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
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
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.
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.
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!
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.
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 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