Posting the activities in the Supreme Gecko and reptile world on a daily (or almost daily) basis.
Let me know how you like the info, if you have suggestions, or if this is simply your first time here :)
Dec 26 - Dec 31
I’ve already written an update on 2016 (Dec 5-11 post). But, I wanted to write a post not to you the reader but to me as a breeder. Bear with me and watch for changes in 2017 to this blog (vlog?) Usually I have some thought out plans on what to write but this will be free flowing and probably a bit disjointed.
As 2015 was also winding down at this time last year, I was heavy into planning 2016. I wanted more organization, less leopard and crested geckos to breed, more focus on matching natural habitats to the care I am giving the exotic geckos we keep, making things easier in the facility, saving money on food, getting our gargoyles to produce again, and producing a new group of geckos to sell.
If you read this blog, you know we started downsizing our crested and leopard gecko groups at the end of 2015 with the intent of breeding 50% less females of both groups. I kept only the best crested and only my favorite leopard groups. By the end of 2016 , we realized a 50% reduction in leo babies but an increase of about 100% in crested gecko babies! How is that possible? I believe more attention and better food items.
Setting up our geckos to be in a more naturalistic enclosure was a focus starting back in 2015. While this was achieved with some geckos I still have a LONG ways to go on this. But, I am doing more research on each species requirements, so that’s a plus.
The big step in making our job in the facility easier this past year was changing the way we identify and number our geckos. Two words- painter’s tape. I really liked the wax pencil on hatch boxes but moving tape is sooooo much easier. We also went away from cutting holes in new plastic containers with a soldering iron to using a drill and adding pre made vents. Big difference. I can do 30 tubs in about 30 minutes instead of the 2-3 hour job it was in the past.
We jumped into 2017 with 6 big, full dubia containers producing about a thousand grams of baby dubia a month. Unfortunately, I had to keep changing things and we are now down to 2 containers and rebuilding for 2017. So, huge bug cost savings half the year but not the whole year.
At the end of 2015 we also built a new rack to hold our gargoyles. We also started feeding them better. Big difference. In 2014 and 2015 we had only 2-3 baby gargs (from 15 females!). In 2016, I believe we are up to about 45 babies. Still a low number but this was a huge plus for us this year! New geckos to market- In ‘adjusting’ our collection this past year, we added several new gecko species to the ranks. The attention was on cave geckos and African geckos. No love loss for leos, crested, and picta (our bread and butter in sales). Our cave geckos produced some nice new species for us but not in the numbers we know we can produce. The Africans… well they surprised us with their virility. In 2017 I will be refocusing our efforts with cave geckos to better understand their specific requirements.
2017 GOALS- Very simple- Cost Savings, Refocus on Branding (and sales), higher hatching rates on cresties and gargoyles, and better production from cave geckos. No details just yet so you will have to follow us in 2017 to see where this goes.
Dec 19 - Dec 25
As I do every year at this time- I take a break from the News and enjoy this time with my family. I wish you a most wonderful holiday season and a blessed new year.
Dec 12 - Dec 18
Exact Measurements.... kinda
I’ve been struggling for a few weeks getting my Pangea mix exactly correct for the number of Rhacs we currently have. Sometimes not enough, sometimes too much. If you have more than a dozen or so animals, you may be struggling with this too.
I realized the other day that we put out over 300 dishes of crested gecko diet every feeding. The collection (especially # of babies) have grown and declined the past month based on new hatches and sales.
As I was ‘off’ several times in rough guessing how much diet to mix, I set a goal of estimating this more closely. I don’t like to make too little as it takes time to go back and mix a second smaller batch. I also don’t like to mix too much as I prefer not to put mix in the fridge and hold it for the next feeding.
You may realize by now, I am a stickler for details…. In some matters (genetics, incubation temps, hatching material moisture) but I am not in others. While I could prepare the exact amount of diet I need every feeding, there are simply too many variables to balance this in a timely fashion. Sometimes I like to make the mix with a bit more water, especially in winter when it is so dry in our house.
