Sunday, October 12, 2014

It's About to get Crazy!!

In all seriousness, it's about to get crazy around here. Since I'm up late and it's now Sunday, I'm going to be spending much my day with the husband cutting, disinfecting, and screening new tubs. Then the early part of my week will be spent decorating said tubs for new arrivals. This week may very well be my last days that are appropriate temps for shipping without a heat pack (and I always try to avoid using one if possible). That means... everybody and their sister (ok nobody's really related) is going to have to get shipped in before cold weather really hits! Probably the same day. I'm going to be absolutely inundated with boxes and new geckos! Fun, but always stressful when there is geckos in the mail, especially when the weather is a little less than ideal.

I'll be shipping one out too - I'm trading away the gorgeous striped black and white gargoyle Rainier to a friend who will keep him as "living art" (which he rightfully deserves, I have never seen a black/white gargoyle that holds a candle to him). I will miss him a lot, I've always admired him so much for his uniqueness and special place in the gargoyle world. Unfortunately, I just don't think he will be used here much for breeding as I'm focusing so much on color with my gargoyles now. I'm just happy he is going to a home where I know he will be happy, healthy, and loved. :) I couldn't ask for anything more regarding homes for my geckos (and as a bonus, I know the communication line is always open - I'll get updates or can email to check up on him anytime).

Random tangent - us breeders LOVE updates on animals we've sold you. I have one gal who emails me periodically with update photos of a baby I sold her (that I bred). He is blossoming into an absolutely jaw-dropping adult, and I am so thankful that I get to be a part of watching it happen! (Though if I'd know he'd be that great I might have kept him, haha!) It's wonderful to see how our babies mature, not only for the "feel good" part, but because it also helps us get a better idea of what kind of animals those particular pairings of parents can/will produce. So if you're reading this, think about sending a breeder or two of some of your animals an update. I promise you they will appreciate it a ton! :)

Back on topic - gecko arrival! I will be receiving packages from goReptiles, Moonrise Geckos, New Caledonia Northwest, SV Geckos, Sticky Side Up Geckos, and Red Sky Geckos. Hoi that's a lot of boxes, especially considering most will have multiples inside. At least a couple of them aren't adults, less space I need to make room for lol! Keep your fingers crossed for me that everyone arrives safe and sound! I know that I'm overdue for a photoshoot for the geckos and have been for ages, keep being patient with me - getting new arrivals situated is more important to me than getting shots of them fully fired when they get here. I'd rather do it a few weeks after they've had some time to settle in. Maybe in the meantime I'll be motivated/have a chance to get updated pics of those for sale (I really need to do that)!

And omg, we're not finished. My new friend from St. Louis, Crystal Rolfe of Tailspinz Geckos (check her out on Facebook, she has a lovely collection), is doing me a HGUE favor and bringing me back some geckos from the Tinley Park NARBC show that was this weekend in Chicago. It allowed me to purchase geckos I otherwise could not have afforded due to shipping. I can't wait to get them! I'll probably meet up with her in another week or two to get those kids. Good thing they're not coming this week too! I snagged some really great deals thanks to my "gecko courier's" services.

I can't wait until next year, I am going to have so many fabulous pairings and I am already chomping at the bit to see what they produce for me! If nothing else, you all are going to have a lot to choose from. ;) I was just working on my list for next year's pairings and it's going to be complete, awesome mayhem when babies start hatching. I hope once I get pics up of all the animals I have acquired (and those I just haven't photographed yet), you all will be as excited as I am for babies. If there is enough interest, I will start wait-listing. First come, first serve. I run wait-lists as follows: if you request to be on one for a certain pairing I will make a note of it, and if someone else inquires, they're "next in line", so to speak. If I decide to let go of a baby from the pairing I will contact the first person on the list before making the baby available to the public, and if they decline, on down the list I go! Feel free to email me if you see somebody(s) you love and would like offspring from - But please, only request to be wait-listed if you're quite serious about buying, as it is quite frustrating to spent the time going through an entire wait-list and getting all "no's", when you could have had your animal listed for sale elsewhere that entire time.

I'll post an update once the first round of geckos are here with their formal introductions! Keep an eye out.

