Sunday, May 20, 2012

Leopard Gecko Build (part 1)

Well, as I now have a part-time job at my old place of work (though somehow I managed to clock 39 hours last week...) and with the release of Diablo 3, I've been too busy to post. But no more! Well, as in, taking time today.

Right, so things I've been up to:
-Browsing hardware stores for tank decor material
-Searching for tropical plants
-Bargain hunting for new pet gear

I'll start with the pet gear. Just a side note really. I managed to score the Exo-Terra terrarium I've been wanting for cheap on a clearance sale at PetSmart. Down side is, I didn't pay for it as it is a Christmas present... But hey, progress.
I also snatched up some Zoo Med Eco Carpet in the tan colour for Bronka's hab. It's better than paper towel, I hope.

Now, for some tropical plant news. After much searching, I have to come to an obvious conclusion; I need to listen to people more. I've been looking through every garden center I can get to with little to no luck. Home Depot has some interesting, colourful plants, but not really the ones I want. people keep telling me to check the florist shop downtown, but I kept shrugging it off. I've been in there before, but never noticed anything very tropical. Long story short, they have some. They're getting some bromeliades in this week actually. I might just look into it. Though I'll probably just grow them in one of my empty tanks till I get my new one up and running so I can grow out any excess of fertilizers they may have.

Now, for the bigger news. I've found some decent products for building some rocky outcropping for Bronka at my local Home Depot. It's all fairly cheap too. So far.
Quick shopping list:
-Six-pack of rigid board insulation: 10.00$
-"No More Nails" adhesive: 8.00$
-Silicone Aquarium Sealant: 13.00$

I probably don't even need the silicone for this particular project, though I will need a water-resistant sealant to go over the grouting, though making  a water dish might be fun.

Now, some pictures!

Behold the colour-appropriate Eco Carpet by Zoo Me, as it is being explored for the first time by a curious Bronka.

"Dafugg is dis? Dafugg is dat? Dafugg are you?"

And finally, construction of the desert rock formation after day one.

 I'm building it in two general pieces to facilitate getting it in the tank, since it's the full length.
 It's admittedly wider than I had originally wanted but I fell it'll work out in the end.

I plan on squeezing my brown rock in front of this on a bed of sand to add stability and block out the access of crickets.
 I have a nice little hide carved out right over the under-mounted tank heater. This is obviously going to be Bronka's warm hide. I plan on either using his current hide as the moist hide on the opposite side of the tank.
It's not glued yet because I want to have a better idea of the final product before I start shooting glue everywhere.

And lastly, simple tools for a simple job: adhesive, sealant, metal straight edge, steak knife, and of course a Sharpie.

More pics to come as I progress.

Today's work was definitely a good learning experience. I learned that this is an uber messy project, as one can clearly see. I learned that doing this without a shirt on is a bad idea, unless you want to look like a polar bear afterwards. I learned plans are useless, but planning is essential.

I wonder what I'll learn next session.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Leopard Gecko Upgrade

Dug out more goodies from the basement today.

Firstly, I vinegarred and scrubbed my old collard lizard tank. I should also note here that in my last post, I said I was soakign the log and rock in vinegar. This is not literally true. It was a solution of about 10% to 20% vinegar diluted in water. Very important.

I also found the bestest (truly) rock kicking around my basement. Don't ask why there are rocks in my basement. My family collects strange things. For example, I have a carousel horse down there. But I digress.
The rock I found will definitely suit Bronka's needs for the moment, but once I start the decoration phase of my ackie monitor project, this rock will make a great component for the Rete's Stack.

What's a Rete's Stack, you ask? It's this cool little bit of herpetocultural ingenuity. It's traditionaly a stack of ply wood boards, spaced about and inch to an inch and a half apart, stacked maybe five or six high with access to each level.

Photo by Pro Exotics
It's a great little piece of furniture! Not only does it make a decent hide, when placed under a heat lamp it gives the reptile a gradient of temperature to choose from. I've seen some nice twists on this concept, my favorite being one made out of slate.

Photo by dannyj and posted in a thread on Reptile Forums UK
The rock I have is slightly thicker but holds heat nicely and has some really interesting metallic veins in it. For now though, it will be put to good use as a nice solid substrate for Bronka, as show.

With the added space of the larger tank, I've had no trouble spreading out the furnishings to my liking. I'll even be able to add a foam piece one day. Bronka has also taken to the log and the way I laid it over the Exo-Terra cave. For the full set of images, I'd rather just redirect to the Photo Bucket slide show I will be adding to my home page.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Addopted Leopard Gecko

I got the leopard gecko this afternoon. He's a very charming animal, fairly bulky, with a real mild temper.

I'm writing this now because, quite frankly, I've been busying myself fixing up his vivarium as best I could since I got him home at 4:30. But before launching into my mini-tirade, a picture.

In light of his girth and physical size, I've decided to call him something burlier; Bronka (I kind of fabricated the name, not knowing it was actually a small Polish village).

