This day gecko care sheet is directed mainly towards the care of Phelsuma Grandis or the Giant Day Gecko. The general care of most day gecko species is similar but you should seek out a specific care guide for the species you own (or plan on owning)
SCROLL TO THE BOTTOM FOR A FREE DAY GECKO CARE INFO-GRAPHIC!
If you’d rather listen than read watch the video below! Although the article does go into slightly more detail so you may want to eventually come back to it.
Day Gecko Care Video:
Day Geckos are arboreal so an enclosure with good height is necessary. I would say the minimum cage size for a Giant Day Gecko is 18x18x24 (LxWxH). I keep my gecko is a Exo Terra Glass Terrarium, 18 by 18 by 24-Inchand she does just fine!
If you read my DIY Chameleon Cage post, you know I did keep her in china cabinet converted into a vivarium for awhile. She did well in that too, but I almost think it was too large for her. I would say on average she used 20% of the enclosure, now that she is in something slightly smaller she tends to explore more, most likely she is a little more conformable.
Give your gecko lots of plants and branches to climb on! They love bamboo, you can get large bamboo (2″ diameter) at a your local home gardening store for fairly cheap. Most Day Geckos enjoy using bamboo to hide in.
My day gecko enclosure is planted with Golden Pothos… this is a seriously easy plant to take care of and they are harmless to the gecko.
I use a layered substrate to support plant grow. The layers are as follows (starting from the bottom most layer):
I have found this combination to work great! Supports plant growth with no trouble and absorbs any waste produced by the gecko in a few days. It also holds moisture well so it can help with the humidity.
As their namesake suggests, Day geckos are diurnal animals. This means they require a UVB producing light bulb as they need artifical sunlight to produce vitamin D. Without this a day gecko can develop metabolic bone disease, eventually leading to death.
I use a Zoo Med ReptiSun 5.0 UVBwhich I replace annually. I read somewhere that Zoo Med bulbs release a more consistent band of UVB, where the Exo-Terra bulbs release strong blasts early on and then fail to produce any UVB thereafter. I’m not sure if that is true… I stick with Zoo Med just in case.
You should upgrade to the high output, Zoo Med ReptiSun 10.0if the bulb is placed more than 18 inches away from the basking spot.
I also run t he lights on a 12 hr on/ 12 hr off light cycle (in the winter I reduce it to 10 hrs on/ 14 hrs off). I recommend buying a outlet timer off Amazon rather than buying one specifically intended for pets… usually it’s less expensive.
Temperature and Heating
I keep the enclosure temperature around 75°F – 80° F during the daytime with a basking spot of 90°F. I use an Exo Terra Sun-Glo Basking Spot Lamp, 50-Wattas a heat bulb. Here is how I maintain the basking spot temperature:
I use my Temperature Gunto monitor the hot spot, this way I can dim or brighten the bulb as need. Although once it is set, I don’t need to touch it.
At night time, the bulb turns off of course and I let the enclosure drop to room temperature which is roughly 72°F.
In the wild, Day Geckos tend to eat: Insects, flower nectar, and fruit.
Day Geckos will eat most feeder insects. This includes: crickets, silkworms, hornworms and phoenix worms. Make sure you are dusting your feeder insects before offering them to your gecko. (Silkworms, and phoenix worms already have a high calcium content and therefore don’t need to be dusted.) Also be sure to feed insects smaller than the space between your animal’s eyes.
Crested Gecko Diet
Day Geckos also thrive on crested gecko diet! Crested gecko diets have come along way in the last 5-10 years, and can be a very healthy option for your Day Gecko. I have actually started seeing breeders marketing Day Geckos as “insect-free geckos”. My Day Gecko almost exclusively eatsPangea Fruit Mix With Insects Crested Gecko Complete Diet.That particular type of crested gecko diet is balanced with fruit and insects making it close to what they would consume in t he wild.She turns her nose up to almost all insects! Thankfully she does eat phoenix worms, but after two weeks or so of those she will start refusing them as well.
