Asheville Wildside Creature Feature!
Neon Day Gecko (Phelsuma klemmeri)
These beautiful geckos are known by many interchangeable common names, but regardless of which is used P. klemmeri is among the most stunning member of its genus. Named in honor of German herpetologist Konrad Klemmer who devoted much of his professional career working with Lacertid lizards. Phelsuma is a complex of 43 species of diurnal geckos found throughout Madagascar, Seychelles, Mauritius, Comoros, and Mascarenes. A few far flung species like P. andanamense (found on the Andaman islands) and P. dubia (coastal East Africa) exist in other regions and there are introduced populations of certain species in Hawaii and Florida.
This specific species is found along both humid and dry coastal forests in Northwestern Madagascar. It is a federally Endangered species and receives protection from international trade. Luckily, like most Day geckos these stunning little gems reproduce easily enough. These geckos are small, typically measuring 3.5-3.75" including tail. They are active predators of insects and arthropods and will also actively forage on overripe fruit and nectar. They prefer bamboo groves to hardwood forests and can often be found racing up and down vertical structures pursuing prey and avoiding predators. Day geckos use speed and high visual acuity to evade potential predators. They face down threats from small mammals, birds, snakes and P. klemmeri must also avoid their larger cousin, the Giant Day Gecko (Phelsuma grandis), which shares their range and habitat and will happily feed on smaller lizards.
Phelsuma make popular vivarium and planted habitat occupants in the hobby. They are brightly colored, active during the day, are regularly visible basking and can become quite acclimated to their keepers. Many of my Phelsuma will eagerly take prey or pre-mixed diet directly from my fingers as over time they have come to associate that interaction with my presence and no longer view me as a threat or potential predator. They are however incredibly fast, so handling should not be attempted regularly and secure escape proof enclosures are a must for keeping members of this genus.
I am thrilled to have eight species of Phelsuma in my collection and they are among my favorite group of geckos to work with. Thanks for reading and as always, happy keeping!