Reptile Blog: Crested Geckos

Crested Gecko

Crested geckos are delicate but very friendly pets, and are considered some of the easiest for families to look after thanks to their fascinating natural activities. To make sure you have all the information you need to look after your crested gecko, we’ve put together a guide to day-to-day care as well as first aid and even exercise – allowing you to get to know your pet healthily and quickly. If you have any questions about taking care of crested geckos, simply come into PetSaver, where a team member will be able to answer any queries you might have.

Are crested geckos the right pet for you?

Crested geckos as pets

Crested geckos are relatively easy lizards to look after, and make great pets for older children and adults. Smaller geckos can be very delicate, so younger children must be supervised when handling them. In fact, rough handling can sometimes cause a gecko to shed its tail which it would do naturally in the wild if attacked by a predator. If this happens, the tail will not grow back. Fortunately this is rare, and once your gecko has become accustomed to you they can enjoy being handled.

Crested geckos can live up to 14 years. They do not get too big, with a maximum size of 17cm to 20cm.They are ideal for people who do not want to feed live food as they can be kept on powdered foods mixed with water or suitable pureed fruit. These lizards are nocturnal, which means that they are active during the night, or when the vivarium lights are switched off. They can sometimes be quite noisy moving through foliage late at night. Males can also sometimes make a quacking or squeaking noise, especially if they are courting a female, so may not be suitable for a bedroom. They are very variable in their colour forms and crest development. Some common colour forms or ‘morphs’ include buckskin, pinstripe, dalmatian and flame.

Do I like company?

Crested geckos do not have the same needs for company as most mammals, so are happily kept on their own. It is usually not possible to sex crested geckos when they are very small. Older juvenile males can be sexed by looking for a row of pores along the underside of the gecko, just above the vent and along the thighs. Some geckos can take longer to develop these pores than others, although sexing from 8-12 months is usually easy. When they mature, adult males will fight and will need to be separated. Females will usually live happily together in a very spacious vivarium.

Creating a home for your crested gecko

Crested geckos originate from the forests on the island of New Caledonia, situated between Australia and Fiji. Like most reptiles, they are normally housed in an enclosed cage with glass doors known as a vivarium. Crested geckos have specific requirements, therefore it is essential that the environment within the vivarium is controlled precisely and monitored continuously. They also need plenty of places to hide whilst the vivarium or room lighting is on.

As they are tree-dwelling (arboreal) lizards, they need a tall vivarium, 45-65cm high as a minimum, along with plenty of suitable décor such as leafy plants which they can climb onto. As they spend most of their time off the floor, this area is less important but should be at least 30 x 30cm. Being nocturnal it is generally accepted that they do not have the same lighting requirements as many reptiles which are active during the day (diurnal). However, it can be beneficial for them to have to have 12-14 hours of either artificial or natural light each day.

Heat is not usually an important part of keeping a crested gecko and many keepers do not use additional heating as they are happiest between 20-26◦C. A heat mat could be used to maintain a stable temperature, and this should always be linked to the correct thermostat. Temperatures over 28◦C can be harmful to crested geckos, so you may need to relocate the vivarium to a cooler part of your house.

Humidity is very important for crested geckos and the vivarium should be maintained at 60% – 80% RH (Relative Humidity). This can be achieved by spraying the vivarium liberally with water in the evening. These geckos prefer to lick droplets from leaves rather than drinking from a bowl.

Lighting from above is desirable but not essential. An ideal set up will have lights creating a distinct day and night regime. At night a blue or red night light can allow you to watch your geckos as they investigate their environment and look for food. Blue or red LED lights are ideal as they do not add any additional heat to the vivariums and are low cost to run.

You can make the vivarium look very attractive and can have a place in any room. A substrate of coco fibre or orchid bark is ideal on the base with branches, stones, rocks and other décor to provide an interesting habitat. As they are arboreal they love to climb, so require branches, vines and artificial plants. You will need to provide areas of shelter where the lizards can hide and feel secure, cork bark is ideal for this. Artificial ornaments and plants are preferred by many as they are easy to clean.

Feeding your crested gecko

Crested geckos are easy to feed as there are commercially produced dry food which only needs to be mixed with water or suitable pureed fruit. This should be their main source of food, as it is complete and no further supplements are needed. As a guide feed the powder diet every day, when the main lights in the vivarium or room are switched off.

