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My son wants a gecko.

As I was busily typing away yesterday morning, my 11-year-old  son appeared at my arm and announced, entirely out of the blue: “Mom.  I want a pet lizard.”

Huh? Yeah, okay…

WAHHH???  

COME AGAIN?

“Yeah, I think a lizard would be a good pet for me,” he informed me.

Now, let me pause and set the scene.  I am not a pet person.  My husband is not a pet person.  When I was a little girl, I had gerbils.  And when we were a young married couple without kids, we had a cat.  He made me so ill that we had to give him away.  It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life, so I can only imagine the state I’ll be in when I send my kids off to college.

But I digress.

Since then I’ve happily joined the ranks of the pet-free.

I like having no fur to clean up.  I like having no litter box to scoop.  I like having no poop or puke to clean up aside from that which my generous children decide to share.  I like having nobody to find care for when I leave on vacation.  I like having no vet bills.  I like having no pets.

But the kids.

They would very much like pets.

They would like a dog, but they know THAT ain’t happening.

They would settle for gerbils, but I’m not even interested in gerbils.  I had them growing up.  Been there, done that.

We’ve done the hermit crab thing.  That didn’t go so well.

I could be persuaded to consider a fish.

But a lizard?  That’s a pet that was never on my radar.

I’m not quite sure how I feel about welcoming a reptile into our family, but I’m a sucker enough that my son easily talked me into a trip to the pet store to “check into it.”

After perusing the various and sundry cold-blooded creatures for sale, my son decided that the leopard spotted gecko was JUST the thing he was looking for. I admit, compared to the other scaly creatures, he WAS rather cute.

I am happy to say that I did NOT come home with a lizard and a glass-walled home for him.

(Did you know that aquariums with the appropriate lamp and other reptile-friendly paraphernalia cost upwards of $150??)

(And did you also know that geckos eat LIVE CRICKETS?)

But we are “checking into it.”

I’ve done a bit of research, which basically means googling “gecko pets” and reading the first hit.  It seems that a gecko is a fairly good pet.  If you’re in the market for a pet.  Which I am not sure that I am.

A leopard gecko makes an excellent pet. They are small, have minimal care requirements, and can be left alone for severals days {SCORE!}. They are quiet, don’t smell {that’s positive, at least}, and don’t need attention. Leopard geckos are inexpensive and easily available from pet stores and breeders {but have you priced their habitats?} They do not require a large amount of space. They have a wide variety of color and pattern variations. Leopard geckos are the perfect lizard pet. [source]

The part about the crickets throws me a bit, I have to admit.

Crickets are a good source of food and nutrition in your leopard gecko’s diet. You can feed the crickets commercial cricket food and liquid or just use a piece of potato and some oats.

Now hold on just a minute.  I have to feed the gecko AND the crickets?  This is getting a wee bit out of hand.  Although my son SWEARS he will do EVERYTHING.  Yeah, riiiiiiiiiight.It goes on…

Crickets are very resourceful and are sometimes difficult for the gecko to catch. If this is the case, you may have to remove the rear jumping legs of the cricket.

Did that just say REMOVE THE REAR JUMPING LEGS ?????

HOLD EVERYTHING.

I appeal to you, dear readers.  Have you ever had a lizard pet?  Would you recommend it?  What am I getting myself into?  Is a 10-year-old going to be able to care for it?  Because I can tell you right here and now.  I am NOT touching that thing.  OR its crickets.

My son has been told if he wants a gecko, he has to save up for it.  Admittedly, that was BEFORE I read the bit about the crickets.  That buys me some time, right?

Thoughts?  Advice?  Admonitions?  Valium?

Thanks, I knew I could count on you.

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40 thoughts on “My son wants a gecko.

  1. In college and when we first got married, my husband and I had anole lizards. I actually really enjoyed them, and I am rather squeamish. It was really fun to watch them chase the crickets. The annoying part was remembering to turn on their heat lamps/night lamps, etc, and having to go buy the crickets all the time. They have special cricket habitats with tubes that make it fairly easy to shake them out into the lizard home.

  2. Ok, I had to scroll down to just before the picture and read all of that part, then go really fast past the picture to read the rest. At no point could I have the picture of the gecko on my screen where I could actually see it. I’m terrified of lizards, geckos and the like. I will never allow one of my children to have one in the house. I would rather them have a pony.

  3. We had three geckos…. note the word HAD. We started with Bob. Then he needed a friend, so Rob came into the picture. Well, we had to even the gecko to little boy ratio in our home so we ALSO added John (yes, I know they are really original names).

