Sparky Was Sick, But I’m Happy to Say He’s Completely Healthy Again!

It’s always tough when pets are sick.

Disclaimer: I am not a vet. And I haven’t even played on on TV (not yet). None of the advice or opinions shared in this article should be taken as veterinary advice. These are just my opinions and should not constitute veterinary advice. It is up to every pet owner to decide when & if their pet needs medical attention & their responsibility to get it for their pet if the owner deems it necessary. 

It’s always tough when our pets get sick. Regardless of what happened or how serious it is, it’s always sad & frightening. And it always feels amazing when your pet makes a full recovery & is happy & healthy again.
Sparky, my 8-year-old Boston Terrier/Shih-Tzu/Chihuahua mix is getting over what I believe is a respiratory infection. He got sick 3 days ago & is already back on his feet & almost entirely back to normal.
But a few nights ago, that wasn’t the story.
On break, my parents texted me & said Sparky had thrown up a little. While that’s rare for him (he typically only throws up probably twice a year on average), it wasn’t in itself strange. Dogs eat crumbs off the floor. Dogs get small samples of safe people foods. Dogs lick the floor. Dogs lick their butts. So when one throws up, it’s not exactly unexpected. I was still kind of worried, because of course I’m going to worry when one of my pets doesn’t feel good.
I told my parents I hope he felt better, & while I thought about it the rest of the evening, I figured he’d be feeling better when I came home.
He wasn’t. When I walked in, he hobbled over to me, snorting & looking very sick. His eyes looked moist & dull. I sat on the floor & started petting him. Normally, when I come home he’s a ball of energy. He typically runs over to me, bolts around the house, goes off into my room to lick his feet, or brings me whatever his favorite toy is that day so we can play.
Instead, as I petted him, he just stood there lethargically. His bed was nearby. He went to lie in it & as I petted him, looked exhausted. His breathing was still kind of snorty, & his lungs sounded congested, like they had mucus in them & his nose was stuffy. He didn’t really seem to be having trouble breathing any more than how you’d expect it to be if your nose was stuffy & your lungs mucusy. He wasn’t coughing though, so it may have mostly been in his nose & not his lungs. Apparently, he’d been like this all evening. My parents had been observing him closely & trying to figure out whether he needed a vet or not.
Alarm bells went off. I was really worried about him now. With his congested-sounding breathing & worst of all, how lethargic & exhausted he seemed, I was scared.
Now, there’s a very fine line sometimes between whether to take a pet to the vet or not. Obviously if your dog loses a toe or something, it needs to go. But what do you do when you can’t tell how bad your pet actually feels?
I was debating about what to do with him. It was midnight on a Saturday night. I didn’t THINK he needed to go to an emergency vet that night, but I wasn’t sure. I have some money in an emergency fund for things like that, but the trouble sometimes is telling whether it’s actually an emergency or whether your pet is just sick.
So I did what I believe is the best option when you’re not sure whether your pet needs to go to the vet or not: wait, observe closely, & see what happens.
This is the exact same standard I would judge (& have judged) whether or not me or a family member needs to go to the hospital or to a doctor. Like I said, some things are obvious emergencies. But even as humans who can describe their symptoms, sometimes it can be really hard to tell whether you just feel bad or whether you feel bad enough to go to the hospital. Especially if you don’t have insurance & you’re on a budget.
So this is the same standard of judging whether medical care is needed that I’d use for myself, except I’d take my pet to the vet sooner than I’d go to the doctor for a similar problem. And for some problems with my pets, I’d take them to the doctor immediately. It depends on the pet, their age, & the problem. For example, if one of my small mammals or reptiles developed respiratory infection symptoms, because they are smaller, easier dehydrated, & less capable of fighting off an infection than a healthy dog, they’d go ASAP. But in this case, I decided it was a time to wait, observe closely, & see what happens.
If he gets any worse, he’s going to the vet tomorrow. Maybe tonight, if he gets a lot worse. 
What if he dies though?
Vet or no vet, any time any of my pets act weird or aren’t healthy, I’m always worried about them dying. Even when they’re acting normal, I still worry about that. Because I love them & sometimes my brain likes coming up with all the random worst-case-scenarios.
So nervously, I waited. I spent the next fifteen minutes or so googling his symptoms & doing research. Dog flu? Respiratory infection? Something else?
Then I went to eat dinner. This was probably only about half an hour after I got home.
I went into the kitchen & served up my food.
To my surprise, a minute later, Sparky wandered in. He still looked sickly, but he was wagging his tail & his eyes definitely looked clearer. He walked over & skimmed the floor under the table for crumbs. NORMAL! My face lit up. This was a good sign! He then came over to me & looked up at me, hoping I’d give him a sample. NORMAL! I didn’t, so he walked over to his food bowl & finished his dog food! NORMAL! He was eating!!!
Sparky is Feeling Better
