Monday, March 19, 2012

Just another update, with a little Repashy on the side

Well, I've been out and about for a little while now, what with our household getting HD cable (including Oasis! Yay!), friends about to leave town, and St-Paddy's Day, but now it's high time I got back to posting.

Well, Rocza's still proving to be fairly shy and reclusive (guess the pets reflect the master after all...), but he seems to be in good health. I've noticed fairly regular bowel movements around the habitat, which is definitely a good sign. Cricket feeding is now about three to four times a week; four crickets on Tuesdays and Saturdays, one cricket one Sunday and Thursday.

After having spoke with Emily about how hard it was for her to ween her gecko off crickets and get him eating Repashy, I was pretty worried. As it turns out, Rocza loves the stuff. I offered him some with a popsicle stick for something a little softer than the steel tongs and he ate it right up. Unfortunately, I'm not sure he's finding his elevated food dish which contains the Repashy. I get the feeling the little guy is slightly agoraphobic. 

So, to give him a better sense of privacy, I've started putting up a shroud around his habitat at night to cut back on the ambient light he's getting (like from my computer and the light on the Monsoon RS 400). Since then, I've actually been able to observe him moving around and exploring more, even hanging upside-down on the screen top. I've also bought him some extra foliage. I went with a second synthetic croton plant, though this one is by Zoo Med. I got to admit, it's "arms" really form a nice, leafy alcove for sleeping. I placed it on the open side of the feeding ledge to entice Rocza out onto it.
The more lush, green colour kind of contrasts my other plants, but it looks good. I also like the more rubbery feel. As it turns out, so does Rocza, I guess. He's moved out of the amapallo and taken up new residence. Hopefully he stays in that one. He's far more exposed to view and this will hopefully have him feeling more comfortable around me.

Also, though I can't be sure, since he's taken up residence, he might have also discovered his food dish. So I hope anyway. I would love to reduce his cricket consumption to twice a week, but I don't want to till I'm positive he's able to forage his own food.
As far as I can tell, he's not thinning out. In fact, after I saw some baby cresties at a another local pet store today, I think he's even growing.

Pictures of the current habitat to come tomorrow (later "today") as I don't want to take down Rocza's shroud and start shooting while he's active.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Product Review 1: Monsoon RS 400

The posts got a little delayed due to me not feeling super great for a bit, but here they are! Bright, shiny and smelling like spring.

Also, I received my bag of Repashy today! Hooray!


Product Review 1: Monsoon RS 400 by Exo-Terra

As you might guess, this is a product  I've been interested in from the very begining. Not only did the concept of a rainfall system seem way too cool to me, the idea of not having to worry about misting every morning, day and night really appealed to my lazy/forgetful side.

As such, I feel my expectations may have been pretty high from the get go. So, keeping that in mind, I'm pretty happy to say that the RS 400 met almost all my expectations!

Overall Rating: 8/10

The pros are pretty much as I though; easy to use, easy to assemble, easy to fill, effective, and so on and so forth. I really feel as though I could leave for a couple days and not have to worry about watering... just feeding. But feeding has nothing to do with this system, so I can't fault it for that.
Aside from what I already expected, I have to say that the nozzles don't stick out quite as much as I was afraid they would. I kind of hid them away in the leaves, which you can see below in the pictures.

Though the system is made to take advantage of the Exo-Terra terrarium's cable and tube conduits on the lid, I feel like the two systems weren't designed in tandem, especially with a foam backboard installed. The way I have it installed now, I feel as though there is way too much pressure on the tubing because there just isn't the right amount of room back there. To be fair, that's good in a sense. I don't want Rocza or his food slipping in back of anything. On the down side, should the tight squeeze puncture the tubing, that's a fine jet of water spraying all around my nice shiny electronic toys. I really wish I had a better place to put it... but till then, I'm keeping an eye on it, and I've reshuffled the room a bit to accommodate.
Also in reference to the space issue is the fact that the lid to the terrarium is now twice as hard to put back on, and it was tricky from the start.
Also, yeah, the nozzles aren't super obvious, but they're still very much present. I also find that though they do articulate, it's never quite the way I want them to be. Not a big issue though.

