Wednesday, February 29, 2012


I got a call back from my local Pet Depot today saying that I coul place my order for a cresty if I wanted to, so long as I put a down payment on it!

Best news of all; I get to pick it up Friday! That's tomorrow's tomorrow! Sweet! It's a bit pricier than PetSmart, but I've been waiting on them for a little too long.I guess they use different breeders. I got to learn more about that. It's sounding more and more like something I want to get into eventually.

But hey, that's business and this is how I'm feeling right now:

Product Research 1: Monsoon RS400 by Exo-Terra

Over the past couple days, I've really pondered on how many products I bought without knowing if they're truly necessary or if I should even be using them at all, such as the UV lamp and the calcium enriched Cricket Quencher. So I've decided to try doing a little more research into various products that I may one day purchase. For now, I'll just see what others have to say and weather or not I think this is a product I could use. If I decided to buy it later on, I'll definitely put it up to personal review.

Monsoon RS400 High Pressure Rainfall System
(Research Phase)

For my first product, I'm cheating a little. This is a product I've definitely already done some research on, but it won't hurt to gather up said research and list it here. It might just help someone.

Having tried my hand at keep my terrarium humid, I can definitely understand the need for something a little bigger than a hand mister, and so far, the Monsoon RS400 by Exo-Terra looks like a pretty stellar candidate, at least for my needs.

Check it out here in a video put up by PetSolutions on YouTube.

Why I need it:
-I need to make sure the substrate is moistened every day to ensure proper humidity levels, which in turn help with shedding and overall health.
-Geckos often drink their water off of leaves or even the tank walls, since this is most likely their natural behaviour, so daily mists are essential.
-Rainfall occurs on a fairly daily basis in tropical rainforest (you think?), and I'd like to try to emulate that as much as possible.

Why this product:
For one, this product is designed specifically for the tank I use, namely Exo-Terra's own brand of terrarium. The tube-work fits into the provided inlets along the top of the terrarium and the nozzles are held in place via suction cup. If you're the Handyman Hobbyist Herpetoculturalist, you can probably rig up something of your own design. I chose not to. At least, not at this stage of my "career".

The system is also pretty programmable, from what I've read, which is pretty neat. One could set it to spray off a couple seconds, twice a day.

You can also plug up to six nozzles into this system, which includes two right out of the box, so one could theoretically hook up two to three vivariums.

What compares to it:
After reading a couple chat rooms and watching some YouTube, I've noticed that in place of a direct mist system, some folks go with a fogging system, which might serve one better for various reasons. The reason I came across that seemed most sensible is pooling. If you don't have an absorbent substrate, you might want to consider a fogger.

I, for one, prefer the mister. It seems more like rain and it gives the whole terrarium a nice moistening, which would be great for an all-natural vivi. Not to knock the fogger though. Foggers totally add that "rainforest feel".

I cam across a couple humidifying options:
-The option that kind of seemed strange to me was the Ultrasonic 360 Humidifier from Safety 1st, which is actually used to humidify nurseries. Then again, if you have a big enough enclosure, or you keep the entire room at the right humidity level, this might work. But for me, this isn't even an option. I like my humidity to be direct and discrete.
- Foggers, as mentionned above, might be better for the person who wishes to avoid pooling or over-watering their enclosure. Both Exo-Terra and Zoo Med boast a fogging system in their respective catalogs. ExoT's fogger, however, is more of an add-on to their waterfall systems. Cute, but it could be kind of cumbersome to have an entire waterfall in your habitat just to add a little fog. On the other hand, Zoo Med's Repti Fogger doesn't really seem to have a decent way of incorporating into your vivarium. The kid I found on YouTube actually cut a hole in the screen top of his enclosure. Definitely not something I would consider. I think in this case, I would either simply place it on the screen and let the fog seep through the ever-so-permeable screen top, or rig up a funneling system to put on top of the tank.
In my opinion, both present very viable methods of humidification. It just depends on how much room you have to spare in your set-up.
-My personal favorite, the Monsoon RS400.
-My current option; using a small, hand-held spray bottle. It's cheap, it's simple, it works, but it's more labourious, less measured and so on and so forth.