P.S. The terrapins are doing awesome, I absolutely adore them. They are super cute and very entertaining. I have tried to get some photos of them but it's incredibly difficult as now they associate me with food and try to frantically swim through the glass every time they see me. I try to catch them basking, but I also hate to disturb them when they are (though sleeping turtles are SO CUTE with their eyes all scrunched shut)!! I may just have to post some blurry photos, gasp. They're simply too cute not to share, and they have already made their distinct personalities clear. One likes to spend time in the "sun" and the other plays "Kraken" and sinks the already sunken pirate ship in their tank. I've give you a guess who is who. ;)

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Recovery and Renewal

Hi anyone reading this - long time no post, on my part. It's been a long haul since I last posted, I can't believe that was almost a year and a half ago. So this one is going to be a novel of a catch-up post, you've been warned! Sad to say that my spirit broke a bit when I lost my first baby (previous post), but then I lost another, Bazarak. Same type of symptoms, though I tried even harder to save Rokha's clutchmate. I was determined not to lose another one due to this mysterious "something". I took my little kid into the only vet within a 3 hour radius who saw reptiles, even though I knew I wasn't going to be getting answers or help - I just wanted to get some Baytril (an antibiotic) in case this was some sort of infection. I got what I expected, the vet had no clue what was going on and was willing to take my suggestion. I got my Baytril. I carefully administered it orally to Bazarak as instructed, and he hated it (it tastes awful to them). He just kept going downhill as I tried everything within my power to save his life. When he finally passed, in my hand, my heart broke. I couldn't stand losing my babies like this!

Unfortunately, Bazarak was not the only death to come. Not long after he passed, my husband and I made the move to Missouri from Kansas. It was quite the series of trips as we had all the geckos to move (I may do a gecko moving tutorial with all my photos from that trip - nobody even lost a tail, it went well), my fish who I had owned for many years, my cat, 2 still fairly new-to-us kittens, two dogs, and two horses! Oh and don't forget the plants, including the philodendron with ten plus feet of vines... Thankfully we all safely made it to our beautiful new home which is now our wonderful farm (we fenced and cross-fenced our ~6 acres and added 3 horses and 10 chickens).

It was awhile after moving that anything went wrong - I don't blame any of it on that. First was Páyos, my rubber boa and first and only snake. She was originally wild caught and not knowing her history, she may have simply died from old age. It was an unexpected loss and I did take it hard, as I do with any of my animals. Then I started hatching out my first agricolae babies, which was exciting! I had 4. Now I have 2, and both of them are deformed from MBD (Metabolic Bone Disease). The two babies that died were sudden and again, unexpected. They were eating and behaving normally one day and dead the next. With the problems that the two survivors began to exhibit - trouble shedding and signs of MBD, I figured that the food I had switched my collection over to (more on this later) might just not have enough calcium in it for this species, and/or the food their mother was fed when she laid their eggs (Repashy) caused a problem. It was the sole food for my hatchlings as they were uninterested in bugs. So I started giving calcium glubionate orally to the two survivors and putting them in front of a UVA/UVB light. It worked, they made it. Both have permanent deformities and look a bit strange, but are now healthy and doing well on yet a different commercial diet (one I'm happy with and sticking with). However, *dun dun dun*, at the same time I was losing babies, I also lost Cobble, my adult female agricolae and mother to the babies. I was devastated - she was not only expensive, but from an uncommon lineage and valuable to the gene pool. I chose not to have her necropsied, but from what I could tell she was not egg bound and there were not external signs of trauma. My only guess is that she may have died from the diet they were on at the time, or more likely from the Repashy previously as that's what she was eating for a long time before I switched the collection over to a new food.

So what's all this talk about food? Well, take what I say with a grain of salt. This is just my personal experience and opinions and I am well aware that many believe differently. However, with that said, I no longer feed Repashy CGD, what used to be the gold standard for feeding geckos such as cresteds and gargoyles. Repashy came out with a "Version 3.0" and that was when my problems started. It was not at all well-received by my collection as a whole and they ate VERY little of it. I had one female, Perdi, go on a starvation diet, no matter what I did for her. She was a healthy adult female and then whittled away to 17 grams - she was literally skin over bones. I could see all the bones in her skull (I was sure she was doing to die so didn't get one, but now I wish I had a "before" picture to compare to her these days). After several months of my collection not eating much, the deaths began - first with Rohka. Then Bazarak, who I chose to have necropsied to see if I could get any answers at all. No answers, nothing came up abnormal, even on pathology I had sent out.