Every 6 weeks or so I will offer phoenix worms alternate crested gecko diet and phoenix worms every few days until she has gone through a container of 100 (usually takes 2-3 weeks or so)
I sometimes mix in mashed up banana (they will eat many different types of fruit) and/or honey into the crested gecko diet as a treat
Your gecko may be more likely to accept insects, I would say it would be ideal to feed your day gecko insects at least once per week provided you are also feeding crested gecko diet. Day Geckos love to hunt, it is great enrichment for them!
Humidity should fluctuate between 50-85%. I usually heavily mist about once per day, this causes the humidity to spike up to +85%. I then let the enclosure dry out for the rest of the day. If I notice she is about to shed, I might mist twice during that day to help her out. Day Geckos will lick up the water droplets for their daily water consumption, meaning a daily mist is very important. TheExo Terra Mister (or other misters like it) are a real life saver when compared to conventional misters.
Size and Life Span
Female Giant Day Geckos will tend to max out at 9-10″ and males can grow to upwards of 12″. Of course there are also smaller species of Day Gecko, such as the Gold Dust Day Gecko.
Day Geckos can live anywhere between 8 – 20 years long.
Simply put, you shouldn’t handle your Day Gecko! Day Geckos are very flighty creatures! They are very easily spooked. Day Geckos, like many other geckos drop their tails as a defense mechanism but they also have very delicate skin that “peels” off as an attempt to flee from a predator. It is not pretty, it essentially creates an open wound.
If you want to physically interact with your gecko, I recommend washing your hands and dipping your finger in either the crested gecko diet or honey. They will usually be comfortable licking it off your finger.
If you are a newbie to Day Gecko Care, you might find it helpful to print thi out (at least the bottom half) and hang it near the terrarium as a guide!
Click the picture to expand to full size OR download the FREE PDF Verison HERE: Day GECKO CARE
Consider this a “check mark” off my wish list! I have recently added a Brazilian Rainbow Boa to my collection and I could not be more excited! In this article I will breakdown how I setup the quarantine tub for this new addition (scroll to the bottom for the video).
Brazilian Rainbow boas are some of the most beautiful snakes in the world. They range from deep to bright orange in color with a very interesting spotted pattern. Although, what really sets them apart from other snakes is there brilliant iridescence. A rainbow boa under sunlight (or artificial light), explodes with color. They truly glow.
Naturally, when a 2 year old female was posted on my local classifieds I had to scoop her up!
I plan on building her a new adult sized enclosure in the coming weeks but first she must be quarantined!
Anytime you bring a new animal into your home, a quarantine period is highly recommended. An animal may appear healthy but could be carrying parasites, or bacteria/viral infections that could be transmitted to your other animals. A isolation period of 60-90 days is recommended, some people even do 5-6 months to be safe. This means, your new animal should be kept in a separate room (or floor or building if possible) and any tools should be cleaned with bleach before/after use.
Brazilian Rainbow Boa Setup
For the enclosure, I used a Sterilite 110-Quart. This is definitely a little small for her — she is about 44″ and 650 g — but it will work well for the next 60- 90 days as a quarantine enclosure.
The tub has been placed in a quiet corner in a separate room.
Brazilian Rainbow boas do not require a ton of heat… actually prolonged temperatures over 85°F can be dangerous. That being the case I just went with a medium sized Exo Terra Heat Mat 8 Watt. This mat is more than enough to do the job. Here are the temperature perimeters I aim for:
Cool Side Ambient: 72° – 74° F
Warm Side Ambient: 75° – 80°F
Hot Spot: 83° – 85°F
Of course, no heat mat should ever be installed without a thermostat to regulate it! I ordered Inkbird Temperature Controller off of Amazon. It is a good little thermostat so far! Very easy to set up, it was inexpensive and the probe itself is long and detachable which is great!
My only regret is I just noticed they make a slightly more expensive model that is capable of doing Day/Night temperatures! Dang I wish I had noticed that before. Next time that will be the one I order!
Here is how I set up the heat mat and thermostat probe:
Stick the thermostat probe to the heat mat withfoil tape.
Stick the heat mat to the bottom of the tub (the probe is between the mat and the bottom of the tub)
Normally I would secure the heat mat to the tub with foil tape, but since this is only a temporary Brazilian rainbow boa setup I didn’t bother.
