Species: Phelsuma standingi
Size: Length: up to 30.5 cm
Weight: 40 - 80 g
Description: The Banded Day Gecko is one of the largest day gecko species in Madagascar. The adult is a mottled pale blue or blue-green colour, which is often similar to the bark colouration of the trees it inhabits. The underparts of the body are typically beige. The juvenile Banded Day Gecko has prominent russet bands across the length of the body which fade with age, while the hatchling is blue-grey in colour. The Banded Day Gecko produces various noises including clicks, squeaks, and croaks.
Habitat and Distribution: An arboreal species, the Banded Day Gecko lives only in arid environments including deciduous dry forests and dense, scrub-like vegetation known as thorn forest. Little is known about the exact habitat requirements of the Banded Day Gecko, but it appears to have a close relationship with Baobab trees (Adansonia spp.) making it the only known reptile in Madagascar to have an association with this particular plant species. It is also found on other tree species and even on wooden buildings. The Banded Day Gecko is found only in a small arid region of southwest Madagascar, occurring in an area of approximately 17,000 square kilometres. It was previously known from only five locations in the Toliara region, but another population has recently been discovered during forests surveys.
Biology and Ecology: The Banded Day Gecko is rarely seen in the wild and little is known of its feeding habits in its natural environment. Other species of day gecko are known to be omnivorous, feeding on invertebrates, nectar, pollen and fruits. The Banded Day Gecko may feed on baobab nectar or invertebrates attracted to the nectar, but there are as yet no field observations to support this. In captivity the banded day gecko is known to feed on other geckos as well as a range of invertebrates and nectar. Day geckos are unusual among the gecko family because they have a diurnal lifestyle, from which they derive their common name. The Banded Day Gecko has tiny hair-like structures on the bottom of its toes, called ‘setae,’ which aid in climbing on various surfaces. Predators of the banded day gecko include birds of prey and snakes.
The breeding season of the Banded Day Gecko usually runs from November through till March. The female will lay one to two eggs every four to six weeks, but neither the male nor female will provide any parental care to the young. The eggs hatch after about 70 days, and the young geckos reach sexual maturity at 1 to 2 years old. In the wild, the banded day gecko may live for up to 5 years, while in captivity it may live for over 12 years.
Status and Threats: The Banded Day Gecko is classified as Vulnerable under the IUCN Redlist and listed on Appendix II of CITES. The Banded Day Gecko is thought to be experiencing substantial habitat loss, degradation and fragmentation due to the conversion of land for agricultural uses. These include logging, charcoal production, cattle grazing and slash-and-burn farming, which can also lead to destructive brush fires. The Banded Day Gecko is also illegally harvested for the international pet trade, despite being under protection from the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). It is thought that capture for the pet trade has been intense in recent years, leading to substantial declines in this species’ numbers.