Reptile care guidelines, breeding articles and herping articles.

Yellow-headed Day Gecko
(Phelsuma klemmeri)

Phelsuma klemmeri belongs to the smallest subfamily of day geckos. The body colour of this slender and long-snouted gecko is turquoise blue at the upper and mid-back. The lower back is light brown. Most of the tail is turquoise blue.

Remarkable is the laterally flattened body. Another typical characteristic is the yellow head. The sexes can easily be distinguished by the orange color around the femoral pores of the males.

  • Scientific name : Phelsuma klemmeri
  • Distribution : North-West Madagascar (Sambirano-Region)
  • Average Size : 0.10 m (0.3 ft)
  • Life Span : 10 years or more
  • Difficulty : Intermediate

Housing

Phelsuma klemmeri are an extremely active diurnal species of gecko that will use all of the available space you provide them. They also make an awesome display species that thrive when set up in a bioactive vivarium. Starting with the enclosure itself, exo terra and zoomed make ideal enclosures that are front opening and come in a variety of sizes. We keep our breeding pairs in  0.45 x 0.45 x 0.6 meters (1.5 x 1.5 x 2 feet) tall enclosures. Care should be used to make sure these tiny geckos can not get out through any gaps or holes (such as the wire holes on exo terra ready made enclosures). Inside the enclosure you’ll want lots of climbing and hiding structures including a good amount of dried bamboo (in all different orientations including parallel to the ground), as well as live plants. Snake plants are a particular favorite as they are hardy and used quite a bit by the Phelsuma klemmeri.

Hide box

Phelsuma klemmeri are a bamboo loving species and this is where they do their hiding and sleeping. We purchase dried bamboo at local craft stores and cut to length. When we have found it, split bamboo pieces work perfectly. Another method that works is cutting out access holes with a Dremel tool so the geckos can access the hollow inside.

Substrate

These geckos thrive when set up in bioactive enclosures so our setups have reflected that, as this really makes other aspects of their husbandry that much easier. We start with the bottom being a layer of clay balls or other drainage material. On top of that is screen material cut to size. Above the screen we use a type of ABG mix (Calcined clay, fir bark, cypress, blended sphagnum, rinsed charcoal, and coconut fiber). Finally the top layer is leaf litter. Also can’t forget the cleaning crew micro fauna.

Lighting – Heating

Lighting we feel is a very important part of Phelsuma klemmeri husbandry and health. Our Phelsuma klemmeri cages include 3 lights. First we use halogen puck lights attached to a dimmer to provide warmth and a general basking area. The second light is a strip T5ho UVB lighting. UVB is absolutely critical. Lastly we finish it off with very nice bright 6500k led lighting. We really can’t stress enough how key the lighting and warmth is. The goal here is to have a basking area of approximately 33-35 °C (92-95 °F)  and a gradient down to 22-24 °C (72-75 °F). The lighting setup we use in our rooms environment, provides lots of warm and basking temps available to the geckos. Just make sure there is bamboo availability closer to the lights, especially the UV. At night the lights are simply all off and room temps are 20-24 °C (68-75 °F) (depending on season).

Water

Phelsuma klemmeri should be misted about twice a day. We mist down the entire cage very well in the morning, and again in the afternoon. Mist systems also work wonders for this. We do also provide a drinking dish and have observed our Phelsuma klemmeri utilizing it on more than one occasion, so absolutely recommend at least giving them this option.

Humidity

Humidity is definitely an important aspect of Phelsuma klemmeri husbandry, exponentially so for young geckos. They need moderate to high humidity. If kept bioactive and misted a couple times a day, you should have optimal humidity levels. We have had success with the methodology described here even with our room struggling during the winter to keep moderate humidity.

Feeding

Our feeding regime we use is a mixture of live bugs and also commercial diet (Pangea preferred). The majority being live prey. We feed Pangea once every week but sometimes spread that out a little more. Otherwise we feed a variety of live bugs and find Phelsuma klemmeri to be voracious little geckos. They will even chase any bugs that are outside their enclosure and they can see. You should feed as varied a diet of small bugs as you can. Small to medium sized crickets, small roaches, small mealworms, waxworms, silkworms, reptiworms, and fruit flies (especially for hatchlings). When it comes to supplementation, dusting bugs with calcium (containing D3) is highly recommended. In our experience with the Phelsuma klemmeri in our collection, they seem to prefer bugs not dusted and have the habit of shaking the bugs extra hard and dropping them in the enclosure. If this is the case than you want to make sure your feeder bugs are gut loaded even more so.

Handling

Handling is done at your own risk and not really recommended. They are small geckos that can be pretty quick and are fairly fragile. While we have seen some keepers have fair success with individual geckos being very gentle, we personally don’t handle ours at all unless absolutely necessary.

Cleaning

Keeping our Phelsuma klemmeri bioactive makes cleaning very easy really. We try to spray any fecal matter off of bamboo and plants so it falls down to the substrate where the clean up micro fauna will take care of it. Periodic wiping down of the glass also is beneficial as well as visually more appealing.

Shedding

When kept in optimal conditions these geckos never have any shed issues. In our experience they seem to do it very discreetly. Keeping very young Phelsuma klemmeri hydrated and at the correct humidity level is vital as to not encounter any shedding problems.

Potential Health Problems

Klemmeri have proven to be very hardy captives that do extremely well as long as their basic husbandry parameters are met. As with many small gecko species, stress can be the number one threat to their health so you want to minimize that factor as much as possible. As long as you meet the big 2 factors of their husbandry (lighting and hydration/humidity) you should not have to many issues with keeping your animals very healthy.

Recommended Book

Source

Scott Borden


The information contained in this care sheet reflect the opinions and methods of the mentioned breeder, based on their expertise and long-established experience.

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