Phelsuma madagascariensis boehmei / Daygekko - Care

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Specification Description
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Lacertilia
Infraorder: Gekkota
Family: Gekkonidae
Scientific name: Phelsuma madagascariensis boehmei
English name: Boehme's giant day gecko
Distribution: Madagascar
Lifestyle: Day active
Reproduction: oviparous / egglaying
Status: Declining
Cites: B / II

Phelsuma madagascariensis boehmei (Meier, 1982)

The Madagascar day gecko is one of the largest species of the genus Phelsuma and also has one of the largest ranges of the genus. There are four recognized subspecies, the Phelsuma madagascariensis madagascariensis, P. m. Grandis, P. m. Kochi and Phelsuma madagascariensis boehmei. The P. m. boehmei differs from the other subspecies both in appearance and needs.


General appearance:  Basically the P. m. boehmei is similar to other Madagascar daggekkos. They are a medium sized green lizard with a red coloured pattern on the back. This pattern is especially visible from the middle of the back up to the beginning of the tail. On the face they have a clear V pattern starting at the nose and extending over both eyes to the back of the head. Each animal has a unique spot pattern on the top of their heads. One way in which the P. m. boehmei is easily distinguished from the other subspecies is their blue-grey belly and the almost black skin that is visible between the scales on the body and tail. Young animals look almost identical to the older animals, only the belly colour is different. The underside of the tail is red and the abdomen brownish red in colour. Adults are on average 22 to 24cm with 11 to 12cm snout to tail length.


Origin and habitat:  The P. m. boehmei inhabits a small range in the Perinet in central eastern Madagascar, Ranomafana and Lohariandava at altitudes of 800 to 1300m above sea level. It is thought that their distribution was once much larger but has been significantly reduced by deforestation. Their habitat consists of humid seasonal rainforest and they are mainly found against the trunks of large trees and palms. Also, they are seen basking on the walls of buildings. This species is very territorial and will always be found alone.

The reason the care of this species differs from that of the other three subspecies Madagascar day gekkos are the temperatures and seasons that they are going through in its natural habitat. The daytime temperatures are relatively stable throughout the year. With an average daily temperature in summer 24C and 20C in the winter months that are naturally occurring in June to September. In particular, the night-time temperatures are significantly lower in the winter as they would in the summer. By influence of the sun and rising temperatures, the average RV during the day is only 60% whilst at the night the humidity increases to 97% because of the dropping temperatures. The rainy season is in December, January, February and March.


Housing:  The basic setup for a terrarium for Phelsuma madagascariensis boehmei is quite similar to that of other daygeckos. Offer a single animal or a mature couple a well ventilated terrarium of 60x45x90. Use as a substrate that is at least a 10cm thick layer of coco earth possibly mixed with leaves and moss or bark. This soil helps in maintaining the humidity and absorbs any waste very well. In addition live plants will grow better in this substrate. It is advisable to apply a drainage layer under the substrate to retain excess water and to prevent the soil becoming too wet. By adding springtails and small tropical woodlice which feed on most of the waste a bioactive substrate is created which is largely maintenance free. Mist the enclosure once per day in the spring and summer months (wet season). Preferably in the evening before the lights go out, this simulates the rising humidity in the evening in their natural habitat.

They are climbing geckos so we want to add a lot of possibilities to do so. Use plenty of stems and branches with a diverse range of diameters for the geckos to climb on. Besides bamboo stems you can also use other wooden logs with a smooth surface. They prefer to rest on diagonal and vertical stems but always place several horizontal stems where the animals can lay one whilst sunbathing. Place a basking spot above these horizontal hides that gives a hotspot of 30-35C. Also place a UVB lamp next to this hotspot for the production of Vitamin D. Preferably make use of a HID lamp that emits heat, UVA and UVB. Place a full-spectrum daylight lamp (fluorescent tube) for further lighting, this increases the activity and natural behaviour. In addition, this promotes the growth of living plants in the terrarium.

The daytime temperature in summer is 25/26C on the hot side to 22C on the cool side and 12 to 14 light hours in the spring and summer. In the winter months, the average daily temperature up to 26C on the warm side is needed but the night temperatures can drop to 15C. The daylight hours during these months are just 10hours per day with a hotspot that burns no more than 8 hours per day. In the middle two months of the 4 cool months you may disable the hotspot. During these cool months you mist a lot less (2 to 3 times per week). Make sure the enclosure is well ventilated


Diet:  Young animals are fed 5 to 6 times a week. Adults can be fed three to four times a week. The diet is the same as that of most Phelsuma’s, as a base you could feed small grasshoppers and crickets, wax moths and curl winged flys. Feed fruits like banana, papaya, mango, apple and pear. You can supplement this with special fruit babyfood, there are special diets/gels for day active geckos which contain a lot of the important vitamins and minerals. Dust the insects with a multivitamin supplement without D3 added, as the UVB light is used for the important Vitamin D production. Adult animals are on average fed 2 times a week with insects and 1 to 2 times per week with fruit, gel or nectar.


Reproduction:  In the cool period, the female lays no eggs and this is a good time for them to build up fat and calcium reserves and to recover for the next breeding season. Although naturally their winter season is in the months June to September. Hobbyist who live above the equator can best provide them with a winter season from November to February so that it is running together with our own winter and lower temperatures and shorter daylengths are easier to maintain. After this winter period the light hours are increased again to 14 daylight hours.

Mist a lot in April to July, in these months the mating activity will be at its highest. The males can be very roach during mating, biting the female in her neck to hold on. Any of these injuries often heal quickly but when necessary it is wise to separate the female so she can recuperate and heal. On average 25 to 30 days following the mating the female lays one to two eggs. Sticking them together somewhere hidden in a leaf axil of Sansevieria or bamboo stem. The eggs of these gecko are not adhered to a surface such as with many other types of Phelsuma’s. Which facilitates in an easier removal of the eggs. A female can lay 4 to 6 clutches per season.

In the incubator the eggs at a constant temperature of 27 / 28C will hatch after just 55 days. However at these temperatures is appears mostly females are born. Hatching eggs in similar circumstances as the parents seems to be the solution to get a more even amount of sexes. Give the eggs a moderate drop in the night temperature of a 1C-2C. Keep the average humidity somewhat higher with an average of 90%. The average incubation period by this method is 60 to 75 days.

Rearing the young geckos is mostly trouble-free and you can accommodate them under the same conditions as the parents. Place and raise each young separately in a small terrarium or faunabox.

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