Live foods such as crickets, small locusts and waxworms can also be given 2-3 times each week. Try and avoid feeding the same sorts of insects and try and vary their diet. Geckos will also eat wax moths if the waxworms pupate and hatch. Any insect given to your gecko will be eaten whole, so as a general rule avoid any insects that are bigger than the distance between your lizard’s eyes. Insect food should also be in good condition and fed well. There are several foods available for insects that ensure they are nutritious and ‘gut loaded’. It is essential to regularly, dust the insects with good quality vitamin and calcium supplements. Crested geckos have calcium sacs in the top of their mouths, which should appear white when they open their mouths. Please ensure that any uneaten insects are removed from the vivarium the next day.

Any insect given to your gecko will be eaten whole, so as a general rule avoid any insects that are bigger than the distance between your lizard’s eyes.

You can use fruit purees (such as mango or pear) with added vitamin and mineral supplements, but before you do this please research this thoroughly.

Caring for your crested gecko

How to handle me

Once your crested gecko gets to know you, they do not mind being handled. They do not usually bite and cannot scratch. If they are frightened, they will try and struggle out of your hands but are at more risk from you dropping them or hurting them.

Gentle handling of juveniles is essential, but baby geckos are very delicate so children must always be supervised. Hold your gecko around their shoulders gently but firmly. When they are lifted up, support the weight of their body with your other hand. They will usually try jumping from hand to hand or onto your body! They are very good jumpers so handling always needs to be done very carefully.

Rough handling can sometimes cause the gecko to shed its tail, just like it would in the wild if attacked by a predator. This is rare and unlike many other lizards, the tail will not grow back.

Keeping me clean

If they are looked after properly, crested geckos do not have an odour. Food and water dishes should ideally be washed daily. Their powder diet can quickly dry out or spoil, so regularly change their food every 24 – 36 hours, and always remove any uneaten insects.

Their faeces are similar to bird droppings and should be removed when they are seen. If their home and décor is spot cleaned regularly, they do not need to be cleaned out as often as small animals. Although, it is a good idea to empty and disinfect their home thoroughly once a month, using a reptile-safe disinfectant.

Health and hygiene

Always wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water immediately after feeding or handling your crested gecko. Also wash after contact with any of their equipment. Always supervise children to ensure they do not put the crested gecko, (or objects that the crested gecko has been in contact with) near their mouths. Ensure children wash their hands thoroughly with soap and water immediately after handling the pet. Do not kiss your crested gecko.

Keeping your crested gecko fit and healthy

As long as they are given the correct food, environment, care and attention, crested geckos are normally problem-free.

A healthy crested gecko will be bright eyed, alert and be active searching for food during the night.Personal hygiene is important when handling reptiles, as it is with all other types of pets. Owners should wash their hands after contact with their gecko and pet food dishes need to be washed separately.

Did you know insurance against unexpected veterinary costs is available for crested geckos in just the same way as it is for cats and dogs!

It is natural for all lizards to shed their skin which comes off in small pieces rather than all in one like a snake.

All vets have a basic understanding of reptiles but those with a specialist interest are worth seeking out. If your pet shows any signs of being unwell contact your vet as soon as possible.

Reptile Blog: Leopard Gecko

Leopard Gecko

Leopard geckos are one of the easiest lizards to keep, making them ideal pets for anybody new to reptile care. Popular for their beautiful mottled skin and docile nature, they don’t need as much space as many other lizards and can live for 20 years or more.

Leopard geckos as pets

Leopard geckos are considered one of the easiest lizards to keep and make great pets for older children and adults. Essentially, they live on the ground and although they can climb, their ability is limited. Being nocturnal, they become most active when the vivarium lights are turned of f in the evening. Smaller geckos can be delicate, so younger children must be super vised when handling them. However, once they get to know you they are easy to handle. Leopard geckos can live for about 20 years or more. They do not need a great deal of space, and their needs can be met ver y easily in any modern home. If cared for properly, they can grow between 20 to 25cm.

Do I like company?

Leopard geckos do not have the same needs for company as mammals, and will be happy living on their own. It is usually difficult to sex them when they are small. Adult males will fight and will need to be separated, whereas females will live happily together with or without a single male. A male with one or two females will form a natural social group if they have enough space, although breeding is almost inevitable. Leopard geckos lay eggs which need to be incubated at the correct temperature and when hatched these need to be raised away from their parents for several weeks before they are allowed to go to new homes. It is important to note that it is often very difficult to find homes for babies.

