Male cepediana are simply stunning – bright turquoise blue on the tails and back, with large red / pink spots. Females are considerably smaller and more subtly coloured – the same pattern in green and brown (though some boast blue tones rivalling males).
This is a fairly hard Phelsuma to keep, the main requirements being high humidity and a quality diet. They are restricted to the humid forests of Mauritius (introduced to small pockets of eastern Madagascar and Reunion) and do poorly outside of primary jungle. They 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.
Mauritius is a fairly mountainous island and cepediana are found at quite high elevations – there are debatably two subspecies resident between upland and sea level, as in P.guimbeaui, with which it shares a large part of its range. Depending on the original habitat, therefore, I would err slightly on the cooler side with this species – they seem to fare best with an 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 thermostatically-controlled low wattage infra red bulb mounted in a reflector above the top mesh).
Zonal lighting (areas of light and shade) allows heliocentric (sun-seeking) thermoregulation. In captivity 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 cepediana definitely need a heavily planted glass viv with good cross-flow ventilation. They are 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.
Cepediana 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.
© Phelsuma Farm, 2004; edited 2015