It’s my personal belief that as long as an animal is eating & drinking water, it’s probably going to make it. Obviously this is a general rule or thumb I use with everything from fish to dogs, but from my experience it’s usually been true. If an animal isn’t eating or drinking, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to die, but it does mean it needs medical attention. But once they show an interest in food & hydration, it typically means they’re on the mend.
I was suddenly incredibly grateful for these little, normal, everyday behaviors. Things that I normally didn’t think much of suddenly meant a great deal of joy & relief to me. Sparky was feeling better! He was going to be okay!
I proceeded to feed the rest of my pets before I showered. I went to check on him in the middle of this. Sparky was lying on the blanket on my bedroom floor. When I walked in, he lifted his head & looked at me.
Another good sign!
I finished feeding my pets. When I went to get my clothes out of my room, Sparky had managed to jump up onto my bed & was nesting in his blanket on top the bed. He lifted his head & wagged his tail as I walked up. He still seemed petty exhausted, but he Looked world’s better than when I’d got home just a little more than an hour before. I swear, each time I saw him his eyes were a little clearer.
I hugged him & told him how much I loved him. I believe love is very motivating to sick pets & helping their bodies do their jobs to heal them. When I walked away, he adjusted himself on his side & looked comfortable.
After my shower, I went to take him outside. While I was walking around trying to find his leash, Sparky was actually trotting after me, appearing reasonably energetic & normal! YES! Then he went & drank half of one of his little bowls of water. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU. I was so overjoyed by watching him do normal things.
I took him out, & we went to bed. He brought one of his “children” (his favorite soft toys) into my room, which is another normal behavior. I told him if he needed anything to make sure he let me know, & made sure he knew how much I loved him.
Sparky is Feeling Better
I personally believe that seeing me when I came home stimulated his body to fight off whatever was hurting him & that my love for him & his love for me kicked his body into action & made him want to get better as fast as possible.
I checked on him several times throughout the night. His breathing still sounded a little congested & snorty, & he snored a pretty lot, but he was doing fine. The next morning, as soon as I woke up I checked on him again. His breathing was still kind of congested, but his eyes looked almost back to normal.
Throughout the rest of the day (which I had off so he got to spend most of the day with me or at least knowing I was home), he seemed pretty much back to normal. When I would pick him up, I’d notice his breathing was a little mucousy sounding, but he only seemed slightly more tired than normal. My mom & I only took him on a small walk because we didn’t want to tire him too much, but he really was pulling to go further. Of course I didn’t let him, but he put his best, most stubborn effort into trying to take a longer walk.
I also did a short color therapy session on him. Color therapy is healing using the power & energetic vibrations of color, & can include shining certain colors of lights onto people or animals with the intention of healing them or easing their symptoms. I would NEVER use color therapy, Reiki, crystals, or any other energetic healing technique alone to try to cure or treat something that actually requires medical attention. I do however use these things for mild health issues in myself & my animals that do not require the help of a doctor, or in conjunction with a treatment plan prescribed by a medical professional.
In a case like this, because Sparky was feeling almost back to normal, I did not see a reason to take him to the vet at this time, & decided that the color therapy would not hurt & it could potentially help.
I must note that I did a lot of research on the symptoms of pneumonia in dogs & watched him closely for these symptoms. I was fully prepared (& still am) to take him to the vet if he develops these symptoms because pneumonia is NOT something to mess around with.
Sparky lies still while I used a flashlight with a purple towel over it to shine light at his head, neck, & chest area for a total of about 8 minutes while gently petting him & trying to send healing energy into his body.
When I was done, he woke up & proceeded to energetically run away under my parent’s bed & go to my sister’s room, because I think he thought this was some sort of grooming tool & he HATES anything related to grooming.
As of yesterday, he is almost completely back to normal! He was only snoring a little when he was waking up & sounded very slightly mucusy now, but when I pick him up his lungs sound clear. He is eating great, bothering everyone for food again, & playing with his toys.
Sparky is Feeling Better
And as of today, I’m pleased to say that Sparky has made a complete recovery, & I’m so grateful that he got feeling better so quickly.
This whole incident reminded me that I need to increase my pet emergency fund so that whatever medical help one of my pets might ever need, I will be able to afford it. Like I said, it’s decent, but not enough to easily cover anything more serious. I’m going to start contributing even a few dollars a week to this fund to grow it (with the hopes of never having to use it, of course).
It also was a reminder to be grateful for the little things our pets do on a daily basis, the things they do that mean they’re healthy, & a reminder of how important my beautiful animals are to me. ❤

