Réunion Day Gecko

Phelsuma borbonica

IUCN (Internation Union for Conservation of Nature) : Endangered Species, EN

The pigmentation of the Réunion Day Gecko, more commonly known as Green Gecko des Hauts, is extremely variable. There are differences that exist between populations depending on the sex, the age or climatic conditions.

The Gecko measures 11 to 17 cm in adulthood and its most dominant color is green, which can be more or less darkened. While its flanks are mottled grey, the top of its body is dotted with red spots that thicken towards the tail. The color of this tail may fluctuate from turquoise blue to apple green. The Gecko’s head is broad and covered with red spots. Even if the color dominance may vary according to the individuals, it is acknowledged that those who are colored in the red or orange shades seem to be the oldest. Males are generally larger than the females and their color, more contrasted. Those females are mostly stubbier and have calcium pockets on both sides of the neck. The juveniles, that is the young ones, have a more uniform color, apple green preponderated.

The Réunion Day Gecko is dispersed between 50 m and 2200 m of altitude. It is present primarily in moist native forests of hygrophilous megatherm type. Populations also exist in the other major types of formations (low altitude semi-xerophilic, mesothermic hygrophilous forests and ericoid altimontian). On the basis of informations obtained from subfossil layings (unhatched eggs), it is assumed that it was formerly present in every forest of the island, particularly in those of the Massif de la Montagne.

This species is mainly threatened due to the deterioration and loss of its habitat. While long ago, it could be found in all the forests of La Réunion, from the littoral to 1400m, today, it is restricted to scattered areas. Fortunately, many populations of the Green Gecko des Hauts benefit from the protection provided by La Réunion National Park. However, there are some relict populations, specially in the West, which are jeopardized by extensive development projects.

 

Source : Nature Océan Indien

The Réunion Day Gecko is a daytime arboreal forest reptile.

In low altitudes, the habitats that it favours are the Banana tree (Musa acuminate), or the Vacoas (Pandanus sp). In its natural environment, it can be found on Pandanus, ‘Bois Chandelle’ (Dracaena reflexa), ‘Bois Maigre’ (Nuxia verticillata), the ‘Grand natte’ (Mimusops maxima), or the ‘Bois piment’ (Geniostoma borbornicum), and the ‘Bois de rempart’ (Agarista salicifolia) among others. In high altitudes like the Maido, it displays a saxicolic behaviour (presence on rocks).

ONF (Office National des Forêts) kiosks, electric poles or groups of trees are often the shelter of one or more family groups of the Green Gecko de Bourbon (usually one male with several females and the juvenile ones). When the temperature is too low and during the most humids segments of the day, they take as refuge hollow trees, branches, desquamated barks, trunks flaked with mosses, electric counters and boxes.

The Green Geckos des Hauts communicate with brief vocalizations of the “tac-tac” type. Both males and females appear to be quite regnant over the territories they live on. When it occurs thay they meet, they perform intimidation parades (flattening of the body) as a threat.

It has been studied that breeding takes place primarily from September to March but it could spread over the whole year. At low altitude, a female can lay 8 to 10 times per year. Also, females lay two pure white elliptic eggs (9-13 x 10-14 mm) stuck to the support. It is frequent to observe that egg-laying sites are shared by several females who agglutinate thier eggs to each other together. These common layings may, at times, contain more than 200 eggs. Generally, populations of the species are located in the vicinity of the spawning area in small groups of 4 to 10 individuals.

The substratums for the nestings may take different forms : in natural environment – Vacoas and cracked trees, but additionnally electric boxes, advertising or signposts, rain gauges or even the interiors of houses. It must be added that there is a phenomenon, with still no scientific explanation and quite rare when it comes to reptiles – the females Gecko often remain close to the eggs. Those get hatched 90 to 100 days after spawning. Juveniles measure between 44 and 55 mm and are grey-green with two pale lateral lines. They reach the age of sexual maturity at around one year.