The broad-tailed day gecko, commonly referred to as the gold dust day gecko, is a semi-arboreal gecko. It is diurnal and naturally prefers to stay on its own. They are great pets to watch for their colorful beauty as they feed and roam about. While they are admittedly nervous and fragile, they require minimal maintenance.
Gold dust day geckos are non-venomous. These geckos can stay up 8-10 years when reared as pets. They can grow up to 4.5” or as long as 6”. Being that these geckos are fragile and easily stressed, they are not too comfortable being handled. The male day geckos are territorial, and the female can produce 6 clutches in 12 months. Gold dust day geckos prefer living in humid conditions with good lighting.
Gold dust day geckos are relatively easy to raise, but there are distinct things you must know. You must know the ideal temperature (across several periods of the day) to keep the cage of the day gecko. You need to know the right lighting and temperature conditions to raise these day geckos healthily. Also, what do gold dust day geckos eat and how regularly do they eat? Wouldn’t you like to learn all this vital information?
Do Gold Dust Day Geckos Make Good Pets?
Yes, gold dust day geckos are great choices for pets. They are non-aggressive and make great sights to watch during the day in a terrarium well furnished with substrates. It is not advisable to excessively handle your day geckos given their inherent fragility.
Day geckos are shy, nervous, and solitary. They may not be too comfortable being in direct contact with you. However, you can enjoy their energetic nature when watching them from outside the terrarium.
How Long Does a Gold Dust Day Gecko Live?
As you would expect, the length of time a gold dust day gecko stays depends on the conduciveness living conditions in terms of proper lighting, good diet, and temperature. Should all be perfect, day geckos live an average of 8-10 years.
There have also been recorded cases where a day gecko lives even longer than 15 years, which is typical for the giant day gecko.
Gold Dust Day Geckos Size
The subspecies (and living conditions) determines the length or size your gold dust day geckos grow. Typically, you can expect your day gecko to grow to a range of 4.5-6”.
Gold Dust Day Geckos Color
Gold dust day geckos have a unique coloration, which is a beauty to behold. Generally, you would see day geckos with the body color of yellowish-green or sharp green.
There are also rare cases where the body color is blue. Most day geckos have their upper backs and necks adorned with yellow (which can appear to be golden) speckles.
These geckos practically derive their name from these stunning speckles appearing on their necks, hindquarters, and legs.
Gold dust day geckos stand out for the three rust-colored transverse bars appearing on their head and snout. The lower back comes with three tapering red bars as well. Also, you would notice a blue patch around the eye region in the skin’s upper region.
The tail is usually flat with an off-white underside. For juvenile day geckos, you barely see them with the red bars. Also, their limbs and tail are off-white. There are also sporadic cases where the toes are blue.
Gold Dust Day Geckos Cost
The cost of a gold dust day gecko depends on the age, gender, and of course, the breeder (or seller). Typically, if you want to buy a healthy gold dust day gecko, you should budget around $50-$250 (varying with the said factors).
Are Gold Dust Day Geckos Nocturnal?
Day geckos belong to the genus Phelsuma. This comes under the Gekkonidae family. Phelsuma Day geckos don’t have eyelids and have a static (however transparent) plate covering their eyes.
Now, members of the Phelsuma are not nocturnal. They have their peak activity levels during the day, making them diurnal. However, the larger fraction of the Gekkonidae family is nocturnal, with peak activity levels coming at night.
Are Gold Dust Day Geckos Poisonous?
Gold dust geckos are not aggressive at all. They are completely harmless to humans. They rarely bite except the large or medium-sized geckos that bite when extremely stressed. Nonetheless, these bites are non-venomous. They are very nibble and barely penetrate your skin.
Can Golden Geckos Swim?
No, golden dust geckos can’t swim. However, they have a unique ability: they can run across water. Golden geckos can run across water as efficiently as they can run up a vertical wall.
Golden dust geckos don’t have sufficient power in each of their strokes to be able to push through water. They are not big enough to have that force. In the same vein, golden geckos are not small enough to float through the water. So how can they move through the water? They waggle!
Geckos are able to propel themselves through water quickly by waving their tails and bodies back and forth at an incredible speed. This waggling capacity is shared with alligators.
When golden geckos slap the water with their feet, they create air cavities that keep them buoyant while generating a vertical force that sustains their heads above the surface of the water. Their waggling tails complement the acceleration.
Golden geckos can move through water (as opposed to swimming) also due to their hydrophobic skin. This helps them repel water, minimizing the supposed friction between their surface area and the water.
So you see, such reduced friction also implies reduced resistance to their propulsion. This way, they can speed through the water even without swimming.
Do Day Geckos Like to be Held?
Golden dust day geckos are shy, fragile, and very sensitive. Their fragility makes them more vulnerable to stress. Also, their skins are not strong enough and would easily tear if you handle them roughly. When a day gecko is stressed, its tail will drop.