ILLUSTRATED REPITCON SHOPPING LIST FLOWCHART + WHAT I MIGHT BE GETTING

Repticon Shopping List June 2018

GUYS! I am going to Tampa’s 🦎REPTICON🦎 this weekend & I’m super excited! Like SUPER EXCITED! I’ve been dreaming about this for months & I’m almost counting off the hours until I get to go (& annoying my family by constantly talking about it 🤣).

I don’t know what I’m getting yet, but I do know I am getting something (maybe more than one something) (hopefully more than one). My first time at Repticon, I was so overwhelmed by all the awesome things to see that I didn’t look at every species every vendor was selling. I also didn’t know much about the reptile hobby, the species offered, or any species I might be interested in owning sometime, so I didn’t know what I was looking for anyways. So this time I plan on looking at EVERYTHING & making notes on who’s selling what & what the prices are & getting business cards for NEXT TIME.

A lot of my flowchart above is based on the fact that I don’t really know what to expect as far as prices, especially prices for particular morphs. So what I get will depend on what prices I can find on the things I like, how I feel about the seller of that particular thing at that price range, the specific animals they have for sale, what OTHER SPECIES are for sale at Repticon, & whether anything looks at me with its cute little eyes 😍. (Seriously though, I’d never buy something I didn’t know how to care for & hadn’t researched no matter how cute its little eyes were).

Most likely, I will come home with some type of gecko (I’m particularly interested in African Fat-Tailed Geckos & Gargoyle Geckos, but if I found a pretty crested I might get it) & either a second gecko (for a different cage because I’m not into cohabbing them), some sort of frog (like a cool Pacman Frog), Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches, millipedes, gerbils, or even a tortoise! Of course there is a chance I could get something else on this list.

My plan is this: walk around once & look at EVERYTHING but quickly, & skip over things I’m definitely not getting but look at every species & price on things I’m considering, narrow down what I’m buying, buy those things, walk around again & get more details on things & look more at things I might get someday but not NOW, & finally buy the dubia roaches & any bedding or supplies I need.

Because I don’t know what I’m getting, I have been stockpiling general supplies. I bought some more thermostats, I have a heat lamp fixture currently without a bulb (the fixture can also be used with a CHE because it’s ceramic so I’m all set), I have several heating pads, various containers for plastic bin cages, bowls, tanks, etc. I totally plan on going to buy some stuff when I get back home from the show because I know I will most likely need something (if nothing else, I need more plants/hides because I have no extras).

The thing is, usually in the months leading up to Repticon, I have an idea of what I’m going to get. I research the heck out of a species, am totally into getting it, etc. But then a few weeks before I freak out, decide NOT to get the species I was going to get, & then begin extensively researching another species. Last time (aka my first Repticon) I was totally going to get a redfoot tortoise. But then I freaked out about how much care a hatchling requires & a month before the show, I got into & researched crested geckos.

