Phelsuma standingi: The Standing’s Day Gecko – October 2012

The Reptile Times

Standings Day Geckos

By Jennifer Greene

Phelsuma standingi, or Standing’s Day Geckos, are an often under appreciated member of the Day Gecko family.  Babies have significantly higher contrasting colors than adults, and they generally lack the intense, jewel-like colors of their cousins the Giant Day Geckos or many of the other commonly kept day gecko species.  However, their subtle coloration hides a behaviorally fascinating gecko.

One of the larger Phelsuma species, Standing’s Day Geckos can reach up to 10” in length for large individuals (much of this is due to tail length).  Adult coloration is generally green around the head, fading to blue by the tail, with thin grey banding throughout their body.   They originate from a drier region of Madagascar, and as such can tolerate a wide range of conditions, particularly lower humidity conditions than their brilliantly colored cousins will accept.  They thrive with high basking temperatures, and to see them at their most colorful it is recommended to offer them UVB as well as a bright, white light to bask under.

Standings Day Geckos

The coolest, in my opinion, part about Phelsuma standingi is their social and reproductive behavior.  While they pair off like the rest of the Phelsuma group, the adults often maintain prolonged monogamous pairs, sometimes for life!  While it is not impossible to convince a female to change partners once her original mate is removed, it is extremely difficult, and many females will not accept new mates once they have bonded with a particular male.

Once established, eggs can be left in the cage with the pair of geckos, and they will not harm any of their offspring that hatch within the cage.  Once the juveniles begin to reach sexual maturity, the adults will become aggressive towards them, presumably to drive them off to find their own territories.  That the parents actively avoid trying to injure their offspring is noticeable, for example “If one baby happens to be accidentally seized (e.g. during feeding), it emits a squeaking sound that makes the parent let go instantly!”  (Bruse, Meyer, Schmidt, 2005, p. 95)

As juveniles get older and remain in the same area with their parents, minor squabbles often break out between them as they vie for resources.  Unlike the majority of day gecko species, they have thicker skin than most, and it is resistant to tearing.  Because of this, the scratches and bites that they receive during the minor fighting that breaks out among siblings is not overly detrimental to their health.  They should still be monitored for serious injury, but due to their thicker skin they can withstand the tussling with few problems.

With patience, Standing’s Day Geckos can be taught to accept human interaction, and even tolerate moderate handling.  Their thicker skin means that even an inexperienced keeper is unlikely to harm them as long as they’re gentle; it is still possible to tear their skin, but it takes considerably more force than with other Phelsuma species.

Getting to Know the Bibrons Gecko

Bibrons Gecko Article

By Kevin Scott


The Bibron’s Gecko, Pachydactulus bibronii (formerly Chondrodactylus), was first described by naturalist Andrew Smith, and named after the French zoologist Gabriel Bibron. There is some debate between the identity and range of P. bibronii and P. turneri, which are very similar in appearance, particularly with imported specimens. Both species are typically found on cliffs, in rocky crevasses, steppes and savannahs. However, the new revision of P. bibronii states that it is restricted to South Africa while P. turneri also ranges into Angola, Zimbabwe and in southern regions of Namibia and Tanzania. Imported specimens that are referred to as Bibron’s geckos are likely P. turneri, since neither are currently coming out of South Africa. The following information is for the Bibron’s gecko, but is generally true for both species, and identification of imported species will be left to the reader.

Bibrons Gecko 1


With an adult length of 6-9 inches (15-22 cm), the Bibron’s Gecko is a medium to large, stocky-bodied gecko of the family Gekkonidae.  The head is broad with large, yellow, grey or brown eyes that have vertical pupils and lack eyelids. The background dorsal color is a brown- to olive-gray, with black and white tubercle scales covering the head and back, creating a rough texture. Dark bands extend the length of the body and along the tail[1]. Despite the lack of flashy colors, I find this a modest but quite attractive species. A life span of ten years can be expected.


This species is incredibly hardy and fairly common in captivity, but not extremely popular amongst hobbyists, perhaps due to their flighty nature and capability to deliver a relatively hefty bite. Males are usually aggressive toward one another, so no more than one male should be housed per cage. Females can also be aggressive toward each other, although to a lesser extent, so it is recommended to keep this species in pairs or alone. This species does not exhibit clear sexual dimorphism (e.g. femoral pores), although males have a broader head and thicker tail base because of hemipenes. Although the Bibron’s gecko is mainly arboreal, it will not hesitate to come to the ground to feed.


terrarium measuring 45 x 45 x 60 cm is sufficient for an adult pair. Multiple hiding crevasses should be offered, and some great options include cork bark flats, shale flats and other flat stackable stones. When assembling cage décor, think of a cliff like habitat with tight but accessible hiding spots.

