Phelsuma ornata is a stunning Phelsuma species and very few species rival it for its stunning colours and patterning. Males are larger and typically reach total lengths of up to 13cm, while females are smaller and typically achieve total lengths of up to 11cm.
This is a fairly hard Phelsuma to keep, the main requirements being high humidity and a quality diet.
They generally inhabit the humid forests of Mauritius and the smaller islands nearby, but are frequently seen in built-up areas, basking on fences, agavas, palm trees and walls of buildings.
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 ornata definitely need a heavily planted glass viv with good cross-flow ventilation. 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.
Ornata 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 are definitely best housed in pairs in captivity.
© Phelsuma Farm, 2015