Thursday, August 16, 2007
How Geckos are like Children
We have added a new member to our family. We're proud to announce the arrival of a baby leopard gecko. He/she is unnamed for the moment, as he/she is too young to be able to tell gender, and K wants, no NEEDS to know the gender before selecting a name. She got money for her birthday to buy the gecko, and we finally bit the bullet and bought it a couple days ago. I will guess it's a boy because I've got to use one pronoun or another- "he/she" is driving me crazy.
He is so darling! He's about 5 inches long, and very colorful. I did my research before buying him so that we could make an educated choice. We knew we wanted a leopard gecko. They're relatively easy to care for, inexpensive, and most importantly, friendly. K really wanted a reptile that would be ok with being handled. Dogs and cats are out due to allergies in our family.
We bought him from *THE* pet store to go to for reptiles. First off, I noticed that the baby geckos had a sand-like substance in the bottom of the cage. Most sources online say not to use sand for geckos, particularly young geckos. I asked the salesperson about it, and he said they use a "digestible" sand, so it was ok. Now, I thought that any and all sand could cause impaction in geckos, but hey! What do I know? He also said that we should feed the gecko crickets; mealworms could chew their way out of the gecko's stomach if not properly chewed. Well, if the gecko is anything like my kids, chewing food properly is a major problem, so I was properly horrified.
$75 later, we walk out of the store with the gecko. We already had the cage, feed dish, lights, heating elements etc from K's iguana, so I was a little surprised that it was so expensive! I put their special digestible sand in the tank, and find out the next day that it is absolutely wrong for a baby. -sigh- So, I bought some slate tiles to go into the tank.
I do more reading online (I really need to step away from google) and discover that baby geckos that are fed mealworms live longer than cricket fed geckos. Sheesh! And I thought the breastfeeding vs. bottlefeeding debate was hot!
The day after we bought him, he starts looking kind of grayish and pale. Oh crap. We've had him less than 24 hours, and I'm already killing him. I spend the day googling like crazy, and confusing myself in the process. Such conflicting information! Having four children is a cake walk compared to this! By nightfall, I realize that the gecko is simply shedding it's skin. Today, one evening later, most of the dead skin is gone, and he is gorgeous once again.
I've been stressed to death, trying to figure out what is the "right" way to take care of this gecko. I was muttering about how taking care of a baby is so much easier. A quick trip to a parenting board gave me the slap I needed. There's just as much, if not more, conflicting information on taking care of babies. I think when it comes to raising a living thing, it's more of an art than a science, which means there will be a lot of opinions and a lot of different "right" ways to do things. I guess I just trust my mommy instincts more than I trust my reptile instincts.
Here is the famous new gecko, right in the middle of his skin change.