So, I wanted a way to come close in my estimate without taking 10 minutes to calculate (nor get the scale out every time. Here’s what I came up with (I apologize in advance for the algebra but it should be fairly simple math that you have to do one time):
Crested gecko diet requirements are different obviously between adults, juveniles, and babies. It is also different between crested adults and gargoyle adults. Each of my 13 Rhac racks have one type above specifically. Of the racks, I have breeder racks (the # of these animals RARELY change), juvenile racks (the # of animals change only 2-3 times a year as these are holdbacks/grow outs), sellable adults (# of animals changes monthly), and finally baby racks (the # of animals changes almost with each feeding during 8 of the 12 months of the year). Some events affect these numbers also such as reptile shows and spring breeding reorgs.
I know basically how many animals each rack holds and almost exactly how much diet each rack takes (this took a couple trial and error feedings). 7 Adult racks again rarely change #s. 3 juvenile racks change a couple times a year. The amount of diet used for these 10 racks is fairly set for almost every feeding in the year (recalculated for big events). It really comes down to the # of babies (volatile #). I have 3 baby racks that fill up sequentially. This means one fills up complexly before the next takes on any animals. I know the diet measurement for each of the baby’s full racks. Now I just need to do the math. Diet amount for- Adults + Juveniles + each full baby rack. Add in a percentage for the next non-filled baby rack * diet amount for the rack and I am good to go. To make it even easier, I have a scoop that holds a cup of food. X number of cups at Y oz of food and I now have my amount of diet. Whala.
Nov 5 - Dec 11
Completing 2016 and Plannng 2017
As 2016 winds down, I generally use this last few weeks of the year to reflect on, celebrate (hopefully), and project into the next year from the business side of Supreme Gecko. Before providing a summary of the information I review, let me make a couple of points. Supreme Gecko, while a business has several higher priorities than just making money! It’s about the animals, and about the customers, and about my passion for both. Period! Also, if you are looking for exact $$s on how we did, you will not find it here. I share a LOT of info, but there is no need to share this.
FINANCIALLY- From 2015 to 2016, we increased animal sales by 50%! This was almost exclusively a result of crested gecko sales. However, hardgoods dropped about 40% [due to Clarks diet removal]. Our expenses stayed nearly the same surprisingly (increased dubia use?). Profits? Well, we did pretty well.
ANIMALS- Here is a list of new animals (species)- 5 cave gecko, 2 Stenodactylus, 2 Chondrodactylus, 2 Hemidactylus, 2 bandeds, 1 Cyrtodactylus, 1 Paroedura, 2 forms of Saurodactylus, 1 Pachydactylus, 1 Oedura , 1 Teratoscincus, 1 viper gecko, 2 new leos, and one new crested gecko.
BREEDING- I cannot even count how many ‘First Timers’ we had in 2016. A dozen? I think might be correct. I’ll have to go back and check. Very exciting! We doubled our crested gecko output from the prior year. Leo hatchlings were intentionally dropped to about 25%. We had more gargoyle babies than I cannot remember when!
BRAND AWARENESS- If there is one area that SG fell down on in 2016, it is here. Work projects continue to deeply slice into my available time. I’ve unfortunately moved away from Emails, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, and somewhat from Facebook. I’ve updated the web page less often with available animals. While on-line sales are better than ever, it is because of word of mouth or returning customers (Thank You!). But, in 2017, this MUST change!
PROJECTS- Last year’s projects were numerous (reassessing breeding groups, new racks, etc.). This year, I had two significant projects- 1. A pectoral walk through our reptile facility and 2. The Gecko Species listing. 1. You can find the room listing here- While this has not officially been announced, here is a sneak peak-
12 SUPREME DAYS OF CHRISTMAS- We moved the communication from the SG web page to Facebook. I believe the response was exceptional. With the suggestions from this year, I have some very big plans for the 2017 event.
