Prose and Controversies: Geckos’ Needs/Keepers’ Needs
Despite the title’s juxtaposition of the geckos’ needs and the gecko keepers’ needs, this issue isn’t so much an “either-or” situation, but a continuum where balance must be found between the two. The controversy comes in determining the appropriate place on the continuum.
Geckos need appropriate food and shelter. They need an enclosure with enough room to let them move around and enough cover to feel safe. They need a variety of nourishing food, provided at the appropriate interval that will sustain them and keep them healthy. One could imagine that an extreme amount of consideration of geckos’ needs would be to provide a completely naturalistic setting without any of the elements that cause a gecko’s early demise. This would include a very large range with natural substrate, vegetation and hides, an ecosystem that would enable a variety feeders to flourish in the enclosure and an absence of predators. This is rare to impossible in the reptile hobbyist world.
Keepers need an ease of care for their geckos that allows them to keep them healthy and secure with a reasonable outlay of time and expense. This is aided by use of standardized enclosures that stack or occupy a room in a modular fashion, feeders that are easy to obtain and gutload, a strict schedule of feeding and cleaning, and work spread out over the week so no single day entails more than an hour or two of labor. Another important need of reptile keepers is to be able to have the desired number of geckos and species for the keepers’ enjoyment and, in some cases, profitability. One could imagine that an extreme amount of consideration of keepers’ needs would be to have all the geckos in standard sized enclosures, eating the same thing on the same schedule. This is rare to impossible for keepers who would like to have many geckos of different species.
The choices we make about how we care for our geckos relate to the compromises we make in relation to the geckos’ needs or our own needs. For some people, the gecko’s needs are so paramount that they decide to keep only a single gecko and to spend a significant amount of time daily feeding, cleaning and observing. Others may sacrifice a considerable amount of space in their houses and time each day to keep a large number of reptiles at the expense of their work, social connections and hygiene. Medium to large scale gecko breeders may choose to use smaller and less naturalistic enclosures with less feeder variety in order to make it possible to produce the number of reptiles that will support their business. It’s easy to say that the geckos’ needs come first, since they are depending on us for their care and health. That doesn’t necessarily mean that some compromise for the keeper’s comfort is always bad for the geckos. In some cases, those compromises are what makes it possible for the hobbyist to care for his or her pets.
What are your compromises that allow you to care appropriately for your geckos without giving up all other aspects of your life?
How can you tell that your geckos are comfortable and well cared for despite the compromises you make?
What do you consider “going too far” in gecko care?
What do you consider “not going far enough” in gecko care?
What other thoughts to you have about balancing the keeper’s needs and the geckos’ needs?
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Aliza is a home care speech therapist living in the Boston area. She has been breeding leopard geckos since 2005 and has also been successful in breeding Coleonyx, African Fat Tail and Gargoyle geckos. Other interests which she pursues in her copious free time include work in ceramics, practicing aikido and surfing the internet.