Neither pro nor con, I noticed that too much hose means a crappy spray. What I though might have been a clogged nozzle actually turned out to be a lack of pressure due to the small hole and the length of tube. Once I trimmed the punctured part off, it worked just fine. Not bad for second hand, really.
The cycle light is also super bright. My computer has some nice lighting on it and... I mean it's almost on par with this one little light. Nothing a piece of tape or a sock can't fix...

NOTE: I've recently bumped this down to an 8, as from time to time, the nozzles start to spray pretty harshly. So far, I've been able to fix this by jiggling the tubing, but it's still annoying. Also, after reviewing the rest of the cons, it just didn't add up to a 9.

Left-hand nozzle coming out of the amapallo plant.

Right-hand nozzle coming out of the croton plant

My new canopy section, complete with feeding ledge.

Monsoon RS 400 Rainfall System - product page

Product Review 2: Magnaturals Feed and Water Ledge

Product Review 2: Magnaturals Feed and Water Ledge by Pet Tech

I still can't believe the luck I had finding this product. I really want to go back to Big Al's and just buyout the lot of everything I want. Sadly, that would hurt my wallet. It's not cheap, but so far, well worth the price.

Overall Rating: 10/10

It's a ledge, it's a bowl, it's magnetic. What more could one ask for? The dish comes out easily and is replaced easily. The whole of it is light-weight, and the magnets are immensely strong, so it feels like it could support a small gecko-sized elephant. It's foam, so it doesn't absorb and it's easy to clean, though admittedly, I haven't had to clean any crap off it yet. And above all else, it looks crazy-good!

Well... If you have a weak grip on the magnet while attaching it, I guess you could bust your glass. That's about all I have to say about that.

Above and beyond the pros? Not much to say, really. I'd love to say that Rocza loves it as much as I do, but the little guy enjoy his privacy. So far as I can tell, he hasn't ventured out onto it yet. As tonight is cricket feeding night, I plan on changing that. 
Oh! One comment; it was bigger than I had anticipated. That's about it.

The earth-toned colour really fits in well with colour-scheme of my set.

Once more, a shot of the overall canopy effect.

Magnaturals Feed/Water Ledge by pet Tech

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Excitement Abounds! As Do Product Reviews!

Just posting this a preliminary post to the two that will follow.

It's been about a day now that I've used the Monsoon system, so I'll give you my input on it. Also, just got back from my birthday trip to Ottawa for some fancy sea-food nom noms, as well as a little pet store shopping. PetSmart was about the same as always. Same stuff as the one in town, just more of it, which is okay for your all-around pet care. I definitely need to update my info regarding Big Al's. That place is a gold mine! I had more than (literally) ten minutes to look this time, since I got there at a decent hour, and I'm totally in awe of the amount of great stuff they have. I thought the place looked small at first, it's not, it's huge, their fish section also has reptiles and amphibians, the had an eel, it was awesome!
Best part? They sell Magnaturals! Like everything. All I wanted. Sadly, it's all bigger than I though, so I didn't buy everything I wanted for lack of space, which consisted of the small hideaway and some hanging jungle plants. What I did get was the feeding dish, and yes, that's the one I just did a product research bit on. It got me totally by surprise. I really didn't expect to find a store that would stock Pet Tech. Pet Depot has a couple, but they tell me their supplier is kind of going to stop selling it. It was obviously more expensive than the listed online price, but once you factor in shipping and exchange, it came out much cheaper in the long run. Well, more like short run, shipping would have taken way longer.

So, to follow will be my review of my two new products: the Monsoon RS 400 and the Magnaturals Feed and Water ledge.

Oh and a little post script here:
Fed Rocza again today, since I'm still waiting on the crummy US postal service to get my Repashy to the freaking border so our crummy Canadian post can take its sweet time getting it to me. Yeah, I have issues with the postal service. Bad experiences, old and new. Amazon informed me I would have my Repashy by... let's see, last Friday and when I checked last Friday, it was still in Miami or some crap.
Anywho, just fed him once cricket today, since it's between feedings. But, the little bugger still looked hungry (after he bit the cricket in two, leaving me holding half), so I got my sneaky on and stuck a few pellets of his thus-far untouched gecko food to the end of the feeding tongs with some water and got him to try a bit. He didn't seem to mind it, but he either lost his interest or his appetite and crawled back into his bushy lair.


