Waking up Guilt

Geckos are nocturnal, better said crepuscular, which means they should wake up when the sun goes down. We as humans should wake up when the sun goes up, but come on! on Saturdays no body wakes up that early.Guess what? neither did my geckos. It was 8 pm when I took this pictures and they are just opening their little eyes. Oh big lazy ones!

 

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Best companions

I love both Jupiter and Nova, despite some people saying that I have preference for Jupiter. But that is not true, Jupiter is more curious and very jealous, Nova is more calm and sweet. If Jupiter sees me petting Nova before him, he stands up, fixes his sight at us and gives me a demanding […]

Drinking water

So I caught Jupiter drinking water. He stays like this for a long time as if trying to decide if he is really thirsty or not. Two sips and then he goes away. I have never seen little Nova drinking any water, though. I suppose she does, at least I hope she does. Sometimes I worry and place a few water drops around her mouth, but she only takes one or two.

jupiter drinking water

I always give them mineral, purified water, however a time ago I encounter a person who mentioned that his brother has five leopard geckos and that he always has had many, so he just give them tap water.  I could not give any opinion on the matter, but even if I had as many geckos as planets and stars in the galaxy to name them after, I would still give them purified water. One can never be too careful about tap water, especially where I live, and I do not want my geckos to get impacted from something as simple as that.

Baby Leopard Gecko

Yesterday night I went to the pet shop to get some crickets. The pet shop I frequent doesn’t usually have geckos. But yesterday night I saw a cage I hadn’t seen before. I love all reptiles, especially lizards, so I approached to see the new one. At first I could not see it, but then, there it was, right under a piece of wood. It was a tiny new born Leopard Gecko. It was soundly sleeping and didn’t even notice I was looking at him. So tiny, so fragile, but above all cute. It was only about 6 cm long and didn’t even had spots, it will develop them as he grows. 1384282_10152020355893939_1288460417_n

Then I remember the day I brought Jupiter home. At that time he was only 13 cm long. His body and part of his tail could fit on the palm of my hand. He had only about 5-7 spots and the rest was still stripes. He and his tail were rather slim and his legs were somewhat weak. In a matter of days he started growing and growing.783_10152034382438939_839080030_nI could see the stripes slowly becoming spots. It still happens but at a very slow rate compared to when he was little. A few months later his legs became very strong and he could stand higher upon the ground.His nails got longer, so he was now able to climb steeper surfaces. He doesn’t really like to, but he can. His skin is now very bright and colorful, his eyes are shiny. The only thing he does not changes is his lovely friendly face.

I’m a proud mother of Geckos, as you can see. Jupiter is now 29.5 cm long. I once read that the record is 33 cm, perhaps he can still reach it. Even if he doesn’t, I have encounter some blogs of people trying to make their leopard gecko at least 26 cm, which makes me realise Jupiter is a rather big Leopard Gecko, and that makes me even prouder.

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Peticure

Human-like hands. Slender finger and a well-shaped palm.
Human-like hands. Slender finger and a well-shaped palm.

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.

The Claws

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.

Cold Weather

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.

Leopard and African Fat-Tailed Geckos, Part 1: The belly

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!

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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.

Nova´s Belly  Jupiter´s Belly

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. 

Noble Nova

Nova, the brightening of a star that is able to outshine the entire galaxy.  Luminous energy and power traveling at such speed that it is even capable of triggering the fusion of a new star. Quite the event! Perhaps one day we can be able to witness it and let our eyes and minds be bewildered by its beauty and complexity. In the mean time, I take care of my own shiny Nova. Not only shiny, but sweet and soft, specially soft, velvety soft little gecko.

This is Nova, my little, the african-fat-tailed girl gecko.

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She came second after Jupiter, they are both from different species, which means that it is impossible for them to reproduce, they are perfect company to each other.

According to my calculations, she should have been born around February 2014. I brought her home June 8th, of the same year, but when I found her she was not the beautiful Nova I have now. I brought her from a pet shop, and well… she was not being taken care the way she should have been, it was a pet shop after all. After looking at her, you could guess her her tail had previously fallen off and regrown again, but as is common in this kind of geckos, the tail did not grown as beautiful as the original one. However the tail was so skinny that It was hard to tell where the original and regrown tail started.  Her skin opaque and her belly had a few scars revealing that she had not been living in a rightful environment for her. I have no way of knowing what happened to her, but when I first saw her I fell in love with those sweet white-lined eyes.  So  sweet, so girly!

