I justed wanted to post some thoughts on something I was pondering recently. I've been involved with keeping reptiles almost my whole life. As a kid I kept wild caught snakes, turtles, frogs and toads for a while and then I'd turn them loose again after a while (my parents made this a rule). Then, when I became a teacher, I wanted some interesting, and low maintenance pets for the classroom, and once again reptiles became a part of my life. In the mid 1990's I became interested in breeding reptiles and had success with several different snake species as well as leopard geckos. I took a brief break from the hobby when I got married 10 years ago, but soon was back with an ever growing collection of geckos. It was easy to find the time for reptiles when I was younger. Now it seems much harder. The reality is that while geckos are a passion of mine, they are far from my first priority in life. My wife and 2 young children come first. I also have a full time job that often requires me to do extra work in the evenings and on weekends. On top of that, I have horses and 20 acres of hobby farm land to maintain. So, I usually reserve "gecko time" for after my young boys go to bed. Sometimes, there just isn't enough time in the day to take pictures, keep up the website, and respond to inquiries in a timely way after the geckos are cared for. The good news is that, as as teacher, I have quite a bit more free time in June, July, and August to get "caught up" and am generally quick to respond to inquiries during this time. So, I apologize in advance for sometimes being slow to respond to e-mails and Facebook inquiries. Please don't be offended, and by all means, send me another note if you don't hear back from me in 24 - 48 hours. Your business is important to me and allows me to continue to enjoy this hobby of herpetoculture which has been a part of my life for more than 30 years.
Time for a spring update. This has been a busy spring in terms of gecko sales and new additions. My spring gecko sales went very well, with most animals selling very quickly when posted for sale. I probably sold 25 - 30 geckos when the spring shipping window opened up here in Wisconsin. I've had, and continue to have, a waiting list for helmeted geckos. I let 8 more of them go this spring to people who have been on the waiting list. I wish them luck with this interesting species. I hatched out a dozen more in February and March, but I will be holding back this group for some time, as I need to add a couple more females to my breeding group. I should have some extra males at least available by early summer. Depending on what the ratios look like, I may even be able to release a sexed pair or two.
Of course gecko sales means money in the gecko account which usually translates to purchases of new geckos as well. I added 4 new species this spring. A couple of them, Gonatodes vittatus and Oedura castelnaui were added on somewhat of a whim. I've considered them in the past, but they weren't high up on my "most wanted" list. However, I saw an ad and the price was right so I picked them up. The Gonatodes are a tiny species. I knew they'd be small, but was a bit shocked at just how small they really are. They're still babies with a lot of growing to do, but even as adults they will be very small. The Oedura is also a baby, and is an amelanistic.
The 2 additions that I am very excited about are animals which should be breeding yet this year. Both species are ones that I've wanted to add for quite a while now. I picked up an extremely nice trio of Chondrodactylus angulifer from Jon Boone, and a pair of Pristurus carteri from Phil Tremper. The C. angulifer are a big, blocky species. I've always liked their "bulldog" looks. The male is fully grown, and the 2 females will be ready very soon. The P. carteri are another species that I've wanted for years now. They're my first diurnal (day active) species and they are very inquisitive, following my every movement in the gecko room. Unfortunately they both dropped their tails (one of the unique features of this species) in shipping. They will regenerate a stub tail, but it won't have the same appearance as the original. This won't affect their ability to breed though, so I am very excited at the prospect of potentially reproducing this species later this summer.
I also had some setbacks during the winter. I lost my only female P. rangei (webfooted gecko) and a couple of helmeted gecko breeder females during brumation. I was especially looking forward to breeding some web-footed geckos this year. That will now have to wait a while.
All in all, I am very excited about the breeding season ahead. I've just collected my first eggs, with hopefully many more to come.
Well, the breeding season is winding down and Tinley is done, so it's time for an update I suppose. My most anticipated breeding project was my helmeted gecko group (Geckonia chazalia). The previous year I got some fertile eggs, but had a poor hatching / survival rate. This year I lost a number of eggs due to an incubation problem (human error lead to a pretty high temperature spike), but I was still able to hatch out nearly a dozen of these small and rare geckos. I still have eggs in the incubator, so I could still get a few more of these.
I also hatched out my first Nephrurus milli. Four so far, and still 2 eggs in the incubator. Very cute little geckos. Next year I should have quite a few of these geckos, as I have several more females approaching breeding size.
I also picked up a couple of young Rhacodactylus sarasinorum in a trade from Allen Repashy in the first week of October. I figured diversifying my Rhac collection couldn't hurt. They're very much like crested geckos with a few subtle differences.
For Tinley I had a couple of prearranged trades set up. I brought home another web-footed gecko (P. rangei) to add to my group, as well as a couple of young Eurydactylodes agricolae. I'm male heavy for this species right now, so am hoping to get another female. Unfortunately one of the new ones I picked up is louping male already. The only geckos I brought home from Tinley that weren't prearranged were some additions to my Goniurosaurus group. I've had a lone male G. hainanensis for about a year now, and have been unable to find a female for him to make a pair. I found a seller at Tinley who not only had a young female G. hainanensis, but also had sexable juvenile G. luii. These were the original Goniurosaurs that really caught my attention, but I missed out on the chance to buy some at Tinley last year. When I saw them this year again, I had to pick up a pair. The cave gecko family is not the most "exciting" group of geckos to keep. They are reclusive and rarely seen foraging openly, but I find their colors and red eyes as dramatic and striking as any gecko I've ever seen.