DIY Snake Hide
Here is a quick DIY snake hide for ya! This is a take home food container from Boston Pizza… not sure if you have that restaurant where you live. Anyway, we have a bunch of these laying around and I decided to turn this on into a hide.
Here are the intricate, complicated steps:
Use pair of scissors and cut out a door
Use sand paper to smooth the edges
For a thermometer I ordered this: Indoor Outdoor Thermometer Hygrometer. I put the actual device on the cool side of the enclosure, the strung the probe up through the lid, around the back and through a small hole I drill through backside. The device is very basic but seems to be accurate for both the temperature and humidity.
Since this is a quarantine tub I have decided to use paper towel as a substrate. Although I hate the look of paper towel as well as the mess it makes when the snake eliminates waste (aspen and/or coco husk tend to absorb more urates and reduce smell), it is much easier to monitor the health of the animal. Mites are much easier to spot and you can inspect their waste much easier.
I treat quarantine tubs the same way I would treat a “hospital tub,” i.e. I err on the side of making things more clinical than visually appealing.
If you know anything about Brazilian Rainbow boas you know they need a high level of humidity. These tubs easily hold humidity but a large water dish is necessary to get there.
With a sub-adult to adult rainbow boa you want the humidity to be above 75%, keeping in mind that as long as the substrate isn’t wet there is no such thing as “too humid” for them.
I haven’t had to mist or spray the tub at all and the humidity has balanced somewhere between 85-95%, luckily without producing any condensation.
Again, I didn’t plan on adding much decor to this tub. I did however add a branch to climb on. I purchased Closet Pole Socketsfrom Home Depot to suspend the branch in the air. Brazilian Rainbow boas aren’t avid climbers but they will climb from time to time. I also added a second hide on the cold side, I just bought it the day after I took the photo below.
Setting the Thermostat
Now that the Brazilian Rainbow boa setup was complete, I was able to set the thermostat and wait to see if my temperature and humidity perimeters fell in line.
The top temperature is when the heat mat turns on and teh bottom temperature is when the mat turns off.
I simply, set the temperatures, plugged in the heat mat and the probe and that’s it! The red LED comes on when the heat mat is on and the temperature on the left hand side of the screen is the current temperature reading.
A few days later I picked up the new snake! So far she seems to be in great health. After letting her settle in for a week, I have been handling her every couple days for 3-5 minutes at a time, she has been very relaxed.
Again, this is an appropriate Brazilian Rainbow boa setup for a smaller animal ( I would say up to 3.5′ and under) or in this case is ideal for a quarantine tub for the next 2 months or so.
I will be doing another DIY snake cage build for this animal so make sure you subscribe on YouTube so you don’t miss it!
Some of the most common questions surrounding boa constrictor care have to do with feeding. I would argue it is also the area where most mistakes are made.
Here’s the problem…
If you are like me, when you first started doing research on feeding you found 10 different answers that all contradicted each other. I know how frustrating that feels! In this post, I hope give you the tools you need to be able to solve this problem on your own. Why should you be able to solve it on your own? Because there are no two animals alike and you need to know what is best for your boa.
Also I have provided a FREE Boa Constrictor Feeding Chart to help you keep an accurate log.
Spoiler Alert: There is no simple, straightforward answer. Every animal is different, it is up to you to understand your animal’s behaviors and feed appropriately. First, we must lay down a foundation of information to properly address the question of feeding. But since you have your animals best interest at mind I know you will read through the entire post 🙂 I promise it will be worth your while if you are a newbie to all of this!
Before we start, Let’s watch some Boa’s Eat!
Feeding my snakes never gets old! Anyway, let’s get to the important stuff!
Here are the two main feed related questions:
What size should the prey item be?
How often should I feed?
In this post we are going to look at both those questions as well as some other important information that is often left out of the discussion!
First, I should say: I am not an expert! I am just sharing the experience I have had working with my animals. I also closely follow the care protocol Vin Russo, lays out in his book Complete Boa Constrictor. If you own a boa and don’t have this book… you need to get it! It is 100% worth the buy. Vin is a legend in the Boa world, he has more experience than most people in the industry and in my opinion his recommendations are very valuable. For my full review on the book, check out my Resources page.
Do you know what a healthy Boa looks like?