Nov 28 - Dec 4
Friday Nanette heads in for foot surgery. Sounds minor but is very involved. She will be in surgery for @ 3 hours. As an impact to our facility, she will not be able to put ANY pressure on her foot for 2 weeks. This means I will be on my own concerning the facility for at least 4-6 weeks…. At least!
So, this week we will be cleaning tanks, dishes, floors, etc.- anything we can do to simplify the next 4-6 weeks for me. With work requiring @ 10 hours a day,, and other December events taking so much of my time, I need to keep this simple.
Nanette has cut up veggies for at least a week’s worth of bug feeding. We have a shipment of worms and crickets coming in Thursday. All adult tanks are already in their cooling cycles so feeding will be decreased.
But, as you know, what normally takes Nanette 1 hour to feed the crested geckos, take me 3 (I examine, move, renumber, re-paper towel, play with the animals too much). Guess I will have to find a way to be ‘more efficient’
Nov 21 - Nov 27
There are always too many things to be thankful for- family, health, friends, etc. My brother-in-law is thankful on Thanksgiving for the turkey. He’s such a contrarian.
As a breeder of geckos, I thought today that I would share some things I am thankful for-
- Never having a dubia colony decide to orchestrate a mass exodus from their container, in the middle of the night, when one side of their screen top fell down and offered a nice walking grate up and out of the enclosure (true story of one of my friends)
- Having the opportunity to work with some of the most unique, interesting animals in the world.
- Having a wife that doesn’t freak out over a little gecko poo appearing on her hand after a tank cleaning.
- All the people making the 12 Supreme Days of Christmas a success!
- Owning 43 wax pencils to mark deli cups with gecko names… of which none are within 30 feet of me when I need one
- Postal workers that don’t say eeeewwwwww when we bring in animals to ship, but rather ask what we named the geckos. Nanette never has the heart to tell them we don’t name non-holdbacks, as she makes up a new name for each- George, Fred, Bruce, Cheryl, etc.
- Photogenic geckos….. well, at least after the camera battery dies
- Neighbors that turn a blind eye to big boxes shipped every other week marked “LIVE’ ‘PERISHABLE’
- Very good SEWERFest and Iowa shows, that made some significant room in the facility for up and coming, grow out geckos.
- Misting systems! - 3 young men that grew up in our house with an appreciation for nature
- The makeup to be able to admit my mistakes and share with others in hope that it helps other keepers better care for their animals
Nov 14 - Nov 20
Mo tanks, mo tanks, mo tanks
Yes, I am finally admitting it. I under planned this year for our Rhacs….. and our racks. By cutting down on our breeder crested geckos and gargoyle geckos, I thought I had PLENTY of ‘baby’ and ‘grow out’ page. WRONG!
This week, we went out and purchased 30 small plastic tubs. Big enough to house more hatchlings and some that are now in deli cups. There is nothing more frustrating than to work on a stand with 77 tubs and take as long to feed/mist as it takes to do about 30 deli cups. Grrr!
The tubs were cut (2” holes) and a new aluminum screen added to each. Downstairs they go. Add a paper towel, food dish and egg carton for hides. With a quick move from deli cups to plastic tubs (and cleaning all those cups), a bunch of animals are now in their new digs.
Now I need to look for a place to add another rack to hold over 120 grow out crested geckos. Anyone want to rent their basement out?
Project Update- No new updates this week but…… Thanksgiving is coming up and I plan to spend at least a full day to move the project forward. Yes, I still envision finishing the Phase 1 part of this project by EOY. Riiiiiiiiight.
Facility- So, with cooling season upon us, we are still getting babies. I would estimate about 10 P. picta, 6 Hemidactylus, 4 P. stumpffi, 4 caves, 4 bandeds, and 2 Chondro hatches this week…. Oh and another dozen crested and 2 gargs. Whew.
Nov 7 - Nov 13
Over the past couple month and a half, I have been challenged. Time has not been not been my friend.
