5 Tips and Tricks for Leopard Gecko Breeding Facilities: Episode 2

In this video, Nick discusses 5 tips and tricks to make things easier, more efficient, more enjoyable and better organized in your leopard gecko breeding facility.

Please share any tips or tricks you have found helpful for leopard gecko husbandry in the comments below.
Thanks for watching!

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Poisonous vs. Venomous?

Do you know the difference between poisonous and venomous?

Venomous, not poisonous.

Basically, poison is usually ingested, whereas venom is usually injected or actively introduced to the body.

Some species of toads secrete poison that must be ingested by a potential predator for example.

Some snakes inject venom when they bite, so its not considered poison.

If you cut yourself, then pick up a poison dart frog though, are you still poisoned?

 

Read more in the Kingsnake blog post linked below to find out.

http://www.kingsnake.com/blog/archives/1509-Poisonous-vs-venomous-Dr.-Michael-Hutchens-sets-the-record-straight.html

 

Be safe and have fun!

 

Raising a Frog from the Dead

I came across an interesting article this morning about a frog that went extinct in 1983.  Apparently it was cloned and  lived for a few days as embryos.  Genetic tests verified that it was indeed the extinct frog, alive once more!

Here is the article:

http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/articles/447314/20130318/australia-scientists-bring-extinct-gastric-brooding-frog.htm

On a less news-worthy note, our family took a hike in the Carmel Valley area of San Diego, CA last night.

We saw lots of cool sights in this chemise chaparral habitat on the mesa we hiked along. We overturned many rocks and logs looking for various herps, but didn’t find any in those places.

We did however, come across a vernal pool with Western Spadefoot toad juveniles that were just about to lose their tadpole tails.

It was the highlight of the hike for our 3 and 5 year old boys.

Here is a picture of my son holding one:

Western Spadefoot Juvenile

Why Leopard Geckos Make Great Pets (Part I)

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I have a friend who has never kept Leopard Geckos, nor previously considered them as pets, although she loves all animals and has had many pets of her own.  After seeing many photos of our geckos on Facebook (www.facebook.com/latitude33geckos), she asked if Leopard Geckos make good pets and why someone would want one as a pet.  That was a few months ago.  While I have been amassing a list of why they make such great pets, as well as reasons why an individual or family would want a Leopard Gecko as a pet, I saw a quick 2 minute video this morning that showcased many of these points I have already started putting on my list.  Although the video shows setups that I don’t fully endorse as best environments for Leopard Geckos (such as lights as a heat source, etc.), I think the points they made in showcasing the Leopard Gecko as a wonderful pet are great.

I will post a Part II on this topic in the near future.

Enjoy!

Networking for Herpetoculture

Networking.  Its a buzz word that is used all over the place these days.

A definition that Webster includes for networking is, “the exchange of information or services among individuals, groups, or institutions; specifically : the cultivation of productive relationships for employment or business.”

 

So, most people would think of networking for business or employment I suppose.  Really when I consider the term networking, I think of relationships that allow me to learn or build upon what I have already begun.

FAMILY

Today, there are many ways we can connect.  Most of the easiest and most productive connections seem to be made via the internet where information can be freely exchanged at an amazing rate.  There are many forums, boards, groups, and feeds that are specific to a certain group of people who are looking for very specific information.

ramonaSmiling

For the herpetoculturalists, there are more of these groups everyday.  Initially, when I got started with Leopard Geckos and Red-tailed Boas in the early 2000’s, there were few sites dedicated to herpetoculture networking.  Classified pages seemed to be what ate up most of my time on the net those days.  The ones I remember best were Kingsnake.com and Fauna Classifieds.  I also remember some of the bigger breeders at the time having their own websites with the available animals for sale.  VMS Herp was one of the few I actually remember and they gave out valuable information that was not easily accessible at the time.

vista

Toady, you can easily get lost on rabbit trails after finding someone’s Facebook Page that you like, seeing pictures of their animals that they have available for sale, clicking on their link to their website’s AVAILABLE page, then seeing that they have a blog with interesting information about Housing Multiple Leopard Geckos Together, which you have always been curious about since you have one Leopard Gecko and have been considering adding a second.

