Norbert is a Leopard Gecko. At first we thought he was a Fat-tailed Gecko but after much research and discussion with some much more knowledgeable people, it's pretty certain he's a Leopard.
But, let me back this up a bit.
After Hargid's passing, there was an emptiness not just in that 10 gallon tank, but in the house once again. Hagrid's stay with us was far too short. I liked having a unique family member such as him once again. Not sure who Hagrid is? Read here. His death came on quite suddenly after a few months with us, see here.
A few weeks had gone by and Angie could see I was still bothered by what had happened. She said she was open to the idea of another Tarantula coming to live with us but really hoped we could find another one needing a home (rescuing) instead of supporting the exotic pet trade. Of course that's what I would prefer too. We have 2 backyard rescue Budgies and an ancient newt I rescued named Ralphie who is probably nearing 17 years of age now. Ralphie was abandoned by someone I knew in a former life let's say. 12 years later in this house, he's still going strong. Ask any pet place how long these small newts live, and most say 3 years on average. Obviously a lot depends on who is caring for them and how they do it.
I had started researching Tarantulas, scoping Kijiji for someone giving one up, etc. I discovered a number of species I had never heard of before that caught my interest, almost enough to go purchase one, especially this species...
But with Christmas rapidly approaching, much to do over the holiday season, the Tarantula search was put on hold. I was going to start up again in the new year and give myself till March to figure it all out.
Through the month of January, I was doing light searches once a week. I found a few people wanting to give up their eight legged pets but everyone sought some financial gain from it. Weird to say they cannot care for a Tarantula anymore, have no time for it but still would like $75-$100 for it. Tarantulas require very little care, they are one of the easiest creatures to keep. They are solitary beasts and don't need daily feedings. As you can guess, I've been passing on these ads. In my opinion, if you really care about the creature and want to give it up, trying to get back what you put into it and some is not the way.
So, last week, I'm sitting at home and an email comes in from Stacey, a public school friend of mine. Public school! I'm 45 now. Thanks to the wonders of Facebook we've been re-connected along with a couple others from those days being single digit ages. She asked me if I was interested in taking in this Gecko that was abandoned at her work. Everyone was helping care for him, one guy even took him home on the weekends, but nobody wanted to make him a permanent family member. I told her I was curious, would talk with Angie about this, and start researching them. I admitted knowing very little about Gecko care.
First photo of Norbert that Stacey sent me.
I sent Angie a light email on the creature and she was full of questions, got on her own Google search as well.
Little is known of his story other than some guy got it for his 2 kids, however long ago, and I guess over time, the kids lost interest in the Gecko. There was some transition with the family, going someplace where they could not take the Gecko, some other family member kept it for a bit, who eventually dropped it off at the original owner's workplace. After almost 2 weeks in the office, they were wondering when he was going to take the Gecko again even if meant to another home. Turns out buddy left the job, wasn't coming back for the Gecko and asked his former co-workers to find it a new home. Something like that anyway. But end result is abandonment. When someone takes an animal into their home, no matter what it is, it becomes their responsibility, the animal needs a forever home. And it's more important with these exotic animals in my opinion. Exotics require unique care that not everyone is willing to give or can. The former owner of this Gecko may not have meant to be cruel but he certainly was, just turning his back on it and expecting others to do something with it. His co-workers did their best but knew he needed a new permanent home. Hence my old friend Stacey contacting me. My Facebook page is much like my blog, but on a daily basis, animal this, animal that, in smaller doses. Everyone knows I love animals, furry, feathered, slimy, scaly... they all touch my heart daily!
The communication flowed between Stacey and I about him. And I had another conversation going with Angie as well. We all started researching Geckos that morning, rapidly gathering up the basics on them. Amazing how all of us got concerned over this creature so fast. It was after she sent this next photo to me, that both Angie and I decided to bring him home...
Not the best of photos but enough to say "he needs a caring home now". The bottom of his tank looks like mucky sand and that is not suitable for a Gecko. It seems they can ingest the sand and that can cause blockages. Eeek! Geckos are more nocturnal and need a cave of some sort to hide in when through the day... this enclosure had no shelter of any kind for him. There were a few other noticeable concerns but you get the idea.
Stacey and I made the arrangements for me to get him, and I met her at her work place on Friday January 30th. It was pretty cool to see her again after what I estimate to be approximately 35 years. Who's feeling old now? LoL! We chatted mostly about him in the 15 or so minutes I was there. It would have been nice to chat some more but she's working, I got to get him home, set him up and get myself to work. And with the whole Facebook thing, we are pretty much caught up on each others lives anyways.
