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Am I electable to own a reptile?

Discussion in 'Help *General*' started by rbl, Mar 2, 2005.

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  1. rbl

    rbl MacGyver in real life

    Hi!
    I've been putting a lot of time and effort in the decision making process of owning a reptile.
    My first and most important question is: am I electable to own one?
    I hope you can help me answer that because although I want one very much, I lack all the necessary experience to make a sound decision. Shop keepers want to sell you "the goods" and care not about anything else. Unfortunately there is no reptile specialist dealer in (at least) a 300km radius.
    If I am electable, then I would like to know which species do you consider the most suitable for me.

    My research has taken me to sites like anapsid.org, herper.com, AdCham.com, chameleonsonline.com, etc
    Read some very insightful articles, the latest was Todd's "Guidelines for Responsible Herptile Ownership" right here on HC, and that helped me to put aside some preconceived ideas and to deepen my shallow knowledge about the effort involved in care and keep of each species.

    So, I should begin with the conditions.
    1 - My wife and I live in a 2 bedroom apartment. There is no outside area like a balcony or a veranda. There are no kids or other pets in the household;
    2 - The pet quarters will be in a common space (living room or office);
    3 - Both of us are freelance workers and live each day in a different time zone. This has some implications in our lifestyle. Sometimes we end up sleeping during the day and with the window shades closed, the house remains in darkness for a long period of time, sometimes for a few days in a row. This also affects our ability to provide care at precise time intervals.

    So, if this already puts me off the race, give it to me straight =)
    If not, here's a list of what we would like and expect.

    a - Safe to keep and handle. Bites and scratches come with the territory. Cats and dogs do it all the time but we don't die from it =) So any kind of poisonous, highly aggressive animal should not be recommended.
    b - Some level of sociable behavior. Some species stress with contact and don't like to interact while other species seem to appreciate it. I belong to one of those later species =)

    If you can make any kind of recommendation I would appreciate it.
    Here's some final considerations:

    - No snakes. We are not particularly found of them =)
    - Taking the "cage" size into consideration, I believe we can't keep a pet bigger than 50 or 60cm (2 feet).

    Thanks for your time! =)

    Ricardo
     
  2. Rich

    Rich Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

    Hello,
    Have you considered a leopard gecko? Leopard geckos are nocturnal, and don't mind handling as they mature. If the house is to be in darkness for extended periods of time, you could use a timer to allow a proper photocycle.

    Leopard geckos are most active at night, and their feeding schedule is best acclimated to this. Early evening feedings are recomended.

    If you would like to know more and possibly look into their care, we have a caresheet on them here at the site. It is located here:

    http://www.herpcenter.com/showthread.php?t=2731

    Hope this helps.
     
  3. steel rip

    steel rip Elite Member

    I think someone who puts time and effort into research is electable in my book.

    my partner and I live in a two bedroomed house, and we are currently housing 18 snakes, 8 lizards, 7 Tarantuas, 2 dogs and a parakeet :D

    My partner and I live different time zones too he works nights and sleeps mosly during the day, I do most of the maintenance and feeding of the pets, but it doesnt stop us both enjoying them.


    I would recommend a leopard gecko they are nocturnal and would probable fit around your sleeping arrangements, they dont need any special lighting and are more managable than a bearded or chameleon, they are very nice and come in some nice colors, they also don't take up much space, here is a very good care sheet if you would like to take a look HERE
     
  4. Jay DeMore

    Jay DeMore Elite Member

    I would have said bearded dragons, but with the limitedcage size Rich is correct in suggestion leopard geckos.
     
  5. kenman1963

    kenman1963 Moderator

    I agree on the Leopard gecko also. It was my 8 year olds "starter" reptile and he has done a great job in raising him. A perfect first reptile.
     
  6. rbl

    rbl MacGyver in real life

    Thanks Rich (and everyone else)! I'm reading the caresheet and it looks promising.

    I'm a bit concerned that they would be very hard to find here in Portugal (never seen one in stores) and worse than that, finding a veterinary qualified to handle them.

    I would like to clarify that my main concern when I posted about the house being in darkness sometimes for a few days in a row, is that a lot of species will suffer without a natural light night-day cycle and eventually get ill from lack of direct sunshine.
    But that happens on occasion, it's not my everyday situation.