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Some of my favorite ways to connect with other herpers these days is through groups on Facebook, such as the Gecko Blog Facebook Group, general forums specific to the species I am interested in, such as GeckoForums.net, blogs such as Gecko Time or The Reptile Report, and the newest way I really enjoy is through Instagram.

Blood

Another great way to network is at the Reptile Shows that come to town. Its important to learn about which breeders will be vending and which will be visiting the show.  Then you can contact them and arrange for a time to speak to them face to face at the show or ask what animals they will be vending that you may be particularly interested in acquiring.

Please let me know what ways you like to network, learn, and share information about your herps!  We can network about networking!

Parthenogenesis

Emerine

From Wikipedia:

Parthenogenesis (play /ˌpærθənˈɛnəsɪs/) is a form of asexual reproduction where growth and development of embryos occur without fertilization. In plants, parthenogenesis means development of an embryo from an unfertilized egg cell, and is a component process of apomixis.

(The rest of the wiki article can be read here)

This will just a quick post this morning. It should be very interesting to many of you.  Especially you exotic animal breeders who put in many hours to get male and females in your collection to reproduce.

I read the article in the link below from a link on the National Geographic Facebook wall post this morning.

“Virgin Birth” Seen in Wild Snakes, Even When Males Are Available

“Virgin birth” among animals may not be a rare, last-resort, save-the-species stopgap after all.

For the first time, animal mothers, specifically pit vipers, have been discovered spawning fatherless offspring in the wild. More to the point, the snakes did so even when perfectly good males were around.”

Truthfully I wasn’t really aware that parthenogenesis was even occurring in reptiles.  I thought it occurred in amphibians very very rarely, but today I got schooled, and that is a great thing in this case!

What truly amazed me is that this isn’t seen as a last-resort offspring producing trick.

Now, if I can only figure out how to get my female Leopard Geckos to reproduce without males! 😉

Housing Multiple Leopard Geckos Together

It seems that there are many opinions out in the herpetoculture world on housing leopard geckos together. Some breeders keep all of their geckos housed separately, only putting a breeding pair together for minutes at a time, just long enough for copulation to occur. Others house multiple female geckos together with a male for the entirety of their lives. Its an interesting discussion to have with people who keep multiple leopard geckos and the explanations they have for their opinion on the subject are even more intriguing.


First, the leopard geckos start out as hatchlings. Often, two eggs are laid per clutch and two baby leopard geckos hatch out a few days apart from one another. These geckos were in eggs that were laid at approximately the same time as one another and could potentially be housed together in the same enclosure. There could be many potential benefits from housing them together. Socialization from the beginning is an obvious one. Some geckos who never see another gecko until they are adults and are placed with a gecko of the opposite sex may be very curious and/or defensive/aggressive during the initial introduction. Socialization at an early age could possibly be helpful. Another benefit wouldn’t necessarily be a benefit to the gecko, but one for the keeper. Cleaning, feeding, and maintaining two enclosures is obviously more work than cleaning one. This could benefit the gecko if husbandry tasks are doubled on a large scale and maintenance of the enclosure is put off longer than it would be if there were fewer enclosures to attend to. Housing hatchlings together does have potential costs that would not benefit the geckos nor the keeper however. One such cost would be the possibility of nips. Geckos can bite. At young ages especially, the geckos seem more uncoordinated and easily startled. They sometimes bite each other for whatever reason and tails are sometimes dropped and occasionally, toes get bitten off. This is somewhat rare, but it does happen. Geckos can get infections and die from these injuries, so it is not something to be ignored. Geckos with these types of injuries should be treated for their injuries and isolated to recover as soon as possible. Another cost of housing hatchlings together is the lack of knowledge the keeper would have gained if they were housed separately. Housing them separately, you can see exactly how many insects the individual has eaten, how much it has defecated, you would know which gecko a runny stool came from, etc. When they are housed together, you have to guess at which gecko left you with the evidence you are observing.

