Extensively updated 27 January 2013: added P. borai, P. gouldi, P. hoeschi, P. parva, P. pasteuri and P. roesleri, corrected some links and updated Bibliography.

Subfamily GEKKONINAE - Typical Geckos


Genus PHELSUMA - Day Geckos

The genus Phelsuma originates from the area of the Mascarene Islands, that is to say the huge island of Madagascar (third largest in the world) and neighbouring islands in the Indian Ocean. In addition one species lives in southern Africa and another has been imported into Tanzania.

Day Geckos are among the most beautiful lizards, or indeed creatures, on earth, being patterned with various bright spots or stripes on a background of emerald green or sometimes blue. They are also unusual in other ways for geckos, being mostly diurnal (active by day) - hence their beautiful round eyes, rather than the usual nocturnal "cat's eye" of many geckos - and also avid consumers of sweet fruit juice and nectar. As Eric Rundquist says, they are the hummingbirds of lizarddom. On the other hand they share the basic body design of the subfamily Gekkoninae, and like their well-known relatives such as the Tokay Gecko are able to climb smooth vertical surfaces thanks to their lamellated feet.

Species and Care

Basic care is similar to that of many of the genus Gekko. A tall, rather than long, terrarium is needed, preferably planted with living plants (see care manuals for suggestions). Phelsuma species are more delicate than Gekko lizards, however, so do not assume that what will suffice for a Tokay will be adequate for a Gold-Dust Gecko. Temperatures need to be slightly higher by day and the cage sprayed to raise humidity dependent upon species. Adequate ventilation is also a must. In addition to the usual diet of invertebrates, day geckos should also be offered a mixture of pureed fruit and baby food to simulate the nectar and soft fruit juice consumed in the wild. Details of several such formulae can be found in most of the books in the Bibliography. One advantage of Phelsuma geckos over the Gekko species is that they are on average smaller in length and less bulky, and can be accommodated more easily.

Please note that these notes are not intended to be a comprehensive guide to the captive care of day geckos. Think of them rather as pointers, supplying data as to the names and origins of these lizards and their ease or difficulty of maintenance. I would strongly urge a prospective day gecko owner to purchase either McKeown's or Rundquist's book (see Bibliography). McKeown's is the more detailed but slightly more expensive of the two. You might even consider purchasing both. Both the websites listed in the Bibliography also have excellent information, as the authors have obviously specialised.

Recent synonyms (April 2008): the species P. befotakensis is now considered a synonym of P. abbotti. P. leiogaster is now normally considered a subspecies of P. modesta, and the subspecies P. leiogaster trautmanni is no longer recognised by some authorities: P. longinsulae is now considered to be a subspecies of P. sundbergi, and the subspecies P. l. menaiensis (Cosmoledo Island), pulchra, rubra and umbrae are no longer recognised. We have included some of these synonyms in the list below as some writers do still refer to them.

Recent synonyms (January 2013): several subspecies have been elevated to full species status in the past few years, while P. chekei is now considered a subspecies of P. abbotti. P. minuthi is now considered a synonym of P. lineata lineata




