabilis: variable, changeable.
  • nigristriata: with black stripes.
  • notissima: best known.
  • ornata: ornated.
  • parkeri: after Park.
  • parva: small.
  • pasteuri: after Georges Pasteur.
  • Phelsuma: after Murk van Phelsum.
  • pulchra: beautiful.
  • punctulata: with small spots.
  • pusilla: tiny.
  • quadriocellata: with four eyes.
  • robertmertensi: after Robert Mertens.
  • rosagularis: with a rose-coloured throat.
  • rubra: red(-hot).
  • seippi: after Robert Seipp.
  • semicarinata: semi-keeled (scales).
  • serraticauda: with a serrated tail.
  • standingi: after Standing.
  • sumptio:.
    1. from Assumption Island.
    2. from sumptuous (posture, build).
  • sundbergi: after H. Sundberg.
  • trilineata: with three stripes.
  • umbrae: shaded.
  • v-nigra: with a black V (marking).
  • venusta: sweet.
  • vinsoni: after Jean Vinson and Jean-Michel Vinson.

External links


  • Christenson, Leann and Greg (2003). Day Geckos In Captivity. Ada, Oklahoma: Living Art Publishing. ISBN 0-9638130-2-1. 

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