As a rule, the more hiding spots available the more secure the gecko will feel, and, in turn, the more it will be out and visible. This species will sometimes take advantage of terrestrial hiding places.  Take care to ensure that individual pieces cannot shift and pin the gecko in a space where it cannot get out. Quartz sand is an acceptable substrate, although I prefer a mixture of sand and coconut for sanitary reasons, and also to help maintain humidity between misting. A terrarium planted with live plants is an appealing option, both for aesthetic and practical reasons. Pothos ivy, Sansevieria and smaller species of Phylodendron are hardy choices with broad leaves that can tolerate the geckos’ climbing upon them.

bibrons 2

basking lamp is sufficient for lighting, and ultraviolet lights are not necessary. An ambient temperature of 79-86° F (26-30° C) and night time temperature of 64-72° F (18-22° C) should be aimed for. Basking temperatures immediately under the light can reach 35-40° C. During the summer the diurnal photoperiod should be 12-14 hours, and during the winter the photoperiod can be reduced to 6 hours for about a month – these changes can be achieved either with a timer or manually, although the former is usually the more convenient option. Although this is a natural annual cycle for the gecko, it is optional in captivity, but suggested if breeding is a goal. Ambient humidity of 40-50% can usually be achieved by light to heavy misting three times a week, depending on the natural humidity in your region. The terrarium can be allowed to dry out between misting.


Bibron’s Geckos have a voracious appetite and will eagerly feed upon crickets, grasshoppers, mealworms and waxworms, and almost any other appropriately sized live food item. Canned food items (insects) can be fed as well, although I personally have never seen the Bibron’s gecko eat pre-killed prey. Calcium and vitamin supplements are not typically necessary, but it is recommended that feeder insects are gut loaded with calcium and other nutrients prior to feeding. The Bibron’s gecko hydrates primarily by licking water droplets from surfaces. Water is usually not taken from a dish, although a water dish should be offered. This ensures that water is available should it be needed, while simultaneously contributing to humidity.


If courtship is successful, the female will lay one or two eggs three to four weeks thereafter and up to sixtimes per year. The eggs can be removed and placed into an incubator for a better success rate. Incubation temperatures of 81-86° F and humidity of 60% is sufficient, and eggs typically hatch after about two months of incubation under these conditions. Although it is not necessary, a nighttime incubation temperature drop to 68° has been witnessed to produce stronger young. Hatchlings are usually about five centimeters in length.


This article is only intended as a brief overview of the species in an attempt to increase its popularity. For further reading, the book Dickfingergeckos (Thick-toed Geckos) by Mirko Barts is a valuable, readily available, and inexpensive information source, although as far as I know it is only available in German. This book also covers other related species. The website is another good information source that is available in English.

[1] For more detailed physiological description see Field Guide to the Snakes and Other Reptiles of Southern Africa, by Bill Branch (page 267 in the 1998 edition).

Crested Geckos: Enriching the Captive Environment

Crested Geckos

By Jennifer Greene

There are a myriad of care sheets out there today on exactly how to raise, breed, and maintain Crested Geckos.   The majority of these care sheets are quite basic, and focus on the simplest method possible of maintaining your geckos and simply keeping them alive.  While these care sheets are the best way to get started in caring for your new gecko pet, they do sadly lack in options for those who want to go above and beyond simply keeping their gecko alive.  What about the person who wants to set up their geckos in a more naturalistic way, or wants to offer their gecko more than just a powdered diet?  Many folks get trapped in a simplistic set up and maintaining their geckos with the bare minimum, which works if you have large numbers of them or want their care to be as simple and streamlined as possible.  But what about the person with a pet or two, who wants to do more than just have a gecko in a box? This article should help you find ways to enrich the captive environment for your Crested Gecko, in addition to any of your other Rhacodactylus species – Leachies, Gargoyle geckos, any of those types of geckos.