    Seems that everyone's opinions divide between a bearded dragon and a leopard gecko and the decisive factor appears to be the cage size, like Jay and Ken stated.
    I've seen bearded dragons in shops quite a few times before so they are not hard to find.
    Beside the cage size, is there anything else that doesn't "fit the bill"? Maybe I can make a few changes to fit a bigger cage.

    I wish it was as simple as that, then I could have an iguana =)

    Thanks for your comparison, Donna. Seems that after all it won't be as difficult as I initially thought but I'm making new assumptions everyday and finding out that the assumptions from the day before were wrong =)
     
  7. kenman1963

    kenman1963 Moderator

    beardies require UVb lighting, Leos do not. You can set the light up on a timer so the room being dark for days at a time would not be a concern
     
  8. Merlin

    Merlin Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

    I agree. Within your stipulations a leopard gecko would be right along your needs. The tank size works. They are a good first lizard. They do not require specialized lighting and a simple table light on a timer will give them the light dark cycle that they need. They are not difficult to feed as they take crickets which are readily available.
    All reptiles will suffer without a proper day night cycle.

    The bearded dragon is a wonderful lizard but as said they require a laarger cage and specialized lighting to remain healthy. Those bulbs aren't cheap.
     
  9. rbl

    rbl MacGyver in real life

    Oh =( until Merlin's post I wasn't understanding the size issue, now I see what the problem was and it's corrected. Sorry folks, my bad!
    What I meant was "Taking the cage size into consideration, I believe we can't keep a pet bigger than 50 or 60cm (2 feet)."

    Misunderstandings apart, I agree with your opinion. Leopard gecko (LG) seems less prone to health problems than a bearded dragon (BD), which is a must for a beginner like myself.

    My wife is leaning heavily towards a BD, due to their highly sociable and docile nature and also the partial vegan diet. I should also add that she has a strong "yuck" feeling against insects, worms and (I quote) "whatever yuckier things a LG eats" =)

    About the cage/vivarium.
    In case we opt for a LG, I have a nice spot in the living room but I'm not very certain about cage sizes. I was thinking about 110cm (43") long and 30cm (11.8") deep. What should be the minimum height?
     
  10. furryscaly

    furryscaly Elite Member

    I agree with a leopard gecko too. A great beginner species, and they seem best suited for your conditions. With all your timezone changes though, make sure to try and maintain a consistant photoperiod, or if you're in one timezone for an extended period of time, you could gradually shift the photoperiod a little each day until it better matches your sleep cycle.
     
  11. Bill Yager

    Bill Yager Active Member

    Hi RBL,

    I have been following this thread and would agree about the leopard geckos however has anyone suggested a Crested Gecko?

    I was just at a reptile expo and saw many of these crested geckos and have been thinking of getting one for my daughter as a first reptile. They seem to share simular attributes with the leo's. but may be even easier to care for than leo's. just an idea that I have been studying.

    Any thoughts this way, by the many experts here at HC.

    Bill
     
  12. furryscaly

    furryscaly Elite Member

    Although they aren't a bad beginner species, I'd never go as far to say that they're easier than the leos. Cresties need forest conditions. Plants, higher humidity, plus they can climb glass, making them better escape artist. Leos are an arid species, so you don't have to work to keep the humidity up. Not much decor is needed, and paper towels will do as a substrate. They can't climb too well either.
     
  13. samantha

    samantha Elite Member

    hm... my first reptile was a turtle, so i would naturally say a turtle was easiest for me, then i went to an iguana also easy for me....so i think i stareted in the middle not at the beginning., and animal 2ft.long is going to aquire probably at least 6-8ft. long, enclosure, with enough wodth for them to comfortably move around also so width at about 3 ft. that almos a whole wall there, i would do it..l.jsut because i can sleep in a corner for all i care just as long as i have my herps...lol , but by your status i will suggest the following in order.

