Living With Reptiles In Our Family Zoo Ongoing #reptilecare tips

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Every day in my household is something new. It’s either fantastic or it’s a “stepping in puke,” “the black heat lamp has blown again” “why won’t you eat your breakfast day.” When you live in a zoo like I do, you just never know. Four cats, two ferrets, three lizards, and two dogs bring with them either bouts of bad bellies, blown light bulbs, prima donna pickiness with food or, the “I need to run and get crickets before the store closes” panic stricken moments! Note to reptile owners, you can raise your own “feeding crickets” and we have done that in the past, but for my lifestyle, it didn’t suit me to do that again, I prefer to run to PetSmart and purchase a few dozen at a time.

What I have learned since I brought home my two geckos; Norbert the fancy and Daggett the leopard gecko, is that they have distinct, unique personalities and that Calico Lucy spends much of her time on top of the tank. I’m not sure if she’s tormenting the geckos or soaking up the heat from the lamp. Regardless of the reason, her presence doesn’t seem to disturb the geckos overly much.

It's a gecko stare down!

It’s a gecko stare down!

Before we decided to bring home geckos, I went to the petMD Reptile Care Center® to educate myself about geckos. I’d owned geckos in the past, but that was at a time when the kids decided they wanted one and we brought it home and kind of hoped for the best — not the best way to adopt a pet but they lived long, healthy lives so we figured it out. With any new pet that comes into the house, though we do our research so that we know not only will the pet be with us for as long as possible, but so that we understand the nuances of caring for him or her.

Because we have so many pets I have a lot of people say, “Oh, I should get one of those!” When it comes to the geckos, I was wondering whether they’d make good pets for a classroom — why did I think this? Because it’s back to school time here in Western New York and I remember the fun my children always had with the classroom pets. I am honestly not sure a gecko would make a great classroom pet and the main reason is that they are nocturnal. They will become active after the students and staff have gone home and this means not only won’t the children get to interact with them, but if the geckos are left to their own devices when they’re awake, they won’t have anyone to socialize with.

In our house, we typically turn off the daytime heat lamp around 8 pm and then on the night time heat black light and when that happens both geckos come out of the cave and begin foraging for food. We try to make certain we feed them then because dropping a bag of crickets into their home when they’re sleeping means they won’t have the “thrill of the hunt” that they truly seem to enjoy when we feed them when they wake up. I’d mentioned before about the unique personalities the geckos have and one of the the unique traits I’ve noticed is that Norbert is much friendlier than Daggett. Norbert will wake up during the day and will come to the side of the tank if I walk by. If I open the door and pet him, he doesn’t run away and if I walk around the room he will go from side to side in the tank and I assume he is trying to follow me. Daggett doesn’t want to be touched and he will run back into the cave, usually, when I walk up to the tank. I respect their differences and don’t try to pet Daggett and try to tread lightly when he is out eating and drinking so that he doesn’t get scared away.

I know that having these pets means I have made yet another years-long commitment to care for them and keep them safe, happy and healthy and I’m all right with that! They are interesting, funny to watch and a part of the Hess family zoo!

13 replies to this post
    • At first I think Lucy freaked the geckos out, but now they come out when she is on top and eat, sun themselves, etc. They don’t seem to care any longer.

  1. What a wonderful little zoo you’ve got in your home! I grew up with tons of pets including turtles & frogs, so I think it’s awesome. PetMD’s reptile care center is such a great site, I’m sure you’ve gained tons of knowledge and advice for all your reptile kids!
    Love & Biscuits,
    Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them

  2. I think having a zoo is fun (except for the stepping in puke part). We have a sulcata tortoise who spends the majority of his time outside. I have a client who has six geckos, so I get my fix there. They are such cool creatures!

  3. Geckos do seem like a lot of fun! I agree with you- they wouldn’t be great classroom pets if they are nocturnal. The children would end up driving them crazy trying to get them to wake up during the day. Your cat probably sees your geckos as a double bonus! She can warm up while watching some fun critters running around. 🙂

    • I remember when my Grandpa lived in Florida and there were always geckos or anoles in the house and he loved them but my Grandma did not! Our cats are more interested in the crickets than they are in any of the reptiles.

  4. Robbi,

    This post made me want to find a gecko rescue group and adopt one! When Omar caught me Googling “gecko rescue Miami”, he threatened me with divorce! As I;m too old to start over, I’ll have to live vicariously through you and your blog. PLease keep posting about Norbert and Daggett!

    • I love those little guys — Norbert more than Daggett (but don’t tell him!) because Norbie lets me pick him up and stuff. Dagg is a snot at times! Tell Omar that geckos are totes adorbs and don’t require much work… just a LOT of crickets! Thanks for commenting!

  5. Love reading about the scaly kids! I thought I was on the edge of the spectrum with 3 species in the Greer Zoo. Happy to know I’m in good company out on the edge! 😉

  6. We had a leopard gecko and she was really easy to take care of. She didn’t seem to like to be handled very much, so we just kept her in her tank. Our chameleon was much more social, but I think it was their individual personalities, not because of their species.

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