I have a dilemma and I need help!

Hollizard

New Member
Messages
2
Location
Canada
Hi, new member here. I have a dilemma. Here's the situation. I am a house and pet sitter, and I recently met with a new client who I discovered owns two leopard geckos. (Technically they belong to her son who is away at school) The problem is that I immediately noticed some iffy care. First off, they are a cohabitated male and female. Apparently the female is around 13 years old and the male is around 9. I know the stress of mating and creating eggs can be hard on a female's body. Of course, I don't actually know if they are male and female. That is simply what the owner told me. Secondly, they are kept in what I believe is an 18"x18"18" Exo Terra. (I'll double-check when I start the job.) From what I have learned through all my research (I'm a relatively new leopard gecko owner myself), this is too small for two geckos as well as not allowing for a heat gradient. (Again, new owner. Forgive me if I'm wrong!) As well as the tank size being worrying, they are kept on a thick layer of sand. I know there are some keepers out there who may say this is fine as long as they are not fed on the sand. Well... they are. She said she just throws in four worms every other day. (Not sure what type of worms.) She also made no mention of calcium or vitamin supplements. The thickness of the sand also makes me wonder if they have a heat mat or just overhead light. I'm not sure what type of lighting it is, but I'll be starting there tomorrow and can have a closer look at everything then.

All in all, the care is lacking. I have a feeling that because of the geckos ages, the owners have not done any recent research into their care and possibly just went by the word of pet store employees 13 years ago. And because the geckos technically belong to her son, he may have been the one to do the research at a young age and now she is oblivious to believe anything is wrong.

So, basically I'm looking for opinions and suggestions. What would you do in this situation? Something else that makes me want to exercise extreme caution is that this person is a friend of someone my mom works with, so I don't want to create bad feelings between my mom and her co-worker if I decide to speak up.

Something my mom suggested was, in a carefully worded way, offering myself as a retirement home for the geckos. Since her son is away at school and may not be as interested in them as he used to be, and she has had them thrust upon her, perhaps they would both be willing to part with them. This is very hard for me as I'm a very introverted person who does not do confrontation, and if they take it the wrong way, I could lose a client and possibly create problems for my mom, not to mention I could no longer help the geckos. Also, if they aren't interested in parting with them, how do I offer my advice on proper care?

I'd love to hear any and all opinions, suggestions, and thoughts! Thanks!
 

acpart

Geck-cessories
Staff member
Messages
11,363
Location
Somerville, MA
Welcome to the forum! I would say that the biggest issues are possible lack of heat and the sand. I do have a pair of geckos in an 18x18x18 and they are doing well. Often if a male and female are kept together, the male stops bothering the female as breeding season continues. Breeding season is over and the female is probably no longer ovulating. They may be fine together at least till late winter when ovulation starts up again.
Here's how I would approach them about the care: Be sure to use words like "I'm not sure, but . . ", "I wonder" instead of "you shouldn't be doing this". Let them know that you just got a leopard gecko and you did a lot of research into the latest care practices and you notice a few differences between those ideas and what they are doing. You can then "wonder" about the sand and the heat. I'd leave the other issues alone for the moment. If this is received well, you may "wonder" whether they are being fed enough.
Good luck, and keep us posted.

Aliza
 

Hollizard

New Member
Messages
2
Location
Canada
Thanks for the welcome and for the reply, Aliza! First of all, I did measure the tank and it is indeed an 18x18x18. That's good to hear that you have a pair of geckos doing well in that size. For curiosity's sake, I found a square footage calculator online and put in the dimensions of a 20 gallon long, the general size suggestion for leopard geckos, and found it was 2.5 square feet. An 18x18x18 tank is 2.25 square feet, so only very slightly smaller than a 20 gallon long. My worries for the tank size have been calmed!

That's also good to hear that a male will not constantly harass the female to mate. Do females stop ovulating altogether after a certain age? Or will she begin again in late winter? (I had a look at the male, but I'm still new to this so I'm not 100% sure it is a male.)

Interestingly, I did find a container of Fluker's calcium with D3, but no bag or other means to dust the worms with. (I decided to bring my own container of Rep-Cal calcium with D3 and Herptivite, just in case they didn't have any.) I also found a Petsmart Care Guide which says to only dust insects twice a week, so since I'm only here for about a week, maybe the owners decided not to bother me with that extra step. The care guide also mentioned calcium sand, so I have a feeling that's what they're on. I also discovered that the worms are superworms. The geckos seem to be a healthy weight with nice chunky tails, so I don't think they're not being fed enough. If anything, they might be a bit too chunky. :p

Another discovery was that they do not have a heat mat. The lights are an All Living Things 5.0 coil UVB bulb and some sort of purple/blue/black light. Both lights are on all day with the UVB bulb going off at night and the purple one staying on. There was also a stick-on digital thermometer, but it was on the table outside the tank for some reason. I put it inside beneath the purple bulb and it is reading 75.4 F, but I will get my own infrared temperature gun from home to check what the actual surface temperature is. Either way, that is way too cold for the warmest part of the tank. No wonder it's the only place they hang out.

I'm also non too impressed with the cleanliness of the sand. The owner mentioned that they stopped feeding them crickets a while ago because they're too old and won't hunt them down any more. Well, there are cricket limbs and old urates all over the sand, so apparently they haven't cleaned it out in a while.

Another worry is that there is no moist hide. The male currently has some stuck shed on his toes, but both seem to have all their toes, so somehow they've managed to keep moist enough. (There is also no hygrometer in the tank.) There is a small spray bottle by the tank, so perhaps they just get misted.

After some thought, I think it would be best if I wait until the owner returns to bring anything up since she's on a business trip and may not have the time to worry about and discuss leopard geckos. Thank you for the wording input. I definitely will avoid blaming sort of language. One question... Do you think I should offer myself as a retirement home first or bring up the care first? I sort of think that if I were to take them in, I could skip the care conversation altogether.

Boy, it's stressful caring so much! :p Anyway, thanks for reading. I hope I'm not getting many replies because people think I'm doing the right things and don't have anything else to add!

Still, if anyone does want to join the conversation, I'd love to hear it, even if it's just to tell me I'm doing fine! :p
 

acpart

Geck-cessories
Staff member
Messages
11,363
Location
Somerville, MA
I pretty much agree with your assessment. As you know, there are better ways to keep them, but they've done OK so far. I guess you could mention when they return that you've fallen in love with their geckos and would be happy to give them a good retirement home if they ever decide they don't want them anymore (that puts the ball back in their court and doesn't make it sound as if you're trying to take the geckos from them). If they don't get the hint, then you can start "wondering" about their care. If you do end up taking them, keep them separate from your gecko for at least a few months.

Aliza
 
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