Gold Dust Day Gecko
Scientific Name: Phelsuma laticauda laticauda / Common Names: Gold Dust Day Gecko
These dazzling lizards are one of the most spectacular of the day geckos, a group sometimes referred to as “living jewels.” They are a vivid green to yellowish green with a speckling of fine golden dots across the neck and shoulders. The eyelids are ringed with sky blue, and two or three rusty red lines run across the snout and top of the head. There are three parallel, elongated, pear-shaped red markings along the lower back. The brilliant blue and yellow colors splashed across the body are used as social signals. Adults are between 4 - 5.5 in. (10 - 14 cm) long (TL). Hatchlings, which resemble adults in coloration, are about are about 1.6 in. (4 cm) long and reach adult size in a year or less. Day geckos have expanded toepads, immoveable eyelids, and round pupils.
Habitat and Range
In Hawaii, the Gold Dust Day Gecko is well established in localized areas on Oahu, Hawaii, and Maui where it is found on large trees and palms in suburban neighborhoods. All of the Hawaiian populations stem from eight lizards released by a student on the University of Hawaii campus in 1974. It is native to the humid regions of northern Madagascar, on two of the Comoros Islands, and on the Farquhar atoll in Seychelles.
Day geckos feed on small insects, and lap nectar and pollen from flowers. Sweet sap and juices from over-ripe fruit are also eaten. Females lay clutches of two eggs (occasionally single eggs) on plants or in crevices. The eggs adhere to each other as they dry, but unlike the Orange-spotted Day Gecko, they can be moved without damage once they have dried. More than one female may use the same egg laying site, resulting in a half dozen or more eggs being found at one time. A male courts females by approaching from the front while wagging his head from side-to-side to show off his gold, blue and red markings.
The Green Anole (Anolis carolinensis) and Knight Anole (Anolis equestris) are also bright green and have toepads. Green Iguanas (Iguana iguana) and Jackson’s Chameleons (Chamaeleo jacksonii) are also green, but lack toepads. All these species have moveable eyelids and lack the gold speckles or orange markings found on Gold Dust Day Geckos. The Gold Dust Day Gecko can be distinguished from Orange-spotted and Giant Day Geckos by the intense yellow speckles on the neck and shoulders. It is much smaller than the Giant Day Gecko and lacks the blue neck patch of the Orange-spotted Day Gecko.
Conservation & Other Threats
It seems certain that most if not all day gecko populations in the United States are the result of deliberate releases by hobbyists or animal importers. It is uncertain whether day geckos will be able to invade Hawaiian forests, but they could be a problem for native invertebrates.
This species profile relies heavily on: Henkel & Schmidt 2000; McKeown 1996