My Summer of Discovery by Rosalind
What Breeding Geckos Taught Me About Myself and Life
I got interested in reptiles when I was about 13. I had had lizards and snakes since childhood, but had either failed to remain interested in them, or had lost them fairly soon after I had bought them. I just imaged that scales and serpents weren’t my thing. So I went back to dogs, cats, and rabbits. One day though, after a 4-year break from cold-blooded herptiles, I saw The Snake. He wasn’t just any snake; he was a ball python. Now what compelled my interest, I don’t know, but all I know is that when I saw one I wanted one, and I got one. Oz, I called him, The Great and Powerful, and after him my interest skyrocketed, but it went in a completely different direction from snakes.
My interest in snakes flat lined when I got a corn snake and lost him while he was fairly young from an unknown infection; I decided I had enough experience with snakes with the one I already had. So, I dove into lizards and tortoises, but tortoises, my friends, got far too big. So that did not last long, and there I was left with the lizards. Now, I am a writer, you all may even be surprised that my summer wasn’t full of that, but it started out that these animals were of strict inspiration. But then the writing stopped becoming fiction, and I began to get into the less exciting parts of these lizards; it was biology, it was morphology, it was science. Now I’ve always loved science, there was Darwin, there was Blyth (discoverer of my favorite lizards of which I will be discussing in a moment), there were so many more, and I found that reptiles were the meaning of science. They are the keystones of evolution; they are the ancestors to so many, and I fell in love with so much more than just the literal inspiration of them.
It was one member of that family I found myself crazy for, Eublepharis macularius, A.K.A the Leopard Gecko. Simple, friendly, beautiful, endless, a perfect lizard. I got the first two males of my now 17 (soon to be 18) member colony, in May of 2014 at my first reptile show, and then it just kept growing. From that show I continued to participate in the reptile community, and went to almost every show in Florida. Tampa, Lakeland, Orlando, Daytona, and normally I could expect to come home with a new member for my colony. I got so use to seeing breeders all over I actually considered what it would take to become one myself. I joked with my mother one night that maybe it was meant to be I breed geckos, since dogs and cats sure as hell weren’t gonna happen (the cats are all fixed, and my dear Chihuahua wasn’t able to conceive when we bred her). So I wrote up a plan. I spent nights doing research, and finally, I presented it to my mother; she said go for it. So, a trip to a private reptile store I frequent, and home came my first lady, Uma. A beautiful lemon yellow girl with spots on her head and orange on her tail; it was now time to put my research to the test. So, into a tank she went with my Buck, Lee-Boy, a rugged and muscular sweetheart with a winning smirk. They lived together for two weeks, and then Uma started getting BIG. 18 days after they met, the eggs started coming. Two clutches (two eggs) every 18-14 days, and into my incubator made out of a foam cooler and a heat pad they went. Pretty soon, I decided I wanted to do more, so I went back to the same place I picked up Uma, and decided I was going to grab up another. Fiona; the only downside to her was she came to me established (already pregnant), so I never did find out who fathered her eggs, but boy when her babies started to hatch, they showed me he must have been as beautiful as she is. Uma laid me 9 eggs (5 of which survived to become handsome young men geckos), and 100% of Fiona’s eggs survived to produce 4 sturdy boys whom I sold for 15$ each, and 2 much wanted and very beautiful little girls that I was sure to keep, hoping in a year to make them mother’s too.
As of now, my girls have stopped laying eggs; a much-needed break you could say. And now I’m raising 7 new babies, my oldest boy being about 6 months old, and my youngest lady being about 2 months old. I can say full heartedly that this experience has been of great importance in my young life. It has given me a large awareness on the science and emotion of life and development, and of recognition and discovery, for I see both everyday in the small faces of each hatchling. The amazement they experience walking on ground their feet have never felt before, looking out windows they’ve never seen through, and tasting, smelling, feeling things they could not fathom even hours earlier.
Discovery I have found is one of the most amazing things in this world, and I have discovered far more than I could have ever imagined. I just cannot wait to do it again, now with more females, more space, and most importantly more knowledge. I cannot wait to become an established breeder, and maybe even participate in the same expos and shows alongside the people that inspired me. I want to write about my experience now and continue to write about experiences to come. It was a summer of mixed emotions, of successes and failures. Of late nights, of screeching gecko babies, of sad burials for eggs that couldn’t make it, of happy shock at the sight of my first hatchling breaking through it’s eggshell to be born. It was a summer of excitement and success. I can’t wait to do it all again!