How much I pamper my geckos? A lot!!!
Both Jupiter and Nova have tiny hands, I say “hands” because they are utterly similar to human`s. Slender fingers, a well-shaped palm, soft skin, except instead of nails they have claws, really tiny ones, but they have. Well, they used to be tiny but after a while they grew, and grew, and grew, specially Jupiter´s.
A gecko claws are special adaptation for digging, climbing little trees and walking on sand. Three activities that they do not do as much in their house, basically because they do not need to, they have enough hiding places, they have food, water and their needs cover, in other words, they feel safe and relaxed. When a gecko feels like this, just wants to stay like this. I suppose the length of their claws are a result of too much comfort, and because they are so healthy their claws are not even a little brittle.
Because Jupiter and Nova are different species of gecko, their nails growth-rate is different. Nova has already been with me almost a year but her nails are not as sharp and Jupiter´s. His grow incredibly fast and terribly sharp. At the beginning, I had the impression the long nail could be a bit harmful for him, because when ever he stood on a flat surface his fingers arched a little, something that did not happened when his nail were short. Apparently he does not mind at all, the only one that is really bothered by them is me. You see, he likes to sit on my shoulder, walk through the length of my arms and jump from one hand to the other. I often end up with cat-like-scratches, and even though they do hurt as much they kinda leave marks.
Wearing Down the Nails
So I was determined to find a solution, as the matter of fact, I found several of them and the combination of them keeps my hands scratch-less. Firstly, whenever we go out on a walk, that is about every two weeks, I encourage him to climb trees and walk a considerable distance. Of course, not excessively long to exhaust him, but just the right distance so that his nails wear out a little, and besides exercising is always good for any kind of pet.
Secondly, I designed a house for Jupiter and Nova with two higher platforms. Both platforms have different hiding places and degrees of humidity and temperature, so that whenever they want to change sleeping place they have to use their claws to climb up or down. This also makes their house more interesting and less boring, because similar to humans, boredom might affect health. Basically, if geckos have a boring environment they will want to go out and explore, they have such a curious nature, but when they find out they are unable to do this, they will get stress out. And… well… “stress”, oh “stress”, one of the worst evils of our times.
And then the PETICURE, this is where I wanted to get from the beginning. I do not do this with Nova, for she does not need yet, but I have to sit down with Jupiter at least once a month or whenever his nails start scratching me. I use a fine nail file to go through all his nails, moving the file against the growing directions. It has to be very softly and carefully because I would hate to hurt him. He does not mind at all and since we have been doing this for a long time, he already knows the dynamic. However, geckos are not fond of strong light, so I cannot use a strong one, which makes the task a little difficult, but otherwise, he will soon start moving around and just want to go away. Sometimes, it is just impossible to finish in one day, so we have two o three more sessions.
I know what are you thinking right now! “wow, so much work for such a little creature”. Actually I do it for me, because I really like bonding with them and, in fact is not that much work. If my dear reader, happens to have a similar care as mine, you’ll know that it does not take more that 15 -20 mins and you can do it while watching a movie or listening to music. So it is not really extra effort.
And then it comes winter!!!! I cannot take them outside with low temperatures, it could totally be damaging for them. Remember they are cold blooded animals and they depend on the environment to regulate their body temperature. Also, where I live it get dryer in winter and they both require a degree of humidity. Both Leopard Geckos and African-Fatties have a hibernating cycle and they are even less active in winter, so taking them outside is not only damaging but forcing them to be active will make them rather cranky and in a very bad mood. I do not want that! I want my sweet, cute geckos all the time!
Filing Jupiter’s nails started to become a rather challenging task so I had to think of another solution, and quick. I previously read that trimming a gecko’s nails could be a dangerous thing to do and that only a doctor should do it. I still agree with this and I do NOT suggest that anybody should to it. If you are not careful enough, you could end up with gecko blood in your hands and a pet that does not trust you anymore. However, if you observe carefully, it is only the the very tip of the nail that scratches the deepest, so trimming that very end of the claw is about enough. Jupiter gets a little nervous with this because I have to hold him rather firmly and I must use a stronger light. Poor Jupiter, the things I do to him! I do not want to stress him too much so we usually do only 2 -3 nails by day, and I do not trim them all, only the sharpest ones.
Wait! what did I just said? “Poor Jupiter”? In which world is that true. He is a prince in his palace and I love him so much.