    leopard gecko is as follows. you take this information and decide if it fits or not,,,,id like to have a few.
    one leopard gecko per ten gallon tank, height is not important as is length. if you want to house more than one, say 2, 20gal. tank 3, 30 gal.tank. you cannot house more than one male in a tank....by this i mean you cant put two males together as they will fight, however you can give one male as many females as you would like, females live harmoniously, males dont. a 20 gal. long tank can house 3 comfortably. they can live in that enclosure throughout their lives, which by the way is 20-25 yrs.
    substrate, as in the floor...they recommend repti carpet, or fine grained sand, also paper towels. i have tried all those and prefer by far to use siol, not chunky fine siol, just plain garden peat is fine too. {a tiny tip....use live plants, and put about 5 worms in every ten gal. ...they will live in the siol and break down wasted crix, or missed pieces of poopie, keeping your tank fairly clean,} but do not leave waste in that can be avioded, i like it this way because i do not have to woryy, i get wha ti find and every couple weeks i turn the siol....stir it and break it up fine again than put the plants ect.. back, works wel for me. repticarpet is rough and a soft skinned lizard is not going to like it and t oculd rub their lil tummies raw.
    water, needs to be changed regularly, not a deep dish that your gecko has to swim in but enough for him to sit it and relax. a dish of calcium powder, they will eat it directly unlike most other reptiles. and at least one place to hide for each gecko, they need a safe place for when they get to stressed.
    temperature should be about 75 i would think, not to hot not to cold.it is recommended you have one side at about 80 -85 and the other room temperature, but i dont see that is necessary for the lil guy unless your house temp is too low then he will need a heat source, not a heat rock though they can hurt them.
    this is something i found online i will paste here for you, i cant keep reading and telling so ill just paste it ok...lol.
    also need a humid hide to aid in shedding, which should be placed on the warm side of the tank. These can be made quite easily using a tupperware container with a hole cut in the side, and then partially filled with moss, vermiculite, paper towel, or something similar. It should then be wet down until it is damp, but not super wet (as this can cause mold & bacteria to develop), and kept this way by a regular wetting down of whatever material you choose to put in the hide (once every 1-2 days is usually ok). Do NOT mist your leopard gecko's tank! Leopard geckos are desert dwellers, and the higher general humidity caused by misting will stress them out, and can lead to them getting sick.

    Fake, or real plants can be added for decoration -- if you choose real plants, please only pick ones such as non-spiny cactii or succulents that will not raise the humidity in your tank, as they only need to be watered very sparingly. Tropical house plants make poor choices, as they require frequent watering, and do not do well in the higher temperature of a leopard gecko enclosure.

    Your leopard gecko's home should be cleaned out approximately every week. They like to make cleanup easy for you, so they poop in one spot in the tank! So, clean out any poop at least once a week -- change the papertowels or newspaper if you're using a disposable substrate, if you're using sand, sift it to remove any large particles of waste -- make sure that the water dish is thoroughly washed & rinsed, and put back in the tank -- dispose of any dirty calcium in the calcium dish, and replace it with fresh stuff -- and rinse off any tank decorations that are looking a bit dirty.



    Feeding

    Leopard geckos are insectivores, so their staple diet should consist of insects such as appropriately sized crickets & mealworms. Waxworms, silkworms, superworms, and pinky mice may be offered as treats, but should not make up very much of their diet, as these food items aren't very nutritious, and can be quite high in fat content. What many people do is feed a diet of crickets, and in addition have a small dish of mealworms available in the enclosure at all times in case their gecko is feeling hungry outside of feeding time.

    For young leopard geckos who are still growing, their food should be dusted with calcium & vitamin supplements at every feeding. Once your gecko is grown, you can cut back to dusting a couple of times a week. Also, young leopard geckos should be fed every day, while an adult can be fed every 2-3 days. You will probably find that your gecko will eat around 5-8 items per feeding -- more or less is ok, just try to remove any uneaten crickets after around 15-30 minutes, as they may try to nibble on your gecko, and this can be quite stressful! Once you get to know your gecko better, you will know its feeding habits and have a fairly good idea of how many crickets to put in at each feeding.



