Giant day geckos are stunning reptiles that make fantastic pets. These lizards are not only great to look at, but don’t require an expert level of care (once you know the basics).
But sometimes their size can scare off potential owners. When you compare them to other geckos, this species is a behemoth!
Fortunately, this concern isn’t necessary. Once you understand their basic requirements, keeping these reptiles will seem rather approachable.
This guide will cover everything you need to know about giant day gecko care. You’ll learn about their size, enclosure setup, diet, and other helpful facts!
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With its bright jewel-toned coloration, the giant day gecko (Phelsuma grandis) is a beloved reptile species among enthusiasts. Along with their beautiful appearance, these geckos have lively personalities and active lifestyles.
They’re a sight to behold and will certainly become one of the crowning jewels in your family of reptiles!
The giant day gecko is part of the Phelsuma genus, which consists of more than 70 different species and subspecies. As you can guess from their name, the giant day gecko is the largest species in the genus.
The reptile is native to Northeastern Madagascar (they’re sometimes even referred to as the Madagascar giant day gecko). It’s an arboreal species that prefers the tall trees and lush vegetation of a rainforest setting.
Keeping a giant day gecko at home can be a rewarding experience. However, it requires a bit of work to keep these lizards in tip-top shape.
Average Giant Day Gecko Size
The maximum giant day gecko size can reach lengths of 10 to 12 inches when fully-grown! While there are definitely larger pet reptiles out there, this size is quite impressive for a gecko.
Expert Tip: When these lizards first hatch from their eggs, they are merely an inch or two in length. However, they have a fast growth rate and will quickly grow up to surpass all other species in the genus.
The average lifespan of a giant day gecko is roughly six to eight years in captivity. However, they have the potential to live longer with proper care.
Many experienced owners have cared for these geckos for 15 years. One of the oldest specimens ever recorded lived to be 20 years old! Of course, instances of these geckos living past the average lifespan are rare.
Expert Tip: There are obviously no guarantees when it comes to life expectancy. That said, the level of care you provide can make a huge impact on their lifespan. As an owner, your job is to help these cool lizards live a long and happy life by providing the best care possible.
If you don’t, these reptiles can experience a litany of health problems, which can ultimately shorten their lifespan.
Appearance & Colors
Giant day geckos are gorgeous creatures. Their bodies are a bright emerald green color. In the right lighting conditions, the green can look almost neon!
On the head, back, and tail of the gecko, you’ll find a series of red lines and spots. The lizards even have red markings crossing through their eyes.
There are a few different color morphs available. Some breeders have developed specimens with more scarlet markings. Those giant day geckos are rare. Most of the reptiles you’ll see on the market take on the standard coloration.
Giant day geckos have all of the hallmarks of the Gekkonidae family. They have streamlined bodies, triangular-shaped heads, and sticky toes that help them climb just about anything!
However, where these geckos stand out from the rest of their family is in their sheer size and vibrant coloration.
Giant Day Gecko Care
Proper giant day gecko care is about more than just providing it with standard housing and basic food. These reptiles come from a dramatically different environment than your terrarium at home!
To make them feel safe and happy, you must address their needs and create a pristine habitat that they will enjoy. Below are some need-to-know care guidelines for the giant day gecko.
Giant day geckos are arboreal creatures. This means they spend a lot of time climbing trees and plants.
This is an important piece of information to know, as it will help you choose an appropriately sized enclosure.
These geckos do best in vivariums. To accommodate its climbing activities, choose a vertically oriented vivarium. Front and top ventilation are essential for proper ventilation as well.
For a single gecko, the enclosure should measure no smaller than 18 inches long by 18 inches wide and 24 inches tall.
If you plan on keeping a pair or a small group, bump up the size of the enclosure. Giant day geckos aren’t particularly fussy about having a home that’s too large, so feel free to get a spacious vivarium.
Expert Tip: Whatever you use, make sure it has a secure lid! These geckos can climb vertical surfaces without missing a beat, so they can easily climb out of the enclosure if given the opportunity.
Recommended Habitat Setup
You should always aim to have the habitat setup closely replicate the gecko’s natural environment. That means creating a humid tropical habitat with tons of plant life.
Start by creating a solid substrate. We recommend utilizing a few different materials. First, add a layer of clean pebbles. This layer works to promote drainage, so it shouldn’t be more than half an inch thick.
Then, apply a mixture of bark and organic soil. You can use orchid bark or any reptile-approved bark product. For some extra humidity, you can also utilize peat moss.
This multi-layer substrate will do a great job of supporting live plants while also retaining moisture.
Next, you can add live or artificial plants. Choose robust live plants like bromeliads, sansevierias, and vines. Weaker plants can get trampled pretty easily by the gecko.
If you opt for artificial plants, use products with smooth leaves. The lizards will often drink water droplets off the leaves of plants. If you use fabric-based fake plants, those droplets won’t form.