The following are some of the balls I’ve had to juggle-
Work (5am to 6pm most days)
Iowa show- See last week’s post
Concerts (3- 2 to south Chicago for weekend stayovers)
Baseball- Go Cubbies! World Series Champs, but that is a lot of baseball watching at night
Car fixing/Car Shopping- with the issues on my car and having Nanette’s vehicle go down virtually in the same week, we have our heads down in the classifieds trying to find solutions.
This leaves little time for the animals. I am NOT complaining, just stating that we have a lot on our plates right now. Some of these will be going away but others stay as work continues to be a huge time requirement.
How have the animals done so well over this time period? Well, Nanette has stepped up and done just about everything downstairs. From feeding to cleaning to checking babies to moving animal. She has done it all. This hobby/business of mine would be nothing without her.
Project Update- Finding more habitat photos. Added a couple new species
Facility- It’s almost cooling season. Plans are being set.
Oct 31 - Nov 6
IOWA Reptile Show
This will be a very quick summary of the Iowa Reptile Show.
Animals are identified Wednesday evening. We will be taking @ 25 baby cresties (@ 2-3 months old), @ 30 adult crested geckos, @ 25 leopard geckos, 2 female P. stumpffi, 3 pairs of H. tanganicus and H. ruspoli, and 1 wonder gecko.
Labels are created Friday evening.
Packing began Saturday afternoon. The disadvantage is that we will need to clean a LOT of cups Sunday before the show. The big advantage is with time savings. The show is 6 hours away so any time we can save before leaving (show starts at 10 and setup can start as early as 8 so that moves us to 2am as the latest time we would leave).
Saturday night at 9, Nanette and I setup for a 2 hour nap and at 11:30, we are on the road. Nanette starts the journey (she actually refuses to let me drive and mans the wheel for the entire 12 hour ride). With a 2 hour rest area sleep, we make it to the show a little bit early and hungry. A quick breakfast at Perkins and to the show we go.
Cleaning animals takes a lot longer than I had expected but by 10:00 we are good to go and the doors open.
SHOW- many great people and great questions. The visitors are very receptive to advice and our sharing of gecko info. Sales are sporadic but I can tell the people buying are really loving our animals and their purchase. We sell several adult cresties, just a few babies, 1 leopard gecko, quite a bit of food, all our pairs of P. picta, and almost all the exotics. It turns out to be one heck of a show!
With the 6 hour trip back, we arrive at home around 9:30 and right to bed we go. Nanette will put away geckos tomorrow.
Project Update- No updates at all right now.
Facility- Hoping the Iowa show provides room to move some animals around. Need to see a couple dozen babies moved to bigger enclosures.
Oct 24 - Oct 30
CUBS WIN! CUBS WIN! Raise the W
If you are looking for a gecko post, please check back in next week. If you would like a peek into my life, read on my friend.
I have been a Cubs fan since I was 6. Yes, that’s exactly 50 years. My earliest memories was watching the team with mother on afternoons. Wrigley looked so huge, the players like superstars, and Jack Brickhouse had the voice of an opera singer. The early years offered promise with Ernie, Ron, Billy, Fergie, and the rest. We never made it to the promised land unfortunately. Darn that black cat.
Between terrible years there were glimpse of hope with Rick Sutcliffe, Leon, Sarge, and Jody Davis. But for a sticky glove and a slow roller to 1st, the lovable losers missed another chance.
Then we found the golden arms of Kerry Wood and Mark Prior. All looked golden as Harry led the 7th inning chorus of Take Me Out To The Ballgame in win after win. The Bartman! Oh so close.
About 5 years ago the Cubs, under new ownership and leadership told us they would be very bad, but eventually very good, if we had faith, we would be competitive once again. In Thoe and Madden we trust.
Wednesday night, my fellow Cubs fans and I put away a lot of curses and excuses as the team hoisted the World Series trophy for the first time in 108 years. There is now joy in Wrigleyville.
Project Update- No updates at all right now.
