Daytime geckos of the genus Phelsuma are rightfully considered the gem of a collection by many lizard enthusiasts. In addition to bright colors and cheerful disposition, they are characterized by activity in the daytime, for which, in fact, they got their name.
The genus Phelsuma was first described in 1825 by the British zoologist John Gray (John Edward Gray) and named after the Danish naturalist Mark Felsum (Murk van Phelsum). Currently, about 70 species and subspecies of these amazing lizards are known. The main habitat of daytime geckos is considered to be Madagascar.
They can also be found on neighboring islands and the coast of East Africa. Most of these lizards are arboreal. They inhabit coconut and banana palms, come across near human habitation, in gardens, on hedges and walls of buildings. Some lead a rocky lifestyle. They are fed by insects and other invertebrates of various species. Sometimes they feast on nectar, pollen, and sweet fruits.
Stock Foto Madagascar daytime gecko
The length of daytime geckos of different species varies from 6.5 to 30 cm. Males differ in well-developed femoral pores on the lower side of the hind limbs. In females, they are absent or less developed, but there is an endolymphatic "chalk bag", clearly visible on the neck of the felsum. It accumulates calcium, which is vital for the formation of eggs.
Animals reach puberty at the age of 6 to 12 months. Life expectancy of small species is about 10 years, while large species can live in captivity for 20 years or more.
Day geckos - slender, moving animals. Their color is dominated by bright green, red and blue colors, which makes these lizards very attractive. This coloring plays an important role in intraspecific signaling and serves as a good camouflage.
Eyes with fixed eyelids are also noteworthy. Animals cannot blink, so they have to use their tongue to clean and moisten the surface of their eyes. They lick their eyes every now and then, which looks very funny. Another interesting point is the fingers of geckos, which are equipped with special devices that allow you to move freely on smooth surfaces, such as bamboo or glass.
In my terrarium practice, I happened to get acquainted with four species belonging to the genus Phelsuma.
Madagascar day gecko (Phelsuma madagascariensis madagascariensis) is a fairly large lizard, the total length of which in an adult state reaches 20-22 cm. The body is bright green. The skin between the scales is often lighter. From the nostrils to the temple, a reddish-red stripe runs from each side. Brownish or brick red dots on the back sometimes form a thin line. It is better to keep these geckos in pairs, as both males and females are very aggressive towards other individuals of their gender.
Great Madagascar Daytime Gecko (Phelsuma madagascariensis grandis) - the largest among the daytime geckos. It can reach a length of 25-28 cm. Body color is bright green, less often has a bluish tint. From the nostrils to the eye passes a red stripe. The back is also covered with dots or stripes of red color, forming a peculiar pattern, noticeably different in different individuals.
Some animals have small blue dots. Content is only paired. Adult lizards are strong and agile. You need to be very careful when catching them. A large male is not always able to be held in his hand. In addition, these geckos bite quite noticeably.
Daytime Gecko (Phelsuma serraticauda) can reach a length of 15 cm. Females are usually somewhat smaller. The body is dark green or yellow-green. Very noticeable is a wide flat tail with jagged edges (hence the name of the species). Three red spots of irregular shape are clearly visible in the lower back, three stripes of the same color pass across the muzzle. It is better to keep it in pairs, as with a deficiency of individuals of the opposite sex they are aggressive (including against females). The way out of this is a spacious terrarium with an abundance of vegetation and shelters.
Stock Foto Big Madagascar gecko
Four Point Daytime Gecko (Phelsuma quadriocellata quadriocellata) is one of the smallest and, in my opinion, the most fun day geckos. Their length usually does not exceed 12 cm. The body is dark green, the back is covered with red dots and stripes. There are small blue spots on the neck. Four black spots with a turquoise stroke are characteristic of these geckos. They are located one at a time, in the axillary and inguinal areas. Eye Stroke Yellow. The underside of the body may be beige. This species is well maintained in groups consisting of a male and 2-3 females.