I'd never lost babies like this before, so what had changed? The food! That's it. Absolutely nothing else had changed pertaining to my husbandry. I reached out to the gecko community and found I was not the only one having problems. Breeders (even some "big names") were having poor egg production, bad egg shell formation, dead hatchlings in the egg, failure to thrive hatchlings, and overall a poor feeding response. Not everyone was experiencing this but there were enough in the same boat as me that I decided to try a new diet on the market that was also touted as "complete", "Big Fat Gecko Smoothie Mix", or BFG. My collection immediately started to eat better, even the first night I fed it I noticed a drastic change. My husband and I charted the percent eaten for awhile and proved to ourselves that they were progressively eating more. I also tried Clark's gecko diet, but had a less enthusiastic feeding response, so it was back-shelved. Then the problems with the agricolae happened. I didn't know what to do, I thought I was stuck having to supplement extra calcium and watching everyone like a hawk. Thankfully, Matt Parks at Pangea Reptile had been hard at work on a diet of his own, and he soon offered it to the public. Feeding responses were reported to be great, eggs were good, and people were reporting faster growing hatchlings. I had to try it! Worked like a magic charm and I won't go back. I'm thrilled with it, my gang loves it and many of them completely lick their dishes clean. I haven't gone through a breeding season with it yet - that will be next year - but I'm not worried. I have heard nothing but good things from breeders feeding this food. I wouldn't hesitate to say this diet is the new standard for gecko food. I'd recommend Pangea Fruit Mix Complete Gecko Diet to anyone, and I will never recommend Repashy again (in fact, I'll do the opposite). I had mixed results with the BFG, but in my opinion I'd say it can be a decent diet if regularly supplemented with properly gut-loaded and calcium dusted insects (good with any diet, IMO more important with some than others such as this one).

My mental/emotional recovery from all of this has been slow, and for awhile it was hard to be around the geckos at all. Then, a few months after we moved, in October of 2013, I took a fall jumping my horse and fractured a vertebrate in my back. That made it literally impossible to care for the geckos and my husband can never be thanked enough for all the times he has sprayed and fed them for me as I recovered. Apparently a broken back wasn't enough either, so in July of this year I had surgery for excision of endometriosis. That recovery was very long, painful, and slow as my tolerance for narcotics is very low and I literally recovered on Tylenol (NOT recommended)! I'm finally starting to get some of my energy and motivation back and part of that has been with the geckos. I have renewed my focus and narrowed down my goals/projects. I have purchased some outstanding new animals to help me achieve those goals, and I will soon be parting with those that no longer fall within the projects I want to work with. It's already is very difficult trying to decide who I have to say goodbye to and sell, but I'm working on it. (Keep your eyes peeled for my sale, and all the new animals being added - I'm slowly updating the website!) I look forward to breeding in 2015, I have missed having little baby cresties and gargs around! I have some stellar animals these days (who really need photos so you all can appreciate them too, I'm long overdue for a gecko photoshoot and I know it) and I am confident they'll produce great offspring.

Here's to a mental, emotional, physical recovery.... and most of all to a fresh start!

P.S. I also lost all the fish I brought with me from Kansas due to a late-appearing disease on a fish from a local fish store, and due to the sadness and stress of fighting for and ultimately losing fish I'd had for 6+ years (with the potential to live much longer), my largest (and only currently running) fish tank is being revamped into a turtle tank! In fact, tomorrow my new baby Northern Diamondback Terrapins arrive. Make sure to check out their page in the collection!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

RIP Sweet Baby Rokha

You came into the world the day before this crazy year's first snow storm... you must have been smarter than your clutchmate who showed up during it. You first came out of your sleeping bag at lunch time, with not just your head out but your entire torso. You were a fighter from the start, but you were also pooped after all that effort and needed a nap. I took some pictures of you with your crests plastered to your head and left you alone for a few hours until you decided to show me the rest of you.

You were such a unique looking baby, I knew you would be such a cool looking animal as you matured (and you did get prettier and prettier for the few months I had you). When you were one of the ones I decided I had to sell, I hoped you would go to a great home where I could get updates, because I wanted to see how you turned out. And you were still such a fiesty little kid. You always wanted to get out of your cage, you were always one I was pushing back in and trying to get out of the way of the lid so I could close it. But you'd shoot out again and start climbing up my leg, and then bite me when I smushed you back into your plant. You were never mean, you were just a little adventurer.

The night before you died you were fine, you were just like usual - trying to play jail break with your Bazarak, your clutchmate. I didn't suspect anything. Then the next night when I found you, I didn't even think you were dead at first. I thought it was weird that you weren't trying to escape and seemed to be sleeping on the bottom, but not dead. Then I poked you so I could put in your food, and you didn't move. You never moved again. I don't know why you died, I hope it isn't something I could have prevented. I buried you in the flowers out front, you have a really pretty view if you just look up... I think of you and cry every time I see them. To others you were just a little lizard. To me, you were my special little Rokha who I loved and tried to do my best by. Rest in peace, and although I don't believe in a rainbow bridge, I do believe in heaven, and I know God knows how much I cared for you... so I hope he let's me see you again there someday.

