WHAT I PLAN TO GET AT TAMPA REPTICON 2018

Well, first off I am EXCITED because one of my favorite times of year is coming up…

*drumroll*

Christmas?

Nope. That’s good & all, but what’s coming to the Tampa area sooner than that?

That’s right. 

REPTICON. 

Repticon, unlike Christmas, comes to my city three times a year. In February of this year, it was my first time attending. That’s where I got my first three reptiles: the wonderful crested geckos Baby Pineapple, Toe Bean, & Pinwheel Shark. Oh, & I also got to HOLD AN OWL.

The second Repticon of the Year was in June. THAT’s where I got Squiggles (my leopard gecko), Frogecoin (my PacMan Frog), & Molly (my Orthoporus Ornatus, also known as a Texas Gold Millipede). As well as a gaggle of crickets & small superworms & an eff-ton of accessories for my new pets. 

So what am I heading there for this time?

ROACHES. 

Just kidding, but also kind of serious. Roaches ARE one of the main reasons I’m attending. I’m trying to start a breeding colony of discoid roaches for my critters so I can limit having to deal with crickets (which aren’t my favorite 🙃). I went to my second Repticon with the intention of getting some Dubia roaches.

I did not come home with any roaches, & I learned two things. (A) Get your live bugs FIRST before you spend several hours examining everyone’s tables, or else the booth will be out of the bugs you want. (B) Dubia roaches are apparently illegal in Le State of Le Florida. When I asked for the Dubias, the guy made a WFT face at me & told me they were illegal. (He probably thought I was a secret shopper from the government 😂).

Anyways, so about three months ago, I bought eight discoid roaches from a kind-of-local pet store. By “kind of local”, I mean it was like a 20+ mile drive each way. It was the closest one with discoids that I knew about, so that’s why I went. And I only bought 8 because they were $0.75 EACH & they were small, so I figured I needed to get them ASAP so they could start growing out sooner.

Well, all the roaches are doing great! Every single one of them is still alive & I’m pretty sure they’re almost adult-sized. But there ARE only 8 of them. And that’s just not that many. Not enough to get a good colony going any time soon. So I will definitely get some more roaches at the show  

I’ll also pick up some extra mealworms while I’m there, because what Squiggles (my leopard gecko) doesn’t eat will join the beetle colony, which just produced its first successful batch of baby mealworms! I probably won’t get any extra crickets though, because I don’t go through those very fast so most of them would die before I used them, & it would end up costing me more than getting them at the pet store.

Another main reason I’m going to Repticon is actually for supplies this time! Squiggles will be upgraded to a 20G long aquarium very soon because he’s currently in a 10 & it’s getting small for him because he’s a growing boy. So he needs bigger gecko houses to put in his bigger cage.

But! I also am SUPER EXCITED because I’m starting to get into bioactive & naturalistic setups for my critters & Repticon is the perfect place to buy stuff for these setups. I never really paid much attention to the supplies part of the show before, but this time supplies are one of the main reasons I’m going. There will be another post about bioactive setups & why I’m so excited about them soon. My PacMan frog will be switched to one the soonest because he/she is already on Eco Earth, so it won’t be that big of a switch. When my crested geckos are big enough, they too will be switched over to bioactive enclosures. They have been having some issues growing but they’re doing well & making a lot of progress, so hopefully it won’t be long from now that they’re ready!

As far as supplies, I’m looking to get the aforementioned gecko houses for Squiggles, as well as some naturalistic hides/plants/etc for Frogecoin especially. If I see something really awesome that I just can’t pass up for my crested geckos, I would get it, but as it will likely be a few more months at minimum before they’re big enough to be in their permanent adult-sized enclosures, their stuff would be better left until the next Repticon. So mostly I’m focussing on naturalistic supplies for my PacMan frog & Leopard gecko. 

I’m also hoping to find some of the infrastructure supplies I need for a bioactive setup, such as springtails cultures, while I’m there.  

So, what about the animals?

I’m actually not looking to get any reptiles or amphibians this time. While there are some species & patterns I would like to own as part of my reptile collection in the future, what I have right now is pretty good. I might even get some of these species within the next year. But as I’ve went from zero to five herps this year alone, I figure it’s best not to “spend it all in one place”, & instead wait until next year before acquiring more herps.

I will, however, be on the lookout for invertebrates. 

Tarantulas, you ask?

Tarantulas are pretty cool & I will probably own one at some point. But my mom thinks they’re the creepiest, so I’m probably not going to get one this time. But you never know 😏

So no. Probably no tarantulas. 

But other bugs are up for grabs. I’m especially hoping to find some cool novelty roaches, like the Death’s Head Roach (or green banana roaches, or horseshoe crab roaches, but I’m yet to see either of those two species at Repticon). Or a praying mantis would be cool. Or really any type of non-spider, non-centipede invertebrate. Possibly even including aquatic ones. 