Differing in appearance quite a lot, felzum have a very similar biology. Therefore, I will describe the general principles of their maintenance and breeding, if necessary highlighting the features of different species. There are many varieties of geckos, napirmer leopard gecko.
Daily Gecko Content
For the maintenance of daytime geckos, a fairly spacious vertical type terrarium is suitable. It is desirable that the living space should be at least 80 liters for a pair of large felsums or for a small family. When paired with small species (Phelsuma quadriocellata sp.), You can limit yourself to a 60-liter terrarium. Particular attention should be paid to lighting. Dummies are day animals. In the retina of their eyes, in contrast to nocturnal species, there are special elements of color vision - cones. Thanks to them, daytime geckos are able to distinguish all the colors of sunlight. Therefore, priority should be given to full-spectrum lamps. The use of Repti-Glo fluorescent tubes (2.0 or 5.0) in combination with Life-Glo or Power-Glo gives good results. This combination is not only comfortable for animals, but also contributes to the good growth of living plants in the terrarium. Repti-Glo also provides the UV component. The duration of lighting should be 10-12 hours per day.
In nature, daytime geckos are inhabitants of rainforests and therefore need high humidity. The densely planted terrarium will be an ideal habitat for them. Maintaining humidity in it at the level of 70-80% is not difficult. It is only necessary to water and spray plants on time. In addition, the axils of the leaves with accumulated water serve as an excellent drinker for dumplings. Although a separate container with water is also needed.
It is also important to ensure the availability of comfortable climbing branches. For each inhabitant of the terrarium should have at least one shelter. To do this, you can use small hollow logs, as well as pieces of large bamboo with holes drilled in them. Wall decoration of the terrarium is not of fundamental importance. For example, I like it more when they are sheathed in bark of a balsa wood. This is a natural material on which the courier is undoubtedly easy to move around. Although I did not observe any special problems on their part while walking even on bare glass.
And felsums really like to move. And they use for this not only branches, but also walls, and even the ceiling of the terrarium. To prevent the escape of animals, it is necessary to carefully check the capacity for the absence of large gaps and holes that could form when the lighting was connected and other equipment was connected.
The fingers of the geckos of the genus Phelsuma, unlike most other chain-toed, are completely devoid of claws. However, like other geckos, they are equipped with special plates from below, on which special brushes from microscopic hairs are located in transverse rows. The length of the hairs is 80-90 microns, and the diameter is only 8-10 microns.
Using electron microscopy, it was estimated that over 200 million such brushes are located on one finger, for example, of the European wall gecko (Trentola mauritanica) (in felzums they are slightly smaller). Each of them consists of countless individual hairs. Due to their negligible size, these hairs are able to cover the smallest irregularities of the material, which allows the gecko to easily move on smooth, inclined and vertical surfaces, including glass.
The grip force is so great that, holding on one finger, the animal is able to hang on a vertical glass. However, it was found that geckos cannot hold on specially sanded surfaces (absolutely smooth, devoid of bumps by special methods). This refutes the widespread belief about the suction nature of this phenomenon.
Stock Foto Four-eyed felsum
Madagascar geckos with incredible lightness and speed can run on the ceiling (mind you, not only the terrarium). The terrarium operator should be extremely careful when feeding animals or cleaning the tank to prevent the flight of his wards. I have repeatedly had to do acrobatics with a net in my hands, trying to stop the gecko, smartly mincing on the ceiling of the room. And if the fugitive manages to get to the bookshelf or cabinet, then the task becomes even more difficult.
It should also be noted that it is extremely undesirable to take geckos in hand. Their skin is very delicate and easily tears, especially in young individuals. After all, our hands, moistened with the secret of sweat and sebaceous glands, have good enough adhesion to the slightly rough skin of these lizards. Therefore, grabbing the pet with your hand, you risk injuring him. True, under good conditions such wounds heal quickly, and after a few molts even the scars left in their place disappear.