Bronka's is a long story of moving from place to place, like a drifter. He began as the pet of a college student who, due to housing issues, was no longer able to keep him. Bronka found a new home with an acquaintance of mine, who took him in, loved him, cared for him, but ultimately had to move away to Vancouver and had to leave him in her mother's care. Unfortunately, her mother had other pets to tend as well and thus had to pass Bronka along. This is where I enter the picture.

This guy has a couple scars, too.

Some of his toes no longer have claws. In fact, some tips are simply gone. This, to me, is caused by one of two things (or two of two things), the first on my list being lack of humidity during shedding. The skin doesn't slough off, gets tight, restricts blood flow, and ultimately causes amputation.It really hurts me to think of this happening to a single toe, let alone about four.
And this is something that can easily be overlooked by the uninformed hobbyist. My friend noted that this was a condition Bronka had when she got a hold of him.

The other thing which could have cost Bronka his toes is slightly less likely in my opinion, though I can't really say, having very little contact with meal worms.
I'm told meal worms can and will bite. Now, when I picked up this little guy, I noticed the husk fiber was literally writhing with worms. I also noticed a trio of over-sized crickets bouncing around. I just hope they didn't decide to start feeding on the very creature they themselves were meant to feed.

Speaking of the coco husk, after some research, I found that it's not the best environment for leopards. Too much humidity retention. Too bad though, it looks nice. It's jsut not the right stuff, unfortunately. (Not to mention it BEING ALIVE WITH FREAKING WORMS!!!!! Gah... Terrible night to have stuffed manicotti).

Also, less of an issue, his tailed has previously fallen off. I knew this going in, having talked with the previous owner some time ago before she left for Vancouver. It's no big issue, since leos have regenerative tails, though apparently not toes. Strange.

I made a judgement call not to use some of the gear that Bronka came with.

The Exo-Terra heat rock, though probably one of the better ones, is still too much of a worry to me to have it in the tank anymore. I've read  too many articles and heard too many stories of malfunctions to have peace of mind. So, I'll be picking up an under-mounted tank heater (like the one I have for Rocza, just stronger).
All in all, I ended up keeping the Exo-Terra  Medium Reptile Cave... Um, the food dish which I swapped out for a smaller one of mine and that's about it. The piece of wood that had been used as tank decore was worm-eaten, and looked kind of tall for him to climb up.

Now this is his current habitat:

Yeah, pretty sparse. And, with some rather unsettling financial issues I've been having, I wasn't really able to go out today and get anything better.
Here's where it's lucky to have a large basement filled with clutter of years past. I dug deep and pulled out a nice log and large flat rock from my old collard lizard habitat, just what this blah habitat needs.
I am currently soaking them for the second time in vinegar, and am about to rinse and soak for a third time before baking them both off.
As for the paper towel, unattractive though it may be, it's safe, easy to clean and keep moist, and it's readily available.

And now, more pics.

Bronka basking in his red heat lamp.
Going to rest up after a long day.
More pictures to come once I pimp out his hab a bit.

Back From Vacation and Right Back Into It...

The lack of posts over the last week and a half would definitely be caused by the fact that I was in Halifax, visiting a friend. But this is not a travel blog, so I will dispense with the details.

A couple updates for now, but they're not small updates.

Firstly, I have been doing research and have decided that in the coming years I will be buying a Ridge-Tail Monitor, more commonly called an Ackie. It's an Australian species of dwarf monitor that grows to about 2' (60 cm) in length, most of that being tail. They're very energetic, active and inquisitive. The other cool thing about getting this animal is that no tank on the market will do to hold it; I must go into the realm of custom-built tanks. Don't think I'm serious? I'm going to the hardware store today.
The tank definitely has to come first. I might even have it for a year or so before I decide it's good enough to get the ackie. The tank dimensions will be (L x H x W) 4' x 3' x 2 or 3' (still on the fence about the width). It's a bit bigger than recommended for a single monitor, but hey, maybe I'll get two. If not, no problem. Lots of room to grow big and strong.
I've already done a couple preliminary sketches for the overall construction plan, which I will post in a bit. I guess those three years of architectural technology are paying off!

Second bit of new; after much head-scratching and the purchase of a tube of aquarium silicone, which I will be saving for my ackie tank, I've realized that the solution to the wire problem with my plastic plants is simple. Hot glue gun. It dries hard and so shouldn't be a problem, as long as I let it cure properly. Thanks for the advice, mom.

Thirdly, and this one is unfolding presently, I'm getting a Leopard Gecko.
"But Zach, why not save the cash for the awesome ackie?". True, very true. I would totally agree, if I were paying anything at all.
A friend of my mom is giving it away because her daughter left for Vancouver and couldn't bring it along.
It's seven years old, really well behaved, and it comes with all the fixin's. In truth, I wanted to do a bit more research into leos and get a proper space set up, but some people aren't good at handling the "pushy saleswoman" type. Long story short, I'm getting the gecko today.
Already, I'm making plans to change up it's habitat. I'm told it uses a heating rock, which have been know to malfunction and fry lizards. I'll be changing it up for an under-tank heater. Also, I plan on changing the substrate to something more friendly, assuming it's something like Calci-sand, which I have recently learned to be a pretty dangerous product.
I'm thinking of a name like Lokar. It sounds interesting.

Pics to follow.