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How to Care* for Your Giant Day Gecko

How to Care* for Your Giant Day Gecko

Description

Giant Day Geckos (Phelsuma grandis, formerly considered to be a subspecies of Phelsuma madagascariensis) are the largest geckos of the genus Phelsuma, whose members are commonly called “day geckos”.  Giant Day Geckos can grow as large as 12” and are diurnal, arboreal geckos native to the tropical rainforests of Madagascar.  They require bright light and high humidity and temperatures.  Giant Day Geckos in the wild are bright green with a few bright red spots on their heads and a double row of bright red markings along their backs.  Other colors including “crimsons” (expanded number and range of bright red spots) and “blue” (bluish cast to the otherwise green body) have been developed in captivity. Giant Day Geckos have special toe pads called “lamellae” which allow them to adhere to smooth surfaces like glass, and, like many geckos, have no eyelids.  Although Giant Day Geckos were originally considered to be a beginner pet, due to their delicate skin, need for a large enclosure and controlled environment they should more realistically be considered to be an intermediate level pet.


Housing

Giant Day Geckos are active, arboreal geckos who enjoy climbing and moving around the enclosure.  An adult Giant Day Gecko should be kept in as large a cage as possible, with a minimum size of 18”x18”x24” recommended.  They appreciate a fairly densely planted enclosure with either live or artificial plants and numerous vine or bamboo perches. Since they tend to orient themselves upwards, a front-opening enclosure is best to reduce the chances of them escaping.  Many Giant Day Geckos are kept in planted enclosures with an expanded clay ball and mesh drainage layer topped by coco fiber or other vivarium soil mix.  A feeding area with bowls for food and water should be provided on a commercially available or home made ledge that is usually attached to the side of the enclosure with suction cups or magnets.  


Heating and Lighting

Giant Day Geckos do not require additional heat as long as the ambient temperature in the room is usually between 65-80F.  Additional heat can be supplied if necessary by placing a heat pad or heat cable on the back wall of the enclosure. 

Since they are diurnal reptiles, Giant Day Geckos require two kinds of lighting:  a source of UVB throughout the cage to provide vitamin D3 for metabolizing calcium (although some keepers provide all vitamin D3 through supplementation and don’t use full spectrum lighting), and a focused basking light to provide additional heat. 

The recommended UVB light is a full-spectrum 10.0 florescent bulb that runs most of the length of the enclosure.  The fixture can be placed inside the cage underneath the cover or on top of a mesh cover.  If the fixture is placed on top of the cage, a glass cage cover should not be used, since the UVB will not penetrate through the glass.  Florescent bulbs decrease in the amount of UVB emitted with time.  It’s safest to replace the bulb every 6 months, though a more accurate schedule can be determined if a UV meter is purchased and used to check UV levels.  Some keepers recommend other types of light designed to bring out the Giant Day Geckos’ color.

The basking light is usually a small halogen or xenon “puck” light, often used in homes for track lighting.  There are also newer reptile-specific light fixtures available. The basking spot should provide a heat level of approximately 95 degrees F when the gecko is near it.  Care should be taken to avoid higher temperatures, or to be sure that perches aren’t placed too close to the basking light; Giant Day Geckos have thin skin and are easily burned.  The daytime temperature of the enclosure should be in the mid 80’s with a night time temperature drop into the mid 70’s allowed. 

Giant Day Geckos are nocturnal and do not require lighting beyond the ambient light in the room.  Planted enclosures, however, do require light for the plants and a bulb that promotes plant growth should be chosen and run on a timer to allow 12-14 hours of “daylight”.

Humidity of 50-70% should be maintained by misting each morning.  In dry environments, additional misting during the day may be required.


Food and Supplementation

Giant Day Geckos are frugiverous (fruit eating) and insectivorous (insect eating).   Their primary diet is usually purchased as a powdered fruit nectar which is rehydrated by adding water.  There are many brands and flavors of this diet.  It’s important to be sure that the specific brand purchased states that it is a “complete diet”.  The product is generally referred to as “Crested Gecko Diet” or “CGD”.  Recently, CGD brands have become available  which incorporate powdered insects with the fruit.  An adult Giant Day Gecko is usually fed a small bowl of CGD three times a week and insects, usually crickets or roaches, twice a week.

Giant Day Geckos require calcium, vitamin D3 and other vitamins and minerals for healthy growth and development.  These supplements are incorporated into the commercially available “complete” CGD diets.  In addition, live prey can be dusted with calcium and vitamin D3 every other feeding.


*This care sheet contains only very basic information.  If your are new to Giant Day Geckos, please do additional research to obtain additional information from more detailed care sheets.

Next article How to Care* for Your Mourning Gecko

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