Facility- 2 major shows coming up so our focus right now is getting animals identified that will head to the show.
Oct 17 - Oct 23
Gaggle of Gargoyles
What else do you call a LOT of gargoyles? We are over 50 baby gargoyles this year. As I’ve mentioned before, we have 0 baby gargs in2015 and 0 in 2014. So what changed so dramatically? Two things- 1 space, 2 food. Over the past few years, I setup the gargoyles in 15 gallon aquariums. This past winter, we built a new stand that holds 15- 30 @ gallon enclosures. Each holds one female. Males are rotated through the group. We added coifiber as a substrate, cork bark for climbs, and foam pool toys for ledges. They love their new digs and additional room.
We also started feeding way more insects (mealworms, dubias, and crickets). I know gargs need a higher protein diet than cresties. This late winter and spring, we switched our feeding pattern of every other day Pangea diet with insect feedings over the weekend to insects every other day and Pangea over the weekend. This was done for at least 2 months as the gargs came out of a mild winter brumation. I really feel this was a combined affect that increased our production and not one over the other. And, I am hoping for double this number next year!
Project Update- Only very small updates currently.
Facility- Slowly things are slowing down. We still get a few crestie and picta eggs. Always getting more Hemidactylus eggs.
Oct 10 - Oct 16
More New Arrivals
So what does one do when they have their enclosures full, but still want to work with new animals. You trade geckos of course.
Troy Hartje and I have been working on a trade for a while now. Well, if finally came to a completion as I sent Troy a pair of H. squamulatus, a trio of H. tanganicus, and a pair of H. ruspoli. Troy graciously sent me a pair of H. fasciatus, a 0.0.3 H. angualatus benin, a pair of Chondrodactylus turneri and finally a pair of Chondrodactylus sp. Kalahari. Four new species to work with. Whoop Whoop! They all look so healthy. I cannot wait to see if I can get some babies from them.
Project Update- Added the new arrivals to the project page. This is always fun as I feel like we are building this incredible product. Cannot wait to do a full blown announcement. Stay tuned!
Facility- We are over over packed! Our crested geckos and gargs are taking over the entire ‘day care room’. All breeders have slowed way down or stopped laying eggs entirely.
Oct 3 - Oct 9
Tinley Park Fall NARBC - THE EVENT
For any reptile breeder in the Midwest (and beyond), the Tinley Park fall NARBC reptile show is THE EVENT.
It really starts weeks before the show. Contacts with longtime friends are made. People post their animals being offered at Tinley. Buyers contact sellers. Friendships are rekindled and animals are sold before the event even starts.
The excitement of being at Tinley is incredible. Seeing the great breeders, the presentations, the wonderful setups….. and the animals is overwhelming.
I had several sold animals that we brought with us and we actually found all the buyers in the lobby (like they were waiting for us) when we arrived. Transactions complete! Now to find the animals I arranged to purchase many days before the show.
Sometimes timing works out for us. Sometimes it does not. In this case it did as Jim McDermott was selling two animals that I love and had someday hoped to own- Teratoscincus keyserlingii (giant frog eyed gecko) and Paroedura gracilis. I’ve wanted P. gracilis for years! This is a very special gecko in my eyes and I was extremely happy to be able to work with it. The T. keyserlingii were as beautiful as all the photos show. A big thank you to Jim!
I met up with Nathan Hall of Austin Reptile Connection We chatted and chatted. I finally made the purchase of a gecko that is absolutely beautiful as a juvie and an adult- Coleonyx elegans. Check out the photos.
While the event was fun, fulfilling and packed with meet-ups, our time was very limited and we could only stay about 4 hours. That might seem like a long time but for me, if felt like we were in and out.
Project Update- Added the new arrivals to the project page. This is always fun as I feel like we are building this incredible product. Cannot wait to do a full blown announcement. Stay tuned!
Facility- Slowly things are slowing down. We still get a few crestie and picta eggs. Always getting more Hemidactylus eggs.