Creating a home for your leopard gecko

Where do I like to live?

Leopard geckos originally came from hot dry areas in India. They hide underground for the hottest part of the day and become active at night. Like most reptiles they are normally housed in an enclosed cage with glass doors called a vivarium. This needs to be monitored carefully to ensure that the environment is correct and has plenty of hiding places so the gecko can rest whilst the vivarium light is on.

Being nocturnal means they are not felt to need the same special lighting requirements as many desert reptiles. Some keepers feel that low levels of UV lighting is beneficial during the day to create a natural day and night regime. Heat however, is very important and can be provided by a heat rock or heat mat. It is very impor tant that if a mat is used, this covers less than 50% of the total floor area. Your geckos can then choose an area in their enclosure that they feel most comfor table in, and do not over heat. There should be areas in the vivarium where the temperature is about 30ºC, with cooler areas that can fall to about 20ºC at night.

Lighting from above is desirable but not essential. An ideal set up will have light creating a distinct day and night regime. At night a blue or red ‘night light’ can allow you to watch your geckos as they investigate their environment and look for food. This can be provided by incandescent lighting or using LED lights that are available for aquariums.

A Leopard gecko vivarium be made to look very attractive and has a place in any room. A substrate of sand can be used on the base for adults with stones, rocks and other décor to provide an interesting habitat. As baby gecko’s can sometimes eat sand by mistake, an artificial substrate like reptile carpet is recommended; many keepers prefer this as a more hygienic option for adults as well. Artificial ornaments and plants are also easier to clean than natural ones so less likely to harbour bugs. There should also be areas of shelter where the lizards can hide and feel secure. There should also be at least one hiding place for each gecko, ideally more, and these should be available in both the warm and cooler areas of the vivarium. Without access to hiding places, your pets will feel much more nervous.

Feeding your leopard gecko

What do I like to eat?

Leopard geckos are easy to feed, as they only eat insects. Try to avoid feeding the same insects all the time, and vary their diet between crickets, small locusts, waxworms and mealworms and waxworms should be fed in moderation.

The insects that you feed your gecko should also be in good condition and fed well in advance of being given to your geckos. There are several foods available for insects that ensure they are nutritious and ‘gut loaded’. At least once a week, dust the insects with a good quality vitamin supplement. Feed in the evening when your gecko will be more active, with mealworms fed in a dish to stop them escaping. Providing a small dish of calcium powder can be beneficial to a gecko, as it ensures healthy growth and bone development.

As a guide feed juveniles every other day, whereas adults should be fed every two or three days.

Although they don’t drink water as often as other animals, fresh water should be available at all times in a small bowl. Spraying babies with water is also useful until they learn to visit the water bowl. They will drink the small droplets in just the same way as they would drink morning dew in the wild.

Caring for your leopard gecko

How to handle me

Once leopard geckos get to know their owner, they do not mind being handled. They rarely bite or scratch but they will struggle if they are frightened. They are more at risk from you dropping or hurting them, than you are from them. Gentle, regular handling of juveniles is essential, although baby geckos are delicate so children must always be super vised. Hold your pets around their shoulders gently, but firmly. When they are lifted you should support the weight of their body with your other hand.

Keeping me clean

Leopard geckos do not have an odour if they are looked after properly. Always ensure they have eaten the food they have been given, before providing any more. Get to know your pet’s diet, as giving them more than they can eat can present problems. Food and water dishes should ideally be washed daily.

Their droppings are small and dry and should be removed as soon as you notice them. They do not produce urine, so if their home is spot cleaned regularly, it will not need to be cleaned as often as a small animal home. It is a good idea to empty and disinfect their home regularly, using a reptile-safe disinfectant but under normal circumstances you will only need to do this once a month.

Health & Hygiene

Always wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water immediately after feeding or handling your leopard gecko. Also wash after contact with any of their equipment. Always supervise children to ensure they do not put the leopard gecko, (or objects that the leopard gecko has been in contact with) near their mouths. Ensure children wash their hands thoroughly with soap and water immediately after handling the pet. Do not kiss your leopard gecko.