The first tool you should have in your arsenal is the ability to judge (by sight and feel) whether or not you have a healthy snake (by “healthy” I mean “a healthy weight”).
Overweight Boa constrictor:
It is pretty easy to make an animal fat! Boa constrictors are no exception. Over feeding a boa will quickly turn your boa into a stuffed sausage. It may sound funny but it is actually quite dangerous. Snakes are not adapted to be able to easily store large amounts of fat.
Mammals (including humans) store both subcutaneous (under the skin) and intra-abdominal fat. When discussing human health, you have probably heard people say something along the lines of “internal (sometimes called visceral) fat is more dangerous than the fat under the skin”. This is a true statement for many reasons, none of which we need to get into here. Snakes , like most reptiles store the majority of their fat intra-abdominally. In other words, they are predisposed to only gain what we call “the dangerous fat” in humans.
The bad news is…
Internal fat is only visible once an animal is direly over-weight. Excessive wrinkling and “ring” shaped fat deposits are a sure sign of an over-weight boa. An over-weight boa will develop Fatty Liver Disease and die prematurely, period.
Here are some very fat boa’s so you know what to look for:
Underweight Boa constrictor
Having an under-weight boa due to poor feeding practices is a much less likely occurrence as boa’s have an incredibly slow metabolism and can go long period’s of time between meals. I would think an under-weight boa is more likely to be due to a parasite or illness in most cases. But it definitely does happen from poor feeding habits as well!
An under-weight boa will have a slight triangular shaped body, i.e. the spine will begin to show. It will also have a reduced muscle tone.
Side Story: Poor Feeding Routine!
Last year I “rescued” a 1- year old female Colombian boa from a lady who was selling her in the local classifieds. This boa was in rough shape. She was over 1 year old, covered in stuck shed and very frail. I have no idea where the lady got this information from but she was feeding the boa 4-5 mouse fuzzies (2-3 g each) per week!! She also did not provide the animal with any heat, I quote: “It’s a snake, they don’t need heat”. I thought she was joking, she wasn’t. This boa should have already been on 10-12 g hoppers at this point. So the snake was simultaneously being overfed and underfed, the meals were too small and too frequent. All that with no supplementary heat to aid digestion… it was terrible, some people don’t do an ounce of research.
Healthy Boa constrictor
Boa constrictors are very muscular snakes. A healthy boa should have a square shape to their body (remember I am talking about boa’s specifically here, some species of snake are round in shape naturally), with a slight grove running down the center of the back (often described a loaf of bread). There should be no protruding spine and absolutely no rolls or fat rings (wrinkles in the skin are normal).
Here is the same from above boa 1-year later:
Note you can also see a groove running down the middle of the tail indicating lateral muscle development on the tail. Also note there are no wrinkles in the tail even though it is tightly coiled i.e. she is not over-weight.
The picture above should give you a decent idea of what is meant by the “square” body shape. Each side of the snake should be relativity flat. In other words the animal should be more shaped like a square tube than a round one.
It is also a very good idea to track the weight of your snake so you can monitor its growth.
Boa’s are not Human!
As much as some people like to think of their animals as “children,” it is very important to understand the biological differences between us and them!
So now that you have an idea of what to look for when judging the health of a boa constrictor we can review a few more vital pieces of information that will help you understand you boa:
Ectotherms: Boas, like all reptiles are cold blooded (or ectotherms). This means they do not have to produce their own body heat, unlike you and I and all other mammals. Studies have shown that a snake can survive off just 10% of the food a mammal of the same size can (Snake, Chris Mattison). That is really an incredible stat, who know producing our own heat cost so much!
Opportunistic Feeders: If you own a boa you know they are incredible eaters! Boa owners generally don’t have to deal with “fussy” snakes… unlike ball python owners. Boa’s will eat essentially whenever a meal “wanders” by. In the wild not only does this not happen often, they are not always successful when they strike. Your job is to mimic the wild conditions as much as possible. Your boa would likely take a meal everyday if you let it! This is where understand your snake’s behavior comes into play. Watch for when your boa starts to “hunt” i.e. comes out of its hide in search for food (usually at night), this is NOT a cue to feed but will indicate that it would take a meal and you can adjust your feed plan accordingly.For example: maybe you planned on spacing your boa’s meals out by 5 weeks. But on week 2 there was a bit of a heat wave outside and your animal’s enclosure went up a degree or two, speeding up its metabolism… now its week 3 and the boa is out every night looking for food. This is scenario where you might think about feeding it after 4 weeks instead of 5.