Friday, March 9, 2012

New Product - Monsoon RS 400!

So I picked up that well-priced Monsoon RS 400 I mentioned before. It was more or less half price, since it had been used for about a month on a baby veiled chameleon at Pet Depot.

I checked it out and gave it a run-through before I did any final installation. The motor runs just fine. The only two icks are that one nozzle is slightly plugged with mineral deposits (I think and hope) and that there is a small hole in one piece of the tubing. Nothing major at all. I'm fairly sure I know exactly what went down with the nozzle. See, Pet Depot uses filtered tap water for their animals. Nothing wrong there in my opinion, at least in terms of animal health. There's most likely still mineral deposits after the filtration process, though, and that's what hopefully plugged up the nozzle.

Currently soaking both nozzles in a 50/50 solution of water and vinegar for 24 hours, as per the instructions.

I can already tell it's going to be pretty visible in my enclosure, since it's rather small (the enclosure, that is), but it's hopefully going to be worth it. The misting process is hopefully goign to be more effective at raising humidity than my simple spray bottle. I'm just worried that two nozzles won't be enough. We shall see.

No product review yet, as I've only run it in my bathroom for a couple minutes.

Going to leave this post post with a new pic of Rocza I took after her by-weekly cricket feeding.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

First Shedding!

Well, I guess the lack-luster colour WAS because of tight skin. Rocza just shed his skin! Crazy!

Product Research 2: Magnaturals Feed/Water Ledge by Pet Tech

So I've been having concerns that Rocza isn't getting enough vitamins and what not from the crickets he's eating despite the dusting and the gut busting. It's not like I'm not providing the additional gecko diet, he's just not interested. I tried wetting it down last night, but in hind sight, that probably wasn't the best time to do it, since he had his crickets earlier in the evening. He also shed, so he had all that delicious... dried... flaky skin... to eat... *barf!* (no seriously I'm making myself nauseous thinking about in such detail, haha). 
The point is, he spends his twilight hours roaming up top of his habitat, which is in quite the oposite direction of his food dish. As a result, I've been looking into different ways I could serve up his food, especially considering that I'll soon have a third dietary option to provide him with (Repashy!).

So, here we are, looking into feeding dishes. Just food dishes for gecko diet, not live cricket feeders. The one I found stood out above all others was the...

Magnaturals Feed/Water Ledge
(Research Phase)

Right, so I know, Rocza's still acclimatizing and ventures out little by little, but that doesn't change the fact that he will be primarily arboreal. He's going to spend most of his days and nights chilling out high as can be (the little stoner... See it's a pun), which leads to some annoying feeding issues. I feel that, in time, he could be trained to come down for food, especially with how fast he shot down after the crickets yesterday. But, till then, he still needs food. Beside that is the fact that floor space is limited in a terrarium and at a premium. I need a nice "cricket arena" when I feed him his little snackies, but I also need that space to put up plants and other fun things. This dilemma has lead me to look into wall-mounted feeders and platforms vs food dishes.

The product I'd liek to get, but can't seem to, is the feeding and watering ledge in the Magnaturals line of products by Pet Tech. It's a nice-looking piece with a removable tray for easy cleaning and refilling. I've seen some hideaway products by these guys and they were made of this nice, lightweight foam which also had a durable-ish feel to it. To go staging any wrestling matches in it though. The coolest thing I found about this product is the mounting system. It's held in place via magnets that are placed on the outside of the glass. This just seems so handy to me, since it runs a blank spot on the walls of your terrarium into a bit more of a natural-esque nook for sunning, climbing, and in this case, feeding. This product comes in three colours: earth toned, Mojave, and granite. My personal choice is the earth tone, since it looks more like natural wood or mushroom growth than the granite. The Mojave-coloured one is this gaudy red which would look okay in a desert biome. They also provide a smiliar, gecko-related product with two compartments, but of larger size.
Despite the awesome usefulness of this type of product, I'm actually having a hard time finding any kind of alternate, both local or online.