P. abbotti, Seychelles Day Gecko

P. andamanensis, Andaman Day Gecko

P. antanosy

P. astriata, Dwarf Seychelles Day Gecko

P. barbouri, Barbour's Day Gecko

P. berghofi

P. borbonica, Reunion Island Day Gecko

P. breviceps, Blunt-Headed Day Gecko

P. cepediana, Mauritius Upland Day Gecko

P. chekei, Northern Day Gecko

P. comorensis

P. dubia, Dull Day Gecko

P. edwardnewtoni, Rodrigues Day Gecko

P. flavigularis, Yellow-Throated Day Gecko

P. gigas, Rodrigues Giant Day Gecko

P. guentheri, Round Island Day Gecko

P. guimbeau, Mauritius Lowland Day Gecko

P. guttata, Spotted Day Gecko

P. hielscheri

P. inexpectata

P. kely

P. klemmeri, Yellow-Headed (Neon) Day Gecko

P. laticauda, Golddust Day Gecko/
Flat-Tail Day Gecko

P. leiogaster

P. lineata, Lined Day Gecko

P. madagascariensis, Madagascar Giant Day Gecko 

P. malamakibo 

P. masohoala 

P. modesta 

P. mutabilis, Drab Day Gecko 

P. nigristriata 

P. ocellata, Spotted Day Gecko

P. ornata, Ornate Day Gecko

P. parkeri 

P. pronki 

P. pusilla

P. quadriocellata, Peacock Day Gecko

P. ravenala

P. robertmertensi, Mertens' Day Gecko 

P. rosagularis, Pink-Throated Day Gecko 

P. seippi, Seipp's Day Gecko 

P. serraticauda, Flat-Tailed Day Gecko 

P. standingi, Standing's Day Gecko 

P. sundbergi, Seychelles Giant Day Gecko

P. trilineata, Three-Lined Day Gecko

P. v-nigra

P. vanheygeni


Scientific Name

Common Name





P. abbotti

Seychelles Day Gecko



McKeown claims that this species does well in captivity. Of the two subspecies, P. a. sumptiois the larger and slightly more colourful. Both can be managed in the same way. Apparently P. a. abbotti(I am not sure whether McKeown also includes P. a. sumptio) is mostly insectivorous, consuming very little nectar, unlike most other Phelsumaspecies.

P. a. abbotti

Aldabra Island Day Gecko

Aldabra Island


P. a. sumptio

Assumption Island Day Gecko

Assumption Island


P. andamanensis

Andaman Day Gecko

Andaman Islands, Bay of Bengal


At the time of writing his care manual (1993), McKeown noted that none of this species had been seen in the USA, but this may have changed: in addition, European herpetoculturists may have had some in their care. Daniel notes that this species apparently prefers coconut trees in flower, since the latter provide both nectar and a lure for insects. Coloration: emerald green with red spots; ventrally bright yellow; tongue bright red.. Reproduction: males are territorial and display the red spots on the head and base of the tail. Young are believed to hatch out during the early monsoon season.

P. antanosy

Day Gecko

SE. Madagascar


First recognised as a species in 1993: see Reptile Database entry. No other data available.

P. astriata

Dwarf Seychelles Day Gecko



Nominate species is "lime green" day gecko with "rust-coloured" markings (McKeown), but he notes that subspecies may vary slightly according to habitat. McKeown recommends housing these in sexual pairs.

P. a. astriata

Seychelles (Mahé, Praslin)

P. a. astovei

Astove Island

P. a. carinata

Seychelles, Amirante

P. a. semicarinata


P. barbouri

Barbour's Day Gecko



Subtly coloured day gecko with electric green and brown dorsal surfaces and, unusually for Phelsuma species, a white ventral surface. The tail is blue in juveniles and even in adulthood retains a bluish colouring.

P. berghofi

SE Madagascar


Species was identified in 1996: see Reptile Database entry.

P. borai

W Madagascar

First described in 2009: see Reptile Database entry for details.

P. borbonica

Reunion Island Day Gecko

Mauritius (Agalega, Bois Blanc and Reunion Island)


Click here for a picture of P. borbonica.

P. b. borbonica

N of Reunion Island

P. b. agalegae

Agalega Island Day Gecko

Agalega Island


P. b. mater

Reunion Island Day Gecko

E of Reunion Island


P. breviceps

Day Gecko



This small gecko has an interesting colour scheme of gray-green intensely mottled with various coloured spots of which turquoise blue is the most striking colour.

P. cepediana

Mauritius Upland Day Gecko,
Blue-Tailed Day Gecko

Mauritius and Reunion Island


Rundquist considers this to be the most beautiful but also one of the most difficult day geckos to keep alive, let alone breed. Although numbers are imported into the West, he strongly advises only the experienced to attempt these. Mattison advises that the atmosphere in the terrarium be kept more humid than usual for this day gecko.

P. chekei

Northern Day Gecko

N Madagascar


Rundquist quotes this as a species in his book, but other books do not seem to recognise it. However, Greg and Leanne's Day Gecko site (well worth visiting) have some useful information and a photograph by respected herp photographer Bill Love. I am grateful to them for the common name of this species. It is listed as CITES II, which means you are unlikely to see it offered for sale, but it would be worth contacting the above-mentioned site for information on the husbandry of P. chekei if you do obtain one. Now considered a subspecies of P. abbotti (see Reptile Database entry).

P. comorensis


Comoro Island



P. dubia

Dull Day Gecko

Madagascar, Comoro Island, Zanzibar, Kenya, Tanzania and Mozambique Island

TL 15cm/6"

Despite its rather offputting name P. dubia is a good day gecko to keep as it is hardy, moderate-sized and does not plaster its eggs to surfaces. In any case, "dull" in a day gecko is still colourful compared with many other creatures! The ones I have seen lack stripes or spots but are still a beautiful green-red hue on the dorsal surfaces.