So, a few miscellaneous eggs still in the incubator; a rack full of little babies; and another breeding season winding down. I enjoy slowing down a bit for the winter (at least in terms of selling, shipping, pulling eggs, etc...), but am already excited for spring to come so I can begin the whole process once again.
It's the season for trades I guess, as I've made a few trades in recent weeks. I traded a couple of my newest hatchlings (a helmeted gecko and a N. milli) for a hatchling R. chahoua earlier this month. It's a mainland locale chahoua, and I have Pine Isle locale, so I made the trade with the understanding that I might very well turn around and trade or sell it. It didn't take long before I made a trade for a couple more webfoots (P. rangei) and a "player to be named later". The exchange will take place at Tinley. I'm almost regretting the trade however, as I did a photo shoot, and the little chahoua was such a cute and cooperative photo subject. Oh well, if I kept it, I'd end up having to look for a mate once this one was sexable, and I really don't know if I want to work with both locales of chahouas right now.
I also picked up a couple of hatchling N. levis at the recent SEWERFest show. The selection of geckos at this show rivaled that of much larger shows such as Tinley. I didn't intend to buy much, but it was a great price, and they've been on my "wanted list" for a long time, so I'm happy to have added them.
I also found a couple of male N. milli for a great price online and had them delivered. I've got 3 subadult females which should be ready to breed in 2010, bringing my total to 4 females, but I only had the one male. This now gives me 3.4 milli with 6 eggs cooking right now. I should be producing pretty significant numbers of milli next year.
I will be adding some geckos to my available page very soon. Check them out!
I'm starting to sigh a big sigh of relief here. A couple of weeks ago, I had an incident with my incubator that resulted in a short term temperature spike that I feared would kill all of my eggs collected thus far in 2009 (of course the Rhacodactylus eggs are incubated at room temperatures and were unaffected). I had a large number of helmeted gecko eggs and 5 Nephrurus milli eggs in this incubator. I was pretty discouraged by this setback in my breeding efforts. This past week however, the first 2 helmeted gecko babies and a single N. milli baby hatched right on time and are doing well. Apparently these little guys are pretty resilient and were able to withstand this elevated temperature (slightly over 100º F for an hour or two). So, if these first eggs which were late in the incubation process were able to make it, I have hopes that the rest of the eggs are good as well.
Summer is flying by. I didn't realize it had been so long since I had updated. I had a little flurry of buying this spring (after quite a flurry of selling). The geckos I bought have settled in nicely and are growing well. I've enjoyed keeping and learning about my new webfoots (P. rangei) as well as my Nephrurus wheeleri. Both are cool gecko species, but the webfoots are just so unique. I'm really enjoying them. The other new additions aren't new species to me - just additions to my existing groups. I picked up a male P.I. chahoua to complete a pair for the future. I added a couple of juvenile female N. milli, and added an unsexed full pinstriped crested gecko. I decided I needed to add a little new blood to my pinstripe groups. I'll need some unrelated animals for some of the nice holdbacks I'm getting from my existing groups.
First of all, thank you to all who have purchased geckos from me this spring. I have sold out nearly all of the 2007 holdbacks I had on my available page! I will be adding some well started 2008 geckos to my website by late spring / early summer. Keep checking the website for updates.
I had a "first" yesterday. I've been working with a group of Geckonia chazalia (or Tarentola chazalia) for a couple of years now. These are currently the favorite terrestrial species I work with. Almost 3 years ago, I bought and raised up 3 CB hatchlings that all grew up to be females. I then spent most of a year looking unsuccessfully for a male or 2. Meanwhile the females started dropping eggs left and right... but still I had no male! Last spring I got a WC male that had recently been imported (along with 2 more females), and after quarantine he was placed with the females in mid-summer. I got a bunch of eggs but they were mostly infertile at first. By early fall I was getting eggs that looked fertile, but the male passed unexpectedly at that time. I had a number of eggs that progressed nicely and then went bad very late in the incubation. When I'd open them up, I'd find a nearly fully formed embryo. I even had 1 hatchling emerge, but it was found dead. I got another dozen or so eggs in late November / early December (4 females) but wasn't sure if they'd still be good, as the male had been gone for a couple of months. About half of them candled pink, so I changed a few things in my incubation procedure and now, approximately 80 days later, I have my first successful hatchling of this species. Now the tricky part begins... there aren't many in the U.S. having success with this species. A few of the people who have hatched these guys out are reporting difficulty in keeping the hatchlings alive. We'll see how it goes... I still have several more eggs that I think are fertile.
As soon as the shipping window opens up in Wisconsin again- probably still a good month or so away- I have a number of geckos going out and a number coming in.
2008 was a good year for Ridge and Valley Reptiles. My crested gecko group continues to produce consistently good results. I held back 14 crested geckos from 2007 based on the amount of pinstriping and color they were showing as unsexed hatchlings. Of those 14 holdbacks, 11 were female and only 3 were males. Now that they are sexable, I am holding on to 2 for myself (7-02 and 7-18) and making the other ones available (see Availability).