This time, I was totally going to get a Kenyan Sand Boa. Then I realized my mom REALLY doesn’t like snakes. Then I was going to get a Peters Banded Skink, but I balked at that because that are almost always wild-caught & I don’t feel confident in caring for something trickier at this point. So then I began researching all types of things, especially the things with the colored dots on the flowchart above.

One thing I do know: I am DEFINITELY getting some dubia roaches. I am going to breed them as feeders for my critters so I can save money & control the nutrition my pets are getting. Also, crickets are kind of annoying (because they die all the time). I already built the dubia roach cage & I will keep it in a closet.

One OTHER thing I know: I am not bringing home any snakes, spiders, scorpions, mice, rats, or sugar gliders. I promised my mom that. She doesn’t like everything on that list except sugar gliders, & I’m not into getting any gliders at the moment).

Other than that, I can’t make any promises 😏.

Keep an eye on my social media profiles (Instagram, this blog, & YouTube mostly) so you can find out what cool critters I bring home! Also I’ll be taking tons of cool photos, cool videos, & make some more awesome Repticon posts so keep watching this blog for those! 🦎🐸🐢🤩💕🐢🐸🦎

STORY TIME: How I Bought My New Pet Crested Geckos!

My crested geckos when I got back in my car at Repticon
PART 2 OF 2
READ PART 1 →
After what seemed like forever, it was finally Repticon Day! I excitedly drove into Tampa, armed with an empty foam cooler. The cooler was to keep the temperature around them consistent & to hold whatever containers they came in place. Not like little geckos can be seat-belted in unfortunately! & the last thing I wanted was a container to pop open & a gecko roaming free in my car as I drove on the highway! I went a bummer route but I was only 10 minutes late, so despite the bummer route I was pleased.
It was my first time being at a reptile expo & I thought it was awesome! I’d definitely go back again! It was like a way better version of a pet store. They had way more species of EVERYTHING than any pet store, & way more colors/ages/choices. One thing I also really loved was that, unlike most pet stores, you’re probably dealing with the actual person who actually bred the reptile you’ll be buying. This means your questions can get answered, both regarding the care of the species, & about the specific age of the reptile you’re buying, or how it was raised.
Tampa Repticon February 2018

Tampa Repticon February 2018

Reptile expos are awesome environments in general. You’re surrounded by other people who are also obsessed with reptiles. There were so many awesome species! I saw tons of awesome snakes (including beautiful banana ——— morph ball pythons), various colors of sugar gliders, hedgehogs, hairless guinea pigs galore (aka “skinny pigs”), rats, baby mice, chicks, tons of bearded dragons, & even pet cockroaches! I got to pet hedgehogs & a bearded dragon, & I GOT TO HOLD AN OWL! (More about the owl coming up soon!)
I did my rounds when I got there to get an idea of who was selling what. That was what the Internet recommended you do if you were looking to buy a specific species. The first place I saw with crested geckos was Manatee Suncoast Lizards, LLC. They had a great selection & great prices, but I still walked around the rest of the show. After doing this, I determined Manatee Suncoast Lizards had the best crested geckos, so I went back over to pick some out. I’ll write a more in depth-review of the breeder soon!
Geckos at Manatee Suncoast Lizard's Repticon Booth

Geckos at Manatee Suncoast Lizard’s Repticon Booth

About 24 baby crested geckos stared up at me from their little plastic tubs. This was the most difficult part of the whole process! There were so many to choose from! How was I supposed to choose the ones I wanted?

Most of them were “frogbutts”, or crested geckos without tails. I was interested in getting a froggbutt because they tend to be less expensive than ones with tails. I heard that many crested geckos that have tails will eventually lose them anyway, & the tails can even sometimes cause problems. Not having a tail doesn’t affect them in any way, the tail just never grows back.
Baby crested gecko!

Gecko hugging the bird perch “branch”.