P. edwardnewtonii

Rodrigues Day Gecko

Rodrigues Island


This gecko is sadly now believed to be extinct. Arne Bakker gives the following description: "This was a thick bodied robust diurnal lizard which was bright green,with a profusion of bright blue spots on the dorsal surface. The chin was deep yellow and the underside of the tail light yellow. Reached a known length of 7.5-9 inches (19,1-22,9 cm), although one historical account places the maximum length at up to 10.6 inches (27 cm). (If the other descriptions measured the preserved specimens they measured a shrunken specimen which happens when you preserve tissue). It was noted that this species, like most other Phelsuma, was capable of rapid colour changes. This lizard was documented as not having a fear of humans and "was very tame, coming to eat fruits in one's hand." They fed on insects, pollen and fruit." He notes that despite searches in the 1960s and 1970s no further traces of these lizards were found.

P. flavigularis

Yellow-Throated Day Gecko



This beautiful day gecko can be kept in much the same way as P. abbotti, but with higher humidity due to the high rainfall received in their native habitat [Rogner]. However, Bartlett and McKeown both note that the males are highly aggressive, even towards females, so situation s may arise where even breeding pairs need to be kept separate. Nevertheless breeding of captive specimens would seem to be imperative, since McKeown notes that they have a limited distribution in their native land. Apart from this they are hardy and will take both insects and gecko formula.

P. gigas

Rodrigues Giant Day Gecko

Rodriguez Island


Sadly now extinct. According to Arne Bakker (see links below), "this was the largest species of day gecko... thick bodied, grayish or grayish brown with irregular black spotting. The tail had a different colour. It was dark gray or charcoal-coloured, with some striping. The tongue was pink in colour. Ventrally (the belly), the day gecko was light yellow. It was nocturnal in habit."

P. gouldi

SC Madagascar

Described in 2011: see Reptile Database entry for details.

P. guentheri

Round Island Day Gecko

Round Island


This is the only day gecko currently protected under CITES I and hence is not likely to be ever available to private collectors, although zoos have had some success in breeding this species. P. guentheri is unusual in that it is a crepuscular (active by dusk/twilight) and nocturnal rather than diurnal day gecko. In keeping with this it is a rather grey-green colour rather than the usual bright green, so in any case is likely to be less appealing to the ordinary day gecko collector. The Jersey Wildlife Trust have had some success in breeding this lizard in captivity (McKeown).

P. guimbeaui

Mauritius Lowland Day Gecko



Rundquist considers this to be one of the difficult day geckos, with a requirement for lower temperatures but higher humidity than normal.

P. g. guimbeaui


P. g. rosagularis

Now considered a full species by some authorities (see P. rosagularis).

P. guttata

Spotted Day Gecko



Hardy and relatively inexpensive species. In the wild this species lives in an area of scrub and banana plants that were formerly primary forest [Bartlett].

P. hielscheri

Hielscher's Day Gecko

W Madagascar

TL 17cm (m), 15cm (f)


P. hoeschi

E Madagascar

TL 8cm

This species was first described by Berghof and Trautmann in 2009. Coloration: males have light green dorsal coloration flecked with red spots which are normally arranged in two longitudinal rows, blue head and mottled throat and shoulders; females are overall grey-brown and more or less distinctly mottled with a distinct broad dark dorsal stripe running from occiput to the top of the tail. [SOURCE: taken from the German description at the Reptile Database, which was itself taken from the original description in Sauria 31(1)]

P. inexpectata


S Reunion


Formerly considered a subspecies of P. ornata

P. kely


E Madagascar



P. klemmeri

Yellow-Headed (Neon) Day Gecko




P. laticauda

Golddust Day Gecko/
Flat-Tail Day Gecko

Madagascar, Comoro Island, Farquhar Island


Rundquist reckons this to be an easy and hardy day gecko that will breed readily in captivity.

P. l. laticauda


P. l. angularis


P. leiogaster


SW Madagascar


Listed by Henkel and Schmidt but demoted to subspecies status by authorities (see Recent Synonyms above).

P. l. leiogaster





P. l. isakae





P. l. trautmanni





P. lineata

Lined Day Gecko



Rundquist reckons this to be slightly more difficult than such day geckos as the Golddust but still fairly hardy. Apparently they lay eggs in communal nesting sites in the wild. The subspecies P. l. chloroscelis is slightly smaller. Males of all subspecies tend to be larger and more deeply coloured than the females. Bartlett notes that they seem to prefer insects to the gecko formula. P. l. dorsovittatus is considered a full species, Phelsuma dorsovittata, by some authorities – see Reptile Database entry for details.

P. l. lineata


P. l. bombetokensis


P. l. chloroscelis

Madagascar, Reunion Island

P. l. dorsovittatus


P. l. punctulata


P. madagascariensis

Madagascar [Giant] Day Gecko



This is one of the largest day geckos available, and one of the longest-established in herpetology, having been the first to be bred in captivity. Rundquist rates its ease of maintenance, and thus this would be a good starter for someone wishing to keep some of the large day geckos. P. l. grandis now seems to be recognised as a full species, P. grandis: see Reptile Database entry for details.