    We racked up all that crazy aquarium, light and, of course, the mountaineous looking rocks. Because, a gecko gets bored and all and needs a fake rock to lay upon. Well, when we added all three geckos together in their new pad, they beat up Bob. So we separated Bob from Rob and John. Well, Bob didn’t make it – his injuries from the “brotherly” beatings were too much.

    Well, our boys (one which is also a 10-year old) didn’t take proper care of Rob and John and guess what… we’ll see them when we get to Heaven. I hope someone peels the skin off of them because I am NOT doing that when I arrive at the pearly gates!

    I’d convince your kiddo that a fish is the best pet.

    1. The problem was probably that male geckos are very defensive against each other and will fight for territory. Female geckos get along fine, but keeping a male and a female would stress the female out if he wanted to mate all the time, plus you can get loads of babies… Loads…

  4. 1. Sorry about the Crepe Myrtle. That sucks. Stupid weather.

    2. LOFT? Did I miss that invite (not that their clothes would be my preferred style. or fit me. harumph)

    3. Lizards. I was a vet tech for eight years and two of the vets I worked with were rare animal vets, so I know a fair amount about lizards. The thing about the crickets is that the store bought crickets have very little nutritional value because they are shipped in vast crates where all they can eat is newspaper. So even though your little Gecko would eat them, he wouldn’t be getting the nutrients he needs, and I’ve seen x-rays of lizards that don’t get proper nutrition and their skeletons are basically see-through. Not good. Now, I know that turtles and iguanas can actually get a fair amount of their nutrition from canned cat food; I don’t know if that is true for geckos. But I had a friend (client of the vet) who had an iguana for over ten years and he ate apples, potatoes, kale, some berries, and cat food. Healthiest iguana I ever saw, huge and beautifully bright green. 🙂 I’d be happy to give you my vet’s number and you can probably get some smart advice from the staff there. Let me know. 😀

  5. Omg that was too hilarious 🙂 I felt like I knew you. My dad takes crickets to fish with (gross) and they stay in a lil cricket “cage”. My little sister one day started running up and down the stairs “with” them and the cage fell and crickets started hopping everywhere. Sooooooo yucky. She was deathly afraid of them (so why was she holding the cage-silly girl?) so me and my other little sister had shoes killing them all. My dad was so disappointed that we killed his bait…bottom line: You do NOT wanna have to catch and remove legs—and their chirping is sooo annoying.

  6. I am SO not a pet person either, but all my daughter (also 10) wanted for Christmas last year was a guinea pig, and I figured I could get one more year of the big guy in red legend if we caved. Seriously, I LOVE watching her and will even occasionally hold her. My daughter feeds her twice a day, and will scoop the cage every couple of days and thoroughly wash out the cage every couple of weeks or when I say it smells (she seems to be immune to that, but then again, she isn’t always thrilled to shower either, lol). It eats people food (salad, parsley, fruit).

    I have told her (and we were close at one point) that if the cage is NOT taken care of it will go to a friend who is a teacher for her classroom.

    We did consider frogs once but seriously? Feeding the food (who incidentally got OUT of the container in my friend’s refrigerator and hopped all over her house when she opened the door chirping for MONTHS) is not happening here, that’s for sure!

    1. P.S. My friend who IS a vet who knows how much I am NOT an animal person said a GP would be way too high maintenance, but really, I don’t do anything other than occasionally give her treats and hold her while my daughter is cleaning the cage. Emily knows that if she doesn’t take care of her, she’s gone (and I would, just to teach a lesson). Now my friend keeps trying to get me to come in for a well-pet visit for $60. I’m avoiding her calls.

    2. Yeah, I think I have to draw the line at live food. We need to do some more research. Maybe I should talk to Cecily’s vet and see if there are other options.

  7. OK… we have a gecko – love her {Violet}. She is by far the easiest pet we have to care for {we also have two turtles, two fire belly toads, a European Green Toad, two cats and a puppy oh and a Beta… maybe the Beta is the easiest LOL}.

    Anyhoo… we got her from a reptile show so straight from her breeder. If you can find one in your area they are fun to go to. She lives in a 10 gallon tank with a heater taped to the bottom of her tank {like heat tape??}. We keep it at 98, except in the summer when we have no control cause we have no air. She is smart though and doesn’t lay on the heated side during the summer LOL. She has a rock cave to hide in. She also has a toilet paper roll she likes to hide in too. Then she has a shedding container. The breeder gave us this. It is high tech – NOT. He took a glad container he bought at the store and then burned a hole in the top smoothing off the edges. Then he filled it with coconut shavings. She goes in there and does her thing when it is time to shed. As for crickets they are super easy. We buy them for all our animals and keep an orange or potato in their cage to feed them. {you can buy cricket food too if you’re so inclined} Now we are supposed to dust them with calcium before we feed any animal but we don’t. Kind of like shake and bake, ya know – toss them in a bag with the calcium. Oh and we have a bowl of calcium in her tank with a bowl of water {as our breeder told us to do}. And lastly, the bottom of her cage is covered in paper towels. When they need changed it’s easy to do {geckos oddly only dirty in one part of their cage}.

