Gold dust day geckos are adorable pet reptiles that can be a lot of fun to own. Simply watching these lizards in their habitat is enough for endless entertainment!
However, it’s worth pointing out that there are some specific requirements you’ll need to address if you want them to thrive in captivity. These geckos aren’t low-maintenance!
This guide will teach you everything you need to know when it comes to gold dust day gecko care. You’ll learn about their required habitat setup, ideal tank size, lifespan, diet, and other helpful facts!
Table of Contents
The gold dust day gecko (Phelsuma laticauda) is just one of many different types of day gecko.
In the wild, these geckos can be found in forested areas of Madagascar, Mauritius and other islands in the Indian Ocean. It has even been introduced to Hawaii.
For intermediate-level reptile owners, this sweet, shy gecko makes a great pet that will bring years of enjoyment and interest. Because it requires a very natural environment, the enclosure you create can become a real centerpiece of beauty and conversation!
Appearance & Colors
The gold dust day gecko is a lovely little reptile that is known for its bright green body and gold speckling on the neck, legs and back. Bright red markings, that can be found between their eyes and on their noses and backs, add extra beauty.
This gecko displays the typical body structure of most geckos with a stout body, a big head, strong legs and feet that have adhesive pads. They also have wide and expressive eyes (which is accentuated by the light blue coloring), which makes them very cute!
With combination of their bright colors and textured skin, gold dust day geckos are an extremely fun pet to observe throughout the day.
Gold Dust Day Gecko Size
The average adult gold dust day gecko size is between four and six inches in length. This measurement includes the tail.
Because of their relatively small size, this species is popular with reptile owners who don’t have room for large enclosures or set-ups.
The typical gold dust day gecko lifespan is at least ten years when kept in captivity. That makes them a great choice for any owner who wants to build a strong bond with their pet!
Expert Tip: Of course, this lifespan depends a lot on proper nutrition, good care and regular visits to the veterinarian for wellness checks. Their lifespan can shorten significantly when kept in suboptimal living conditions.
Gold Dust Day Gecko Care
Gold dust day gecko care should be quite manageable for owners with at least an intermediate level of experience. These reptiles can be a bit higher maintenance than others because they have very specific temperature, lighting, humidity and nutritional requirements.
They also don’t like to be handled, so the gold dust day gecko is a better match for someone who understands and respects that this pet lizard prefers to be left in peace.
A tank size of 12 inches x 12 inches x 18 inches is fine for housing a single gold dust day gecko. Since these geckos love to climb, it’s much better for them if you provide them with an enclosure that has lots of vertical space.
Don’t feel like you have to stick to a particular minimum enclosure size. If you want to create a larger space, that’s perfectly fine for this species.
Expert Tip: If you are going to house a pair together, a tank size of at least 18 inches x 18 inches x 24 inches is recommended.
The proper habitat setup should always begin with choosing a good substrate.
No matter which substrate you choose, make sure that it has the ability to trap moisture without staying too wet. A good substrate will really help maintain important humidity levels. We suggest using something like peat moss, orchid bark or cypress mulch.
Expert Tip: If you are going to put in live plants (which we highly recommend), you’ll also need to add non-vermiculite potting soil.
When creating an environment for your gold dust day gecko, the idea is to make it as natural as possible. Putting in plenty of live plants will help maintain humidity levels, and your gecko will have lots of places to climb and hide.
Pothos and snake plants are excellent choices. It’s possible to use artificial plants if you wish, and you can successfully combine them with live ones.
A selection of branches, bamboo stalks and places to hide will also make your pet feel safe and at home.
Temperature & Lighting
Part of setting up your gecko’s living space is preparing an appropriate temperature gradient. Because the gold dust day gecko is cold blooded, it can’t automatically regulate its body temperature.
You, as its caretaker, will have to set up a warmer basking area on one side of the enclosure and a cooler area on the other side.
Here are the temperature ranges you’ll need to provide:
- The basking area should be around 90°F
- For the cooler side, temperature should be somewhere between 72°F and 77°F.
Using a low wattage basking bulb in combination with strip lighting should be enough to create the temperature gradient you need. Some people use an under-the-tank heat pad to keep the enclosure warm enough at night.
Expert Tip: Don’t place the heat source too close to the basking area because your gold dust day gecko could get burnt.
The lighting that you provide is another important component of the inner-enclosure atmosphere. Because a gold dust day gecko in captivity doesn’t get all of the UVB rays that it needs, you’ll need to provide some kind of alternative to natural sunlight. You can use a fluorescent UVB bulb that you keep on a 12 hours on, 12 hours off schedule.
A mercury vapor bulb can be used to provide both heat and light, but this method often makes the enclosure too hot. Going this route requires a bigger tank and constant temperature monitoring.