P. m. madagascariensis

P. m. boehmi

P. m. grandis

P. m. kochi

P. malamakibo


S Madagascar



P. masohoala


Madagascar (Masohoala Peninsula)



P. minuthi

Day Gecko

Ambovombe region of Madagascar


Now considered a synonym of P. lineata lineata: see Reptile Database entry for details.

P. modesta

Day Gecko

Ambovombe region of Madagascar


No other data yet available. The subspecies P. l. trautmanni is no longer recognised by some authorities.

P. m. modesta





P. m. isakae





P. m. leiogaster





P. mutabilis

Drab Day Gecko




P. m. mutabilis

P. m. breviceps

P. nigristriata

Day Gecko




P. ocellata

Spotted Day Gecko

South Africa



P. ornata

Ornate Day Gecko




P. o. ornata


P. o. inexpectata

Reunion Island

P. parkeri

Parker's Day Gecko/
Pemba Island Day Gecko

Pemba Island (E. Africa), Tanzania and Kinowe

Max TL 15cm/6"; avg TL 12-14cm


P. parva


Formerly considered a subspecies of P. quadriocellata: see Reptile Database entry.

P. pasteuri

Indian Day Gecko

Comoros Islands (Mayotte)

Formerly considered a subspecies of P. v-nigra: see Reptile Database entry.

P. pronki


C. Madagascar


Identified in 1994 as a new species (EMBL Reptile Database). No other data yet available.

P. pusilla

Day Gecko

E Madagascar


Formerly considered a subspecies of P. lineata: see Reptile Database entry.

P. p. pusilla


P. p. hallmanni

Hallmann's Day Gecko


P. quadriocellata

Peacock Day Gecko/ Four Spot Day Gecko



Fairly hardy species that requires high humidity and a thickly-planted terrarium (Rogner). Bartlett notes that males are very aggressive and again may necessitate isolation apart from breeding periods. P. q. parva is now considered a full species.

P. q. bimaculata

P. q. leiura

P. q. parva

P. q. lepida

P. ravenala





P. robertmertensi

Merten's Day Gecko




P. roesleri

N Madagascar

Described in 2010: see Reptile Database entry.

P. rosagularis

Pink-Throated Day Gecko




P. seippi

Seipp's Day Gecko
/Yellow-Throated Day Gecko



One of the more difficult species that has become available recently. Misting the cage is vital as Seipp's do not normally drink from a bowl and require high humidity.

P. serraticauda

Flat-Tailed Day Gecko



Moderately sized and moderately difficult, according to Rundquist. The tail which gives it its common and species names distinguishes it from other day geckos. This unusual day gecko also has one of the smallest ranges of any lizard, being only known in a small area of banana plantations on the island, so both habitat preservation and captive breeding are absolutely vital to the future of this species.

P. standingi

Standing's Day Gecko/ Vermiculate Day Gecko



Another one of the larger and easier day geckos, although not one of the most attractively patterned or coloured. I have seen photos of specimens that were a quite attractive matt turquoise: whether this was a morph or simply a genetic aberration I am not sure.

P. sundbergi

Praslin Island Day Gecko/ Seychelles Giant Day Gecko/
Sundberg's Day Gecko

Seychelles, Amirantes


Like many of the large day geckos this one is not particularly spectacular but is hardy and breeds in captivity.

P. s. sundbergi




P. s. ladiguensis

La Digue Day Gecko



P. trilineata

Three-Lined Day Gecko



Apparently known only from one specimen, hence the exact status of this species is in some doubt. Certainly it is not mentioned in the EMBL Reptile Database. No other data is available.

P. v-nigra

Comoro Dwarf Day Gecko

Comoro Islands


Attractively marked but very small, delicate and rarely seen day gecko that requires minimal disturbance and a well-planted terrarium [Rundquist]. P. v. pasteuri is now considered a full species.

P. v. v-nigra




P. v. anjouanensis

Anjouan Island Day Gecko

Anjouan Island


P. v. comaraegrandis

Grand Comoro Day Gecko

Comoro Islands


P. v. pasteuri

Pasteur's Day Gecko

Comoro Islands


P. vanheygeni




Described in 2004: see Reptile Database entry.


Grzimek, Volume 6, Reptiles


For an outstanding Phelsuma site that includes breeding details, please try Arne Bakker.
Another excellent day gecko site is Greg & Leann's Leaping Day Geckos, which also includes pictures and care sheets.

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