I had made a stop at a nearby Pet Smart to get some necessities. I had a list of things thanks to my research, but once in the store, I was kinda stuptified. I lucked out in meeting an employee who was very knowledgeable with Gecko care, and she helped speed up my shopping adding her wealth of information as I picked out items best for him.
I've told everyone including Stacey and the girl at Pet Smart, that I don't want to kill this Gecko out of ignorance. The Google searches have been helpful but confusing too. One site may state something that contradicts another site. Some people say that feeding them live meal worms, could have the worm eat it's way out of the stomach of a Gecko. What?!?! How horrific! Other sites state that is a myth. I've since learned of others I know who have Geckos and are sharing how they care for theirs, what they have learned over the years.
We are nearing a week since Norbert has come to our home and things are going quite well, so I think. He was stressed with the move, bouncing around in the truck coming home that day, being taken out of his familiarity even if it was not the best set up for him, and dropped in a new home. I think he quickly took to the new home though, enjoying his privacy in his rock cave, and he loves his heating pad within. He did not have one of those in his old set-up, just a big heating lamp that shined down on him all day long. For a nocturnal creature, you can see why his new home, dark cave and warm floor is much more appealing than open space and bright lamp, like the sun, over top of him.
The eating thing started off slow. He took to meal worms quicker than crickets. I guess the meal worms were easier to catch? He wasn't so keen on the bigger crickets, their movement would sometimes put him in retreat. I was told the crickets should not be any larger than the space between his eyes. When one goes to the pet store to get crickets, it's either large or small. The small are sometimes too small and some of the large are too large. I got a few dozen of each to work with, plus Ralphie, and Ash, our Fire-belly Frog, both eat crickets too (small ones). The Godzilla crickets have had me resort to some barbaric measures though. Too big and too jumpy so I got the idea of taking them down a notch by removing the back legs. I warned you, it was something barbaric. I do it as quickly as possible, and get them in Norbert's mouth just as fast. Right now, it's just as much for me to monitor his feeding as it is to keep them from pestering him, running around his enclosure and climbing over him. The smaller ones I do coerce into his lair, legs still attached. All the crickets get dusted in this calcium powder first, which helps a Gecko digest the meal and gives additional nutritional supplements. The crickets are fed a variety of things to load their guts as it is called, ensuring a very full and healthy meal of them. It's work to feed the food on top of caring for an exotic!
Meadow knew something was going on the day he arrived but she was having a blast playing in the large cardboard box he and all his items came in to give notice to him.
Initial set up.
Norbert in his old home just before moving him. The white pieces are his feces. I thought he was in sand but it's not, it's some kind of substrate.
Norbert in his new home. New water dishes. And he has some kind of carpet for reptiles for landscape (easier to clean and spot feces, find live crickets, etc).
We like to think he is very content in his new home.
We have no idea how old he is, but with his size, he's definitely full grown at approximately 9 inches. In due time, we are going to look at giving him a larger living space, probably a 20 gallon tank. For now, just want to be sure he's okay and we are caring for him properly.
I guess some of you are curious about the name Norbert. As with Hagrid, Angie got the job of naming him. It's seems to be the new deal around here. She always freaks me out with hints of silly names like Jelly Bean, Jingle Bell, etc. She knows that drives me crazy. But she ends up with something cool and unique. Norbert is a little Dragon from the first Harry Potter movie. Here is a link to the scene, scroll ahead to the 2:10 mark to see Norbert.
I hope to have future blogs about Norbert in what will hopefully be a lengthy stay with us. Please wish him a warm welcome and a happy healthy life. :) And for the record, our zoo is once again full.
Here's Meadow's first encounter from yesterday. We had one super excited kitty for a spell. She's kinda forgot about him since this moment, which is probably for the better. I can't say whether he noticed or if it bothered him to have a cat pressed up against the glass watching him like she did.
Meal worm lunch.
Gone in the blink of an eye.
Norbert playing one of my fave games as a kid... "SEE FOOD"!
And after a meal, he lays out like any cat or dog would. His tank is right next to the couch in the living room, on my side, and it's peaceful to sit there and watch him so relaxed.
Makes me sleepy.
Thanks for stopping in. Till next time... cheers!