#ReptileCare Is An Ongoing Labor Of Love

reptile care tips

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reptile care tips

Norbert and Daggett out prowling for food.

I’ve been living with Norbert, the fancy gecko, and Daggett, the leopard gecko, for a little over a month now and their unique personalities are certainly evident. Norbert doesn’t really care that he is supposed to be nocturnal — he will run over to the cage whenever I open the lid to refill the water bowls or dump in crickets. Daggett is not to be found when the sun is out. He peeps his head out once the daytime heat lamp goes off and the night time lamp comes on.

Where Norbert will let me pet him and will sit in my hand, Daggett wants nothing to do with that. He dashes back to the cave if I try to pet him and it’s hard to catch a glimpse of him eating. Norbert is the “mighty hunter” when the crickets are dropped in. He pushes himself up as tall as he can on his legs and struts around until he snags a cricket. Apparently the “fancy” part of his name lends him to be a bit of a show-off if he gets an audience.

Norbert with skin that he's shedding hanging off his tail

Norbert shedding skin & eating crickets.

I will admit that for all of the information I gleaned from the petMD Reptile Care Center about gecko care, I didn’t pay much attention to the fact that these new pets are nocturnal. I had forgotten, too, that baby reptiles eat a lot. I am running to the pet store every other day to pick up two dozen baby crickets for them. We also have to douse the crickets, a couple of times a week, in calcium powder to keep the geckos healthy. When we do that it’s always odd to look in the tank because they look like ghost crickets.

Here is what I have learned since I brought my baby geckos home from the PetSmart reptile care center:

  • That they are nocturnal. This means, that because I am not a night owl, I don’t get to see Daggett too often.
    #ReptileCare Norb (front) Daggett in cave

    #ReptileCare Norb (front) Daggett in cave

    Norbert does come out during the day.

  • They have unique personalities. Daggett is skittish and prefers to peer at me from inside the cave. Norbert is friendly, lets me touch him and will sit in my hand when I place it in the tank.
  • When they are young — which mine are — they eat a lot of crickets so I am grateful I live by a pet store where I can easily pick up two dozen crickets every day. It could have been problematic if, because of how often they need to eat when they’re young, if I had to drive a long way that often to get them food. I know you can keep your own crickets, but we’ve done that before and frankly it is a smelly task that I did not enjoy at all.
  • Because they are desert dwellers I need to make certain their daytime heat lamp is on, even though it has been in the high 90 degrees here in WNY. I have to remember to turn the daytime lamp off and the nighttime black light heat lamp on. Daggett truly will not come out until that lamp is on and all other ambient light in the room is turned off.
  • The tank is eye level for the cats and they spend a lot of time gazing into the tank to look at the geckos and to swat at the hopping crickets.
  • The material I read about geckos said that they will choose one corner of the tank to poo in. This is true for Dag, he has only one corner where he does his business. Norbert does not care. He poos all over the tank and has never once gone in a corner like he is “supposed to.” I found that an interesting personality quirk.
  • They shed a LOT when they are babies. We are continually picking the skin out of the tank when we clear out dead crickets and clean the poo.
  • I learned in the reptile care center that it isn’t good to feed baby geckos meal worms too often because the exoskeletons on the worms can mess with their digestive systems.
    Parker gazing at Norbert. (Norb's head is white because he's shedding)

    Parker gazing at Norbert. (Norb’s head is white because he’s shedding)

As with our bearded dragon, Alice, I love seeing the personality of my reptiles. I also love that Norbert actually seems to notice when I come into the room and that he seems to enjoy being petted. As for Daggett, he is more solitary so it is a treat when I can see him prowling around the cage at night. I am also glad that I adopted the two of them at the same time because they sleep together in the same cave all of the time and I like that they are bonded with one another.


2 replies to this post
  1. I love how creatively you have designed their habitat. I do not own geckos but it does not surprise me that they have personalities. That really surprised me with our turtle we have in that they have little personalities that are distinct and all their own. Who knew that reptiles could be such fun? I love that petMD has info available and that PetSmart has healthy pets available so pet ownership can be so rewarding. Love the names you chose.

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