Once your plants are in, add a wide variety of vertical climbing spaces. You can use cork bark, large bamboo sticks, vines, and tree branches.
Arrange them so that your gecko can climb up and down the vivarium. Also, make sure that the climbing branches are not touching. If they are, your giant day gecko can get their toes stuck in the crevices.
Temperature & Lighting
Giant day geckos need a warm environment to stay healthy.
Ideally, daytime temperatures should be around 80 to 88 degrees Fahrenheit. At night, they can tolerate temperature dips down to the low 70s.
Expert Tip: If ambient temperatures in the room get colder than that, consider using an under-tank heating system.
It’s also important to create a temperature gradient. Like many other reptiles, giant day gecko thermoregulate throughout the day. A hotter basking spot will let them warm up whenever they need to.
Using a halogen bulb, create a hot spot with temperatures up to 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Make sure that light is located above the screened top to ensure that your gecko can’t get burned.
UVB lights are important as well. Giant day geckos are diurnal, so exposure to UVB light is crucial to their development and health.
The UVB light should be on at least 10 to 12 hours every day
Giant day geckos need humidity levels between 60 and 80 percent to stay healthy.
Many of the items you place in the enclosure will help keep those levels high. However, using a hygrometer to make sure that levels are within an acceptable range is always recommended.
To maintain those high levels, mist the enclosure twice a day. You can also install an automatic dripper system to take care of the job for you.
You can include a shallow water dish in their enclosure if you want. However, it’s not essential.
Most giant day geckos aren’t going to lap up water from a dish. Instead, they’ll get their water from daily mistings.
When you mist the enclosure, water droplets will form on the plant leaves and glass. The gecko will drink those droplets to stay hydrated, so it’s important to remember to mist the enclosure.
Food & Diet
Giant day geckos are omnivores. In the wild, they typically survive off of insects and fruit nectar.
When raised in captivity, these lizards need a varied diet that consists of high-protein insects, fruits, and vegetables.
There are some commercial gecko food products available. However, not all geckos will accept them. In many cases, it’s best to utilize both natural foods and commercial foods if you can.
Giant day geckos enjoy brown crickets, locusts, waxworms, and mealworms for protein. Only provide foods that are smaller than the space between the gecko’s eyes. That applies to both plant-based and insect foods.
All of the insects you provide should be gut-loaded prior to feeding. For an extra boost of vitamins, it’s a good idea to dust the insects with Vitamin D3 and calcium powders every other feeding.
For plant-based foods, you can provide tropical fruits like papaya and mango. Many geckos will even accept natural mashed baby food!
Expert Tip: Ideally, you should be feeding your geckos up to five insects about twice a week. In between those feedings, provide the plant-based foods to create a balanced diet.
Potential Health Issues
Like any other reptile, giant day geckos can experience a few different health concerns in captivity. Most of these issues are easily treated by a veterinarian that specializes in exotic pets.
Some of the most common diseases you have to worry about are skin disorders and parasitic infections.
Both of these issues are usually a result of living in unhygienic conditions. When the gecko is surrounded by filth, they can easily experience a parasitic infestation. These infestations can cause several internal problems and skin disorders.
To avoid those problems, spot clean the enclosure every day. About once a month, perform a deep clean. This means removing everything from the enclosure and sanitizing every surface with a reptile-safe disinfectant.
Another common issue with giant day geckos is metabolic bone disease. This is a potentially fatal disease that’s caused by not having proper UVB exposure.
UVB light helps the reptile’s body metabolize calcium, which keeps the bones strong. Without calcium supplements or a UVB light, the lizard’s bones become brittle and weak.
This issue can be treated if caught early. But if the disease has progressed, your lizard can suffer from broken bones, deformities, and more.
Behavior & Temperament
Like most creatures in their family, giant day geckos are known for being a bit flighty and anxious. These aren’t reptiles that you will spend a lot of time with up-close.
Expert Tip: Some specimens can get calmer over time, but most are going to stay a bit skittish.
Giant day geckos do just fine on their own. But, they also don’t mind some company. You can keep a pair or small group together in a large enclosure.
That said, you should never have more than one male in the same habitat!
Males are very territorial. Even in massive enclosures, males will fight to the point of injury. It’s best to keep them separated. For safety, only keep one male in the habitat.
Giant day geckos do not like being handled. They even have a unique defense mechanism to combat it!
The skin is very soft. In times of stress, the skin will slough off. It’s meant to help the lizard get away from predators, but they will release some of that skin when handled by humans, too.
In some instances, they might also drop their tail.
The skin and tail will grow back. However, it’s not going to have the same color vibrancy as before.
In general, it’s best to keep handling to a minimum. If you have to handle these reptiles to move them, do so gently and quickly transfer them to another holding container.
Giant day gecko care is nothing to be scared of. As long as you understand their basic needs and put in the time to maintain their habitat, these lizards will thrive.
Feel free to send over any additional questions you have about this species. These reptiles are one of our favorites, so we’re always looking for an excuse to chat about them!