In the late ‘80’s and early ‘90’s, lineata, laticauda and grandis were commonly imported and wild-caught specimens would frequently show up at wholesalers and shops. This was with good reason – these species are the most abundant, widespread and adaptable of the Phelsuma. Fortunately, in one respect, this is no longer the case – Madagascan export restrictions mean that stressed, parasite-laden wild animals are now rarely available, but bizarrely, unlike laticauda and grandis, lineata are hardly ever bred and therefore rarely seen. Yet they are just as hardy and, to most people’s mind, as attractive.
There are some half dozen subspecies scattered across Madagascar which vary mainly in size; ours are P.lineata bombetokensis, a slightly smaller and, arguably, most colourful form from the North West, with males reaching 12 – 14cm from snout to the tip of their blueish tails.
Like laticauda, vivariums need not be huge, but lineata are active and squabble in small spaces. They also like a basking spot (in the mid 80’s). 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 be good. A light spray every couple of days is fine, but always have a water dish available. Tough, broad-leafed plants are appreciated, like Monstera, snake or rubber plants, along with sturdy branches, bamboo and pieces of cork bark.
Keep them only in compatible pairs. Watch the female doesn’t get bullied and has plenty of calcium. Insects, fruit, nectar etc should be available daily.
© Phelsuma Farm, 2004; edited 2015