Useful links and videos

Product links:
Exo-Terra's Monsoon RS400 Rainfall System
Exo-Terra's Fogger and Waterfall 
Zoo Med's Repti Fogger


Monsoon RS 400 in action
Video put up by (name) on YouTube.

Here's an example of the Monsoon RS400 being used to mist a dart frog set-up. All frog-related cuteness asside, this is a really nice terrarium. It's also a great showcase for the rainfall system.

Repti Fogger setup and function
Video put up by (name) on YouTube.

This video is put up by HerpCare101. It's a kid named Steve showing off the system and how it works with his tree frog set-up. You can see what I mean about the system being hard to incorporate into your habitat without remodeling your lid.

Some other useful vid links include:
-A video from joshsfrogsvideos showing the installation of the Exo-Terra Monsoon (video)
-A link to the YouTube channel for HerpCare101. I haven't explored it much, but it seems like a great place to peruse. (channel)

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Odds and Ends

I've been calling around every PetSmart in the area for the past two weeks and still, can't seem to get my hands on a cresty.

I had a bit more luck at the local Pet Depot. I found them way more helpful than the other locations I've tried so far, although I may have just gotten lucky since the girl I spoke with actually has a crested gecko. (Side not, she was pretty, too!) I learned a bit about their suppliers, which is also more reassuring. They get their cresties from a Canadian breeder and she tells me they arrive as hatchlings, which is perfect! It's definitely better than hearing that "they're really tiny when we get them"... because, you know, +1 for using proper terms. I can have one ordered specifically, but I have to put a down payment on it. Both good and bad in my opinion. One the right, they would then be actively involved and perhaps try a little harder to get me one. On the left, I could still get time-shafted. I mean, from what I've been hearing at every other store I've visited, they're waiting on the breeders (a likely story?). I've been thinking about it, and though it might cost me a little more, if I can in a hatchling, (ACTUALLY get one in) I'm all for it! If the clerk's cuteness and helpfulness was any indication, it'll be just fine. (Yeah, that makes sense to me... and speaks volumes...)

I sis learn a couple other fun factoids too. I probably got suckered into buying the UV light. Heck, I figured out that much before talking with the Pet Depot clerk (Emily?) about it, but then I hear that cresties can actually get sun burned?! Dafuq is up with that? If that's true, it's a strike against that goon at PetSmart (I'm sorry, you're at work, in a professional place, take off the face metal, maybe??) who sold me it. That'll learn me.

Emily(?) also feeds her gecko Repashy, which might be sold at Big Al's! At least, the one in Kanata (?) sells it. But hey, there's always online order. She also feeds gut buster crickets, but not every day. Oh, silly gecko dietary plans. I'm starting to think it's just a long-running joke.

I told her about the rest of my set-up, though, and she agreed with it. +1 for me.

I'm going back this Wednesday to place my order and I'd love to ask her about some of the other products I bought. I may have some extra junk lying around once all is said and done! Call it an investment for future herps. Or, you know, a waste of cash. Blah.

Oh, and I've been trying to find a way to link to this blog, but I can't. So here's the link to Exo-Terra's Sri Lanka expedition. Looks pretty cool.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Hard to Find

Well, another Wednesday rolled by, as did another shipment of reptiles at PetSmart. Sadly, their suppliers still haven't gotten around to filling the order for one crested gecko. I'm not angry with PetSmart or anything; I mean if their suppliers are screwing them, they can't really be blamed. Sure it COULD be a cover-up story... if it wasn't for the fact that every other pet store I contact is also waiting shipment on these guys. Time to expand my horizons. I really didn't want to have to go out of town to get my cresty, for multiple reasons.

Reasons being:
-Long travel time for a little critter. Although I guess it's no worst than the trip to the pet store.
-Local custom. I'm not super patriotic or anything, but I do like giving my business to the locals when I can.
-Solidarity. I've pretty much got all my gear at this local PetSmart and I'm the kind of guy that likes to honor that.
-Gas prices. It's expensive enough as it is to buy this little geek without jacking up the price with travel expenses. Grr

Eh, whatever. I'm most likely going to a PetSmart anyways, since their are like six in Ottawa alone. I hope my membership card still applies out of town.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Prepping the Diet (cont'd)

Still waiting for word from the pet store. But, in the meantime, I've been reading up on dietary needs, since i can't seem to find a decent answer anywhere.