Actually, this tail-dropping behavior is a survival technique when they are out in the wild. These tails do regenerate, but it is sad that these regenerated tails will not look as genuine as the first one. This is why we recommend minimal handling of your gold dust day geckos.
Day geckos are more suited for sight-seeing than handling. Just keep them comfortable in their terrarium, and you can enjoy their exciting movements. Having pointed this out, it yet possible for some golden day geckos to have become acclimatized to your company (as the owner).
In that case, where they are comfortable with you, they will be relaxed outside their terrarium even when you are close by. They can also get used to you enough to take food from your hand.
Care of Gold Dust Day Geckos
Day geckos are, no doubt, delicate beings. You just can’t take care of them as you would mindlessly take care of more tolerant and persevering pets like dogs and cats. Let us explore some crucial aspects you should know about rearing gold dust day geckos.
Temperament of gold dust day geckos
The generality of lizards is more active at night, but gold dust day geckos enjoy their prime time during day. Behaviorally, day geckos are pretty keen about their space, with the male day geckos particularly territorial.
We discourage frequent attempts to handle them. Day geckos don’t even like you close (unless they have gotten used to your company and trusted you), not the least hold them.
They are pretty quick and would fancy evading your touch. Also, they have very delicate skins that are very prone to tear from rough handling.
If it is necessary to handle the day gecko, approach it slowly. Never grab your day geckos by the tail. When you get to it, softly corral the day gecko onto your hand. If you habitually handle your day gecko gently, it could become more welcoming of your touch, reducing its resistance to being handled. They are very solitary.
This is why you see day geckos barely enjoy sharing their terrarium with their fellows. When you are mating opposite sexes, there are frequent conflicts and fights, necessitating their separation.
Day geckos – as is typical of most geckos – enjoy climbing a lot. They have an inherent capacity to hold to just any surface. This ability can be attributed to their toe pads being furnished with small filaments, otherwise known as setae.
If you don’t want your gold dust geckos running across your walls and ceilings, it is best to keep it in a regulated, enclosed space. Terrariums are commonly recommended for keeping your day geckos.
Gold dust day geckos have a natural tendency to recede immediately they feel threatened or when they are they are shy (which is common when they enter a new environment or a stranger comes close to them). If they perceive a threat, they commonly move back quickly to the opposite side of the surface they were previously on.
This is why it is always a good idea to equip their terrarium with cylindrical objects where they can hide or foliage where they could recede to away from public view. We recommend cylindrical basking perches for this.
Gold dust day geckos enjoy staying in a well-planted terrarium. This is even more necessary given that gold dust day geckos are arboreal reptiles. With such substrates or foliage in the terrarium, the day gecko has enough to climb up or hide around.
For the terrarium to be well-planted, the size comes into play. This is because you want a terrarium with sufficient spaciousness that will not cramp your day gecko. Your terrarium needs plants like Weeping Fig (Ficusbenjamina), Devil’s Ivy, Dragon Plant (Dracaena), and Wandering Jew.
You can also make do with bamboo bars and grapevines. All these plants need ample space in the terrarium to survive. Your terrarium also needs a front opening. This makes it easier for you to feed the geckos and clean the terrarium.
Aside from the need for such vegetation, the number of geckos you are rearing in the terrarium will decide the size. Remember that geckos are solitary beings and prefer staying in isolation than in clusters or groups.
If you are keeping one gold dust day gecko in your terrarium, the least dimensions you need for sufficient spaciousness is a 12 x 12 x 18 inches terrarium.
If you want to keep two-day geckos, you have to look for a bigger terrarium since you don’t want the geckos to be always close to avoid conflicts and fights.
A terrarium of 18 x 18 x 24 inches can capably hold 2 day geckos, giving both the needed privacy and freedom they need to roam.
Food & Water
Gold dust day geckos have a large appetite for small feeder insects. Their preferred insects for meal include small roaches, small silkworms, hornworms, small crickets, and small mealworms. However, if they are in the wild, gold dust day geckos are vast eaters and feast on a broad range of insects and fruits.
This is why we recommend always supplementing the diet of your day gecko with reptile multivitamins and top quality reptile calcium like D3. These multivitamins are even a necessity for female gold dust day geckos that are laying eggs. Try to feed them with these multivitamins every week.
Gold dust day geckos are fans of baby food and enjoy consuming it. These meals make them very prone to quick weight gain if fed with them persistently. You can also supplement the meals of your geckos with pureed fruit. This can be equally replaced with supplement powder.
Here is a sample puree combination that you can feed your gold dust day geckos. Get puree food (which can be baby food or pureed fruit) mixed with vitamin supplement powder and about 14% pureed protein (which can be chicken or small insects). Now serve this combo to your day geckos. They are going to love it!
