This beautiful small to medium sized day gecko is ideal for beginners, being hardy and easy to breed. The species is widely distributed across Madagascar and has been introduced to the Hawaiian Islands, Comoros and The Seychelles, which shows how adaptable it is in ‘the wild’ and how easy going it is in its captive demands.
There are two subspecies – P.laticauda laticauda and P.laticauda angularis. Ours are P.laticauda laticauda, the larger and more colourful of the two – and the less aggressive. However, if ‘Gold dust day geckos’ have a draw back it is that most laticauda – especially males – are very boisterous and intolerant, and must be restricted to single pairs in their own tank. Even females will frequently fight.
Vivariums need not be huge, but laticauda are active and squabble in small spaces. Also they like quite a hot basking spot (in the high 80s), which requires room for them to be able to get well away from it into a cooler area. 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’).
Ventilation must also be good, but despite what many authors recommend, my experience is that they don’t like the relative humidity to be too high. A light spray every couple of days is fine, but always have a water dish available. Broad-leafed hardy plants like Monstera are good and UV is a must.
Laticauda eat more insects than some Phelsuma of their size and less fruit, but make sure plenty of both are available (along with calcium). Babies start on micros and fruit flies.
© Phelsuma Farm, 2004; edited 2015