crested gecko in setup

The first place to start with cage enrichment is to simply increase the size of your gecko’s cage.  Many keepers start off in a fairly small cage, especially for baby geckos, which is adequate.  It is often much simpler to maintain babies in a small cage, but this same attitude does not necessarily apply to adults.  A couple of adult crested geckos can live in a 20 gallon tall tank, which is 24” wide by 20” tall, and 12” deep.  However, to really get the most out of them, try keeping them in some of the larger naturdal terrariums – the 36”x18”x18” for example, up to the 36” x 18” x 36” cage.  These larger sizes allow you many more options in cage décor, lighting, and microclimates within the cage.

crested gecko terrarium

A larger cage offers the space Crested Geckos will use to leap from perch to perch, such as from the branches of a small ficus tree or from cork pieces.  In a truly large enclosure, you can plant a couple of small ficus trees and then along the back of the cage, prop up some cork flats and/or cork hollows.  Crested Geckos love to sleep in cork hollows, and you will likely find that yours pick the same cork hollow or flat piece to sleep in day after day.  Try not to add too much décor to your cage, though.  It’s important to keep large gaps between branches and vines so that your geckos have space to jump.  To see for yourself how much your geckos love jumping, flip the lights back on after you’ve had them off for half an hour or so.  Your geckos will be out and active, and you’ll likely even hear the distinct “Thonk!  Thonk!” of them landing on the sides of the cage.

If you have a hard time affording the large glass aquaria that are ideal for setting up a more naturalistic looking cage, consider using a large mesh cage a few days a week.  You can get a fairly large mesh Reptarium for a fraction of the cost of a similar sized glass aquarium, but Reptariums are lightweight, easy to set up, and easy to dissemble if need be.  The perk of a Reptarium over/in addition to a glass cage is that during suitable weather, you can put your Crested Geckos outside.  Do not put them outdoors in direct sunlight, or in temperatures below 65 or above 85.  However, within that range, some exposure to natural sunlight is an excellent way to bolster your usual care regimen for your gecko.  It is true that as nocturnal animals, Crested Geckos do not get much exposure to direct sunlight and high levels of UVB the way a desert animal such as a Bearded Dragon would.  However, mild amounts of UVB still penetrate into shaded areas, so wild geckos would still receive small amounts of UVB, making it something to consider including in the captive environment (although geckos can and will survive without UVB if supplemented correctly).  Keep in mind that UVB does not penetrate easily through glass or window screens, so while keeping your gecko’s cage next to a window may brighten the cage up, it will not receive the same beneficial UVB as it would if it were outdoors.

crested on reptarium

If keeping your gecko outdoors is not an option (your climate is too cold or too hot for too much of the year), consider lighting as another way to enrich your gecko’s captive life.  Use of a 5.0 UVB bulb on cages 12” or taller is an excellent way to provide the kind of moderate UVB that is all your gecko needs.  If your home’s ambient temperature is 75 degrees or cooler, you can also use a small basking or daylight bulb to create a small heat gradient within the cage.   In a large cage, you can place several cork hollows under the heat light, and offer your geckos the option to sleep in the warmer end of the cage or the cooler end.  You’d be surprised at how often your gecko will seek out warmer temperatures, perhaps not basking outright like a diurnal lizard would, but sleeping directly under or behind the exposed basking spot.  The option to seek out warmer temperatures also makes it easier for your gecko to digest meals, making it an option to feed a wider range of prey items.

crested baskingWhile they don’t often bask, every so often your geckos will actively seek out the warmer temps you provide for them!

Many caresheets recommend feeding exclusively the Repashy Crested Gecko Meal Replacement Powder, or MRP for short.  While the MRP has been designed as an exclusive diet, it can be beneficial for your gecko to have food items other than that.  Live insects such as crickets are relished, especially by younger geckos.  Insect prey items should be lightly coated in a calcium powder containing D3 (for geckos housed exclusively indoors), or in a plain calcium powder for those that get regular and prolonged exposure to natural sunlight.  If you have large adult Crested Geckos, consider offering regular sized to giant sized mealworms once a month.  Not all geckos will consume mealworms, but offering them once in a while to add variety to your gecko’s diet is not a bad thing.