I did find many varying accounts though, some that actually dispute what others say and oh the twisted tales of gecko breeders! It's actually kind of humorous, almost as funny as it is aggravating.

At this point, it feels much less like a science, more of an art. The sites I found I've listed below.

JB's Crested Gecko Info
The Gecko Spot
Geckoland Reptiles

Also found a page on

Each site a different opinion, each site a different diet, almost.
The short hand was:
-Be wary of pretty much any kind of hard bodied worms, such as  meal worms and wax worms. They're hard on the digestive track.
-Cricket size shouldn't exceed the distance between the gecko's eyes.
-Try not to overload the gecko with calcium.
-Baby food might be tasty to them, but be careful and feed it at your own risk.
There are about a zillion (no, a gorillian) other things to consider and this aspect of gecko care seems by far the most complex.

One page struck me above the others though, and that's the Diet and Nutrition page (here) of What they say is that they offer their geckos crickets regularly. They also claim to know many other breeders who deny even using crickets, but in fact do. Not sure what the deal is here. When did crickets become contraband? The only thing I can think to do now, at this point is to go with what I feel.

Something else I will most likely look into is this dietary product called Repashy Crested Gecko Diet. It's like a water based fruit mixture that seems to work pretty well when coupled with gust buster crickets (much spiffier name than gut loaded), or even on it's own. I'll have to do some online shopping... which will ahve to wait till after I get some extra cash... Blah.

But, once I iron out a proper meal plan, I'll post it up.

After all this talk of food, there's only one thing left to post.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Give some love to a blind kitten!

This is Ray. Ray has no eyes due to an infectious cold he caught after being abandoned. Don't abandon pets, or Bob Barker and I will hunt you down!

And give Ray and his human lots of props and lots of love!

You can find Ray's Tumblr here!
The image came from one of the posts.

Seriously though, pets are a huge responsibility. DO NOT get a pet if you are not prepared to commit to it. Pet's make terrible gifts. If someone wanted a pet, they would buy one. Help make sure all pets go to a loving home and support your local SPCA, get your pets fixed and treat them with love!

Environment Test (take 2)

I'm putting this post off way too long, but damn it, I keep getting sided by updated manga and youtube videos. I've been meaning to do this since last night when I modified my setup, but figured it be more chronologically sensical to wait till the following day to rectify my doom-and-gloom post of yesterday. 

I think I finally have it. With the exception of some varying humidity readings, everything seems to jive. I have a hot zone temp of about 32°C (bugger off and learn metric, I hate converting lol), a cool zone of a little under 25°C, clear difference in temperature of about 2°C between the majority of the ground cover and the ground under the hide-away, and a humidity of 80% on the dot in the most humid zones.

What's different? This little bugger: the Zoo-Med Reptile Lamp Stand. This thing litterally saved my enclosure. I was originally looking for the Exo-Terra Light Bracket, but was unable to find this at my local PetSmart as well as one of the many in Ottawa. I was kind of crunched for time last night though and didn't really want to make an hour and twenty minute commute for nothing, so I asked around and one of the staff pointed me to Big Al's (seriously!). The stores full name is Big Al's Canada (just look for the big shark!), and I think I'll be putting their link in my list for future shopping needs. These guys specialize in fish, reptiles and ponds. No bird nonsense or kitten shenanigans here. I wish I ahd more than ten minutes to scope out the place, but closing time is closing time.

Anyway, grabbed this item without comparing much with what I'd seen of the Exo-Terra bracket, and I was a little scared on my way home. But lo and behold, it's a thing of beauty! Not that I can physically compare, but this looks to be the product to fit my need. It's taller, brings the light out further from it's stem, and even has it's own base so you don't have to mount it permanently to your tank. Now, mind you, I say this again, this product is better for my needs. For one thing, with the combination of light dome and canopy, the bracket would of had to of been mounted to the side; not a very esthetically pleasing prospect. Also, I plan on upgrading tank sizes by year end, so I don't really want to buy another, or rip it off the side or whatever.

However, there is a big "but" here, other than mine own; did some price checking. The Exo-Terra bracket falls in the price range of about 11.00$ to 15.00$. The Zoo Med stand runs you up around 45.00$.

