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Giant Day Gecko Care Sheet

Developed with and approved by a qualified veterinarian.

giant day gecko care sheet

Overview

Phelsuma grandis

Giant day geckos are native to Madagascar, where they live in trees in tropical rain forests. They also have been introduced to Hawaii and the Florida Keys. They are diurnal (active during the daytime) and prefer to rest on smooth surfaces by using broad scales (called lamellae) on the underside of their toes that help them stick to and climb vertical surfaces (or even hang upside down!). Tropical geckos can lighten or darken their skin tone to blend into their environment. 

 

Typical appearance and behavior

  • Giant day geckos get their name from their large size (up to 10 inches long) and thick, muscular bodies
  • Their bright green coloring helps them camouflage in the leaves of tropical trees while waiting to hunt for prey
  • They have red spots on their bodies and red lines from their eyes to their snouts
  • They have large dark eyes encircled by a bright blue ring
  • Males are larger than females and have brighter coloring
  • Immature geckos have brown bodies and yellow-brown heads
  • They make several sounds, including barking, clicking and croaking sounds
  • Many tropical geckos are easily stressed and do not like to be handled; some may even become aggressive and bite when handled
  • When stressed, their normally bright skin colors become darker
  • Never grab geckos by their skin, or it may slough off, or grab them by the tail, as they can release their tails as part of a defense mechanism to get away from predators
  • Giant day geckos may be housed alone or in pairs. Males should not be housed with other males, as they will fight until one is injured or killed. Pairs may bond for life

 

Characteristics

Care Difficulty Advanced
Average Life Span Up to 10+ years with proper care
Average Adult Size 4-12 inches
Diet Insectivore
Minimum Habitat Size 18”L x 18”W x 24”H tank for one adult

 

Habitat

 

Habitat size

Provide an appropriately sized and shaped habitat to accommodate normal behaviors and exercise, including climbing. An 18”L x 18”W x 24”H tank can house a single adult. Pairs should have larger habitats. Habitats should have a tightly fitting screen top to allow adequate ventilation and prevent escape. Giant day geckos may be housed alone or in pairs. Males should not be housed with other males, as they will fight until one is injured or killed. Pairs may bond for life

Will reach adult size in 6 to 18 months, under ideal conditions.

 

Building your habitat

  • Substrate – As giant day geckos are native to tropical, humid habitats, they need substrate that holds moisture. Sphagnum moss, coconut fiber and orchard bark may be used to retain moisture and increase habitat humidity. Bedding made of small particles such as sand or small bark chips is not recommended, as it can be irritating to geckos’ eyes. Also, it is indigestible, so it can lead to life-threatening gastrointestinal tract obstruction if accidentally consumed
  • Décor – Giant day geckos enjoy commercially available thick branches, cork bark and bamboo for climbing and basking. Provide tall, dense, nontoxic live or artificial plants and vines that are sturdy enough for climbing and that have broad smooth leaves that they can stick to. Artificial plants with fabric leaves are hard for geckos to adhere to and do not allow water droplets to form on them for geckos to drink. Décor should be arranged to allow geckos to hide for security
  • Temperature – Provide a temperature gradient that is 95°F in the basking zone ranging down to 82 to 86°F in the cooler zone during the daytime and 75 to 82°F at night. Monitor temperature with at least two thermometers—one in the cool zone and the other in the hot (basking) zone. Heat may be provided by an incandescent bulb or ceramic heat bulb. Heat sources should be attached to thermostats to regulate temperatures. Hot rocks should not be used as a heat source, as they can burn reptiles. Reptiles not kept at the appropriate temperature ranges are more likely to become immunosuppressed and get sick
  • Lighting - Provide full-spectrum ultraviolet (UV) lighting for 10 to 12 hours a day to expose geckos to UVB rays to enable them to make vitamin D in their skin so that they can absorb dietary calcium. Change UV bulbs every six months, as their potency wanes
  • Humidity – Giant day geckos come from moist, tropical habitats and require high humidity to thrive. Maintain 50 to 70% humidity by misting plants and other décor as needed every day. Monitor humidity with a humidity gauge. Geckos will lick water droplets off leaves and off their eyes and nose. A shallow water bowl on the floor of the habitat also will help maintain humidity as it evaporates

 

Cleaning your habitat

Thoroughly clean and disinfect water and food bowls daily. The habitat should be spot-cleaned daily to remove droppings. Thoroughly clean the habitat at least once a week:

  • Place the gecko in a secure habitat
  • Scrub the tank and furnishings with a reptile habitat cleaner or 3% bleach solution
  • Rinse the tank and all furnishings thoroughly with water, removing all traces of habitat cleaner or bleach smell
  • Dry the tank and furnishings before putting the gecko back into the habitat

 

What do giant day geckos eat?

