Captive Care of Phelsuma species

Since the early days of terrarium keeping, the genus Phelsuma has been one of the favourites of many terrarium hobbyists and herpetologists. One of the pioneers, in the early sixties, in keeping and breeding day gecko's was the legendary German traveller and explorer, Karel Martens. He was a well known Madagascar traveller and inspired many to follow; Harald Meier, Herman Oostveen, etc. He also contributed many of his findings and specimen to science, through the other "Phelsuma"-legend Robert Mertens.

One of the first (early sixties) to import several species, mostly from Mauritius and the Comoro Islands, on a regular basis and make them available for many European terrarium enthusiasts, was the Dutchman Herman Oostveen. He ran one of the first pure reptile stores; "herpetologisch station De Natuurvriend" in Utrecht, Holland. He also published the first care book and monograph on the genus called "Phelsuma's" in early 1979 (published in Dutch). The first species to arrive in the US was Phelsuma madagascariensis grandis, imported by reptile Ray Folsom of Hermosa Beach, California, in the mid 1960s.

The next "Phelsuma-bible" on the captive care of these geckos came from Ralf Heselhaus in 1986 with his "Taggeckos Praktische Winke zur Pflege und Zucht", published by Edition Kernen. This book was followed by a second edition in 1994, but for its time less accurate. The second edition of this book could certainly not be considered as a standard.

The next "bible" on the genus came from the hand of the late Sean McKeown in 1993; " The general care and maintenance of Day Geckos". This is the first monograph published in English and fairly accurate for its time.

Phelsuma enthusiasts had to wait until 1997 for their next and accurate bible; "Faszinierende Taggeckos" by Gerhard Hallman, Jens Krüger and Gerd Trautmann. Today still the most comprehensive and accurate work on the genus in German. The authors are also involved in the IG-Phelsuma, one of the leading societies in Germany specialized in the genus. The group was founded in 1992 and publishes the magazine "Taggecko" formerly known as "IG-Phelsuma Rundschreiben".

The best work in English today is "Day Geckos in captivity" from Leann and Greg Christenson, published in 2003. With the help of herpetologists and fellow Phelsuma breeders, the authors were able to compose and publish an extensive image collection, with many unseen accounts.

The above mentioned books are worth mentioning and contributed and still contribute today to the knowledge of keeping and breeding Phelsuma in captivity and are especially the last two mentioned are a "must have" for every Phelsuma breeder, novice or advanced.

We also want to encourage you to join a specialized society to keep yourself up to date and interact with other keepers and breeders. In North America it is advisable to join the Global Gecko Association and in Europe the IG-Phelsuma, see this page for more details.