So it's a question of apples and oranges really. They serve functions different enough for them to be considered completely different products (in my opinion) and should therefore not be compared (much like the Gene Wilder Willy Wonka and the Johnny Depp Willy Wonka).

To summarize, both the Zoo Med Lamp Stand and the Exo-Terra Light Bracket are viable options for ways to affix your light and better control the inner temperature of your enclosure and keep the light out of harms way, as depicted in the image below.

I should like to point out that the only two of the wires in that tangle are associated with the terrarium.
The rest are an unfortunate by product of technology in the living space.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Environmental Test

I finally put my substrate into the terrarium and I'm very I did. I tried running a humidity and temperature test, to see if I could maintain the right levels. As it turns out, for the moment at least, I can't. My temperature soared into the high 30s (Celsius) and my humidity got blasted down to 20%.

It looks like sitting my lamp on top of my enclosure is just too much heat to keep it humid. With a good morning misting (about 3 and half hours ago) I was able to raise my humidity to about 45% but it has since dropped back to about 20%.

I'm going to have to try to pick up a stand of some sort to keep a bit of distance between the terrarium and the heat source. Maybe stagger it a bit so it's not quite a direct beam of light.

Also, looks like I might need a new hygrometer. I tried moving it to a better location... which was a terrible idea. It left asticky ring of foam and gunk. I'm just happy I was able to wipe off the gunk...

Also, picked up a few more goodies; I got the Half Log Hideout (medium size) by All Living Things and an Exo-Terra Faunarium to keep my cresty in when I clean out his habitat.

That is, assuming I can make the habitat liveable...
Trying to find a couple extra ways of keeping the hygro up.
Despite the messed up temperature, I do like the appearance.
One more positive thing; I took a temperature touch-test of the substrate in the hideout and near the water dish. Even with my indelicate touch, I was able to sense a noticeable difference, which is exactly what I wanted.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Prepping the Diet

Since all I need to do to finalize my terrarium is add the substrate and get a hide-away, and since I thought I'd actually have my gecko by now, I got my cricket keeper and feed a couple days back.

The tank is the small Kricket Keeper by Lee's Aquarium and Pet Supplies. I've seen other brands that come with small built-in (I think) food and water dishes, of which the Kricket Keeper had none. The Exo-Terra brand name equivalent is an example of the latter. After having done some price checks, the difference amounts to a couple dollars, so I guess it's justifiable. Besides, I didn't feel like ordering one online. I'm sure this product will work just fine (despite the Mortal Kombat style changing of "cricket" to "kricket")

For food and water, I went with Fluker's Orange Cube and  Cricket Quencher. I've read good things about the Orange Cube, but I have come across some accounts that state that the calcium enhanced Cricket Quencher may actually do the crickets too much good; I've read that the extra calcium goes straight to the cricket's exoskeleton, making them harder to digest. Since the Orange Cube contains a certain amount of moisture, I might hold off on the the Quencher till my gecko is a little older and more likely able to digest these things. I may not. I mean, I keep hearing different answers from every source, so I may just have to go with my gut. Gut-loaded crickets. Haha.

I still plan on dusting them with calcium powder before hand, but to avoid hypercalcemia, I'll probably only dust a couple crickets a week. In terms of cricket feeding frequencies, again, I find myself facing down a multitude of opinions. The young lad at PetSmart indicates I should feed crickets daily and as many as the gecko can eat withing five minutes. The literature I obtained from PetSmart says crickets 2 to 3 times a week. I'm more inclined to go with the second amount, as it matches the recommended amount listed on Pangea, yet another very helpful source of information I came across while doing my research.

I also intend to provide Fluker's Crested Gecko dietary food more or less as recommended, depending on how much my gecko will consume.

All this just makes me wonder if geckos share traits with their crocodillian and testudine (turtle) cousins, in that they continue to grow giving sufficient food and living space, like the case of Gustave. I'd love to be able to raise a monster-sized gecko!

Picture of my feeding and cleaning products

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Learn Something New Every Day

Huh, so I just learned that the brand I've been using, All Living Things, is actually owned by PetSmart. Cool. Though I find that Exo-Terra makes more esthetically pleasing terrarium decor, there's just no beating those awesome suction cups on the ALT Critter Branch! Solid!

