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Location: Lizards

Day Gecko (Phelsuma madagascariensis)



Day Gecko (Phelsuma madagascariensis)
Order: Squamata, Family: Geckonidae

The day gecko has a flat body covered with smooth skin and small scales. It has a relatively large head and round, large, vividly colored eyes covered by a transparent, fixed plate and no eyelids. The day gecko usually grows to between 4 and 6 inches long; its tail makes up roughly half that length. Its coloring ranges from olive green to turquoise, and it usually has red spots on its back. Young are born with a yellowish-green head, and brown neck and back with a series of light bars.



I. DESCRIPTION:
  • The day gecko has a flat body covered with smooth skin and small scales.
  • It has a relatively large head and round, large, vividly colored eyes covered by a transparent, fixed plate and no eyelids.
  • The day gecko usually grows to between 4 and 6 inches long; its tail makes up roughly half that length.
  • Its coloring ranges from olive green to turquoise, and it usually has red spots on its back. Young are born with a yellowish-green head, and brown neck and back with a series of light bars.
II. GEOGRAPHICAL RANGE AND HABITAT:
  • The day gecko inhabits Madagascar and islands to the north and south including the Comoros, Andamans, Amirantes and Seychelles.
  • They thrive in mild climates with an average temperature of 65 degrees F, and a 50 to 85 percent humidity level.
III. DIET:
  • The day gecko feeds on insects, other invertebrates, sweet plant foods, such as bananas and other fruits, flower nectar and, occasionally, small vertebrates.
IV. LIFE CYCLE/SOCIAL STRUCTURE:
  • The day gecko is diurnal and arboreal, though it sometimes hunts at night.
  • Highly territorial, male geckos are aggressive toward each other.
  • Day geckos are usually solitary.
  • They reach sexual maturity before 1 year of age.
  • Female usually lays two large eggs (often attached to each other), and egg laying occurs frequently.
  • Female incubates eggs for 70 days, holding them with her hind legs until they harden.
V. SPECIAL NOTES/ADAPTATIONS:
  • The day gecko's toes have enlarged overlapping plates called "lamellae" on the bottom that enable it to walk on smooth vertical surfaces and ceilings. These lamellae are covered by thousands of microscopic spatula-shaped prongs (setae) that operate like suction cups. The gecko can counteract this suction-like action when traversing the ground and fleeing predators.
  • The gecko's tail breaks off easily, affording it a last-minute escape from predators. When threatened while in a tree, day geckos fall into surrounding leaves; they always land on their feet.
  • The day gecko primarily relies on its well-developed vision when hunting. The clear plates over its eyes serve as protection; when grooming, the gecko uses its long tongue to clean them.
VII. POPULATION STATUS:
  • The day gecko is not threatened.
VIII. MORE FACTS ABOUT GECKOS:
  • Unlike most geckos, the day gecko is diurnal, hence its name.
  • In order not to damage the suction-cup lamellae, the gecko must pick up its toes one at a time when moving, a time-consuming practice that gives a certain waddling appearance to its walk. It also makes the gecko a pretty easy target for predators.
  • The day gecko is the only lizard that can produce more than a hiss or other simple sound. Its vocalizations range from squeaks and clicks to barks and croaks.
  • When touched by the human hand, the day gecko's skin appears to fall off. This is because it has tiny scales that tear very easily.



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