Some gecko breeders incubate for female geckos and house them together as long as possible. This has many of the same potential benefits and costs as housing them together as hatchlings, but those same potential costs and benefits are extended for months or years.
Housing adult or subadult males together is not possible. They will fight and no benefit that may be gained in any way would out weigh this cost. Do not house males together.
Many breeders keep groups of breeding age females together. These groups make it convenient to add a male into the group and fertilize multiple females during the period when the male is present. Some breeders keep the male in the enclosure with the 2-4 females for a day, while others keep the male in with the females year-round. There is added stress for all of the geckos while a male is trying to breed with the females, but there is an obvious benefit by having him in with multiple females…he will likely breed with more than one female during that period of time. Again, potential costs associated with keeping multiple geckos together remain largely the same as with hatchlings, but there is one other potential cost that many don’t think about. The male might actually only breed with one or two of the females and not all of them during this time. If the male and each female were introduced in separate enclosures, the likelihood of mating with that female would be much higher since he doesn’t have a choice in which female he will be mating with. Obviously if he is in with a group of females and chooses to continually mate with only one female, she will be stressed much more as well.

I was curious about the opinions of other gecko breeders, so I started a thread on GeckoForums.net. I added a poll where you can vote for whichever scenario you prefer when housing geckos together. Please visit that thread and place your vote for one of the four options. That thread and its poll where you can vote are located here:

http://geckoforums.net/showthread.php?t=89955

Two of my favorite breeders who regularly post videos on youtube house leopard geckos together. Below are a video from each of them.

First is Matt Baronak from SaSobek’s World of Reptiles:

Next is David from David’s Fine Geckos:

I hope you enjoyed this post and found it useful. Please leave a comment if you did and feel free to ask any question you might have. Thanks for reading!

Maintaining and Monitoring Temperature Gradients

One of the most important variables to know about  in a captive leopard gecko’s environment is temperature. More specifically, it is important to maintain and accurately monitor a temperature gradient.
Leos need to have a warm and cool end of their enclosure that allows a gradient where they can warm up, cool down, and find a place in between.

One of the challenges is knowing what the temperature is in each location throughout the enclosure.

Often, keepers of leopard geckos will merely mount a sticky adhesive-backed LCD or analog thermometer to the glass inside the tank on each end.  While this may give you a very vague idea for what the ambient air temperature is on either end of the tank, it does not provide accurate data for the temperatures where the gecko has direct contact with its enclosure.

More accurate temperatures can be acquired by using a digital thermometer with a probe.  Placing one digital thermometer probe in the heated area, such as a hide over top of substrate that is above a UTH (under tank heater) or on top of a rock that serves as a basking site beneath a ceramic heat emitter would give good data on the current warm area temperature where a gecko would directly come in contact with the warmest elements within its enclosure.  Placing another digital thermometer probe in the opposite side of the enclosure, preferably under the hide provided for the gecko on the cool side would also give good data on direct contact areas where the temperature would be lowest in its enclosure.

The most accurate temperatures can be acquired by using a temp gun.

A Temp Gun is a digital infrared “non-contact” thermometer.  They sell these at many locations, from your local hardware/home improvement store to the large chain pet stores.  They typically sell for $20-$60 and are well worth the investment.  I prefer one with a laser pointer and a back light.

With this piece of equipment, you can get temperature readings for any surface in the enclosure, immediately.  You can also check the accuracy of your other thermometers as well as detect areas where there are “thermal leaks” so you can provide insulation/sealing/etc. if need be.  The temp gun is a great piece of equipment, not only checking for the gecko’s environment, but also for checking the human environment.  I have been able to assess and troubleshoot the “thermal leaks” in our house which in turn will lead to us improving our “enclosure” as well.

I hope you find this post useful.  If you do, please share it with others!

Thanks for reading.

Nick

Other posts on this topic:

Student of the Reptile: Have Reptiles? Get a Temperature Gun!