Sep 19 - Oct 2
Saturday found Nanette and I up early, cleaning enclosures, feeding, and just generally checking out all the geckos. We started around 6 or so as we would be heading to Nanette’s cousin’s house for dinner and then joining them for an evening of great music. They live south of Chicago (about 2.5 hour drive for us).
About 2 hours and 15 minutes into the drive, 15 minutes from their house, I was checking the map on my phone and pulling up their address. Still on the highway, as Nanette was driving, she called out “Wally!”. Looking up, I could see through the rain that we were beginning to slide on the wet road and already were veering from the middle lane to the right lane. As Nanette skillfully counter steered, for a brief moment we both thought she had controlled the skid. But, at around 55 miles an hour, the car and spun quickly to the right and we were face to face with the concrete retainer wall.
It was a sudden and hard impact. Neither of us had much time to think about the extreme jolt we were receiving. The car bounced off the wall at almost head on and absorbed an incredible amount of the impact. Next to hit was the back end passenger side. This put us right back into the right lane…. Moving into the middle lane…. Without any power at all. Waiting for a hole in traffic, Nanette again skillfully guided the vehicle across the left lane and onto the side of the road next to the medium retaining wall. After collecting ourselves, we realized we were both unharmed other than a bit of a seat belt burn on Nanette’s neck.
So, in all, we encountered an uncontrolled slid across an extremely busy lane of highway, hit a concrete wall at about 50 mph, then slid again across 3 lanes of highway with no power in the car at all.
Checking the car, there was some significant damage on the passenger front and back side- but no damage to the tires, windshield, and oddly the air bags did not deploy. Putting the car in park and restarting, we were able to regain driving ability. So- we drove the 15 minutes to Nanette’s cousin’s house, told our story, grabbed a bite to eat, and headed to the concert.
While this certainly was not what we hope to have happened, we really felt blessed to come out of this alive, and actually uninjured. Note- the insurance company did total the car and we are looking for another vehicle- hopefully as reliable as our Infiniti.
Project Update- No real additions. I cleaned up a few pages but nothing really new.
Facility- Plenty of sales have emptied several enclosures and allowed us to move some geckos to larger homes. We keep hatching “first timers” and I will have to devote a full post to the new arrivals soon.
Sep 19 - Sep 25
Well, the Coleonyx brevis came in. Funny story, the container was marked with Gonatodes ??????. Thanks Rob Nhan for the C. brevis, and for a bit of confusion as my wife was not sure what was going on. Again, all good.
This was a donation in the Anna Hupp fund raiser. As I noted last week, I was honored to contribute to the event and so very excited about all the participants. This is what the community is all about!
As you know, I am a huge baseball fan. My team has a chance to do something it has not done in over 100 years- win a World Series. However, waking up Sunday morning, I was devastated seeing the news about the young Florida Marlins player, Jose Fernandez who lost his life, along with 2 others in a tragic boating accident overnight. This player was what baseball is about- playing the game with the excitement and wonderment of a 12 year old. His talent and love for the game will be sorely missed. Really puts life in perspective.
Project Update- I need to stop adding to the Project. Two new features added to the 90 some species. Whew!
Facility- It seems like it is Paroedura stumpffi hatching time. We are up to a tank full of babies now. Crazy.
Sep 12 - Sep 18
It is with honor that Supreme Gecko is included in the fundraiser for Anna Hupp. She is a very special young lady and daughter of one of our own in the gecko community- Joe Hupp. Joe has done so much to move this hobby forward in the last few years. He would never mention the challenges for his family nor the contributions he’s made.
A few weeks ago, Linda Switzer and Noelle Richter and others came together to help the Hupp family by creating an auction of animals and reptile related items. We added a few animals from our facility. It was a blast seeing prices go up and up, while also exciting to win one of the animals I bid on- Coleonyx brevis. I want to thank all the individuals that helped with the auction (I believe it helped raise over $20,000). I hope we can do this again soon for the family. The key take away from the event is how much everyone came together for this very special cause.