Nevertheless, there are circumstances when it is simply necessary to pick up an animal (for example, for therapeutic measures). And additional trauma is extremely undesirable. Then you can use thin gloves made of lint-free cotton fabric. They can be purchased at almost any large hardware supermarket. In dry gloves, it is unlikely to cause this kind of injury, but you will have to hold the animal tighter.
Another “bad habit” of daytime geckos, and many other lizards, is their tendency to autotomy - involuntarily breaking off the tail as a result of a sharp muscle contraction. Moreover, it is not even necessary to take the gecko in hand. There is quite a strong fear or attempt to drive the animal away from the open glass of the terrarium. Fault occurs along a special layer across one of the vertebrae, and not between them, as many people think.
Soon, the tail grows back, but the vertebrae are not restored at the same time, but are replaced by a cartilaginous shaft. Therefore, a new gap is possible only above the place of the previous one. And the appearance of the new tail is not very attractive - it is usually shorter and darker, closer to gray. The owner of the animal should always be careful when communicating with their wards in order to avoid such trouble. If it did happen, don’t worry and, most importantly, do not treat the resulting wound in any case, otherwise you will only make it worse and the new tail will not grow at all. If you have a gecko for a long time and got used to the environment and the procedure for cleaning the terrarium - you probably don’t have to worry about dropping the tail.
Daytime geckos get used to the person, are tamed. True, this, as I said, does not mean that they can be picked up. But they will willingly take food from tweezers or even from their hands. When it is time for feeding, the geckos go to the front glass of the terrarium and eagerly scurry back and forth, waiting for the owner with a treat. They also lick honey from their fingers with pleasure. Thus, feeding gradually turns into a very funny procedure. In addition to pleasure, this also makes it possible to notice how much food each animal ate.
There is one more feature. Most of the time these lizards spend crawling on the branches and glass of the terrarium. They fulfill all their natural needs there. Therefore, stains and streaks gradually form on the walls of the tank. Moreover, Felsum’s particular weakness feeds precisely to the front glass. If the owner wants to save himself from the need to constantly wipe the sight glass, then this should be taken care of even at the stage of designing the terrarium. It is enough to install the front glass with a slight inclination inside the container (at an angle of 15-20 °), so that the need for cleaning it from animal excretions occurs much less frequently.
How to feed daytime geckos
In captivity, Madagascar geckos need to provide feeding conditions similar to natural ones. Felsums of various insects and invertebrates eat. Crickets, cockroaches, flour larvae, zoophobas are suitable. Sometimes you can give flies, although geckos usually catch them reluctantly, only if they are hungry. Since felzums of different species differ in size, the size of the feed insects for them also varies.
In addition to animal feed, the addition of fruit is mandatory. Felzums usually prefer bananas.
Willingly feast on honey. It is useful to introduce pollen grains into the diet. Ready-made fruit mixes for children and yogurts are also quite suitable.
Be sure to give the animals mineral supplements and vitamins. Especially important for geckos is calcium. I successfully use ground cuttlefish shell as a source of calcium. This substance is often found as a mineral stone for birds (the word “sepia” is on the packaging).
The carapace is quite soft and easily scrubbed into powder with a regular kitchen knife. In addition, there are no additives and impurities, such as, for example, calcium gluconate tablets or the like. Among the vitamins, the most important are A and D3.
It is better to use ready-made multivitamins for reptiles, such as firms "Telra" or "Sera". When feeding vitamins, terrariums usually apply a small drop of vitamins to the gecko's eye. To get rid of discomfort, he licks it almost immediately. Another way seems to me more effective.
For 3-4 days, I stand crickets in a container where the only food is a mixture of cuttlefish shell powder and vitamins, and then I feed lizards saturated with this mixture of crickets (1-2 times a week). However, with this method it is more difficult to determine what dose of vitamins each animal received. In addition, in the terrarium there should always be a small feeder with mineral top dressing.
