Phelsuma guimbeaui

Phelsuma guimbeaui is endemic to Mauritius and occurs from sea level up to heights from 300m in the lowland mountain forests The distribution range is limited to an area along the west coast, the northernmost range being approximately around Port Louis and to the south near Piton du Fouge. Dense populations are found near the villages of Chamarel, Grande Rivière Noire, Yemen and Tamarin. Phelsuma guimbeaui must have hade a wider distribution range before the arrival of man on the island. Large areas of lowland forests have been cleared at the west coast for agriculture (sugar cane).

Terra Typica
Pailles, Mauritius (near Port Loius)

The habitat of Phelsuma guimbeaui is the lowland forests of Mauritius where it occurs on mature, larger leaf trees. There is not much left of these forests which restricts the geckos to the larger ornamental leaf tree communities in some areas. These trees where planted in the 18th century along roads, brooks and rivers. Unfortunately, also these alternative habitats are cleared more and more, resulting in isolated populations. These populations lie far apart from each other, restricting the gene flow. In still intact tree communities one can find rich populations, often living together with Phelsuma ornata. While these geckos prefer to live near the lower trunk and the nearby shrubs where Phelsuma guimbeaui prefers the higher branches or the crown of the trees. Here thick foliage offers good camouflage and protection. Natural tree holes are used during night-time or for hiding and egg-laying (gluing). These tree holes are commonly used for shelter by several animals. Phelsuma guimbeaui avoids houses and populated areas.

Phelsuma guimbeaui guimbeauiPhelsuma guimbeaui males can reach lengths of up to 155 mm (SVL 70 mm), the females remain smaller with lengths up to 130 mm (SVL 55 mm). The gecko has a green to dark-green dorsal colouring with a bluish spot in the neck region. Three red longitudinal stripes start between the eyes and continue to the back. While the two outside stripes are a more or less continuous line, the centre strip forms a characteristic loop on the neck and dissolves into a dotted line on the back which continues also on the tail. The tail is rarely bluish in adult males. The juvenile colouration is grey-brown with white spots. (resembles Phelsuma breviceps and Phelsuma modesta juveniles)

Seriously threatened due to habitat destruction. The range of Phelsuma guimbeaui has been restricted to isolated populations with in some cases a very limited gene flow, promoting genetic drift. As these populations are subject to high levels of genetic drift, after time it will result in lower levels of adaptation which makes these small populations more likely to go extinct. Phelsuma guimbeaui was recently lifted to full species status.