    I could take pictures and show you. This was a compromise to a breaded dragon which eats salad stuff and gets big. No thank you!

    1. Hm. I dunno. I’m not convinced. Is there an alternative to the live crickets??

      1. Hey! Yeah, there’s actually loads of alternatives! Although, they may be considered worse than crickets…

        You can use mealworms, super worms etc…The list goes on.
        Leopard geckos are insectivores, which means they only eat insects. There are plenty of helpful websites that you can use to research a little further into this as well. I would not recommend listening to the advise of pet store employees, although they are doing their job, their advise is incorrect and could put your gecko in danger.

        Sorry this was long, but hopefully it helped? (I know how annoying crickets are, so don’t worry, there is alternatives!)

  8. Well, you know where I stand on pets.

    All those pet websites are like real estate ads. They are out TO SELL! According to the various animals I have googled, every darn creature in the world “can make an excellent pet.” The operative word being “can.” Like a leopard *can* be a good pet, as long as it doesn’t eat you! Lordy! J keeps saying “Mom? mom? people think tarantulas are poisonous, but they’re not. They make excellent pets!”

  9. The family I used to nanny for had geckos/lizards…whatever (they ate crickets) LOL And I cared for them alot. I am not one to pick a reptile or jumping bugs as pets, but really….it wasn’t that bad. I never had to touch the reptile and if you had a tube to scoop up the crickets with, they never get near you. Your son is definitely old enough to do all of the work himself and, if he doesn’t? You can just send it on to a new home 🙂 I’m sure that will be enough incentive for him to keep it up himself. (especially if he spent his hard-earned money on the pet too).

    And I’ve also heard that reptiles are a MUCH better option than any type of rodent because they do not bite.

  10. EEEEEK! No lizards will ever reside here…I had to care for my brother’s lizard once (with the crickets) and it was enough to send me over the edge and make up my mind…never in my house. Not sure what advice to give ya!

    Sorry about the Crepe Myrtle. WE have three large ones in front of our house! They always remind me of my grandmother as she loved them, too!

  11. This is why I click on your blog first in my reader nearly every day. You make me laugh – and think – at the same time! Blessings on your decision process with regards to the lizard. I’m still thinking I’m going to cave on a dog for my nine and seven-year-olds some day…..

  12. We were also trying to avoid the dog commitment, so we have had every animal imagineable before getting a dog. The geckos were by far the easiest pet. Yes, you need to feed them crickets, but we would just buy them twice a week(6-8 each time for 2 geckos) and empty all of them in the tank. No cricket cages! Also, try different raw fruits/veggies to see what they like for added nutrition. We used an old tank, bought a heat lamp and found rocks and sticks to make an environment for them. We did purchase little ‘huts’ for them. It was a very small expense and they were often found in there in the morning. Our experience has been good. Our geckos had about a 2 year life span….not a big commitment.

  13. I have a friend that always had lizards…still does I think. She LOVED them, and still to this day says her Gecko was the best one ever…

    Go for it! See if he can do it, and enlist the girls to help (hahahahaha I know).

  14. Buy two, male and female, let them run free in the house and you will be bug free. I have several in my house. There’s two in the kitchen, one in the bathroom, one in the outside laundry and occasionally I see the one in the bedroom. I didn’t “get” them, they were here when I rented the place. They thrive, I don’t feed them, I don’t have an expensive terrarium, nor do I have to turn on the heat for them; I talk to them, Meow Meow my cat eyes them with a glint in his eye. They are unobtrusive and they eat bugs. They are low maintenance, no crickets. I suspect they breed because sometimes I see a little one peep out from the toilet cistern. But then I also live in Rio de Janeiro, we don’t have cold winters here (well, we didn’t, someone forgot to tell the weather man this year).

    Love your blog, I have added it to my Blogger’s Cafe; http://avarchives.blogspot.com/ in Library 1 – Mom’s Blogs (that’s a different link to my personal blog).

    AV

  15. No advice to offer on the gecko…I’m up to 2 fish, 2 frogs and 4 hermit crabs right now. 😉

    On the tree, take clippings from it put them in a jar with water and let them root a little, then you can transplant them anywhere. I’d give them a month or two inside, but that’s here where it’s hotter than the Sahara right now. Be sure you get them in before the freezes begin there. I’ve done this many times for us and my neighbors have too, it’s worked!

