Giant Day Gecko
Scientific Name: Phelsuma madagascarensis grandis
These animals are often called “living jewels” due to their bright colors of green, blue, orange, and red, giving them a breathtaking sight… if you can find them.
The intensity of the gecko’s colors varies by region, with some geckos appearing dull while others are dazzling and glittering in the tropical sun.
STATUS: This species has not been evaluated by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) due to Data Deficiency.
HABITAT: The giant day gecko is native to the tropical and subtropical rainforests of Madagascar and some nearby islands off the Madagascan coast where its neon green colors are able to blend in with the surrounding vegetation. Giant day geckos are partial to palm trees, banana trees, and the walls of village houses.
DIET: Their diet mainly consists of various insects and small invertebrates, although they are known to eat small vertebrates and even their own young. These geckos are also known to lick the nectar from certain flowering plants as well.
PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS: This lizard typically reaches a total length of about 11 inches, though larger specimens have been found. The body color is bright green or, rarely, bluish green. Their head is garnished with red stripes and the neck contains splashes of red and orange to help it better blend in with the natural environment around it. Because the skin of the giant day gecko is fairly weak and can tear easily when grasped, these geckos often just startle predators and slip away before the predator can get a good hold.
The nickname “living jewels” is a testament to the unmatched beauty of these giant day geckos within the tropical rainforests. The vibrant neon colors most likely evolved to catch the eye of prospective mates as well as signal nearby rivals. However, is this adaptation a benefit overall? When scientists first discovered this flamboyant species (in about 1870), they wondered how such eye-popping colors could go unnoticed by predators seeking to make a meal out of these arboreal geckos (or by the prey eager to evade these hungry ambushers). It turns out that, even though the colors stand out when placed against a sign post or the wall of a house (both of which are common hiding places for this gecko), the colors dutifully hide the gecko among the shimmering leaves and lively flowers of the tropical vegetation. The beautiful colors of the giant day gecko produce an animal that is something to be seen, yet something not easily seen by those who seek to harm it.