Project Update- Not much progress this week as my work is taking so much time.
Facility- Another week of bounty. Plenty of gargs this week!
Sep 05 - Sep 11
The Trouble with Tribbles (crested geckos)
We have a racks that potentially can hold the following crested- 87 growouts (19 qts holding cresties from @ 2 months to about 8-9 months of age) and 84 babies (6 qts holding cresties up to @ 2 months of age). This rack will hold 2 per enclosure for the first couple months. Let me do the math- 87 juvies and 168 baby crested geckos! That is a total of 255 crested geckos. That is a lot of crested geckos. Well- we are full up! Now, each baby bin does not hold 2 babies but a high majority do. I believe we are over 235 babies at this time. Holy smokes! We are running out of room. I remember before we had all these grow out racks, we used kritter keepers. We had a couple dozen sitting on top of the adult enclosures. Feed an adult, move a couple kritter keepers. So now, and hopefully only temporary, we are using extra large deli cups. I think we have @ 20 right now holding babies. How is it that we cut down our adult breeding groups by at least a third and will have easily double the crested gecko hatches as we had last year. It is super fun to see the babies hatching out but, I’m afraid I may be upstairs raiding my wife’s cool whip containers shortly!
Aug 29 - Sep 04
What Really Grinds my Gears?
I have two ‘Grinds My Gears’ issues today. Do I hope the people messaging me do not see this? I hope they do! I think they know this irritated me… and it takes a lot to irritate me.
#1 I sell a certain animal. The price is clearly marked on our store. I recently received an inquiry for a pair of the animals. I mentioned that I had one or two pair available, and since the person was a long time friend on FB, I offered a discount (@ 20%). The person decided to think about this- which I see all the time. No worries. A few weeks later, I get a message…. “Do you think $ XXX.XX is a good price for these geckos?”. The price is about 2/3 my price. So, what do I say? Isn’t this a lot like going to a tailor and asking them if a fitting at a very good discount is a good price. Now, if I was asked if I would come down on my price, I would not have been bothered by this question at all. So why, when phrased this way, did it bug me?
#2 A couple months ago a person purchased a couple of leos from me. After several great questions, I feel they really know what they are doing. Then this week, I get a couple of photos with one of the leos with stuck shed on the last ½ inch of the tail. “What is this?”. “Shed” I answer. “No it is not”. “Take another look and see if you can gently pull a tiny bit off”, I say. “Oh, it is shed”. A couple days pass and the person messages me back with a photo of a section of the tail terribly raw and eaten away. “Is this tail rot?”. I’m horrified. “How did this happen”. “Oh, it’s a photo of another gecko with tail rot.”. I’m surprised but understand at this point. “So my gecko has tail rot disease”. “Says who?” I say. “The vet”. “You took it to a vet?”. At this point the keeper shows a photo of the tail tip and it looks a bit red and inflamed (a bit irritated) and says “No, but the vet said it was tail rot from the description”. I want to help people so much. I mention- “No GOOD vet would ever make a diagnosis without seeing the animal”. The young keeper continued to pursue the fact that it was tail rot and I gracefully bowed out of the conversation.
Project Update- Not much progress this week with work committments.
Facility- Unfortunate losses in the facility this week (actually occurring on the same day). We lost our Cyrtodactylus eloc and our pair of Holodactylus africanus. Very sad.
Aug 22 - Aug 28
What Worked, What Didn't... so far in 2016
Well, the breeding/egg laying season is a bit past the half way point and it is time to do a mid year evaluation (yes, I just had my mid-year performance review at work and this is on my mind). Find below some changes that worked and some changes that did not.
1. Leopard Geckos- scaled WAY down and we produced almost exactly what we were hoping to produce this year- a small number of very nice animals.