A well-balanced giant day gecko diet consists of:

  • A base diet of commercially available, nutritionally balanced food for fruit-eating lizards
  • Plus, a variety of insects, including gut-loaded (recently fed) crickets, roaches, mealwormscalci-wormshornwormssuperworms and waxworms
  • Giant day geckos can also eat small amounts of fresh fruit such as mango, papaya, cantaloupe, berries, figs and pineapple. While in nature, these geckos eat fruit, but as pets they cannot get the broad range of nutrients from fruit as they do in their native habitats, therefore, commercially based, nutritionally complete fruit formulas are a better option for feeding pet giant day geckos. These feeding formulas are also a much healthier choice than fruit baby food, which has traditionally been offered to these geckos as pets

 

Things to remember when feeding your giant day gecko:

  • Fresh, clean, water should be available all the time
  • Feed appropriately sized insects based on your gecko’s size. A cricket should be no larger than the space between the gecko’s eyes
  • Commercially available feeding cups can be mounted in the habitat off the floor so that geckos can eat while perched on plants, as they do in nature
  • Feed commercial diets two to three times per week and insects two to three times per week
  • Sprinkle food with a calcium supplement containing vitamin D at each feeding and a multivitamin/mineral supplement once or twice a week

 

Care

  • Geckos regularly shed their skin; ensure the humidity of the habitat is at the appropriate level to allow proper shedding
  • When geckos are shedding, mist habitat more frequently to increase humidity

 

Where to buy a giant day gecko

Giant day geckos are available for purchase at your local Petco Pet Care Center location. Please call ahead to check availability.

 

Supplies

 

Habitat mates

  • Giant day geckos may be housed alone or in pairs. Males should not be housed with other males, as they will fight
  • Do not house different reptile species together

 

Health

Signs of a healthy giant day gecko

  • Active and alert
  • Clear, bright eyes with no swelling or discharge
  • Full, muscular body and tail
  • Supple skin with no sores, swellings or discoloration
  • Droppings are firm, not runny or bloody
  • Eats and passes stool regularly
  • Clear nose and vent

 

Red flags (If you notice any of these signs, contact your veterinarian.)

  • Weight loss or decreased appetite
  • Discharge or bubbles from eyes, mouth or nose
  • Lesions, swelling or discoloration of skin or retained shed
  • Lethargy
  • Sneezing, runny nose, difficulty breathing
  • Weakness or paralysis of limbs
  • Runny or bloody stool or lack of stool

 

Common health issues

Health Issue Symptoms or Causes Suggested Action
Health IssueGastro-intestinal disease Symptoms or CausesRunny or bloody stools, caked or smeared stool around the vent, weight loss, loss of appetite caused by bacterial, viral or parasitic infection. Suggested ActionConsult your veterinarian.
Health IssueMetabolic bone disease/vitamin deficiency Symptoms or CausesInability to absorb calcium due to insufficient UVB light or improper amounts of dietary calcium/vitamin D3. If untreated, can lead to deformed, softened or fractured bones, swollen limbs, decreased appetite, weakness and lethargy. Suggested ActionConsult your veterinarian and provide ample UVB lighting, a balanced diet and the proper amount of calcium/vitamin supplements.
Health IssueRespiratory tract disease Symptoms or CausesLabored breathing, mucus and/or bubbles in the mouth or nose; can be caused by inappropriate habitat temperature and humidity, leading to secondary bacterial, viral or fungal infection. Suggested ActionConsult your veterinarian and ensure habitat hasi the proper temperature and humidity.
Health IssueSkin problems Symptoms or CausesRedness, swelling, lesions, discoloration of skin. May be due to infection with bacteria, fungus or parasites, or to an unclean habitat or inappropriate humidity Suggested ActionConsult your veterinarian, thoroughly clean the habitat, and ensure habitat is at appropriate temperature and humidity.
Health IssueDysecdesis (problems shedding) Symptoms or CausesRetained pieces of skin anywhere on body, especially over the eyes or around toes; caused by dry habitat or underlying disease. Suggested ActionIncrease habitat humidity; contact your veterinarian if there is no improvement.

 

FAQs

  • How big do giant day geckos get? Giant day geckos can grow 4 to 12 inches long.
  • How long do giant day geckos live? Giant day geckos can live up to 10+ years with proper care.
  • What do giant day geckos eat? In their native habitats, they eat insects, plants and fruits. As pets, they should be fed a variety of gut-loaded insects such as crickets, mealworms, calci-worms, waxworms, superworms and hornworms, dusted with calcium powder with vitamin D, plus a commercially available formula for fruit-eating lizards.
  • What fruits can giant day geckos eat? Giant day geckos can eat small amounts of fresh fruit such as mango, papaya, cantaloupe, berries, figs and pineapple.
  • How do you sex giant day geckos? Male giant day geckos are larger than females and have brighter coloring. Males also have a row of small pores (femoral pores) in their skin on the inside of their upper hind legs that are absent in females.
  • Can giant day geckos live together? Giant day geckos may be housed alone or in pairs. Males should not be housed with other males, as they will fight.
  • Can you handle giant day geckos? Many tropical geckos are easily stressed and do not like to be handled; some may even become aggressive and bite when handled.
  • How often do giant day geckos shed? They shed about once a month and eat their shed skin so that predators can’t detect their presence.
  • Can giant day geckos swim? They do not swim and have difficulty getting out of deep bodies of water, as their feet cannot adhere to surfaces under water.

 

Additional care sheets

Notes and resources

Ask a Pet Care Center associate about Petco's selection of products available for the care and happiness of your new pet. All products carry a 100% money-back guarantee.

Because all reptiles are potential carriers of infectious diseases such as salmonella bacteria, always wash your hands before and after handling your reptile or habitat contents to help prevent the potential spread of disease.

Pregnant women, children under the age of 5, senior citizens and people with weakened immune systems should contact their physicians before purchasing or caring for reptiles and should consider having a pet other than a reptile.

Go to the Centers for Disease Control at cdc.gov/healthypets for more information about geckos and disease.

 

The information on this Care Sheet is not a substitute for veterinary care. If your pet is ill or you need additional information, please contact your veterinarian as appropriate.