Breeding day geckos
Breeding these Madagascar geckos is, in my opinion, not difficult. According to my observations, the breeding time of daytime geckos usually falls on the period from January to May. Male Felsmus at this time are particularly aggressive. Be careful if there are more than one pair of animals living in the terrarium - fights do not take place for life, but for death.
Mating usually occurs during the daytime. At the same time, the male holds the female firmly in her mouth in the neck. Therefore, if you notice characteristic scars on the neck and nape of a female, this is a sure sign that the mating has taken place.
The female carries eggs for 4-5 weeks. During this time, she noticeably grows fat. Eggs are often clearly visible through the lower surface of her body, especially shortly before they are laid. When the due date has passed, the female is looking for a suitable place for future masonry.
According to my observations, large species (Phelsuma madagascariensis madagas-cariensis, Phelsuma madagascariensis grandis) usually do not hide clutch. The female glues it into the crevice of the bark or simply onto the glass in a calm corner of the terrarium. Small species (Phelsuma serraticauda, Phelsuma quadriocellata sp.) Are more often chosen for this purpose hollows, cavities in pieces of bamboo. Once I found a clutch between the leaves of a very large dwarf syngonium. The bush was so dense that I did not immediately notice it.It was only when I took out the plant for pruning that I saw two eggs tightly attached between the long petioles of the leaves.
Gecko eggs are initially soft, but later they harden, absorbing carbon dioxide from the air. Usually they are oval, the side by which the masonry is attached to the substrate is flattened.
It is often impossible to separate the eggs from the substrate without damaging them, so transferring the clutch to the incubator is not possible, unless the eggs are laid in the cavity of driftwood or bamboo and they can be removed along with the substrate. In other situations, you have to incubate directly in the terrarium. After all, the female, guided by her natural instincts, chooses an almost ideal place for the development of masonry, and if you do not change the conditions in the terrarium (power and location of the lamps, heating and spraying mode), you can be completely calm - egg development will be successful.
Photo molt felzumov
Madagascar geckos practically do not touch the laid eggs. Nevertheless, I had a couple of cases when the female destroyed the masonry. One egg was crushed and partially eaten. I decided that this was due to a lack of calcium in the body of the gecko.
Then I came up with a way to protect the masonry right in the terrarium. To do this, take a small plastic cup, preferably transparent. There are many small holes in it to provide good ventilation. Then cover the masonry with this glass. Using ordinary or double-sided tape, you need to attach the cup to the wall of the terrarium or to the material with which it is trimmed. The glass should not fall off, even if both parents decide to climb on it at once.
If you think that the formed chamber will not be wet enough, you can attach a small piece of synthetic cotton wool inside the cup. By periodically moistening the cotton wool, they achieve an increase in humidity. I have already tried this method on several generations of felsums. The results have always been positive.
Incubation lasts from 60 to 80 days, depending on temperature. When you notice the hatched hex-tips, you need to carefully disconnect the tape and make a small gap between the glass and glass. Slide a piece of thick paper into it, covering it with a glass. Now you can transfer the young in a separate growth tank, without fear that the geckos will run away.
Terrarium for young individuals should not be very large. Nevertheless, all temperature and humidity parameters must be observed in it. Moreover, the humidity for young animals should be higher - about 80-90%. The difference between night and day temperatures can be reduced. At night, temperatures below 23-24 ° C are not recommended.
During the first two days the geckos molt. The first molt is a very important stage. If it goes badly, the animal is likely to die. An optimal level of humidity in the terrarium contributes to good moulting. When the first discarded skin is eaten, the gecko begins to feed. In the literature, it is usually advised to feed youngsters with Drosophila and small crickets. I consider wax ognevka to be the best food (when feeding only small crickets, the survival rate of young animals is much lower).
Watching these moving daytime lizards is very entertaining. You will spend many pleasant minutes at the terrarium. And their maintenance and breeding, in my opinion, even a novice can do, if he provides the geckos with good care and feeding. But it shouldn’t be any different, because we are responsible for those who we tamed.