In addition to live insects, you can also mix canned insects into your gecko MRP.  ZooMed Canned Caterpillars are often relished, especially by Gargoyle Geckos, and if you don’t want to try live crickets then canned ones are an option instead!  Just mix in a few with your MRP and wait to see them eat them.  Your geckos may not immediately eat the canned insects, and if that’s the case, try skipping a meal or two before offering the canned insects again.  If your gecko is healthy, just skipping a meal won’t hurt it at all – but it will sharpen its appetite, making it much more willing to try new foods.  One more thing to add to the MRP for variety is fruit.  You can use the ZooMed canned fruit Mixins, especially if it is hard to find nice, mushy tropical fruit in your area, or you can use overripe fresh fruit.  You don’t need a ton of fruit, just a little bit, but the extra sweetness is relished by the geckos.  Try different fruits until you find what your gecko enjoys the most!

gecko food mix

A word of caution on adding fresh fruit to your gecko’s diet: don’t put in too much!  For example, when adding it to the mix I prepare for my geckos, I use only roughly one teaspoon per 2 or 3 spoonfuls of MRP.  In addition, this is only done every other time I offer the MRP – this is to ensure that my geckos get the nutrients in their MRP without getting picky and eating only the fresh fruit.   Variety is great, and it is good to spoil your geckos with fresh food, just keep in mind that the MRP does contain all the vitamins and minerals your gecko needs.  Make sure that your gecko gets MRP at least every other feeding to ensure a balance of appropriate vitamins.

In closing, keep in mind that it’s important to match your enrichment options to your situation, and to use a bit of common sense when deciding what to try.  A large cage with nothing in it is not any better than a smaller cage that’s adequately furnished, and if it’s too cold or too hot outside you will not be benefiting your gecko by putting them outside.  Experiment with changes to the diet gradually, and don’t be discouraged if it takes a couple of tries before your geckos start to regularly eat canned insects.  Crested Geckos operate at cooler temperatures than many other species of pet reptiles, so their appetites and activity levels are lower than what you may expect.  Give them time, and try one thing at a time!  With the addition of a few enrichment options, your gecko will likely become more robust, colorful, and active.  Female geckos that are laying eggs should maintain a better weight and bounce back more quickly after each clutch, improving their overall and long term health.   There’s nothing to lose by enriching your gecko’s captive environment, and only health to gain!

Inside the Reptile Industry with Loren Leigh

Inside the reptile industry

This past month I was lucky enough to attend the inaugural Top-To-Top conference in La Jolla, CA. This was the first joint meeting to bring together stakeholders in all parts of the pet industry. The purpose of this meeting was to bring awareness to an important organization called PIJAC (Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council) along with many current issues pressing against the pet industry today. Several issues were discussed, but the topic I want to touch on this month is animal activism in America.

Many discussions took place on this topic to help better understand and combat the estimated 38,000 introduced animal laws and regulations coming this year alone on the city, state and federal levels. One big question discussed was “Can animal rights groups and the pet industry live in the same dog house together?”. We are both in the business of animal welfare, right? We both want what’s best for animals in the end, right? So – you would think this would be easy. Sadly – this is far from the case.

I realized at this conference how strong of a group the pet industry really is. Even more so is how strong our segment (reptiles) are by the great turnout by many of my fellow colleagues that work extremely hard for our reptile industry each and every day. Hagen/Exo-Terra, Zoo Med, Gourmet Rodent, Reptiles By Mack, Timberline and NARBC to name a few. The response to this meeting exhibited by the leaders and stakeholders of our industry to offer their time, donate their money and resources, and completely understanding that the future of owning pets in this country is in real jeopardy was awesome to see.

I think for the first time I saw our industry realize that we need to bond together now and fight for all pets (not just dogs, cats or snakes, but ALL pets) because in the end, if you own a dog, cat, snake, lizard, hamster or even a fish, there are people out there that feel this is just wrong.

I think for the first time I saw our industry realize that we need to bond together now and fight for all pets (not just dogs, cats or snakes, but ALL pets) because in the end, if you own a dog, cat, snake, lizard, hamster or even a fish, there are people out there that feel this is just wrong.

I personally feel very fortunate each and every day to work with animals and surround myself with people that love animals and bring people and animals together. You might ask “how can I help in this fight to keep our reptiles and pets?”. You have the most important and most beneficial role in this fight; good public relations! Get out there and teach people about how just plain cool our pets really are. Show them the bond you have and help warn off any, and all negativity. This could be as simple as getting a friendly snake into a child’s hand or bring it to share with a local school group (we at LLLReptile do this with schools and libraries all the time). When the local news does a damaging story on a reptile (or any pet) – be proactive! Reach out and educate them. Show them the truth of how great our pets really are. These are OUR pets they are talking about. It’s time for us to get out there and defend them and fight for our rights to have them in our lives.

Loren Leigh
President LLLReptile
USARK Board member