Eight inches in length. Green or blue body with much paler underside. Neonates may be entirely different colors from adults. Wavy darker horizontal markings may be seen on the back, depending on the background. Vocalizations are low chirping or trilling calls.
GEOGRAPHICAL RANGE AND HABITAT:
Hot dry regions of southwestern Madagascar. Found on low vegetation, shrubs and trees.
Omnivorous. Small insects, spiders and other arthropods form the majority of their diet, but they also consume a fair amount of nectar and juices from fallen fruit.
LIFE CYCLE/SOCIAL STRUCTURE:
The day geckos are very active, moving about and exploring their environment constantly. They are not prolonged baskers and prefer somewhat shaded areas. They are highly territorial, with males being especially protective and displaying stereotypical behavior (e.g. tail waving, tongue flicking) unique to their species. Females lay one or two round, hard-shelled eggs a month after breeding. Eggs are laid in tree crevices, in leaf axils, under stones, or on the ground in leaf litter. Female geckos retain sperm so that during a year several clutches of eggs may be laid, after which there is a 2 to 5 month period of non-laying. The incubation period is 64 to 80 days and adult and breeding size is attained in 9 months to a year. Average life span of most lizard species, ignoring the high mortality of new babies, is probably somewhere around five to ten years.
All day geckos have a pair of glands located behind the ear openings which are used to store calcium. They are especially prominent in breeding females and may look like tumors. Standings Day Gecko has a large tongue which it uses to lap water and fruit juices.
There are several hundred species of geckos. Unlike the majority of geckos, those of the genus Phelsuma (around 36 species) are diurnal. Although nocturnal geckos have dull colors, day geckos are usually brightly colored and patterned. Since most of the day geckos use flower nectar for a large portion of their diet, they are major flower pollinators. Phelsuma almost certainly evolved on the African mainland, reached the height of their evolution on Madagascar (22 species) and then managed to spread themselves to other islands of the Indian Ocean, probably by rafting on dead trees.
The geckos can be found in the RAD room in the Wayne and Gladys Valley Children's Zoo.
STATUS IN WILD:
All Phelsuma except one are listed on Appendix II of CITES (i.e. threatened). The excepted one is on Appendix I (endangered). This reflects the tremendous amount of habitat destruction in Madagascar. Listed as Vulnerable by IUCN.