Due to its extraordinarily vibrant colors and
ideal size for a home terrarium, the giant day gecko (Phelsuma grandis) has captivated reptile enthusiasts.
Select breeders have produced what are arguably the most beautiful lizards in the world, the crimson and blue blood day gecko.
They are forms of living art, and people who own them usually display them as a decorative focal point in a room or an outside
Giant day geckos are widely distributed in northern Madagascar, including some of the
offshore islets. Because giant day geckos are followers of civilization, they are found in gardens, huts and tree plantations
in this area. This is the tropical rain forest region which is characterized by hot and humid weather.
Until the mid 1980s, giant day geckos were rare in reptile
collections and considered a highly prized captive. They can now be found in local pet stores, with online breeders
and at reptile expos. Prices vary depending on age and color quality but range from $45 to $250. A new or rare color
morph can cost considerably more.
Wild-caught giant day geckos are still sporadically imported
from Madagascar. These animals are certainly beautiful but are rarely as healthy or as colorful as their captive-bred
Environmentally conscious reptilekeepers should insist on purchasing only captive-bred
specimens. Supporting the continued depletion of Madagascar’s flora and fauna needs to be discouraged due the
island nation’s critical environmental status.
As its name implies, the giant day gecko is the largest member of the
day gecko group. Adult males can reach a foot in total length. Females are typically 1 or 2 inches smaller. They
are a well-muscled and thick-bodied gecko.
Giant Day Gecko Life Span
If cared for properly, giant day
geckos can live for a long time. Records of them surviving for 20 years exist, but the average lifespan is between 6
to 8 years.
Day Gecko Caging
Giant day geckos do best when housed individually or in pairs.
Males cannot be housed together, because they will fight excessively until the subordinate male is severely injured or killed.
At times, pairs will reject each other’s company and fight. When this occurs, they will have to be separated.
Some male/female pairs will bond for life and never fight. These individuals should not be separated, because they may
not accept another mate.
Giant day geckos thrive in well-planted naturalistic terrariums. Because giant day geckos are arboreal, the enclosure should be vertically oriented. Screen and glass enclosures
measuring 24 inches tall by 24 inches long by 12 inches wide will comfortably house an adult pair. Bamboo has been a
long-time favorite cage furnishing, as it is ideal for climbing, basking and egg laying. Live plants will add to the
naturalistic design and increase enclosure humidity.
Although not essential, exposing giant day
geckos to natural light has positive health benefits. If you live in an area with favorable conditions, housing geckos
outside is encouraged. Remember: They always need to have access to some shade to cool off.
Giant Day Gecko Lighting
Giant day geckos are diurnal. The use of a high quality UVB light
will help to fill the gecko’s vitamin D3 requirement. An incandescent light bulb of the appropriate wattage should
be used to maintain a 95 degrees Fahrenheit basking spot. The ambient temperature should range from 82 to 86 degrees
during the day and 75 to 82 degrees at night. Captive giant day geckos will use this thermal gradient to thermoregulate
to their optimal body temperature.
Giant Day Gecko Substrate
substrates designed for rain forest terrariums can be used successfully, including peat/soil mixtures, coconut fiber and various
bark chips. The only provision is that the particle size of the substrate should be large enough so that it cannot be
accidentally ingested by the geckos while they are catching insect prey, as this could lead to intestinal blockage.
Giant day geckos are highly opportunistic feeders. In the
wild, they consume various insects, fruit, small lizards and even small mammals if given the opportunity. This diverse
palate makes feeding giant day geckos in captivity simple. They accept commercially bred insects such as crickets, waxworms,
mealworms and cockroaches. Commercially available nutritionally balanced diets for frugivore lizards have become available
(e.g., Repashy Superfoods) and are recommended for giant day geckos. Homemade diets are also enjoyed. Insects can be offered two times a week and fruit diet one to two times a week.
All insect prey should be dusted with a high-quality calcium/vitamin D3 supplement (Rep-Cal ultrafine powder)
at every feeding. A multimineral supplement (herptivite by Rep-Cal) should also be used once per week. These supplements
can be added to fruit-based diets as well.
Giant Day Gecko Water
Daily misting of the enclosure provides
giant day geckos with their water requirement. They will lick water droplets from enclosure decorations. If misted
directly, their tongues will remove water from their eyes and nose. Daily misting also acts to maintain the enclosure’s
desired ambient humidity of 50 to 70 percent.
Giant Day Gecko Handling and Temperament
day geckos are mainly a terrarium species to be enjoyed within their enclosures. Nevertheless, they will get to know
their caretaker and, with time, will take food items from
their keeper’s hand. Some even seem to enjoy periods of handling, but one should never grab a giant day gecko, as the skin could slough.
Giant Day Gecko Health
Giant day geckos appear to be less susceptible to disease than other reptiles are. This is probably due to
multiple variables but includes inherent disease resistance and strong immune function.
Giant Day Gecko Breeding
Many people who purchase giant day geckos intend to breed them. If maintained under the above parameters,
they will breed and lay eggs on a regular basis. Captive maintenance of neonates is identical to that of adults except
that enclosures should be considerably smaller and food items sized appropriately. Plastic containers measuring 12 inches
by 12 inches by 12 inches are adequate to house one or two hatchlings, and 2-week-old crickets are a readily accepted meal
after the neonate’s first shed.
The giant day gecko is emerging as a staple in reptile
collections, and with its continued selective breeding, you can expect even further improvements in terms of color, tameness
and disease resistance.
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