This delightfully colorful and bright gecko may be native to Madagascar but you can find specimens all over the world as pets. They are display pets and are not meant to be handled as they are nervous and quite fragile.
However, because of their diurnal nature and colorful disposition, they provide pleasurable viewing. The gold dust day gecko usually lives to about 10-12 years when cared for properly. Ensure their enclosure is always clean, and their meals are well supplemented with the needed nutrients.
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Gold Dust Day Gecko Facts And Information
- Experience Level: Beginner
- Family: Gekkonidae
- Scientific Name: Phelsuma laticauda
- Average Adult Size: 4.5 – 6 Inches (178 -229 mm) / 60 – 70 grams
- Lifespan: 10 to 12 years in captivity
- Clutch Size: 2 eggs
- Egg Incubation Period: 40 – 85 days
- Food: Live insects / gecko diet
- Tank Size: 15 – 20 gallons
- Average Temperature: 85°H/77°L
- Humidity: 65 – 75%
- UVB Lighting: Necessary
- Average Price Range: $30 to $75
- Conservation Status: Least Concern according to IUCN Red List
Day geckos are loved because unlike many other geckos, they are active during the day. This gives pet keepers the opportunity to enjoy viewing them more often. They don’t like to be handled and doing so is a bad idea as they stress easily and their skin tears if handled roughly.
The scientific name of this gecko is Phelsuma laticauda. There is also a subspecies known as Phelsuma laticauda angularis. They belong to the family Gekkonidae, which includes several other geckos.
The Phelsuma laticauda is actually one of the smaller sized day geckos. Like other day geckos (Phelsuma), the Phelsuma laticauda is mostly bright green. It also has red spots on the back, nose, and eyes.
Golden sprinkles can be found on their necks, legs, and tail. These gold dust markings give the gecko its name. They usually grow from 4.5 to 6 inches. The tail of this species makes up about half of their full length.
Gold Dust Day Gecko Habitat
Wild populations of this species are usually found in the wet coastal zones of northern Madagascar. It is common to find them in and around human settlements in their native Madagascar.
Although they are native to northern Madagascar, they were introduced to Hawaii where they have become an invasive species and feed on several other wild gecko populations there. They are easy to keep as they have no special needs. It is important to keep their enclosure humid.
Since day geckos are arboreal reptiles, a vertical vivarium/terrarium is a must. This gives them a lot of vertical space within which to climb. The enclosure will need some plants, branches, and cork barks which the reptile can climb while still providing enough space so that the reptiles are not cramped.
For a single day gecko, the minimum space requirement is 12 x 12 x 18 inches. The Zilla Vertical Tropical Kit which measures 12 x 12 x 18 inches is excellent for a single gecko.
If you wish to house two geckos, then the enclosure should measure 18 x 18 x 24 inches. This gives each reptile its space and ensures aggressive behavior is kept to a minimal.
These geckos are very active, and as such need the space. The enclosure needs to have a front opening. This makes maintenance, feeding and misting easy.
It is prudent to have a terrarium designed specifically for reptiles. we recommend the Exo Terra Vertical Terrarium, which measures 18 x 18 x 24 inches, for a pair of gold dust day geckos.
As with other tropical reptiles, it is a great idea to have several live plants in the terrarium. This helps regulate the relative humidity level as well as provide climbing opportunities. Some wonderful plants to get include Sansevieria, Monstera, Weeping Fig (Ficus benjamina), Wandering Jew, Dragon Plant (Dracaena), Baby tears, Moss, and Devil’s Ivy / Golden Pothos (Epipremnum aureum).
Other climbing surfaces include bamboo bars, and cork barks, and grapevines. You can also decorate the enclosure with water features, fake rocks, sphagnum moss (which can also double as bedding) and many more.
If you plan on having live plants in your naturalistic terrarium, then you need substrates that will ensure the plants grow well. The first substrate you will need to lay is the drainage layer.
We recommend expanded clay pellets also known as hydrotons (Josh’s Frogs Hydrotons), a mesh or polyfoam can serve as a divider between the drainage layer and the planting layer.
Lighting & Temperature
As with most tropical reptiles, the day geckos require high temperatures and light with a spectrum range close to that of sunlight to thrive. This is particularly true of this diurnal reptile species.
However, when installing mercury vapor bulb lamps that provide a full-spectrum light, you have to take into account the size of the terrarium and the potential heat produced by the lamp.
If you’re housing one or two geckos in a terrarium with a capacity of 10 to 20 gallons, the light needs to be installed outside the enclosure, this is to ensure that the reptiles don’t suffer from heatstroke.
The ambient temperature of the enclosure during the day should be between 77 and 86 F. Ambient temperatures higher than that are dangerous. This substantial amount of full-spectrum light produced ensure the lizard’s color is bright and sparkling.
Alternatively, you can use cool fluorescent strip lights. This is a low-heat lamp and as such will not warm the terrarium.
However, it would provide the full spectrum light needed by the reptiles and the live plants. Grow lights such as halide grow lights provide the light needed. For heat production, a 25W basking bulb can be used.