Because all the geckos were pretty young, most of them weren’t large enough to be sexed yet. I starting by ruling out any of the ones they had determined were males already. The geckos ranged in price from $20 – $45. I then started picking up ones that looked interesting & looking at them closer. The first one that appealed to me was a small baby one. Take me home, the gecko seemed to say. It melted my heart because it was looking out of the container at me & watching me. If I’m buying a certain type of animal & it looks into my eyes or puts its little hands on the cage it’s in while looking at me, I fall in love with it. So this baby gecko did that, so I picked up the container & it was the first one I selected.
Baby crested geckos

Crested geckos sittin’ in a tree…

Okay, now I had one gecko. This was exciting! Which geckos was I going to pick to go along with it? So I resumed scanning the geckos, again picking up ones that looked interesting. Some of them got examined a few times as I tried to narrow down my choices. A few geckos managed to crawl under the black cardboard circles in the bottoms of their deli cups & were hiding under them. Thankfully this table wasn’t too busy yet because I was totally blocking this little section of geckos as I picked mine out. When I found a gecko that looked interesting, I’d pick it up & look into the container. I wanted to get geckos that would look at me, because I took it as a sign that they were both interested in me & healthily engaged with their environment.

I had it narrowed down to a few. Then one little gecko that was an orangish color sat in its container looking at me & touching the container in my direction. That sold me. This gecko was coming home with me!
I now had a stack of two geckos in my hand. One more gecko left to choose! I went back & picked up some of the ones I’d looked at earlier, until I found an adorable one that stared at me. I just knew this gecko was supposed to be mine, so armed with a stack of three geckos in deli cups, I said to the girl behind the counter,
“I want to buy these geckos.”
“Would you like to hold them first?” She asked.
I didn’t even know that was an option! Of course I did!
Baby crested gecko!

This gecko is checking out the temperature & humidity on my gauges 🙂

She helped me open the deli cups & showed me how to pick up & hold the geckos. Looking back, I am very glad that I did hold them so that when I held them for the first time at home, I had confidence in knowing how. I held each of the three geckos for a minute. I was a little surprised at how much they liked jumping from hand to hand. One jumped away from me at one point & landed on the deli cups with other geckos, but I grabbed it again before it could go any further. By the third gecko, I was confident enough to pick them up & put them back in their containers myself.
I asked the breeder a few questions & made sure that the sizes were compatible with each other. The breeder explained that the numbers on their containers were their hatch dates. This meant that the big pale one was ——&  the orange one was —-. The baby one did not have a birth date on its container because the breeder’s niece had hatched it, but they estimated it was born in late summer or early fall of 2017. Confident in my purchases, I paid for my geckos & they handed them to me in a big white paper bag.
Baby crested geckos

More geckos chillin’ in their tree

After buying my geckos, I walked around the show for a while longer.  —–You can read about what else I saw in this article here (& you can see how I decorated the article with cool reptile emojis!).
I finally felt like I was satisfied with having seen everything at the show, so I decided it was time to go home. When I got in my car, I said, “Hello chickens!” to my geckos. (FUN FACT :: “Chicken” has somehow, over the years with my dog, became a term of endearment that I refer to my animals by). Then I took them out of their bag & put them in the cooler. I angled the foam cooler lid so it would let air in but also act as a sun shade so the geckos wouldn’t be in direct light at any point on my drive home.
Baby crested geckos

Baby geckos love hiding in their plastic reptile plants

When I got home, I showed my family the geckos. Then, one by one, I opened their containers & let them out into their cage. I made my sister film it. The geckos explored the cage for a while, then found places to nestle themselves for a much-needed nap.
 
Welcome home, baby geckos. <3

Meet My Three New Crested Geckos!