Why I need it:
-To provide food at a higher elevation, since that is where Rocza spends his time.
-To give me more floor space to add extra scenery and toys for my gecko.
-As an easy-to-use distribution method for my incoming Repashy diet.
-It's also a great way to add extra climbing space for your little animals.

Why this product:
-This product is light-weight, with sturdy magnets for support. At least, this is based off the other products I've seen by Pet Tech.
-This dish has a nice, natural look to it.

What compares to it: 
As mentioned above, I didn't find all that much that serves the same function as this product.
-Pangea has a feeding ledge that holds two disposable cups, but it's made out of clear acrylic and is pretty much just a shelf, with absolutely no natural look. It's clean-looking, I suppose, but I think it would clash with the synthetic-natural look I'm going for. If you give Exo-Terra only one compliment, let it be that their products look good!
-To be fair, their is still the option to keep using ground feeders and train your creature to go to it. In that respect, there's a huge selection to chose from, in all shapes, colours, and sizes. My preference so far is the Exo-Terra line of dishes. Sturdy, stable and decent to look at. Exo-Terra even offers a dish specifically with omnivorous geckos in mind which has a small secondary compartment for whatever you may also be feeding your creatures. Their water dishes are made with a small ramp to avoid drowning in small animals and crickets, which is thoughtful and shows a little foresight on the designer's behalf. Again, though, this isn't exactly Exo-Terra specific. Zoo Med makes a variety of dishes too. Follow your heart!
-I found a sort of unconventional option as well, one provided by the good people at Zoo Med. The mushroom ledge they make looks very nice! In fact, in terms of esthetics, it has my up-vote. Not only that, mushrooms are also a big part of the micro-biology of tropical forests, so this seems like a logical option for people trying to recreate a natural-looking enclosure. At least, it's better than that tacky-looking reptile hammock Zoo Med puts out... Ugh. My little pretentious moment of the day: you wouldn't catch MY gecko lounging in one of THOSE things! The only drawback is that it is not magnetically affixed. It comes with a silicone adhesive. I have wondered though if it would be possible to drill small holes on it and stick some earth magnets, or even just a strip of plastic-covered metal (to avoid rust issues in a humid environment). Give it some time though, these companies are always coming out with new stuff.

Useful links and videos

Product links:
Pet Tech's Magnaturals Feed/Water Ledge
Pangea's Elevated Magnetic (and Velcro) Feeding Platforms
Zoo Med's Mushroom Ledge
Exo-Terra's Gecko Dish

Product Demonstration for Pet Tech's Feed/Water Ledge
Hosted on Pet Tech's own channel, PetTechProducts. 


Second Feeding

First of two posts today, I think. I'm feeling like another product search is in order. But first, a bit of a status update.

I went over to Pet Depot today and spoke for a while with Emily. It's so very useful having someone who personally cares for the same animal as you do; great source of knowledge (and, in my case, reassurance).

Things I learned:
First off, it takes a couple weeks for a cresty (probably any new pet) to acclimatize themselves to their new habitat, which is fine.

Cresties are pretty darn nocturnal. Me thinks PetSmart's pamphlet may be giving false aspirations to the contrary in order to convince people they will see their gecko without a little coaxing. This might change though, who knows. No judgment here.
They're also pretty shy, and even Emily's gecko stays tucked away during the daylight hours.

Weening them off crickets can be a challenge, especially if it's all they've known. But since Rocza doesn't really seem interested in his(her?) food pellets' lack of movement, crickets have so far been the only thing I can confirm her eating. Hopefully not once the Repashy arrives, fingers crossed, some time this week. In the meanwhile, she suggested moistening them to help bring out the aroma.

The issue I was having with his skin seemingly lacking in luster might indeed have just been the UV light washing out the colours. It does that with other stuff, anyway, why not Rocza. He seems to change colours when he walks from heat lamp to UV lamp...
Still, looking into a humidifier upgrade.

Now, onto the business at hand; the second feeding.

I think it went really well. After trying to tweeze in the crickets last time, I invested (*sigh* more money...) into a pair of feeding tongs (more specifically, these!). These tongs are now on my essentials list. I was able to insert the cricket right into Rocza's hanging plant to entice him out without disturbing him.

