Malagasy panther geckos

dsc01400The panther gecko Paroedura picta occurs in the in the south of Madagascar mostly along the coasts. It lives in sandy, herbaceous or wooded environments. It is the most terrestrial gecko of the Paroedura genus and is a bad climber. This gecko does not possess spatulae under their digits, thus it cannot adhere vertical surfaces. However, it can be found on rocks or on low branches of spiny Malagasy plants. It is one of the biggest species of the genus (together with P. masobe and P. tanjaka), males can measure up to 17 cm.

Characterizations

Nowadays, taxonomists put 18 species in the genus Paroedura, all endemic to Madagascar, except Paroedura sanctijohannis that occurs in the Comoros archipelago. These species can be found in all Malagasy environments, from the North to the South, from the dry and open coasts (where P. picta occurs) to the dry forests for P. androyensis or humid and cool forests for P. masobe et P. gracilis. Furthermore, other species as P. karstophila et P. lohatsara are living in karstic mountains made of limestone.
Similarly to many species of geckos, Paroedura picta is nocturnal. However, in captivity it is possible to observe him being active during the day when food is provided in the morning or in the afternoon. The animal will not hesitate to go out of its hiding place to hunt the preys.

The terrarium

The panther gecko is well adapted to live in captivity and is an ideal candidate to be kept in terrariums as its Asian cousin the leopard gecko (Eublepharis macularius). For a small group of one male and two to four females, we suggest a glass terrarium of 60cm by 40cm.
You will provide classical fournitures: a heating mat placed under one third of the terrarium’s surface (this portion of the terrarium will be maintained dry) and will provide a thermal gradient from 28 to 32°C during the day. During the night, heating devices are off to allow the temperature to drop to 20-22°C. A small bulb of 25 to 40W can provide both some heat and light to the terrarium. The terrarium will be highlighted for 14 hours from March to October (season of reproduction), 13 hours in February and November and 12 hours in December and January (resting period for the females).
Many substrates can be used for this species: sand, wood chips, dry peat or absorbing paper. In addition to water, stones, wood sticks, and natural or artificial plants will be added for enrichment.

Feeding

The panther gecko eats typically insects. Medium crickets, small locusts, meal worms, all these commercially available insects will be appreciated by this lizard. During summer, it can eat some local species captured in the fields. This animal has a high metabolic rate, thus it should be fed every day. Every two meals, a supplement of vitamins and calcium should be provided, ideally added to the insects. This complement is recommended for each meal for gravid females, from February to October.

Reproduction

dsc07246Once you have adult animals, the reproduction of Paroedura picta is easy. About that, it is useful to know that sexual maturity happens very early in this species, females can lay their first eggs at 5 to 6 months. However, it is not always good news… Indeed, females that lay eggs too soon will not survive very long. Thus, it is recommended to keep females separated (once you can determine the sex around 1-2 months) from males for the first year. After this period, you can put them together. Some breeders even advocate to keep them separated for 18 months.
The eggs that are found in the terrarium should be place on a dry substrate, but in a humid atmosphere. A small box containing sand or vermiculite is perfect. Incubation temperature can vary between 26 and 31°C and can last from 43 to 65 days.

The stripe mutation is selected by breeders, but it also appears in natural populations.

The xanthic mutation (excess of yellow) is recessive (two « copies » need to be mutated to see the phenotype) and was the first to be selected in this species. It is now very common in breeding.

References

Find the complete article in Reptilmag n°44!

  • Henkel, F.-W. and Schmidt W., Amphibians and Reptiles of Madagascar and the Mascarene, Seychelles, and Comoro Islands. Krieger Publishing Company, Malabar, Florida, 2000.
  • Glaw, F. & M. Vences (2007), A Field Guide to the Amphibians and Reptiles of Madagascar. Third edition Cologne, Vences & Glaw Verlag, 496 pages.
  • Klarsfeld, J.  The Fecund Madagascar Ground Gecko (Paroedura pictus). Reptiles magazine Vol. 4 No.8 August 1996, pp. 56-68
  • Nussbaum, R. A. & C. J. Raxworthy 2000 Systematic revision of the genus Paroedura Günther (Reptilia: Squamata: Gekkonidae), with description of five new species. Miscellaneous Publications, Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan no 189: 1-26
  • Schnecker, P.  Terralog Vol. 12: Geckos of Madagascar, the Seychelles, Comoros and Mascarene Islands. Geckos Madagaskars, der Seychellen, Komoren und Maskarenen. Edition Chimaira, Frankfurt am Main; Verlag ACS GmbH, Rodgau. 2008.