Goodbye sweet Rokha, and I'm sorry but it's going to take me awhile to get over you. There's a little gecko-shaped hole in my heart and you're the only one that fits it.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Cut Egg - Results for the Curious/Scientifically Interested (Warning: Deceased)

Well I cut an egg tonight, and every time I do so I document the results with pictures and details for at least my personal files. I thought this one was interesting to share with you all because I believe we can learn from these experiences. Don't get me wrong, I approach this from as a scientific point of view as much as possible, but I cried over this baby (and he/she is now buried in the backyard). I care for every one of my little ones, even when they weren't meant to be with me in this world.

So warning now... photos of a dead hatchling to come. None are overly graphic and none bloody, but I know some people are uncomfortable seeing photos of dead animals so you have been forewarned!

I had a clutch due to hatch around the end of October, baby #1 arrived on November 1st after 78 days of incubation. I had thought there was something wrong with the second egg since about a month in (from candling), so I wasn't terribly surprised when it didn't hatch on time. I didn't expect it to hatch at all but I'm always hopeful so I left the egg be, until tonight when it deflated and was leaking. Just in case there was a hatchling needing assistance I cut the egg, though I expected to find an only partially formed embryo. Unfortunately the baby was much further developed than I expected, which I think is part of the reason I felt such a loss. However, it was still undeveloped in some significant ways and so not meant to survive outside the egg, so I'm glad it did not hatch. Here are my observations and photos, for what they are worth.

Here is the little kiddo when I popped it out of the egg and let it dry a little (though it's just crumpled because it was squeezed in that deflated egg). Perfect mini 10 fingers and toes, not so perfect other things. As you can see in this photo, the skull and skin over it did not completely close, so there is a small hole on the top of the head. You can see the head/face are not shaped correctly either (you can see that better in the second photo however), though the eyes were fully formed.

Here is a side shot of the head/face, showing an overly short snout, a misshapen jaw, and the dip in the head where there was the hole.

Here is the underside - you can see that the belly is not completely closed (though it was covered in a thin, transparent layer of skin) where babies attach to their eggs. I have had babies with small open umbillical areas here when hatched that closed within a day or two, but never been able to see inside the abdominal cavity like this.

Final shot, showing the belly again and also the misshapen back legs that reminded me of frog legs with the bulbous upper portion.

The good news? I have a healthy, gorgeous clutchmate who weighed in at a healthy 2.1 grams today at 2 1/2 weeks old. This is the first crowned hatchling I've hatched and I believe it will be red or dark extreme harley with a lot of cream, considering what it's showing already! (Parents are Miracle Max and Athena for those who would be interested.) I was extremely surprised when such a gem popped out of that egg, and am thankful I have it to dote over in the wake of the passing of its clutchmate. Here are some unplanned photos from tonight, so he/she is unfired and the quality isn't great, but you can get an idea!

Hope you got something out of my little attempt at a scientific-y post, I figure the more we can learn about these under-developed kiddos the better, especially if they do hatch. In this case I don't think it's genetic as I had all healthy hatchlings from this pairing last year, it was just one of those fluke things. Not meant to survive outside the egg so it developed as far as it was going to, and then probably perished after that point. RIP little one.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Rescue Rehab Success!

The last post that I made back in June was about three rescue geckos that I took in, suffering severe MBD (with resulting deformities) and malnutrition. I am extremely pleased to say that they are now doing very well and will be going to new homes soon. The larger female and male are doing exceptional, they are eating loads of CGD and have recovered their calcium stores so that their MBD is no longer progressing. They've gained weight and both are being adopted by a wonderful gal who plans to give them a forever home where they won't be bred and their health will be carefully monitored. Here are some updated photos of the two (now) chunkies.

The female, who is a sweetheart:

And the male:

The younger female met with some setbacks - she laid two clutches of eggs (infertile fortunately) and lost a lot of weight as a result, as well as adding additional kinks to her tail. However, thankfully because I was supplementing her with calcium and other vitamins, she did not calcium crash. She is now eating better than ever before and working on regaining the weight she has lost, and I have successfully stopped her laying. She still has a little way to go and will need to be watched closely, but I have found her a home with a local friend who I know will do a great job caring for her. The friend is actually the one who originally discovered these cresties being kept in such poor conditions, and she picked them up and delivered them to me. It all has come full circle!!

I'm quite happy with the homes I've found for these rescues, and even more pleased with the recoveries they made. Now they're moving out, and I've got lots of new kids moving in. ;) More on that soon!