Lined day gecko (Phelsuma lineata)

Also known as: side-striped day gecko, striped day gecko
Synonyms: Phelsuma minuthi
GenusPhelsuma (1)
SizeTotal length: 100 - 145 mm (2)
Top facts

The lined day gecko is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List (1), and is listed on Appendix II of CITES (3).  

The lined day gecko (Phelsuma lineata) has soft, green skin on its back and a distinct black band running down the side of its body, bordered on the lower edge by a light-coloured stripe (2) (4).  

Three subspecies of the lined day gecko are recognised (1) (5), each differing slightly in their patterning (5). Phelsuma lineata lineata has small red spots on its back. Phelsuma lineata bombetokensis has both large and small red spots on its head and on its back, and also has black spots where the limbs meet the body. The band that runs along the side of its body is greyish in this subspecies, and some individuals may have yellow rings around the eyes. Phelsuma lineata punctulata lacks any red markings but has a back dotted with many black spots (2).

Like other geckos, all subspecies of the lined day gecko have specialised toe pads that are capable of impressive adhesion. The lined day gecko also lacks eyelids and instead has a transparent covering over the eye, called the spectacle. Dust or debris is licked off the spectacle by this species’ long, mobile tongue (4).

The lined day gecko is widely distributed across eastern Madagascar, except the subspecies P. l. bombetokensis, which occurs in western Madagascar (1) (2). The lined day gecko has also been introduced to Réunion, an island in the Indian Ocean (1) (6).

A small lizard, the lined day gecko can be found in palms, bushes and banana plants, either in the rainforest or near villages, and has even been reported inside houses (2).

As its name suggests, the lined day gecko is primarily active during the daylight hours, although it can sometimes be active at night around house lamps that attract the insects on which it feeds (2).

The tail of the lined day gecko has multiple functions. It can be used as an extra ‘hand’ when walking along narrow twigs, it can store fat, and it may also be detached when attacked by a predator (4).

The lined day gecko was one of the top ten reptile species imported into the European Union between 1990 and 1999, with 71 percent of the 45,630 individuals coming from the wild (7). While information appears to be lacking, this would suggest that the lined day gecko may be threatened by over-harvesting from the wild. Like many of Madagascar’s reptiles, the lined day gecko may also be vulnerable to the destruction of the island’s native habitat, although the diversity of habitats in which this species is found shows some degree of adaptability (5).

The lined day gecko is listed on Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, meaning that any international trade in this species should be carefully monitored (3). In eastern Madagascar, this species is found in several protected areas, including national parks and special reserves (1).

Further information on conservation in Madagascar:

Authenticated (25/08/12) by Olivier S. G. Pauwels, Research Associate at the Royal Belgian Institute for Natural Sciences, Brussels, Belgium.

  1. IUCN Red List (July, 2012)
  2. Glaw, F. and Vences, M. (1994) A Field Guide to the Amphibians and Reptiles of Madagascar. Frosch Verlag, Germany.
  3. CITES (July, 2012)
  4. Halliday, T. and Adler, K. (2002) The New Encyclopedia of Reptiles and Amphibians. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
  5. Pauwels, O. (July, 2012) Pers. comm.
  6. The Reptile Database (July, 2012)
  7. Auliya, M. (2003) Hot Trade in Cool Creatures: A Review of the Live Reptile Trade in the European Union in the 1990s with a Focus on Germany. TRAFFIC Europe, Brussels, Belgium.