The temperature of your terrarium depends on the species of the day geckos. During the day, you should keep your terrarium at about 80 degrees (or 89 degrees at maximum). During the night, the temperature can be around 70 degrees.
You can measure the surface temperature of the terrarium with an infrared temperature gun while the ambient temperature can be measured with a digital probe thermometer.
To prevent incidences of fires or burn, it is advisable to connect heat sources to the thermostat. This enables you to regulate the temperature better.
Heat rocks aren’t good options either. There is a substantial possibility of them burning your geckos or overheating the terrarium.
Your heat sources should be located at an appropriate distance from your geckos to avoid burn incidences. Get your heat light for the basking spot, which can be around 32-34°C. Ambient temperatures could be somewhere around 23-32°C.
Given that ambient temperatures can fall as low as 20°C during night time, you can supplement the ambient temperature with a ceramic heat emitter. Otherwise, an incandescent light bulb would do well in heating the basking spot.
The terrarium needs relative humidity. This is necessary because rainforests (which are pretty humid) are the natural habitats of the day geckos. If the humidity levels are too low, your day geckos could suffer respiratory handicaps or shed abnormally.
Try to keep the terrarium at a relative humidity range of 60-78%. In the morning, humidity levels can shoot up to 80-90%, but with the day heating up, it could fall to around 50-70% later across the day.
You can raise the humidity level if you ensure to mist the terrarium every day. This can also be supplemented with substrates and live plants. The setup of your terrarium will determine the type of substrates you get.
Substrates like orchid bark and cypress mulch are excellent choices. They are also low-maintenance substrates as well.
You can use a digital probe hygrometer to measure the humidity of the terrarium.
This device is not expensive, either. This choice is because of the notable inaccuracies that come with the traditional hygrometers and stick-on analog thermometers.
Day geckos like to live in well-lighted habitats. If your gold dust day geckos don’t have an ample supply of heat and lighting, they could lose their glow, turning drab. This would be painful if you have a particularly colorful gecko whose radiance you enjoy watching.
Good lighting also beautifies your terrarium, making it more enchanting to watch your gold dust day geckos roam about. Your choice of lighting also depends on your budget. If you are on a low budget, you can go with conventional lighting means like combining basking light and fluorescent strip lighting.
If you have a significantly smaller terrarium, you wouldn’t want to use high-wattage basking bulbs so as not cause overheating of your terrarium. Therefore, you would be better suited to lower wattage basking bulbs, which would keep the temperature of the basking spot around 70-90 degrees.
If you have bigger terrariums, it is cool if you can go for mercury vapor bulbs. This type of bulbs is known to generate adequate amounts of heat and UVB light.
These heat and UVB effects combine to enable the gecko to enjoy enhanced radiance in terms of the coloration they develop. The T-Rex Active UV Heat Floodlight is an excellent option if you are on the lookout for mercury vapor bulbs.
It is relatively easy to sex adult gold dust day geckos – although it can be pretty demanding sexing younger golden day geckos. This is because it is harder to differentiate the juvenile male day gecko from the female. When younger, all golden dust day geckos tend to look feminine.
However, you can readily tell an adult male day geckos by the conspicuous femoral pores as well as the hemipenal bulges situated at their lower tail. As we pointed out earlier, adult male day geckos are longer and bigger than female day geckos.
When they have the urge to breed, both female and male golden dust day geckos make the same sound. This is a distinct chirping sound. This is the kind of noise you hear from cricket that is chirping or that sound made by male hens.
While the chirping sound can be very low or nonexistent in some golden dust day geckos, others make very loud chirping sounds when they want to mate.
Female golden dust day geckos are very active reproductively. They typically lay eggs all through the year. A female day gecko can produce as many as 6 clutches in 12 months. Each of these clutches contains 2 eggs.
The relative prolific birth rate of golden dust day geckos explains why the state of Hawaii in the United States classifies these day geckos as an invasive species.
So long your female golden dust geckos are substantially supplied with calcium, they can produce healthy eggs consistently. You can add this calcium powder on their insect meals or their pureed fruits.
Female day geckos are famed for storing sacks of calcium behind their heads in the form of pouches. These sacks appear deflated when the female gold dust day geckos lay their eggs.
It is also interesting to note that gold dust day geckos are referred to as egg gluers. This is because their eggs appear stuck to where they are laid and can’t be easily transferred to another location.
This is why you tend to find eggs stuck on the walls of the terrarium or even the dishes with which you feed them.
You can, however, move these eggs by securing a ventilated deli cup over them. Female day geckos tend to babysit the eggs till they hatch. They don’t pose any danger to these eggs. You will also notice that these female gold dust day geckos are pretty protective of their young ones (same as their eggs).
Before maturing and moving out into its own territory, a young gold dust day gecko would stay awhile with the mother. Nonetheless, the lesser the population of day geckos sharing in a terrarium, the lesser the stress on each gold dust day gecko. This is because day geckos are naturally very conscious of their space.