Seasonal Eaters: There are natural temperature shifts present in the habitats boa constrictors are native to. As the climate cools in the winter two things occur. 1) A boa’s metabolism will slow down, meaning it will take longer to digest meals. This automatically stretches the time between meals. And 2) there are less options food items available to eat (some animals migrate to warmer climates, some burrow , periods of dormancy etc.). Both reasons cause boas to consume less food in the winter/cooler months. Seasonal eating (eating in summer, and little to none in winter) is so important to a boa’s biology that it induces the most important behavior of them all: breeding. This is why I seasonally feed my boas (even though I don’t plan on breeding). I want to properly replicate the conditions the snake’s biology is adapted to.*
*You do not HAVE to seasonally feed and ONLY seasonally feed your boa if you provide a temperature drop during the winter months*
Boa Constrictor: What Size to feed & how often?
Now you can see why this is not a simple question to answer! However, with the information above we can tackle those two common questions I listed above:
1)What size should the prey item be?
The prey item should be no thicker than the the thickest part of the animal! At the most, the meal should produce a slight lump. I know that is not a clear-cut answer. Below I have a chart that indicates the size of prey and the weight of my male boa at the time (He is 50% Colombian/ 50% Sonoran, i.e. he will be smaller than a normal common boa).
Prey Weight (g)
Boa Weight (g)
Small Rat (Large ones)
*This is his current weight at 3 years old. I will update the chart as move up in prey size.
Y-Axis: Blue Line= Boa’s weight (g) and Orange Line= Meal Size (g)
Also please note: this is the way I fed! It is not an exact science, so don’t feel you need to follow this exactly. It is just a general idea. Try your best to pick a meal size that is slightly smaller or equal to the thickest part of the animal.
2) How often should I feed?
Again, I will show you a breakdown chart of the feed schedule I have followed with by boas and what I plan on doing in the future as they mature. This chart indicates the days between meals in the two right hand columns. Note: I always transition from the “summer” to the “winter” feed schedule and visa-versa. I.e. I always gradually increase space between meals until I get to where I am shooting for.
*ONLY seasonally feed your boa if you provide a temperature drop during the winter months*
Boa Age (yrs)
0 (neonate in summer)
5- and up
The chart above is a rough outline of how I feed my boas! This does not mean you should follow this exactly. Reason being is there are many factors that could alter how often you feed, the most important being temperature. The warmer you keep you boas, the faster their metabolism is, the more you’ll have to feed.
You need to watch your animals, learn their body language. If you never see your boa “hunt” (i.e. exploring their cage at night, or perched somewhere waiting for a meal to walk by) you may be feeding to often. If they start hunting one day after you feed, you may not being feeding large enough meals. Watch their weight, look and feel their body tone, these are all good cues to keep your feeding schedule in line.
The take away is this: The chart above is a general idea of what a feeding schedule should look like, but you need to be in-tune enough with your animals to know how to adjust it for their benefit.
Boa Constrictor Feeding Chart
Okay, last but not least! I personally think it is VERY important to keep a log book for you snakes. Especially if you have more than one or two! Boa constrictors are not hard to care for, but it is important that you stick to a proper care plan. A log book can help you do that.
It can be very easy to forgot when you last feed you animal if you didn’t write it down. I always lay out a rough feed plan for 2-3 months in advance (so I know how many rats to buy) and as I feed I make sure to log it so I don’t forget. I HIGHLY recommend you start doing this if you are not already!
Logging your boa’s meals will help pull you in-tune with you animal. It gives you something to refer, especially when trying to figure out the animals behavioral patterns.
Below I have shared a PDF of the boa constrictor feeding chart that I use to keep track of food intake for my boas. I print these sheets out and put them in a binder (I like writing things by hand), but I also made the PDF fill-able so you can keep a digital copy instead. Please help yourself by clicking the photo or link below!