Five minutes ago I sat down to write about the geckos, how to properly take of them and why are they amazing creatures, but it is simple impossible for me to type in “Leopard Gecko” or “African-Fat Tailed Gecko” and not click on the images tap in Google and let my eyes and heart melt with those alluringly cute pictures. Each image more appealing than the last one, all of them with lovely faces, stunning colours and patterns, and they tails gracefully curled. Scrolling and scrolling I just wished to extend my hand and caress their velvet but rough skin and look into their adorably curious eyes. I was in the middle of a “Awwww so cute” when Jupiter, as if he knew what I was thinking, took his tiny head out of his hiding place and looked at me as if saying “Pet me, please“. Of course, my little prince, right away!
And then… here I am in front of the computer with Jupiter on my shoulder, I suppose, both him and Nova are the rightful companions for the writing of this blog. As I grabbed the little one on my hand I noticed his belly was unpleasantly cold, I supposed that’s the reason he wanted some petting. Now, this is a very important detail that I am going to use to start explaining the importance of taking good care of a gecko belly.
Geckos are reptiles, and as it is widely known, reptiles are cold blooded animals. I am not saying that they are emotionless, it means they lack of capability to regulate their own body temperature and that they depend on their environment to do so. Jupiter and Nova have both their own well-regulated heating pads but they also have several hiding places with different temperatures and humidity. Sometimes, maybe they think it is hot and choose colder places and fell asleep in them, but a long time in them cause their belly to cool too much.
They are rather smart animals and they will usually move back to the heat (or maybe that is just instinct ), but if I have the chance I use this opportunity to pet them and bond a little bit more with them. They enjoy the human touch very much, as we are warm and if they feel safe with a person, they will just stay there for a quite a period of time, until they feel like changing place or they fell asleep again. In my case, after about 20 to 30 minutes, Jupiter will always try to move around or find new places to sit, but little Nova will always curls herself up and start nodding. With skin so soft, I just love it when she does that.
Keeping their belly warm, not only makes them happy but also help them with digestion. Good digestion keeps them healthy. Every now and then I massage them just by placing my warm-finger under their belly and applying just a little pressure. Less often, I used a warm-moisten cloth to do so. They love it and stay enjoying the massage for a while, besides their belly is so white and the skin is so thin that it is possible to know their inner condition. By then way, a warm-moisten cloth is recommendable for any other aid they required, such as aid in shedding skin or simply cleaning them after taking a walk outside.
Geckos do not usually get sick, but when they hunt they are not careful enough to swallow only the prey, they might as well ingest sand, soil or other substrate particles. When feeding them it is important to help them avoid this. However, if they actually get impacted, massaging their belly is imperative and if that does not help then you will probably need to take them to the doctor. Jupiter has always been healthy and he does not love hunting, he likes it better when I hold the cricket for him in the tweezers, so there is no problem with him. Nova, on the other hand, is an intrinsic hunter, the moment she sees the cricket, she just jump onto it, and the poor cricket doesn’t stand a chance. Although it is so entertaining to watch her feed, I must be extra careful.
Leopard geckos have longer legs, which help their belly to be higher above the ground, but African geckos have short legs and sometimes while walking they might get scratched a little. Their substrate should not have anything that might hurt them, or if you take them out side, it is important to first check the area where they are going to walk. Depending on the injure, they might heal on the next skin shed, but it can also take a few months. As I mentioned before, their belly are very white, but it they are recovery from a scratch they will have darker areas.
When I first brought Nova, she had a few scratches, but with the proper care she healed and she is a happy gecko with a healthy belly just like Jupiter. And you will always be happy and healthy, I promise.