Thursday, January 19, 2012

Scales vs. Furry Part II

      Continuing on from what my wife, Rea, was talking about in Scales vs. Furry, I figured it might be enlightening for me to tell you about what its like to actually own a reptile. I've wanted a pet of my own since I moved over to the USA in October last year, and it seems only fair seeing as my wife has 3 rats and a cat. When I was picking up my brother-in-law from work one time, he gets into the car carrying a grey tree frog, a rather weird happenstance in November seeing as they're meant to be hibernating before the snow hits. We decided to take him home and look after him until winter had passed. We figured he probably ate crickets and other such creepy crawlies so we headed to the pet store to grab some, while we we're there my wife an I ended up chatting to one of the staff that was working there, she told us she was looking for another male tree frog as hers had just died; also she told us that her gecko had recently had a clutch of eggs that had hatched and she was looking for homes for the young. Immediately the idea sprung into my head and I told her we had recently found a male tree frog (you can tell by the orange colouration on the inside of his legs) and would she be interested in trading the frog for one of her young geckos. She agreed and so we arranged to meet up later that day to make the trade. When I was shown the little ones I had to choose from I was taken back by how colourful they were, but there was one that was at least half as large again as the others and as I have a thing for choosing the things that stand out I asked can I try holding the gecko thats bright yellow and spotted all over, she turned out to be the easiest to handle as the others were a bit hyperactive. After taking her home (having named her Lexi) and having cared for her as best as I can for several months now I can honestly say I don't regret my choice to get something a bit more unusual, she requires far less attention than say a cat or dog, eats far less, you don't have to take them for walks or let them out of rooms when they get stuck in them; they don't shed fur, bite and scratch furniture either! All they need is warmth, food and water and they're pretty much happy as clams. Feeding them is easy as pie as long as you don't hate bugs as usually with the smaller reptiles their staple diet is crickets (of vary sizes) and various grubs or worms (mealworms, waxworms etc..). They're also very clean and usually do their business in pretty much the same place every time, so this makes it extremely easy to clean them out. Despite the low maintenance she's been a great addition to our apartment and she provides some very sporadic entertainment (for instance she was running from one side of her terrarium to the other trying to watch my brother-in-law's cat running about the apartment like a loony). As for handling as long as you don't handle her in a stressful environment she doesn't mind being picked up for a short while and its good to let them out of their confinement for a little bit every couple of days, they'll normally just think your a nice warm tree or rock and just sit there quietly or maybe even roam across your arm. But in the case of geckos, most are nocturnal (they're only awake at night, although they'll occasionally show their little sweet faces during the day sporadically) so I'd advise handling them in the evening, it can be relaxing if you've had a stressful day I've found. She's never bitten me, although she has hissed at me a few times when shes been shedding her skin or just being cranky. Reptiles aren't as boring as some people may think and they all have their own endearing personalities, for instance my gecko is a very dainty little girl who has a very inquisitive nature, she'll pop her head out from her cave if somethings going on outside then she'll disappear when she gets bored. My biggest piece of advice I could give to anyone who is thinking of buying a reptile or somesuch is make sure to do your homework and don't be afraid to ask pet store staff for advice. Also don't think that a pet gecko is a short term commitment either as most geckos will live for up to 20 years with good care, so they'll be around alot longer than any dog or cat and I honestly think they're as good a companion as a cat or dog. I hope reading this helps alleviate some doubts some people may have about owning reptiles as they're not as horrible or icky as most popular stigma would make them appear.