Prepping my Terrarium (part 3)

Step 3: Lighting, Heating and Humidifying

So now that I have all my branches and bushes exactly how I want them, I'll turn my focus to the mechanic aspects.

It's important to note that I have been keeping my heating and lighting in mind as I place my decorations in order to create the desired hot and cool spots.

After doing a bit of research, I find again that there aren't concrete rules for these guys.
Taking into account everything I've read so far, I would have to say that cresties need a day-time temperature of about 80 to 82°F (27 to 28°C) in the hot spots and somewhere in the mid 70s in the cool spots (about 24°C), unless you plan on breeding them. Though the brochure provided by PetSmart indicates a maximum hot-spot temperature of 85°F (30°C), some of my other sources (namely Crested Gecko Canada) state that temperatures above 83°F (28°C) can increase your gecko's stress, and temperatures any higher than 85°F can in fact be fatal. So none of that.

Also, I mentioned that breeding would require different temperatures. Since I don't have immediate plans on breeding, I haven't looked into it with much detail, but again, Crested Gecko Canada has some good knowledge on it.

To help control these varying temperatures, I bought an extra thermometer (product of All Living Things) to go with the thermometer and hygrometer provided in the Exo-Terra starter kit. The first I place up in the basking zone of the terrarium to make sure I never get into those deadly ranges. The second (which I may have botched), I stuck lower to the ground near the cool spot, just to make sure things stay cool but not cold.

To be fair though, this might be overkill, as I have read that cresties can take temperatures in the mid 60s (about 16 to 17°C), but I don't really want to push my luck, as these guys need heat to grow and to help them digest.

In terms of heat lamps, I was advised to get a 60W Neodymium daylight bulb (Sun Glo 60W by Exo-Terra). The literature I found online backs up my choice, indicating that a low wattage heating bulb is all that is necessary. Cresties are nocturnal after all. I have even been told that an infra-red bulb way serve too, as I could leave that on day-round since it sheds no light, but I prefer it this way... so far.

I also run a Repti Glo 5.0 UVB 26W bulb by Exo-Terra in the lamp that was included in the starter kit to provide my cresty with necessary uv levels. This bulb has a high uv output, which may affect my choice of cricket calcium powder in the future (since my current powder is fortified with vitamin D3, a possibly redundant additive in light of... the light).
This bulb would be very necessary if I were running a natural terrarium, however, given that plants require this light to grow as well.

The effect is as follows:

This image shows my terrarium bathed in uv light alone,

while this image shows both the uv light and the heat lamp in full glow.

Also visible on the second image is the placement of my thermo/hygrometers; at the top and bottom.

Last factor to consider is humitidy. This is a tricky one, since a hot humid environment is a breeding ground for moulds and mildews, some of which can be kind of nasty for both myself and the cresty. This means regular cleaning is essential.

But I digress; humidity! Recommended to be between 50% and 80% by the people at PetSmart, 60% to 80% by Crested Gecko Canada. I'm thinking somewhere in the low 70s is where I'll be. This is so far the only factor I haven't tried to control in my environment since I don't want to add the coconut husk substrate till about a day before I get the gecko to avoid wasting it. Considering that no animal wastes will be contaminating it, however, I'll probably get around to setting it up over the course of next week.

Coconut husk seems like the right choice, since it's gentle on the animal, it holds moisture and has a very pleasing natural look, to boot. Added to this is the Exo-Terra Rainforest Heat Wave I have affixed to the bottom of my terrarium. I've had mine plugged in since I set up and I must say; it's not very hot. Weather or not this is normal, it will in any event help release the moisture in the substrate, giving me my humidity.

To keep the substrate moist, misting is required. Once again, I've found about three different solutions. To average them out, I'm going to mist about once or twice a day, or as required to hit that humidity g-spot.

In terms of misting to provide the cresty with water (rather than a dish, as they lick dew off themselves and their surroundings), I'll probably continue to provide a water source, unless I see that the gecko isn't using it at all.

Also, I plan on treating the water with a cleanser, even though I will be using distilled water. I'm taking no chances of poisoning my gecko with chlorinated water, afterall.