My boyfriend of 10 months and I had been debating a new addition to my already thriving indoor zoo. I wanted to include him, allow him to have his own pets. I’m unintentionally a know-it-all when it comes to keeping pets, and I thought it was a wee bit unfair considering he had his own pets in the past.
He’d originally wanted rats, which was a firm no from me. Due to our current living arrangements, I’d be caring for the animals for the next six months or so. There was no way me, a snake lover, would be able to find it in myself to keep the very things my snake ate for lunch. There was a brief time I entertained the idea of gerbils, but even that was a little too crawly for me.
Then I introduced my boyfriend to Leopard Geckos. The perfect alternative to messy, chewy, and shedding mammals was a lovely nocturnal gecko that would happily eat refrigerated bug grubs. I also wouldn’t have to cry my guts out every 1-2 years, because reptiles have lovely long life spans if taken care of properly. On top of all their other ideal statistics, they are adorable.
After doing some research about local leopard gecko breeders (absolutely zero in my area), I decided we should pick up and make a weekend out of going to Repticon. I did a thorough analysis of all the breeders that would be at our particular event, and picked my top three breeders.
A few hours into the event, and I’d scoped out my gecko… Bandita (a Bandit color morph).
Bandita from the very beginning was obviously the sassiest gecko you could possibly be while also being very kind. She has a natural skepticism about her that I absolutely love in a pet. I loved her pattern, but I fell in love with her obvious independence.
My boyfriend fell in love with his gecko, Luna, from the same breeder. While I preferred the high contrast patterns, he preferred the lighter morphs with a sweet sensibility to their personality.
I spoke in great length with the breeder about cohabitating. I’d already researched a great deal about it, and knew we wanted to females at about the same weight. The breeder agreed it would be a good idea, but also to make sure I keep an eye on them.
In a slightly risky decision, I decided to cohabitate them that day. I brought Jane’s (my corn snake’s) very large feeding cage to work as a temporary habitat for the weekend. We introduced the two of them and observed carefully. Aside from Luna stepping all over Bandita’s head (Bandita’s face was priceless), they seemed to immediately bond. 4 hours later, I snagged this awesome photo.
I used the crumpled up newspaper as a way to provide them shelter and safety. In the wild, they are typically eaten from larger animals attacking from above, and I wanted to provide them shelter and comfort from that fear, but also keep them from crushing themselves with any makeshift rock hiding spots.
On the road home, they rode in their deli cups and handled everything pretty well. I left them alone once in the new tank to acclimate after the hectic weekend, only interrupting them for feeding sessions. I’d been feeding from tongs, because that’s what I’d always done while working in various pet stores. Mine wouldn’t take from the tongs, but Luna ate heartily from tongs. After emailing the breeder, they somewhat randomly insisted I send them the weights and all of these ridiculous stats when I was literally asking to see what method they fed the geckos by…..
It was beyond annoying. Personally, I hate that about the pet care industry. Everybody thinks they’re absolutely right and there’s no other way to do things.
So I started feeding from this very tall corner bowl, and leaving the mealworms in overnight. They kept disappearing (cage check revealed none hiding), so I was assuming everybody was eating.
Then I came home from a short trip, and I saw Luna.
She was very skinny and shaky. Their tails are supposed to be quite fat, and hers looked like a skinny tail. I sprayed the tank and put more water in the bowl (only been a day max with empty water) and she started drinking from the wall. I picked her up and brought her to the bowl, and she drank for 5 minutes, almost falling asleep in the bowl. I immediately checked Bandita after bringing Luna to water, and I realized who’d been eating all of the mealworms. Bandita was huge, and shedding. Luna was never any good with a bowl.
I fed Luna seven or so mealworms directly from the tongs, then later on, fed her seven waxworms to add fat back to her body mass. Luna immediately rebounded, and now is back to her normal body weight.
If anything else, this story proves you have to each find what works best for each of your animals. What may be written in a book may not be what your animal needs.