You've heard the age old verse for the gingerbread Man- "Run, run as fast as you can. You can't catch me, I'm the gingerbread man". As my wife baked Christmas cookies a few weeks ago with her sisters and mother, I had to announce that the Gingerbread man was on the loose!
I've worked with some pretty quick little geckos in the past. You get use to their movements, their habits, their idiosyncrasies. I know when they are relaxed, alerted, and when they are ready to run. I know how quickly most geckos move when escaping, where they will run, and how far they will run until they feel safe. It's not based on reading books or that I am just that smart. It is through observation and doing the wrong thing a couple of times, then learning from it.
A few months ago, I purchased a few groups of smaller day geckos from the genus Lygodactylus. Not the most colorful animals but certainly they have their nice markings and subdued colors, but they are little characters these hummingbirds of the gecko world. They went into the only enclosures I had available- 10 gallons supplied with a sand/peat substrate, cork bark to climb on, a plant to hide in, and high intensity lights. The one bad feature of these setups is the screen top. Not acceptable for fast moving gecko. New enclosures are being build as I write this but those screen tops... they are so difficult to work with!
Back to cookie making day (funny how my mind always diverts to food). While the ladies were baking, I was feeding the animals downstairs. I was finishing up with the Lygos and started opening the first tank top while watching the behavior of the male closest to the top. Funny, he looked right up to the top as I opened it, not looking for a hiding place to run to. I closed the top, the gecko resumed resting position. I cracked back open the top and the head pivoted right to the screen. Uh oh, he was on to me (the female by this time had dove behind the cork bark)! Well, I will watch for any sudden movement and quickly close the top if I need to.
As I lifted the screen top and moved in to pickup the food cup from the bottom of the enclosure, with my eyes peeled on this little Speed Racer, it happened! I didn't even have a chance to close the top one centimeter. The gecko leapt onto the screen, onto my arm, and used it as a launching pad right onto the floor. I had just enough time to realize what happened and just begin the thought process of what to do next , when as fast as the Gingerbread Man, the 2 inch gecko zipped the 10 feet right under the furnace! Gone! And me still holding the screen top open with dropped jaw.
It was 3 days later when I next saw him. I knew I would again, it was just a matter of time. Hiding behind some screen cages, I spent a half hour moving this cage, then that cage, then positioning the deli cup, then, when he was done playing with me and my stress level was at its peak, zoom off he was back to the furnace. Two days later and I saw a flash above the sink dashing behind one of the basement rafters (still in the reptile room. I knew I would have another chance but when.
Last Sunday night, I invited all the boys down to feed the crested geckos. As we finished up, Tim loudly proclaimed "There it is!". Sure enough, right back behind the same screen cage. I set the team in position with deli cups and we began the strategic capture, the four of us surrounding the poor little gecko. Within minutes this time though, Jordan smartly guided the deli cup over the startled Lygo and with top slapped on, we moved it back into its 10 gallon home. So, how many gecko keepers does it take.......
Now, I would feel embarrassed enough if this were the end of the story but, it gets worse. Yesterday, while again feeding, the male bolted on me again. Tim entered the room and diverted my attention just long enough for the gecko to find the opening and zip two tanks over (yes, I'm blaming my son).
This time however, he and I with deli cups perfectly positioned caught the little bugger. The funny thing is that as I was herding the gecko toward the cups, he turned toward my hand instead. I took the chance and scooped up the gecko barehanded. There must be a saying I can use here- "A Gecko in the Hand is Worth......" I know one thing, I cannot wait for those new tanks to be finished!