  16. I recoiled at the gecko photo. Lizards are a thing I cannot seem to get over disliking. I’m a cat girl, despite the fur and littler box. I’m sorry about your crepe myrtle. I adore them and have one of the same color in my yard. Maybe you’ll plant another one?

  17. Hi I just found your blog! I’m excited to read it. and I have to say, I am not a fan of reptile pets or furry critter pets. My son is only 4 and my husband and I already decided the only pet worth having was a dog.
    I also live in the suburbs of Philadelphia and belong to a Presbyterian church! Unfortunately my suburb is not-so-rural anymore. I look forward to reading your blog and would love to know what county you are in (we are looking to move to a more rural area!)
    Katie

  18. Wise words from your girl. I could not do the crickets either. I like my dogs, thankyouverymuch. They eat food that comes in a bag and potty outside. Other than the puppy stage where they do create havoc- they are a joy. Mostly. 🙂

  19. We had a frog that had to eat crickets. It’s kind of a pain – you have to go to the pet store at least twice a week, because even if you put “food” in there for the crickets, they die, and then it’s a waste of the crickets. The lizard (and frogs) won’t eat dead crickets.

    Also, they get out between their cage and feeding them to the other animal, so you’ll have crickets all over the place, even if you’re being careful.

    The gecko is really cute, though! We have wild geckos outside our house, it’s fun when they climb on the screen door at night, they look funny.

  20. The thought of the gecko makes me sick! Good thing you got a way around it.

    I’m sorry about your crepe myrtle, Jo-Lynne. It was indeed a very beautiful tree. I guess you’ll just have to take of another one to have another willing subject for your photography. Nice shots by the way.

  21. Leopard geckos don’t need the special lighting, just a heat pad and a 10 gallon aquarium. I set one up for myself and it cost me about $110 for everything, animal included.

  22. All you do is make sure the lizard has water (that’s really all crickets need) And feed him about 5 or 6 every few days, without the.hassle of having to harm the crickets. LS Gecko’s also eat salad. If that helps…

  23. I have a fat tail leopard gecko which is about eight now.when I like six or seven I’m fourteen now. though but the lizard can live for up to twenty years .but anyways I don’t really do anything that article says about the crickets and just buy them from the pet store. but I have to fill up the water about every day and feed him once to twice a month. but with the one in the picture is not a fat tail one like mine so you would have to feed it more often because the fat tail stores the food. but I do t cut off the crickets legs he just stands there And waits for the crickets to pass him.

  24. Ok so this might have been a while ago but I have had 2 Leos. They are fairly easy to take care of. Look…. The crickets are not that big of a deal. Just buy a small bag at the pet store and carefully pull one out with tweasers. Thenput it near the gecko. He will get it. I’ve had many fish. They suck. No offense fish lovers. Some people just don’t do enough research so they don’t know some preside points like MAlES houses together will fight!!!

  25. Lmao after reading this- I know I am like 8 years too late- I find it funny. Your reaction is very understandable haha. But leopard geckos are easy and there is definitely an alternative to the crickets. There are mealworms which are WAY easier and even cheaper. I was reading the other comments and laughing softly- but I didn’t see anyone say mealworms were an option. There are various ways to feed and care for a leo. Though the tank and set up is expensive, it lasts a while and is worth it in the long run. The only reason you may have to feed your leopard gecko’s food is to keep their food source fat, nutritious, and healthy- kind of how farmer prefer their livestock to be fattened up and healthy. Don’t want a sick burger, do we? I hope you let your son get a leopard gecko as you find they are WAY easier to handle than they seem. Also, do not listen to pet store employees as usually they recommend you give them a desert setup with sand. Calcium sand or not- it is dangerous for the Leo. I was about 9 or 10 when I got my first. I lost her to a cat. Now, 5 or 6 years later, I have two leopard geckos. Granted that, back then, I was far less experienced and didn’t do research so please do research and ask a breeder about leopard geckos- NOT PET STORE EMPLOYEES! Though not all employees are wrong and it may not be their fault for being wrong. It is just best you get good advice from people who actually handle and raise a certain pet.

    Now, like I said before- I am very much aware how late I am to this but I am typing this to let other people like you know these things when they come to this page for help. Feel free to ask questions if you don’t know how to get ahold of someone else who may know about leopard geckos.

  26. Hello, there. I own a leopard gecko myself, and they make good pets. The lizards can be tricky to care for if you care for the gecko properly. They need a few supplements to dust the insects with, along with a STRICT schedule, and the heating can be complex, assuming you don’t want a UVB lamp. If your kid is trustworthy and responsible, go for it! If not, the gecko will not be alive for very long. People say leopard geckos are simple, but they aren’t if you wish to take care of the little guy for 20 years! Leopard geckos make nice pets, and are fun to spend time with, but please know this is a HUGE committment. Thanks!

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