And if they have millipedes for sale there, you can bet I will be bringing more of them home because millipedes are awesome & I love them so much ❤️ 

Another primary reason I’m attending is also so I can do market research on some reptile products I am developing, so attending is actually pretty important for that. And I want to pick the brains of some of the breeders while I’m there.

So, I am so excited for the arrival of Repticon, & I will be waiting impatiently in the corner for it’s arrival. 

The countdown is ON!

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

PHOTOS! My First Time at Repticon!

Tampa Repticon February 2018

Repticon Tampa on February 24th – 25th, 2018 was my first-ever time at a reptile expo 🦎🐢🐍. It was so awesome! I bought my VIP ticket online about six weeks before. The REASON I was originally going to go was to get a red foot tortoise hatchling. But after thinking about it more, I got cold feet about two weeks before Repticon & decided to go with my original choice of crested geckos instead. Crested geckos seemed both easy to care for & like a much better choice for my first pet reptile than a baby tortoise. Here’s where I wrote about why I decided on crested geckos 🦎.
I had the gecko tank all set up, complete with a custom ABS plastic divider that took me an hour to make. (SPOILER ALERT! On my geckos’ first night, the two bigger ones managed to squish themselves over the top & into the unfurnished side of the cage. This rendered it useless so I had to remove it. Pets are like that 🙂). I had the heat pad running & the humidity up. Everything was ready.
Here’s what I saw at my first expo & my observations (plus kewl emojis)!
  • First off, I bought my first three crested geckos! 😍🦎🦎🦎💕 I got them from Manatee Suncoast Lizards, which seemed like a really nice breeder. Read about my geckos here & see more pictures of them in this article here!
    My crested geckos when I got back in my car at Repticon
  • They had a cool blow-up snake out front that kids were taking pictures of 📸.
    Tampa Repticon 2018
  • Reptile expos are like better versions of pet stores. The people selling you the pets are mostly the people who actually bred them, & can answer your questions better than most pet stores. The quality of the animals is also a lot higher 👍, & the prices can be much lower 💵 because you’re buying it directly from the breeder & there’s no middleman.
    Tampa Repticon 2018
  • It’s awesome being in an environment filled with people who are passionate about reptiles 😍.
  • To let everyone know I was a VIP there, they gave me a tortoise hand stamp which was adorable!
    Tampa Repticon 2018 Tortoise Hand Stamp
    Tampa Repticon 2018 Tortoise Hand Stamp
  • SO MANY SKINNY PIGS! (AKA HAIRLESS GUINEA PIGS). One person had regular guinea pigs but it seemed like at least five were selling the hairless “skinny” guinea pigs. For some reason they were a really popular thing.
  • A large selection of chinchillas chillin’ (pun intended) in a cage. One was perched precariously at the edge of a shelf, sleeping, but it seemed perfectly comfortable 😴. LOOK AT THEIR LITTLE CHINCHILLA FACES!
    Chinchillas at Tampa Repticon 2018
    Chinchillas at Tampa Repticon 2018
    Chinchillas at Tampa Repticon 2018
  • Tons of sugar gliders, including baby ones! I saw some really pretty white sugar gliders with a dark stripe down their backs, & some other sugar gliders eating fruit. 🤗 Their “crabbing” sound reminds me of a combination of a quiet angry squirrel 🐿️ & the sound my guinea pigs make when they’re mad at each other.

  • A whole bunch of baby hedgehogs! 🦔🦔🦔 If I was still interested in getting a hedgie I would have been excited, because they were only $100. But MAN, are those things sharp 😮. Especially when they bounce to poke you with their spikes. You can see me jerk away when it pokes me in the video below! They were all sleeping in a little prickly pile together, & they were adorable 💤.