 

LOOK AT MY NEW PRECIOUS BABY GECKO CHILDREN 💖🦎🦎🦎Went to Repticon Tampa earlier & got my first ever crested geckos! 🦎🦎🦎😍😮😍 It was also my first time ever at a reptile expo & it was SO COOL 💕😍 & my first time getting a pet reptile. Their cage was all set up before I went so they had a nice place to go when they got home. I got them from Manatee Suncoast Lizards, which seemed like a really good breeder 💕 Here’s to my trio of gecko children 👏🏼😘😘😘 I AM SO EXCITED ABOUT RAISING THEM 💕🤗 #gecko #geckos #petgecko #petgeckos #repticontampa #repticon #crestedgeckos #crestedgecko #babycrestedgecko #crestedgeckosofig #crestedgeckosofinstagram #reptileexpo #newreptile #reptileshow #repticon2018 #geckobabies #reptile #reptiles #petreptile #petreptiles #frogbutt #frogbuttgecko

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PART 1 OF 2
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Introducing…my three new pet crested geckos!
Since fall/winter of last year, I’ve been looking into getting another pet. I love my pets so much & I wanted another. I knew I had the time & money to take care of more pets, & the idea of getting another pet really started to appeal to me. The thing was, I didn’t know what kind of pet I wanted.
First I looked into hedgehogs, but I decided they weren’t right for me, at least not at this time. I looked into a lot of types of small rodents like hamsters, rats, gerbils, & mice, but they also weren’t right for me (at least not yet).
Finally, I decided on an axolotl! Axolotls are adorable & they’ve been one of my favorite cool, weird animals for a long time. I heard this one local pet store had a baby one in stock & I really wanted to buy it. Then I learned online that axolotl water has to be cycled, so I held off on buying it so I could start getting the tank ready. Then I got nervous about how precise their water conditions had to be. I didn’t even own a water test kit for my aquarium at the time I found the baby axolotl, & didn’t actually know anything about managing water quality for aquatic pets.
Leucistic Axolotl

Axolotls are cool & weird

Thanks to axolotls, I did learn a lot about testing the aquarium water in my 10 gallon tank & started researching this, because I had never known how important it was. I had this impression only fancier fish like angel fish required water testing. I started keeping fish as a kid & had always just gone by the logic that you put some fish in a tank with a filter & changed some of the water once a week or so. Managing the water quality in the tank is now something I do & monitor regularly, & I’m really glad I realized what I didn’t know so I could learn about it. Even with this, I was still nervous about axolotls. I was nervous because my house is 70F, but a lot of axolotl websites say that even that’s too warm. Because of those reasons, I still didn’t feel comfortable taking care of a little axolotl baby, so I moved on to something different.
But axolotls opened the door into the herptile world for me. Before I considered getting an axolotl, I hadn’t looked that much into reptiles. Growing up, my parents had always said no to reptile & amphibian pets because they thought heating their enclosures was too expensive. I did some Googling & learned that the average cost of running something 24/7 all year could be summed up in this equation: number of watts x $1.00 = cost per year to run.
So let’s say =you had a 70 watt heater for your reptile & you ran it (at full heat, if I’m not mistaken, & without the use of a reptile thermostat [which is really important to have!]) every hour of every day for a year. Using the rule of thumb that it costs $1.00 per watt per year, it would most likely cost a MAXIMUM of $70 a year for that heating element, or about $5.83 a month. That’s not expensive at all! Granted, many reptiles need more than one heating element, or a higher-wattage one, but it still doesn’t cost as much as I expected it would.
Bearded Dragon

Bearded dragons are cool like dogs & someday I’d like to have one.

I also had this perception that reptile pets were difficult to care for. Obviously the herp world encompasses a HUGE number of species kept as pets. Obviously some of those are more difficult to care for than others. But a lot of common reptiles are reasonably easy, once you understand their basic needs. They do need a different type of care than say, a hamster. A hamster doesn’t have to have a specific humidity, or ambient temperature, or a basking spot that must be monitored. I feel like reptiles are a little bit of a “learning curve” from that. But that doesn’t mean they require much – they’re just different to care for than mammals.
Here’s a summary of what I realized:
  • Not all reptiles have to eat live bugs, or at least not all the time. This in itself does not bother me, it was more of the practicality of having to go purchase crickets for it all the time (& that still doesn’t bother me, it was just something I considered).
  • It doesn’t cost as much as you’d think to heat their cages.
  • Not all reptiles cost a lot to purchase or maintain. You still need to have money put aside in case they get sick & have to go to the vet, but that isn’t necessarily an up-front cost (especially if you buy captive-bred & they don’t have parasites).
  • Their cage cleaning requirements can be a lot simpler (or at least, not any more complex) than my guinea pigs.
Armed with this realizations, I set out to figure out what type of reptile I wanted. I thoroughly researched fire-bellied toads, leopard geckos, & crested geckos. I did a good amount of research on corn snakes, ball pythons, other species of geckos, & bearded dragons.
Tortoise