The temperature of the basking spot should be 88-92 F, while the temperature of the rest of the terrarium fall between 77 and 85 F. This low wattage bulb ensure that the enclosure doesn’t overheat. The coolest parts of the enclosure can be in the low 70s.
Use accurate digital thermometers to track the temperatures of the enclosure at all time. A thermometer gun such as the Etekcity Lasergrip is an excellent choice.
Because day geckos are arboreal, under tank heating mats does next to nothing to maintain proper terrarium temperatures.
High relative humidity levels are a must if you wish to properly care for this tropical reptile. Ensure that the enclosure is misted nightly using a hand sprayer such as the Polyte One-Hand Pressure Sprayer.
Depending on the humidity of your locality, you may have to mist the enclosure twice a day. The relative humidity has to be between 65 and 75 percent.
Make sure that the humidity falls to about 50 percent, before misting the enclosure again. The presence of the plants will ensure humidity is maintained throughout the day.
Misting also provides water droplets which the geckos may drink. Also, provide a small water bowl. The water should be changed daily.
Feeding The Gold Dust Day Gecko
All members of the genus Phelsuma are omnivores and feed on insects, fruits and smaller geckos. Similarly, they will also feed on insects in captivity. Of course, the insects have to be gut loaded and dusted before you feed them to the gecko.
They eat dubia roaches, mealworms, silkworms, hornworms, and small crickets. These insects need to be gut loaded for about 48 hours before you feed them to the reptile.
You gut load insects by feeding them nutrient-rich diets such as Fluker’s High-Calcium Cricket Diet and Fluker’s Cricket Quencher. Also, dust the insects with supplement powder such as the Zoo Med Reptile Calcium with Vitamin D3. Once a week dust the meal with multi-mineral supplement.
They also eat day gecko/crested gecko diet such as Pangea Banana/Papaya Fruit Mix Complete Crested Gecko Food and Repashy Crested Gecko Meal Replacement Diet. These are easy to store and make. Additionally, they are fortified with nutrients. They also enjoy nectar pods. Feed them nectar pods once a month and gecko diet once a week.
Offer calcium supplements every other meal.
Gold Dust Day Gecko’s Temperament
While brightly colored and striking, handling these geckos is not a good idea since they are easily stressed. Additionally, rough handling will cause their skin to break and tear. Since they are easily stressed, the tail may drop when handled.
Once they are accustomed to their environment and their keeper, they won’t shy away and hide when the keeper is around. Some are even comfortable enough to take food out of their keeper’s hand. Gold dust day geckos are best observed from afar.
Like most geckos, males are territorial and aggression among males is to be expected if two or more are housed together. Several females can be housed together with little to no issues.
Similarly, a few females and a single male can also be housed in the same enclosure. While, there may be confrontations, among the day geckos, they are usually not serious enough to result in injuries.
Breeding Gold Dust Day Geckos
The species breed freely and prolifically. For this reason, they are considered an invasive species in Hawaii. Gravid females lay eggs all year round after breeding. females can produce six clutches a year with each clutch made up of two eggs.
Day geckos have strong immune systems and are less susceptible to disease than most other reptiles are. However, that doesn’t mean they can’t suffer from health issues.
As with other reptiles that require high humidity levels to thrive, the most common health problem has to do with inadequate relative humidity levels. Another common health complication – metabolic bone disease is due to a lack of nutrients such as calcium and vitamin D3.
Here are the most health issues:
Dehydration and Improper Shedding (Dysecdysis) – When humidity levels are below required levels, the gecko can become dehydrated which can lead to improper shedding. This can be very stressful for the gecko. Additionally, dehydration can cause the reptile to be lethargic (and fail to climb). Dehydration can be prevented through regular misting of the enclosure.
Metabolic bone disease – This is another common health issue that affects many reptiles. Unlike in the wild, the variety of foods fed pet day geckos is limited. As such, if you don’t supplement the diet with a high quality nutrient supplement, MBD can afflict the reptile. This is a serious disease which can lead to death.
Parasites – Parasitic infection is not uncommon. However, parasitic infections are difficult to detect unless through a fecal examination by a veterinarian.
Signs to watch out include constipation, loss of appetite, curved limbs, kinked tail, and lethargy. If you notice any of these signs, you should contact your local reptile vet.
Pricing And Availability
As with most reptiles, prices vary depending on the seller, the age of the gecko, and the appearance. Gold dust day geckos are not costly and generally cost between $30 and $250.
Specimens of this species are quite rare and acquiring one can be challenging. Even at reptile conventions and fairs, they are hard to come by.
These northern Madagascar natives are listed as a species of least concern according to the IUCN red list. The species’ current wild populations are stable. They are very abundant in their native habitat. The species is included in Appendix II of CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora).
While gold dust day geckos are not as widespread as the giant day geckos are, they are wonderful pets to have. Their colorful appearance and active demeanor mean that they put on an entertaining display with their movement and behavior throughout the day.
Ensure the enclosure is misted regularly, and they are well cared for. If you have any questions and information on this delightful reptile kindly leave a comment.
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