Maintaining the proper humidity level within the enclosure is a crucial part of gold dust day gecko care. These reptiles can suffer from skin problems and other health issues if the humidity level is not exactly right.
Make sure that the humidity stays between 60 and 80 percent. We recommend investing in a reliable hygrometer to monitor these levels.
Keeping the enclosure humidity at this level is not difficult if you put in lots of plants. Using a good substrate will also help maintain the right amount of humidity.
Misting with a spray bottle full of purified water is one way to add moisture to the tank. Spraying twice a day should do it. Make sure that the substrate stays moist, not wet.
Expert Tip: If hand misting doesn’t really appeal to you, or if you are going to be away, you can install an automatic mister that can be set on a timer. It kind of takes the guesswork out of it, and you can adjust the timing or amount as needed.
Even though your gold dust gecko will get most of its water by drinking water droplets in the enclosure, you should also provide a shallow dish of water.
Any water that goes into the enclosure, whether through misting or in the water dish, should be filtered and free of chlorine and other chemicals. You should regularly check this dish to make sure the water isn’t dirty as well.
Food & Diet
Feeding a gold dust gecko properly takes a bit of knowledge and expertise. Providing the right food, setting up a feeding schedule and making sure that the prey is as nutritious as possible, should be a consistent part of your husbandry procedures.
Here are a few tips:
First, gold dust day geckos are omnivores. In the wild, they eat a variety of insects and fruits. We suggest feeding them a selection of roaches, silkworms, waxworms and small crickets. These geckos absolutely love fruit-based baby food, but only give them this once a week.
Make sure that the prey is a little bit smaller than the space between their eyes. In other words, your gold dust day gecko should be given very small feeder insects.
Hatchlings and juveniles can be given tiny crickets or fruit flies five to seven times a week. Adults will usually eat three to five insects twice a week. The amount of prey can vary from gecko to gecko, so trial and error will give you an idea of how much to feed your pet.
Always gut load your prey prior to feeding time, and dusting the prey with a supplemental vitamin and calcium powder will help prevent metabolic bone disease.
Expert Tip: Try to feed your gecko in the morning. This gives them plenty of time to bask and digest their food.
Potential Health Problems
If you own a gold dust day gecko, it’s a very good idea to find a veterinarian who specializes in exotics. There are numerous health issues that plague these geckos, so a knowledgeable vet is going to be a key to the long-term health of your pet.
Let’s take a quick look at a few of the most common potential health problems that are associated with gold dust day geckos.
Parasites: Gold dust day geckos, like most reptiles, are very susceptible to parasitic infections. Before the parasite load gets to a dangerous level, it is very important to have a fecal test done on your pet. This applies to new geckos and ones you’ve had for years. Signs of a parasitic infection include vomiting, lethargy, weight loss and skin issues.
Skin issues: Because geckos shed their skin, they are prone to skin problems. If the enclosure is dirty or if there is not enough humidity in the enclosure, your gecko could end up with a partial shed. This issue can be prevented by providing proper enclosure conditions.
MBD: Metabolic bone disease is another health issue that is common to most reptiles. This disease is caused by a lack of calcium and Vitamin D3. You can prevent this painful disease by using a UVB bulb and by dusting prey with supplement powders.
Behavior & Temperament
Gold dust day geckos are sweet, fairly easy-going reptiles when they are housed by themselves. But if you put them together in the same enclosure, their whole demeanor will change.
Males should never be housed together. These geckos are extremely territorial, and a serious, even deadly fight, is pretty likely. Females can be aggressive with each other as well, so if you do house females together, they are going to need a very roomy enclosure. You can put a male and female pair together, but again, extra room should be provided.
This diurnal species loves to climb, so giving them lots of things to climb on in the enclosure is very important. Because of their sticky toe pads, they will even climb the glass of their enclosure.
Despite their pretty even temperament, a gold dust day gecko can inflict a very painful bite. If they feel threatened or stressed, a bite could be the result.
As adorable as they are, gold dust day geckos don’t like to be handled. They’re pretty delicate, and too much handling can actually damage or even tear their skin. Their tails can easily fall off as well, and the general stress of handling can cause a number of health related issues.
Our best advice is to have fun watching them live and thrive in the habitat you created for them. They will be much happier, and you’ll have an amazing pet to enjoy for many years.
Gold dust day gecko care isn’t for everyone. These reptiles need very specific habitat conditions, and are usually best handled by owners with a bit of experience.
If that describes you, then we highly recommend getting one of these reptiles as a pet. They’re really quite fun and unique!
Let us know if you need help with something that wasn’t covered in this care sheet. We always enjoy giving our readers a hand!