» Phelsuma`s

female Phelsuma klemmeri

(still working on this topic... be patient)

» Terrarium

Most Phelsuma are aboreal and require a tank that is higher than long. Suitable dimensions for a pair of average sized phelsuma like Phelsuma laticauda is 40x40x70.

Example of a decorated Phelsuma-terrarium with sanseveria and zamioculcas


It is important to cover the back and side panels so that animals in adjecent tanks don`t see each other. Since Phelsuma are able to walk on glass, there is no need cover the side and rear panels with rough material. The side and rear panels of my terrariums are -on the outside- coated with white varnish (Flexa). A light colored panel reflects light very well, which makes the tank appear lighter. This is very important for diurnal animals; they will display teir brightest colours!


For the aboreal Phelsuma, the type of substrate that is used is not very important. In my terrariums I use a thin (1-2 cm) layer of crushed oyster shells. I keep the substrate as dry as possible.

My tanks are densely planted. Living plants are beneficial for the atmosphere and humidity of the terrarium. Dense planting give the animals a secure feeling and allow the animals to hide from each other. Especially for females it is important that they have some spots to withdraw to. All plants are placed in pots. This way it is easy to water the plants individuallly (by need) without waterlogging the substrate. I mostly use spathiphyllum, sanseveria and zamioculcas.

In my terrariums I use bamboo poles of different diametre. Phelsuma seem to prefer thick poles, they also like to hide inside the poles and often use the hollow poles as egg laying site. To prevent the Phelsuma (and food insects) from hiding in certain poles I seal the open ends of the bamboo using cork or silicone. For instance holes that are too narrow having the risk of an animal becoming trapped. The bamboo and branches are placed horizontal, vertical and diagonal throughout the terrarium. In each tank a bamboopole is placed horizonal near the basking spot.

terrarium inhabited by Phelsuma standingi

I use the same basic-setup for decorating and scaping my Phelsuma terrariums. However, there are differences based on the needs of a given species. For instance, larger species require larger bamboo and more robust decoration.

rocks and flagstones in a terrarium for Phelsuma barbouri

» Terrariumclimate

light & temperature
I use plain E14 spots for heating the terrariums. These spots are controlled using a timer and burn 1.5 hours in the morning and 1 hour in the afternoon. On hot days the sunspots are switched off. During summer (March-October) the lightcycle is 13 hours, in the winter the lights burn for 10 hours. Only on very hot days the lights are shut down completely to prevent overheating of the animals. The average temperature in the terrarium is 27C in the higher regions and 20-23C near the bottom.
Different temperature ranges in a terrarium are important for reptiles (thermoregulation). Under the sunspot temperature can reach up to 35C. At nighttime temperatures drop to room temperature (22C in summer, 15C during cold winternights).

I mist my tanks daily by hand, using a highpressure sprayer. Only in terrariums with moisture-loving species a small waterdish is placed. In this I place a pebble. This prevents the dish from becoming a fruitfly massgrave and allows the animals to climb out of the dish easily (risk of drowning ). My terrariums are well ventilated; one hour after misting the tanks are already completely dry! Humidity ranges between 50-70%.

resting period
As mentioned above, I use a resting period for my animals. During winter (october-march) the lightcycle is shorter (10 hours) and also the sunspots burn less often. This results in a decline of temperature and during this resting period feeding and misting is reduced. The animals are less active during allowing them to 'charge'for the upcoming breeding period. De transition between summer and winter (and vice versa) is done gradually over a two week period.

» Food and supplements

Adult and subadult animals are fed with insects 2 - 3 times weekly. During the resting period feeding takes place 1-2 times a week. House crickets (Acheta domestica) are the staple food, besides these the animals are fed mealworms, (fruit)flies and wild-caught insects.
Each animal is fed 3-4 crickets each time. I prefer feeding using a tweezer (find out more in the 'tips' section of this site). I breed most insects myself.

various supplements

Twice a month I place a small dish with babyfood (banana, exotic fruits) in the terrarium. This dish stays in the tank for 1 day because it becomes foul real quick.


During the breeding period a small dish with ground up eggshell and sepia is available for the animals.

I don`t use UVB lights, therefore I have to use supplements to complement the animals' vitamine D3 requirements.
As preparate I use Calcicare 40+ manufactured by the firm 'de witte molen'. This preparate contains all kinds of vitamins and minerals. Besides calcicare I dust the food-insects using calciumcitrate.

