ILLUSTRATED REPITCON SHOPPING LIST FLOWCHART + WHAT I MIGHT BE GETTING

Repticon Shopping List June 2018

GUYS! I am going to Tampa’s ๐ŸฆŽREPTICON๐ŸฆŽ 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 ๐Ÿคฃ).

I don’t know what I’m getting yet, but I do know I am getting something (maybe more than oneย 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 ๐Ÿ˜. (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 ๐Ÿ˜.

Keep an eye on my social media profiles (Instagram, this blog, & YouTube mostly) so you canย 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! ๐ŸฆŽ๐Ÿธ๐Ÿข๐Ÿคฉ๐Ÿ’•๐Ÿข๐Ÿธ๐ŸฆŽ

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

My crested geckos when I got back in my car at Repticon
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!ย 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.ย Take me home,ย the gecko seemed to say.ย 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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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 ——&ย  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.ย ย —–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.
ย 
Welcome home, baby geckos. <3

Meet My Three New Crested Geckos!

 

LOOK AT MY NEW PRECIOUS BABY GECKO CHILDREN ๐Ÿ’–๐ŸฆŽ๐ŸฆŽ๐ŸฆŽWent to Repticon Tampa earlier & got my first ever crested geckos! ๐ŸฆŽ๐ŸฆŽ๐ŸฆŽ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜ฎ๐Ÿ˜ It was also my first time ever at a reptile expo & it was SO COOL ๐Ÿ’•๐Ÿ˜ & 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 ๐Ÿ’• Hereโ€™s to my trio of gecko children ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿผ๐Ÿ˜˜๐Ÿ˜˜๐Ÿ˜˜ I AM SO EXCITED ABOUT RAISING THEM ๐Ÿ’•๐Ÿค— #gecko #geckos #petgecko #petgeckos #repticontampa #repticon #crestedgeckos #crestedgecko #babycrestedgecko #crestedgeckosofig #crestedgeckosofinstagram #reptileexpo #newreptile #reptileshow #repticon2018 #geckobabies #reptile #reptiles #petreptile #petreptiles #frogbutt #frogbuttgecko

A post shared by Ashlee Craft (@ashleecraft) on

PART 1 OF 2
READ PART 2ย โ†’

Introducing…my three new pet crested geckos!
Since fall/winter of last year, I’ve been looking into getting another pet.ย 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.ย 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!