Her first few weeks with me, she required her own enclosure.  Not only because she might have been sick, but because she was too weak to defend herself if Jupiter bully her. A few weeks became 6 months, Nova took her time getting used to me and then slowly spending more and more time with Jupiter. It was also important to teach him that he should not be “mean” to the new girl, but you know… geckos have their own personalities, just like humans, and usually they get along, and do not bother each other, but sometimes not so much. Surprisingly as much as Nova is only 20cm long and Jupiter almost 30cm, it is usually the little one that kicks the other one out of a hiding place if she wants it.  She is the female after all. Girl power!

Little Nova is very very shy, but this is a normal  behaviour among African-Fat-Tailed geckos. On the other hand when it comes about hunting for food she is a winner, she never misses and leaves nothing alive until she is full, but she only likes hunting about once a week. It is an amazing show to watch her eat. (I will probably upload a video on my YT channel ) She rises her tail and just as she is about to go for her pray she quickly wiggles it and then Bam!!! The cricket is gone!

She is also not very fond of being photographed nor video-taped and even though it is very hard to get her to be still for taking pictures she always moves stealthily. Her toes are very short and she only moves one foot at the time and she will not lift a second one until the first foot in well set on the ground. It is as she is very mindful of every steps she takes and even when strolling over the keyboard, she places her feet is such way that nothing is every typed. Talking about her feet, they are so beautiful, so tiny and so human-hand like.She has got this perfect french style that never wears off (I wish I could accomplish that) and her hands are even softer that the rest of her velvety body.

And I cannot forget mention the white line across her back, it is so artistic. Those are the moments when you stop and think for a moment how can Nature create such perfect little creatures.  Amazing Nature!

The best thing about taking care of Nova, is that she is so sweet that she has no problem of falling asleep in my hands or keeping me company while I nap. And when I take her out to play she just waits steady for my hand to take her.

Oh little princess,  thank you for stopping running away like at the begging, I worried and searched for you desperately when I couldn’t find you. I can tell you are happier now because even when the enclosure door is open you willing stay.  Thank you for trusting me, little princess. I hope you are always happy with me and Jupiter and that you always feel safe and loved.

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A note to Jupiter on his first 24hrs with me

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October 19th, 2013

I just got Jupiter yesterday and I can only say one thing, this little leopard gecko is amazing.

I don’t know many people who have a reptiles and even less who have geckos so I did all my research on internet and after some days of reading and reading about them I knew I was ready for him.

I know they don’t need the lamp, I mean the UV lamp that most reptiles need. It turns out that leos are nocturnal and light actually stresses them but they do need a heating pad and at the same time places to stay cool. They are originally from the Pakistani desserts and in there, even though it is very hot they do not stay out in hot places too long, they look for shelter under humid rocks and dark places. Leopard geckos are very easily adapted to new places and they aren’t a particular picky specie of reptiles, which makes it very easy to take care of little Jupiter.

Probably for lack of experience, I had a little hard time setting the right environment for him and the little one had to wait for me  in a very small cage, which broke my heart a little bit but it as just a couple of hours. When I finally finished preparing everything I notice he was a little smelly, probably from the store and I know that leos should take a bath every 3 months, which he probably never had. With just a little of warm water i had one of the most rewarding experiences with animals I ever had. Leos love warm water because it warms up their belly and with the softest and most caring hand I cleaned his body and finished with his head. Jupiter even closed his eyes, in a way that I knew he was enjoying it and he even move up his head as if saying “i like it, pet me more”. After that he just went inside and hid in of the shelters i prepared of him and sleep very fast, which makes me happy because i know he feels safe.

During the night I saw him coming out, walking and playing around his cage. CAGE!!! what a nasty word I prefer to call it environment, or his home.  Anyway, I think he likes his new home. They only eat once a day and since it is still a baby, he needs to eat everyday, when he get older he will only eat every other day. You might be wondering what does he eats? well… he doesn’t eat candies. He is a reptile, he eats insects. In the wild he would probably eat spiders, but nobody feeds leos spiders, the domesticated one eat crickets and worms and they have to be alive. I have no problem with that, none of those things make me nervous. Actually I just feed him for the first time with nobody else’s help. I have watch enough videos to know i was ready to do it, and i even gave him his vitamins. He is going to grow a strong, muscular, beautiful gecko.

I promise you, little Jupiter, that I will take care of you the best way I can and that you will be very happy.

Jupiter, the Jubilant

It is widely known that Jupiter is not only the fifth and largest planet of our solar system, but also he was the chief deity of the Roman empire, the god of thunder and the skies.  With all these attributes, I am quite sure Jupiter is rather jubilant, however the Jupiter I am going to be addressing does not exist with the same proportions as the planet and lacks of the mightiness of the roman god. Yet, everyday it makes me joyful and thankful for living and this magnificent world full of amazingly beautiful creatures.

This is Jupiter, my little leopard gecko pet.

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