I also learned that Rocza has mad hunting skills. The second he saw that cricket it was over. What's better, I let the next cricket make it's way up to him, and he took it handily. Although I must pause here and make a note that these crickets always move right up to where he's hiding... Anyway, I actually lost the third cricket in the enclosure behind the Boston fern, but Rocza found it before I could. I would have loved to have seen it unfold, but all I saw was Rocza spitting out a mouth of substrate while holding the cricket in his mouth (talented!). I just release the final cricket into the enclosure and let him wander around till Rocza nailed it.

Tried fooling around with his pellet food by sticking some to the tongs and moving it in front of his face, but he was either full or just not interested in it.

Monday, March 5, 2012

First Clean - First Feeding

Cleaned out the terrarium earlier today. Figured that Rocza's had a couple days to settle down some. He was pretty good about it, as far as i can tell. I was pretty nervous handling him; didn't want to lose a tail or anything. After a couple seconds it was all good.

Terrarium looks a little different now, especially without the log hideout. It's too bad that wood wasn't treated for humidity. It looked nice. I kind of have a small hill in the back right corner that I put the new gecko dish on. I also changed the way the croton plant hangs, mostly to encourage him to get out more. I have it sort of draped over the jungle vine. Well, see for yourself.

On a side note, having had him out and in my hands, he's not looking thinner, though I'm fairly certain he hasn't touched his pellet food. I fed him three gut busters Saturday, and I had his pellet food in with him in the faunarium today while I cleaned out his habitat. He's almost looking... pale though. Like his colour has diminished. Maybe the UV light is just washing it out. Or maybe he's shedding. I think I'm going to go chit chat with Emily tomorrow, see if she has any advice as to why he's so reclusive and all that.

I ordered some Repashy on the other day as well. That should be in soon, for which I will be very grateful. It's much easier to present him with a popsicle stick of goop than to try and pitch pellets at him.

I think I'm also going to invest in some feeding tongs. The kind that are long and plastic-coated on the end to prevent injury. It's tricky getting him to notice crickets from way up the trees and I don't like just leaving them in the enclosure. Too many bad memories or rogue crickets singing long hours into the night. He really gobbled them though. I just don't want him to get hooked on them and eat nothing but. I think I'll give him some tomorrow though. Twice a week doesn't seem so bad.

Another item I think I'll be getting is some sort of wall-mounted feeding tray. If I can't get him to go to the food, I'll bring the food to him.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Arg! Mould!

Well, I guess my half log isn't treated wood. I checked under it today, before Rocza found his way there, and found quite a few patches of mould. I wish I would have found this sooner. I really want to gut the entire habitat now, but I also don't want to stress out my cresty while he's still getting used to it. I hope it'll be okay for a couple days.

Still though, there goes another 20$. I should have inquired. I did a little research and I think I'm going to get some cork wood to replace it. Cork apparently doesn't moulder.

Finally! Even More Finally!

Just picked up my little cresty this afternoon! Still not clear on the sex, but that will come in time. Hey, if it should lay eggs at some point, that will be most definitive.

But in all honesty, Crested Gecko Canada ahs some info on how to sex your gecko, which sounds realy wierd... though not as wierd as the "sexing tools" i saw on eBay last night. Creepy indeed. In my day, you just looked at what the kid was playing with to know if it was a boy or girl! *Old-man 24-year-old rant!*

But I digress, because I'm excited.

We were trying to decide what morph it was at the pet store, with no clear results. I'll have to do a bit more research.

It's already shown some pretty neat skills. In the time it took me to turn my head it went from being stalk-still on the vine to having leapt into the amapallo (about a 6" jump). He (at least until I can identify it) is about four to six months old, but they told me he looks bigger than most of the other babies they get. He's also pretty adorable. Everyone agrees!

So, crickets are fed, tucked safely out of cat reach, and awaiting their gladiatorial end in the arena, I've put fresh food and water in this morning, I've misted twice already to give him a little leaf drinking water, and everything is copacetic. Just going to watch him chill in his amapallo for now. I assume that will be his bed from now on.

Male or female, his name is Rocza.

I can't tell if he's asleep or staring me down.