    Handling

    Leopard geckos don't mind being handled in general, but they don't like to be handled a lot. A few minutes every day is fine with them though. They should be handled gently, with care taken not to grab them by the tail, as this will cause them to drop it. The tail will grow back, but it will often look misshapen, and much more bulbous than the old tail. If possible, instead of picking your leopard gecko up from above, try to get them to walk onto your hand -- when they are grabbed from above it can be quite stressful for them (especially babies), as this feels exactly like being grabbed by a predator to them. Once they're on your hand, just let them walk over it, and keep putting one hand in front of the other if needed. Leopard geckos have no sense of height, so it's quite possible for them to walk right off of your hand and fall to the ground and injure themselves. Young leopard geckos can be quite skittish when handled, but once they grow older, they tend to be quite calm, and will walk slowly over your hands.



    beardie, i dont know i think they are fairly easy to carer for, btu they do require special lighting, and eat mroe too...lol i think a leopard gecko would be your best chioce, then a beardie after you get mroe of the hang about herps.
     
  14. rbl

    rbl MacGyver in real life

    Thanks Samantha! Very nice tips! =)

    I thought repti-carpet was soft, at least soft enough for most reptiles. I will have to "try it" first =)
     
  15. samantha

    samantha Elite Member

    your welcome, glad to be of some help!
     
  16. Rich

    Rich Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

    Hello,
    A full caresheet can be found here: Leopard Geckos .

    The reason I am responding for a second time in this thread is to point out some things that Samantha has written that I do not agree with, and want to clarify.

    The first is the substrate. Please read the following and base your substrate choice accordingly off of this information.

    All of the latest literature already states that impaction is a risk when particulate substrates are in use. They then go on to state that impaction is normally a direct result of the Leopard Gecko seeking out nutrients that it is lacking from its diet. So to correct the imbalance, they eat the substrate. This is what leads to impaction. They also state that if a leo is given access to calcium, provided in a shallow dish, that impaction is LESS likely to occur. I will agree with that. Notice that none of the literature says that impaction will not occur if.......

    The reason that no one can state that impaction will not occur is because that would be a falsehood. Placing a leo on a particulate substrate is literally a risk. If the odds are that 1 in 1000 leos will subdue to an impaction as a direct result of being placed on a particulate substrate, how does anyone know that THEY are not that 1? They don't. So by doing so, they are gambling with the leos life.

    I keep and breed leopard geckos and have been doing so for roughly 6-8 years now. I started out with the literature that was on the shelves, and I used all sorts of different particulate substrates that were suggested. That is, until I lost my first leopard gecko to impaction. I figured that the odds were stacked in my favor, and since it was made out that impaction was not all that common, I took that risk and I lost.

    Here is the kicker. I had a shallow dish of calcium in the enclosure. I dusted my crickets with vitamins. The leo always had clean water, plenty of hides, a moist chamber, but she still got impacted and died.

    The impaction that claimed this leo was not a direct result of seeking out nutrients. It was a result of the leo ingesting the substrate, over a period of time, with a slow accumulation transpiring. By the time I noticed that something was wrong, I was too late to do anything about it.

    So for the record, if you or anyone decides that they want to use a particulate substrate with their leos, you are playing Russian Roulette.

    Another quick thing to note are those that state that they have been using sand, soil, etc. for X amount of years with no problems. At the end of that statement, they should have added "yet." A chronic impaction is the slow accumulation of substrate or a foreign object, and can take years to accumulate to the point of impaction. If it hasn't happened for ten years, it doesn't mean that in the eleventh year it won't or hasn't. At that point though, people think the leo died of old age and nothing more. However, that isn't the case. The current record for a male was 28 years at the San Diego Zoo. If your leo dies before it is 20 years old, it WASN'T from old age.
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------​

    With that said, I just want to add that not all females can be housed together. While the majority will, some females will not interact well together.
    If anyone plans on housing more than one leopard gecko together, they should have an additional setup on standby in case the leos are not "friendly" with one another. (Also, many people try and sex their leos prematurely resulting in 2 males being purchased, when the buyer believed they had 2 females. This happens a great deal with new breeders.)
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------​

    What is this?
    Not only is this misleading, but it is inaccurate and dangerous to suggest.
    The first rule, we never guess! Either we post accurate, factual information to new owners, or we don't post and we wait for someone with experience to answer the questions. We never guess though. "Guessing" and "I thinks" are what cause posts that start with "Oh no!" Refrain from guessing.