This substance is used to fix the Calcium-Phophate ratio. The dust-ratio calcicare : calciumcitrate is 2:1. This means that if I feed 3 times a week, the insects are dusted 2 times using calcicare, and 1 time using the calciumcitrate. Besides powders I add water soluble vitamins (FarmoSan (1ml / liter) liquid calciummagnesium (AMOSCAL) (2 ml / liter) to the misting water once a week.

I`m a bit reluctant about mentioning the supplement ratio and quantity I use. There a so many variables involved that it is impossible to give the correct amount -and kind- of supplements one should use. Never change a winning formula!

» General care

Every day the terrariums are misted and the animals are fed 2-3 times a week. Once a week I water the plants and remove dead leaves and other debree. In each terrarium a slice of banana is placed, Fruitvlies and crickets -that have not been eaten yet- feed on this fruit. The slice is replaced weekly.
Once a year before the start of the breeding season I perform great maintenance. The substrate layer is replaced and the bamboo and terrarium are cleaned.

The glasspanels are cleaned when necessary (mostly twice a year, but unfortunately with some Phelsuma more frequent :-( ).
The terrariums for the juveniles are cleaned more often because they become filthy sooner.

I disturb the animals as little as possible. Phelsuma dislike disturbance and changes in their surrounding!

» Breeding Phelsuma

For breeding Phelsuma it is important that the animals are not too young. Females should be at least 1 year old (bigger species 1,5 years) before they can be used for breeding purposes. Producing eggs requires a lot of calcium. When females are not fulll grown, producing eggs can lead to rachitis and dwarfism.

I keep my animals as pairs. More than one male in a terrarium (no matter how big it is) will fail without a doubt. Males are extremely territorial and do not tolerate each other. Multiple females in the same enclosure sometimes turns out fine, but not always. The pairs stay together all year round. When the male is sexually overactive or aggressive towards the female it is necessary to seperate the pair for a few months.

breeding pair of Phelsuma madagascariensis grandis "high red"

When introducing a breeding pair I mostly introduce the female to the male. I make sure that there are enough hiding spaces for the female. It always important to keep an eye on the newly formed pair to see if everything works out fine. If not, it is recommended to separate the pair and re-introduce them later on.

mating Phelsuma sundbergi ladiguensis

For my animals the breeding season lasts from March through october. The total number of eggs produced during this period varies for each species but one or two eggs are deposited at a 2-3 week interval.
The eggs of Phelsuma have a hard shell and are often laid between plants or in bamboopoles.
Because most Phelsuma eat their young, I remove the eggs form the terrarium.
The eggs are transferred to a small plastic box with ventilation holes in the sides. Inside a thin layer of moist vermiculite is placed, and on top of that a piece of styropor. In the styropor some shallow holes are made using a hot screwdriver. The eggs are placed inside these holes and fixated with pins. This prevents the eggs from rolling about.

Phelsuma standingi eggs


I incubate the eggs at room temperature. This is possible because the temperature in my reptile room is quite high. The eggs are subjected to fluctuations in temperature.

I am convinced that a fluctuation in temperature (especially a drop at night-time) is crucial for the development of healthy and strong hatchlings. In the winter -when it becomes too cold- the boxes with eggs are placed in a warmer empty terrarium.

Anolis en phelsuma eggs incubating at room temperature

raising the hatchlings

One day after hatching I put the hatchling in a small terrarium. As small as they are, young Phelsuma are territorial and can best be kept seperately. This is not always possible (high number of young animals), therefore I often have to raise young Phelsuma of the same size and/or age together. In general, this works fine. I also combine young phelsuma with young anoles.

The terrariums are sparesely decorated with some bamboo and an artifical plant. The bottom is covered with a thin layer of crushed oyster shells. A horizontal branch placed directly under the TL-tube serves as basking place. This is very important, it prevents development of 'Floppy Tails'.
The terrarium is lighted 12 hours a day.

just hatched Phelsuma sundbergi ladiguensis

The young Phelsuma are fed for the first time as they are 3 days old (the first days they are ingesting their yolk sack). Fruitflies and small crickets are the main food. The young are fed 3-4 times each week. The vitamine and mineral regime, misting and so on is identical to the way I keep the adults.
During hot days and with moisture-loving species a small dish of water with a pebble is placed.

small group of Phelsuma standingi

An interesting phenomenon is that the young of Phelsuma klemmeri and Phelsuma standingi can stay in the same terrarium with their parents. This is possible until they become subadults, then the young have to be separated.

Phelsuma standingi parents and their offspring