|Gold dust day gecko, Phelsuma laticauda|
43 species; see text.
Some day geckos are seriously endangered and some are common, but all Phelsuma species are CITES Appendix II listed. Little is known about trade in day geckos, but the IUCN considers it a threat to some species. Some species are captive-bred.
In contrast to most other gecko species, day geckos are active mainly during the day. Other diurnal geckos include species of the genera Lygodactylus and Gonatodes. Like most other geckos, day geckos lack eyelids, instead having rounded pupils and a clear, fixed plate covering their eyes which they clean with their tongues. Many species have bright green, red, and blue colors which make them popular terrarium or vivarium pets. These brilliant colors play a role in intraspecies recognition and also serve as camouflage.
The length of the different Phelsuma species varies between about 6.5 and 30 centimetres (2.6 and 11.8 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 their 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 six and 12 months old. Smaller species may live up to 10 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 possibly was introduced there. Most Phelsumas species are found in Mauritius and Madagascar. Some species are found on neighbouring island groups, including the Mascarenes, Seychelles, and 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, Phelsuma barbouri, is a terrestrial species.
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, or other sweet fruit and also commercial gecko nectars.
The genus Phelsuma was first described in 1825 by the British zoologist John Edward Gray, who named it 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 environments 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.
- Phelsuma abbotti Stejneger, 1893
- Phelsuma andamanense Blyth, 1861 – Andaman Islands day gecko
- Phelsuma antanosy Raxworthy & Nussbaum, 1993
- Phelsuma astriata Tornier, 1901 – Seychelles day gecko
- Phelsuma barbouri Loveridge, 1942 – Barbour's day gecko
- Phelsuma berghofi Krüger, 1996
- Phelsuma borai Glaw, J. Köhler & Vences, 2009
- Phelsuma borbonica Mertens, 1966
- Phelsuma breviceps Boettger, 1894
- Phelsuma cepediana (Milbert, 1812) – blue-tailed day gecko
- Phelsuma comorensis Boettger, 1913
- Phelsuma dorsivittata Mertens, 1964
- Phelsuma dubia (Boettger, 1881) – dull day gecko, Zanzibar day gecko
- Phelsuma edwardnewtoni J. Vinson & J.-M. Vinson, 1969 – Rodrigues blue-dotted day gecko (extinct, last seen 1917)
- Phelsuma flavigularis Mertens, 1962 – yellow-throated day gecko
- Phelsuma gigas Liénard, 1842 – Rodrigues giant day gecko (extinct, last seen 1842)
- Phelsuma gouldi Crottini et al., 2011
- Phelsuma grandis Gray, 1870 – Madagascar giant day gecko
- Phelsuma guentheri Boulenger, 1885 – Round Island day gecko
- Phelsuma guimbeaui Mertens, 1963 – orange-spotted day gecko, Mauritius lowland forest day gecko
- Phelsuma guttata Kaudern, 1922 – speckled day gecko
- Phelsuma hielscheri Rösler, Obst & Seipp, 2001
- Phelsuma hoeschi Berghof & Trautmann, 2009
- Phelsuma inexpectata Mertens, 1966 – Reunion Island ornate day gecko
- Phelsuma kely Schönecker, Bach & Glaw, 2004
- Phelsuma klemmeri Seipp, 1991 – yellow-headed day gecko
- Phelsuma kochi Mertens, 1954
- Phelsuma laticauda (Boettger, 1880) – broad-tailed day gecko
- Phelsuma lineata Gray, 1842
- Phelsuma madagascariensis Gray, 1831
- Phelsuma malamakibo Nussbaum et al., 2000
- Phelsuma masohoala Raxworthy & Nussbaum, 1994
- Phelsuma modesta Mertens, 1970 – modest day gecko
- Phelsuma mutabilis (Grandidier, 1869) – thicktail day gecko
- Phelsuma nigristriata Meier, 1984 – island day gecko
- Phelsuma ocellata (Boulenger, 1885) = Rhoptropella ocellata – Namaqua day gecko
- Phelsuma ornata Gray, 1825 – Mauritius ornate day gecko
- Phelsuma parkeri Loveridge, 1941 – Pemba Island day gecko
- Phelsuma parva Meier, 1983
- Phelsuma pasteuri Meier, 1984 – Pasteur's day gecko
- Phelsuma pronki Seipp, 1994
- Phelsuma pusilla Mertens, 1964
- Phelsuma quadriocellata W. Peters, 1883 – peacock day gecko
- Phelsuma quadriocellata quadriocellata W. Peters, 1883 – four-spotted day gecko
- Phelsuma quadriocellata bimaculata Kaudern, 1922
- Phelsuma quadriocellata lepida Krüger, 1993
- Phelsuma ravenala Raxworthy et al., 2007
- Phelsuma robertmertensi Meier, 1980 – Robert Mertens' day gecko
- Phelsuma roesleri Glaw et al., 2010
- Phelsuma rosagularis J. Vinson & J.-M. Vinson, 1969 – Mauritius upland forest day gecko
- Phelsuma seippi Meier, 1987 – Seipp's day gecko
- Phelsuma serraticauda Mertens, 1963 – flat-tailed day gecko
- Phelsuma standingi Methuen & Hewitt, 1913 – Standing's day gecko
- Phelsuma sundbergi Rendahl, 1939 – Praslin Island day gecko
- Phelsuma vanheygeni Lerner, 2000
- Phelsuma v-nigra Boettger, 1913 – Indian day gecko
- Breeding Endangered Geckos, editor's interview with Matt Schaefer, July 23, 2013
- "Gecko 'begs' insect for honeydew". BBC News. 16 February 2008.
- Beolens, Bo; Watkins, Michael; Grayson, Michael (2011). The Eponym Dictionary of Reptiles. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. xiii + 296 pp. ISBN 978-1-4214-0135-5. (Phelsuma, p. 206).
- Christenson, Leann; Christenson, Greg (2003). Day Geckos In Captivity. Ada, Oklahoma: Living Art Publishing. ISBN 0-9638130-2-1.
- Gray JE (1825). "A Synopsis of the Genera of Reptiles and Amphibia, with a Description of some new Species". Annals of Philosophy. New Series [Series 2] 10: 193-217. (Phelsuma, new genus, p. 199).