The Standing's Day Gecko
By Jennifer Greene
Phelsuma standingi, or Standing's Day Geckos, are an often under appreciated member of the Day Gecko family. Babies have significantly higher contrasting colors than adults, and they generally lack the intense, jewel-like colors of their cousins the Giant Day Geckos or many of the other commonly kept day gecko species. However, their subtle coloration hides a behaviorally fascinating gecko.
One of the larger Phelsuma species, Standing's Day Geckos can reach up to 10" in length for large individuals (much of this is due to tail length). Adult coloration is generally green around the head, fading to blue by the tail, with thin grey banding throughout their body. They originate from a drier region of Madagascar, and as such can tolerate a wide range of conditions, particularly lower humidity conditions than their brilliantly colored cousins will accept. They thrive with high basking temperatures, and to see them at their most colorful it is recommended to offer them UVB as well as a bright, white light to bask under.
The coolest, in my opinion, part about Phelsuma standingi is their social and reproductive behavior. While they pair off like the rest of the Phelsuma group, the adults often maintain prolonged monogamous pairs, sometimes for life! While it is not impossible to convince a female to change partners once her original mate is removed, it is extremely difficult, and many females will not accept new mates once they have bonded with a particular male.
Once established, eggs can be left in the cage with the pair of geckos, and they will not harm any of their offspring that hatch within the cage. Once the juveniles begin to reach sexual maturity, the adults will become aggressive towards them, presumably to drive them off to find their own territories. That the parents actively avoid trying to injure their offspring is noticeable, for example - If one baby happens to be accidentally seized (e.g. during feeding), it emits a squeaking sound that makes the parent let go instantly! (Bruse, Meyer, Schmidt, 2005, p. 95)
As juveniles get older and remain in the same area with their parents, minor squabbles often break out between them as they vie for resources. Unlike the majority of day gecko species, they have thicker skin than most, and it is resistant to tearing. Because of this, the scratches and bites that they receive during the minor fighting that breaks out among siblings is not overly detrimental to their health. They should still be monitored for serious injury, but due to their thicker skin they can withstand the tussling with few problems.
With patience, Standing's Day Geckos can be taught to accept human interaction, and even tolerate moderate handling. Their thicker skin means that even an inexperienced keeper is unlikely to harm them as long as they're gentle; it is still possible to tear their skin, but it takes considerably more force than with other Phelsuma species.