Madagascar is known for having some of the world’s most unique creatures – having evolved in isolation for millions of years. From the world’s smallest species of chameleon (Brookesia micra), the tiniest primate (Mouse lemur) to the largest gecko, the Madagascar Giant Day Gecko (Phelsuma grandis). These beautiful emerald green geckos are the largest of their species and can grow up to 30cm in size and are found in the north/northwest of the island nation, living in trees. Known for their beauty, size, and distinctive markings the geckos are increasingly popular as pets but in Madagascar, they can be found roaming free in nature and can be spotted by guests in parks such as Masoala National Park.
The Madagascar Giant Day Gecko may look slightly familiar even if you have never been to Madagascar… if you’ve ever seen a Geico Insurance advertisement on television or online then you would recognize the bright green gecko with its distinctive red marks along its back as their popular mascot.
The Madagascar Giant Day Gecko’s natural habitat is the trees of the forest and they can usually be found perched on a tree (facing upwards instead of downwards like most geckos) but they are also quite comfortable with humans and can often be found in houses or other human shelters. Their broad and flat toes have excellent grip and they can even stick to smooth glass with ease. They are also able to move with impressive speed when hunting, dashing up and down trees after small insects and spiders. They can eat just about anything even small mammals, and sometimes lick nectar and pollen from flowers. This agile speed is also what keeps them safe from predators as their bright colours aren’t exactly optimal for camouflage.
When mating, male Madagascar Giant Day Geckos sway or shake their heads and tails and make clicking and grunting noises almost like frogs. They do this by clicking their tongue against the roof of their mouth. Females will rapidly flick their tongues and if they are not interested in the male will darken their skin to a deeper green. Males are very territorial and will only allow females in their territory, fighting any males who dare encroach.
As the name suggests, these Geckos are diurnal which means they are active in the day, allowing excellent opportunities for travellers to spot them on their trip to Madagascar exploring the lush green forests of Northern Madagascar.