Keeping your leopard gecko fit and healthy

Keeping me fit and healthy

As long as they are given the correct food, care, attention and environment, leopard geckos are normally problem free. Providing heat, food and vitamins are the most important aspects of their care if long-term problems are to be avoided.

A healthy leopard gecko will be bright eyed, have a fat tail, strong legs, and will be active in searching for food during the night.

In the past, it has been suggested that reptiles can carry diseases that can infect humans. This is true for all animals including dogs and cats and this is no higher with well cared for reptiles. Personal hygiene is as important for reptiles as it is with all other types of pets. Pet owners should always wash their hands after contact and pet food dishes should be washed separately.

It is natural for all lizards to shed their skin which comes off in small pieces rather than all in one like snakes, it is often eaten so is not normally seen. To help them shed their skin, it sometimes helps for them to have access to a damp area. This can be provided in a hide with damp moss which will help them shed the old skin. This is particularly important if you see skin stuck around eyes or feet.

All vets have a basic understanding of reptiles, but those with a specialist interest are worth seeking out. If your pet shows any signs of being unwell contact your vet as soon as possible.

Small Animal Blog: Five Popular Small Pets!

Five Popular Small Pets

Red betta

By

Small Pets Breeder

There are so many wonderful small pets that it can be difficult to choose just one, but since they don’t require a lot of space, perhaps you don’t have limit yourself to a single pet. Take a look at some of the most popular pets from different branches of the animal kingdom, and find out what makes them so popular, as well as any drawbacks you should be aware of before bringing one home.

Bettas

Bettas, also known as Siamese fighting fish, are fascinating fish long admired for their beautiful fins and coloring. These fish have been available as pets for decades, and you’ll find them in pet shops, aquarium stores, and even in the pet supply section of stores like Walmart and Meijer’s. They come in a rainbow of colors, and there are different types of fins, too, including veils, crown tails and double tails to mention a few.

Why They’re Popular

When two bettas see each other, they fan out their gorgeous fins and gills, and put on quite a display. They shimmy furiously as they try to intimidate each other into retreating, and this is really an amazing sight to see.

Aside from being popular for their beauty, bettas are also relatively easy to care for. Unlike fish that need filtered aquariums, bettas can survive quite nicely in large fish bowls. That’s because they are equipped with two ways of breathing – their gills and their labyrinth, an organ located just behind the top of their heads.

You still need to clean their bowls and change their water twice a week, but this is a relatively easy task, especially if you keep a second bowl ready to transfer the betta into so you can clean his previous home.

Potential Drawbacks

  1. You can only keep one betta to a bowl, so you’ll have to maintain multiple bowls if you want to keep more than one.
  2. Males are especially territorial and will fight and tear each other’s fins to shreds if they have to share the same space. One may even kill the other.
  3. Bettas are jumpers. Unless you cover their bowls with some type of lid, they can jump out and wind up dying before you find them.

Guinea Pigs

Peruvian Guinea pig

Many small rodents and similar animals are kept as pets, and Guinea pigs make some of the best pets of all. The adorable creatures originally come from South America, but they have been completely domesticated for the pet trade.

Why They’re Popular

Unlike hamsters, mice and rats, Guinea pigs have almost no tendency to bite you. You literally have to stick a finger in their mouths to get even a nibble. Their personality is almost equal to a dog’s in that they’ll readily come to you for affection once they get to know you. They will also whistle at you in excitement when you approach their habitat.

Guinea pigs are also popular because there are so many breeds to choose from. For example, Americans have a short, glossy coat that requires practically no care on your part. Peruvians have long coats that grow in a series of rosettes. Silkies also have long coats that grow straight or with a slight wave. Other breeds have wiry or curly coats, and some mutated specimens within a particular breed may have almost no fur at all. Beyond that, these beautiful animals come in many colors and coat patterns. There’s a look to please just about anyone.

Potential Drawbacks

  1. Unfortunately, Guinea pigs are susceptible to breathing problems, so you have to make sure their habitats are well ventilated without being drafty.
  2. Although they do tend to choose one spot for the majority of their eliminations, they will still soil around their entire living quarters.
  3. They can also be quite messy and kick their litter and stools into their food and water bowls, as well as outside their cage. You need to choose a cage that has a deep litter tray, and use a water bottle with a drinking tube rather than an open bowl.
  4. You’ll need to clean the cage thoroughly once a week to keep the litter fresh and dry or else it will develop a strong urine odor.
  5. Long haired Guinea pigs also require regular grooming to keep their coats in good condition. This includes daily brushing, a bi-weekly bath, and the occasional trim.