#tortoiselife

Tortoises really began appealing to me during this process. I’d interacted with some during my epic Florida road trip at places like Florida Keys Aquarium Encounters, as well as one at a rescue that had been at a local event. I really did a ton of research. I was going to get a red foot tortoise hatchling. A red foot specifically, because they’re great for Florida weather when they’re big enough to live outside, & a hatchling because I wanted to raise it from a baby. I joined a tortoise forum & asked a TON of questions. I bought most of the supplies I needed for a tortoise. I bought tickets to the Tampa Repticon & started researching breeders.
Only a few weeks before Repticon, I got cold feet. Why? I still hadn’t found a breeder that (a) bred red foots & (b) that I felt cared for them properly. I was nervous because I’d read a LOT about how vital hydration was to hatchlings. I learned that a lot of people believe if the breeder doesn’t soak them often enough from when they hatch to when they’re sold, it increases the risk of hatchling failure syndrome. It can even cause their livers & kidneys to grow deformed, which can create problems down the road. I also knew that hatchlings were difficult to care for, & the last thing I wanted to happen was have a poor baby tortoise die on my hands & never know whether its death was my fault, nature’s, or the breeder’s. Especially with it being my first herp (& a more expensive one at that), I just didn’t think that risk was worth taking at the time.
Crested Gecko

Not my gecko, but a good picture of a crested gecko.

I thought back on all the research I’d done on crested geckos. I was actually going to get the cresteds before I started getting into tortoises. So I re-researched them again & realized they really were the best option. Here’s some of the things that convinced me:
  • Crested geckos are easy to care for. You change out the paper towels in the bottom once a week, mist their cage 1-2 time a day, feed them every other day, & clean the cage with bleach water once a month.
  • Crested geckos don’t need a whole lot of heat (75-78 F seemed to be ideal from what I read). They also didn’t need a UV bulb or any special lighting. (Although I do have a UVB bulb that I bought for the tortoise & didn’t end up using!).
  • Crested geckos’ humidity can & should vary during the day from 50% or so up to 85% (much easier than the 85% constant humidity a red foot hatchling required).
  • Crested geckos eat a complete powdered fruit diet that you mix with water. After they’re eating that regularly, I’ve heard you should give them crickets occasionally.
  • Crested geckos themselves were generally cheaper than tortoises, especially pet-quality crested geckos in their natural colors.
  • Crested geckos can be handled, especially once they’re adults. They are also super-adorable.
  • The geckos themselves were a LOT less fragile than a tortoise hatchling & therefore a way better thing for me as a beginner herp owner to get. Because they’re hardier & require less specific hatchling conditions than tortoise hatchlings, there was also less chance of them getting ill or dying.
  • I already had a 10-gallon tank the baby geckos could live in, & a lot of the supplies for the tortoise would also work for the geckos. For example, the terra-cotta trays, reptile plants, & reptile thermostat all could be re-purposed for the geckos.
I went full-speed-ahead with this idea. I bought the supplies, cleaned out the 10-gallon (which I’d gotten for free from by a neighbor’s trash can! [FREE STUFF FTW]), & set it up. I also researched any questions I had about baby crested geckos so I could make sure I had everything they needed & did everything right. I was thinking about getting three geckos, but knew that how many I got could be limited by price if they were more than I expected. I had done plenty of research about keeping more than one crested together. I was aware of the risks & prepared for the very real possibility that sometime they might have to be separated.
I was prepared in every way.
Now, all I had to do was wait for Repticon Day!