    Baby Hedgehogs at Tampa Repticom 2018
  • More leopard geckos than you could shake a stick at. 🦎 It seemed like EVERYONE was selling leopard geckos. I saw some really beautiful mostly-white ones.
  • Awesome geckos! 🦎🦎🦎 SO MANY GECKOS! 🦎🦎🦎 The aforementioned leopard geckos, plus a reasonable number of crested geckos. But I also saw some really great Chahouas, Leachies, day geckos, gargoyle geckos, etc. Geckos are super-awesome. 🦎
  • I got to hold a 🦉 rescued screech owl 🦉 from the Friends of Largo Nature Parks! (ARTICLE WITH MORE PHOTOS COMING SOON!) OWLS ARE MY FAVORITE & THIS WAS SO AWESOME! They had a Sulcata tortoise 🐢 with a donation jar taped to its back. It was so awesome. The article has pictures of that too! (Also, I was so excited after holding an owl that I began walking away before I realized my gecko bag was still sitting on their table 😂).
    Me Holding an Owl at Friends of Largo Nature Parks - Tampa Repticon
    Owl at Friends of Largo Nature Parks - Tampa Repticon
    Owl at Friends of Largo Nature Parks - Tampa Repticon
    Owl at Friends of Largo Nature Parks - Tampa Repticon
    Owl at Friends of Largo Nature Parks - Tampa Repticon
    Sulcata Tortoise with Donation Jar at Friends of Largo Nature Parks - Tampa Repticon
    Sulcata Tortoise with Donation Jar at Friends of Largo Nature Parks - Tampa RepticonLook at the little tortoise nose chilling in the bottom right corner too!
  • I got to pet a bearded dragon! I can’t remember the name of the vendor but they made custom stone-looking houses for reptiles. They had this awesome bearded dragon just chilling on a rock & people could pet it. The beardie was so docile & cute! Someone said their bearded dragon always got excited when they came home, like a dog 🤗.

  • There were so many beautiful snakes! 🐍🐍🐍 I wasn’t in the market for a snake so I didn’t spend too much time looking at them, but I saw some gorgeous ones. In my opinion, the most beautiful snake are the banana/candino morph-looking ball pythons. I saw plenty of those. I also saw some cute tiny snakes in cups. I watched vendors put the snakes in white mesh bags & speculated that if I ever get a snake it will totally ride in the cooler on the way home just in case it happens to escape from its mesh bag.
    Banana Ball Python Morph at Tampa Repticon 2018
    Banana Ball Python Morph at Tampa Repticon 2018
    Banana Ball Python Morph at Tampa Repticon 2018
  • Someone was selling pet roaches, which were pretty cool!
    Pet Cockroaches at Tampa Repticon 2018
  • There was someone with fancy bettas & cherry shrimp. 🦐 I will totally have a shrimp tank someday 🦐!
  • One vendor had tiny cups with even tinier baby axolotls. I looked at the axolotls & was very glad I decided not to get one. I would have been too nervous about their water quality.
  • I saw piles of tiny 🐁 pinky mice & fuzzy mice 🐁 huddled together. I took a photo of the fuzzies & the vendor said, “The pinkies are also cute.” They were precious, even though I know they will most likely become snake food. There were also a good number of people selling rats, both pet & feeder rats. I saw some really cute baby rats too!
    Baby Mice at Tampa Repticon 2018
    Pinky Mice at Tampa Repticon 2018

    Baby Rats at Tampa Repticon 2018

    Baby Rats at Tampa Repticon 2018
  • There was a cup filled with baby chicks 🐤🐤🐤. If I lived somewhere zoned for chicks, I would have bought them. I felt sorry for them because I knew that, like the baby mice, they would most likely be eaten.
  • So many people had 🕷️ tarantulas & scorpions 🦂. I heard a guy excitedly telling his father about how poisonous this one tarantula he was getting was & how nasty their bite was. He seemed to know a lot about tarantulas & he sounded like he just loved them. I heard a kid asking a vendor which species she recommended for a beginner. I saw some cute tiny tarantulas 🕷️ that were only about the size of a penny!
  • I hoped to get millipedes 🐛 while I was at the expo. I spent a while looking for them, but didn’t see any. I saw a vendor that seemed focused on invertebrates, so I asked if he had millipedes. He said not right now.
  • TONS OF TORTOISES! 🐢🐢🐢 I saw a huge number of baby red foots & other tortoises. There were also a variety of ages of tortoises. They were so cute. But I was still really glad not to get a tortoise (especially a fragile hatchling) as my first reptile. I freak out enough about my geckos; it would have been so much worse with a baby tortoise despite my obsessive research. There were also turtles. Someone was selling baby red-eared sliders for $10 & baby snapper turtles for $25. Baby snappers look pretty harmless but I know what they grow up to be 😉. 🐢🐢🐢
    Tortoises at Tampa Repticon 2018
    Tortoises at Tampa Repticon 2018
    Tortoises at Tampa Repticon 2018
  • There are a lot of animals I WANT to buy, but I’m good at not impulse-buying them 👏🏆💯
  • IF YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO GET A SPECIAL GOODY BAG BECAUSE YOU GOT A VIP TICKET, ASK FOR IT FIRST 🛍️☹️. Big lesson here. I casually moseyed on over to the welcome booth after I was done looking around. “Is this where I get my bag of free stuff?” I asked. The lady looked at me sympathetically. “I’m sorry, we ran out of those.” I wasn’t offended, just a little disappointed. & I totally made a mental note to ask for it ASAP next time. I wonder what was in the bag.
Going to Repticon was super-awesome. I can’t wait to go back again!

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
READ PART 2 →

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!