Leopard Geckos

Leopard gecko

Leopard geckos are named for their beautiful pattern of dark spots that overlay their golden-tan skin. According to the Gecko Club, there are also a number of amazing color morphs available. These reptiles remain fairly small as adults, and grow about 11 inches long on average.

Why They’re Popular

Unlike some other popular lizards, such as iguanas and chameleons, geckos require less living space. A ten-gallon aquarium is sufficient for single pet, although bigger is still better. In addition to their attractive exteriors, they are also fairly laid back and easy to handle if you accustom them to it from the time they are young.

Potential Drawbacks

Owning a gecko is fun, but it’s also a lot of work. Drawbacks include:

1. Geckos require some specific conditions in their habitat to keep them healthy. This means more work on your part, in addition to regularly cleaning their habitat.

  • You need to provide gradient heat so they have areas to warm themselves or cool off as needed.
  • They are nocturnal and bright lights stress them. You need to provide hiding places that will keep you from viewing them whenever you want.
  • Geckos need higher humidity when they are shedding, so you need to provide a moist hiding place, and you may even need to help remove some of the old skin if they don’t do it themselves.

2. Their tails will fall off if they’re injured. They’ll grow back, but they’re usually stubbier than their original tails.

3. Two males living together will usually wind up fighting when they reach sexual maturity. It can be difficult to sex these lizards until they’re around three to four months old, so if you decide you want two juveniles, you could wind up with two males and need to rehome one.

4. Geckos need live food like crickets, so you’ll need to make frequent trips to the pet supply store.

5. Perhaps the most important drawback of all, these lizards can carry salmonella. You need to wash your hands every time you handle them or touch things inside their habitat.

Red-eared Slider Turtles

Gorgeous red eared slider turtle

Red-eared sliders are semi-aquatic turtles. Their striking appearance and relatively mild temperament makes them a good choice for a pet.

Why They’re Popular

Red-eared sliders are prized for their beautiful striped skin and red ear color, as well as their playful personalities. They seem to be more interested in their human caregivers than many other turtle species, and since they are so active, they’re very entertaining to watch.

Potential Drawbacks

  1. It takes a lot of equipment to maintain a large, healthy habitat for these turtles. The initial cost of setting up is expensive, and you’ll need to purchase even bigger tanks as your pet grows.
  2. Sliders foul their water very quickly, so you have to break down the entire tank once a week, clean it, and replace all the water.
  3. Usually mild, sliders can become aggressive at feeding time, and they can bite you if they feel threatened.
  4. These turtles, like most reptiles and amphibians, tend to carry salmonella.

Netherlands Dwarf Rabbits

Netherland Dwarf kit

Rabbits have always been popular pets, but Netherland Dwarf rabbits are one of the most popular breeds of all. They typically only weigh about two pounds as adults.

Why They’re Popular

Obviously adorable to look at, Netherlands retain the look of baby rabbits even as adults, so their cute factor never fades. They also have fairly calm personalities that make them easier to keep than some other breeds. They are friendly, and they’re so intelligent that you can train them to use a litter box.

These rabbits are widely available at pet supply stores, and you can usually purchase them for around $20.00 in most cases. They come in many colors, so you can choose the color you like best.

Potential Drawbacks

  1. Netherland Dwarf rabbits are known for having dental problems, so you could wind up with more veterinary costs than you originally anticipated.
  2. They are also quite sensitive to temperature changes, so they’re not as hardy as many other rabbit breeds, and you definitely want to keep them indoors.
  3. Males may become a bit aggressive as they grow older, especially if they feel threatened.
  4. Like all rabbits, they poop a lot. This means a lot of cleanup work for you.

Found Your Favorite Yet?

Hopefully, one of the pets mentioned here has sparked your interest and inspired you to explore it further. If not, there’s no shortage of small pets to investigate. A quick look at your local pet supply store will give you even more ideas about what’s available. Just make sure you do your research before you make a purchase. That way you’ll know what to expect from your pet, and you’ll know how to care for it and keep it healthy.