Phelsuma borbonica mater are quite like cepediana in their appearance, natural ecological niche and captive requirements, so their notes below reflect this. However, they are endemic to the small island of Reunion to the south west of Mauritius (towards Madagascar).
Male borbonica mater are simply stunning – many bright turquoise blue on the tails and back. Females can boast striking colours too and can prove hard to distinguish from males until fully mature at 18 – 24 months.
This is a fairly hard Phelsuma to keep, the main requirements being high humidity and a quality diet. They prefer the humid forests of Reunion but cannot usually colonise agricultural areas. Having said that, they seem to do quite well in heavily planted and watered suburban gardens, as long as they have access to trees that flower or bear fruit throughout the seasons.
There are many subspecies and locality variations of Phelsuma borbonica mater; ours are from the Grand Etang and La Crete regions, which boast the brightest colours. Depending on the original habitat, they seem to fare best with a daytime ambient temperature in the mid-70’s. A night drop is desirable and will naturally occur when the lights turn off. (Ambient night temperatures can best be maintained with a thermostatically-controlled low wattage infra red bulb mounted in a reflector above the top mesh – if required).
Zonal lighting (areas of light and shade) allows heliocentric (sun-seeking) thermoregulation. In captivity this is best provided by full spectrum metal halide lighting mounted in a reflector above the top mesh of the vivarium, providing a deep column of light to the vivarium floor for animals and plants.
No thermostat is required for such lights (though a specific ballast unit is), and the animals will shuttle in and out of the light as they would in nature (UV tubes diffuse light and work against this behaviour; they also have poor light penetration, leading to Phelsuma clustering just around the top of the viv craving light – see also lighting recommendations in ‘General Care’).
In captivity borbonica definitely need a heavily planted glass viv with good cross-flow ventilation. They are reasonably shy – males more outgoing than females – plants give them security and cover, along with boosting the air humidity through transpiration. Use a damp, mould-resistant substrate like ‘Eco Earth’ and spray frequently.
borbonica favour pollen and nectar, but should have fruit and a few small dusted crickets offered twice weekly. ‘Phelsumin’ is the best pollen & nectar substitute captive diet we’ve found:
Calcium requirements for females of this species are also extremely high – they are ‘egg gluers’. Powdered cuttlebone is ideal. This can be mixed with ‘Phelsumin’ when offered every other day.
These beautiful geckos are hard to breed and are in great demand – especially males. They naturally live in large loose groups, but are definitely best housed in pairs in captivity. Pairing these animals can prove problematic, so when males are available it is as a pair; single females are slightly cheaper.
© Phelsuma Farm, 2013; edited 2015