    Use this as the guidelines for heating:

    If anyone wants to contest the heating that I am suggesting, feel free as I am the author of the caresheet found on this site.
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------​

    Repti carpet and indoor/outdoor carpet are 2 different things. The reason I am pointing this out is because the above quote would pertain to indoor/outdoor carpet, and not repticarpet. Repticarpet is not rough. However, if it is used, the outside edges should be melted to prevent the leo from getting his digits caught in the frayed edges. You should also purchase 2 carpets, so while one is being cleaned, the other can be used. Monitor the carpet for fayed pieces coming up over extended periods of time as well. If you notice a large accumulation of frayed edges, you will need to replace the carpet completely.
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------​

    Leopard geckos require a shallow dish of water not to sit in, but so they don't drown. They are not swimmers. If your leo is sitting in its water dish, you have just received your first sign that the leo may have the beginning stages of an impaction,constipation, or the enclosure is too hot and they are trying to thermoregulate. That is the only time that a leo will be observed resting in a water dish.(That would be classified as an abnormal behavior with leopard geckos.)
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------​
    That should actually read at least 3 hides per gecko if you follow any advice from her post. A single leo requires a warm hide, cool hide, and a moist hide. For multiple leos in a single enclosure, 2 warm hides, a cool hide and a moist hide would suffice.
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------​

    Silkworms are one of the best feeder insects that can be offered. Superworms, for adult leopard geckos, are better than mealworms as they have less chitin and are far easier to digest. Though I looked, I couldn't find the nutritional values of these insects though I do know that a chart is out there. Maybe another member could locate, or know where, this list is located.
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------​

    Well, hopefully the noted corrections reach someone. Please be aware of where you gather your information and from whom. It is far to easy to find inaccurate information regarding reptiles on the net.
     
  17. Jay DeMore

    Jay DeMore Elite Member

    Ask and you shall receive.
    FOOD %PROT %FAT %Ca %Phos KCAL/gm
    Insects
    mealworm 22.3 14.9 .26 .23 2.74
    cricket 55.3 30.2 .23 .74 unk
    silkworm 64.7 20.8 .21 .54 5.74
    Silkworms are by far a better choice.
    The copy and paste didn't work out so well, I have a complete list I can email to anyone who wants it. Just email me at jaysreptiles@comcast.net with a request.
     
  18. rbl

    rbl MacGyver in real life

    I've owned dogs all my life until I left my parents' house. I've seen what their gnawing habits can do to their stomachs when they are allowed to chew rubber and plastic objects. I'm not going that way again, for sure!
    I had my mind set on repti-carpet and repti-carpet will be unless Samantha is right about the roughness. Rich says is not rough. Maybe it's depends on the carpet brand. I will double check it at the store.

    Humm... I wasn't counting with that. I have to rethink my terrarium. I was planing to use the same modular approach I used when I bred hamsters.
    Do they enjoy the company of each others or is it indifferent for them?

    I thought it dried quickly (not longer than an afternoon) and newspaper could be used in the meanwhile. If it takes longer, I'll take your advice into consideration.

    Hides are one of the most complicated things for me to understand. The concept is simple but not always explained "black on white" like that.
    I thought the moist hide should only be added to the terrarium as soon as shedding signs were visible. Seems I was wrong...
    Leos sleep in the warm or in the cool hide? I was thinking about buying one of those (Hagen's) Exo-Terra Reptile Dens but they are insulated to keep it cool. Has anyone used one of these?

    I must have a journalist gene. I cross-check facts all the times! =)
     
  19. kenman1963

    kenman1963 Moderator

    Cross checking the facts is the best thing to do,,,just make sure they are in fact "facts". The caresheet info here is first rate and factual. As far as hides go, we have 2 female leos in 1 tank, we have 2 small hides and 1 large moist hide on the warm side, and one very large hide on the cool side. this allows them to determine what temp is best for that particular time. It is usually best to have even more on each end for multiple leos but ours are sisters that seem stressed when apart so we have been fine with the setup as is.
     
  20. Jay DeMore

    Jay DeMore Elite Member

    The reason you need two pieces of repticarpet is so you can soak it in a 5% bleach solution overnight to properly disinfect it. It does dry out rather quickly.
     
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