2. Picta- I held back a bunch of young last year, setup a number of new pairs, and set out to keep all babies from each pair separate. Right!!! That did not work. As babies grew and new hatchlings could not be added to existing tubs, the number of ‘picta allocated’ tubs went from 10 to 20 to 40 to 60 in a matter of a month and a half. Way too much time to manage these babies. We had to settle for keeping a few separate but combining all the others. Next year I will work this out as I really want to know more about Paroedura picta genetics.
3. Aussies babies- One 1 N. milii baby so far (2 good eggs in the incubator) and no N. wheeleri babies. I believe momma wheeleri is now grandmother wheeleri and I will need to retire her this year. I also believe the milii, kept in 12 qts including the male and female, will need to be cooled, separated, and moved to larger enclosures next year.
4. Banded geckos (Coleonyx)- So far 2 C. mitratus, 4 C. variagatus, and no C. elegans. Frustrating on the C. elegans but encouraged by the other two species. Looking forward to next year with these, as this was our first year breeding Coleonyx.
5. African geckos- Feast or famine can only describe 2016. Too many Hemidactylus, great year from our Chondros and frog eyes, yet nothing from the Stenodactylus (new in the spring so they are settling in) and few babies from the Pachydactylus. Will need to do some more research on these before ‘17
6. Chewies- we are down to one pair and have 3-4 eggs cooking. That is fine by me.
7. Gargoyles- there are about 10 gargoyle babies growing up and another dozen eggs cooking. Not great but better than the last 2 years (0 babies!). Should see a better 2017.
8. Cresteds- Huge success this year. Last year was a recovery year after some of the food issues we had the prior couple years. We have about 125 cresties growing up and another 100 – 150 eggs still to hatch. Where to put all these babies!
9. Cave geckos- We have eggs and babies from 2 new species. But our production is WAY down from where I hoped to be this year. Big changes next year as I will move all the larger caves to larger enclosures. Cross your fingers.
10. Other geckos- hits and misses. Some good results from some but no eggs-babies from others. Will re-evaluate in the fall to see what we can do differently next year.
Project Update- Redid all major links. Kept pages from opening new pages. Was told this was disctracting.
Facility- Two ‘first timers for us this week- Goniurosaurus kuroiwae and Saurodactylus brosetti. Very exciting. Leos are down to about 4 eggs incubating and crested and gargoyle geckos are hatching out like crazy. On the sad side- lost our female Cyrtodactylus eloc and a female Pachydactylus rangei this week.
Aug 15 - Aug 21
(Title is taken from an old Lynard Skynard song).
I share the good, the bad, and the ugly. I’m pretty transparent when it comes to the goings on in the facility and at Supreme Gecko. This is one of the ‘Uglies’.
A few weeks ago, we had a close friend come over and, as they passed the basement door, mentioned that they caught a slightly smell coming from the basement. Now, they know we have animals, and are open enough to say something to us as a heads up and would not offend us. I am sure we were too close to the issue to notice this odor ourselves.
Well, off to work we go……..
First issue- we had recently starting placing the garbage cans in the garage close to the door for easy access. The door is located in the same area as the door down to the facility. We believe some of the smell is directly related to opening the door to the garage and bringing in these garbage odors. Garbage moved to far side of the garage (we will have to bear the burden of taking the extra dozen steps to toss the garbage).
Second issue- door will be constantly kept closed.
Third issue- we are now putting an air freshener next to the facility door.
Fourth issue- The geckos. At no time in the past have we ever hand a smell from the basement due to the geckos. The enclosures are kept clean. I am skipping this issue for now and will focus on the next-
Fifth issue- The Bug Room! Yes, dubias smell. But, since this is in a closed off room downstairs with no return air vents to pull in the air I really thought the smell would be contained. I may be wrong with this one as I can smell them even with the door closed. The smaller (prior half bath) room contains the odors well but not well enough. Time for an air purifier.
Project Update- No new status
Facility- This week, we moved the baby crested. Fortunately, after the SEWERFest show, a LOT of grow out tubs became available (@ 35). Not the smaller baby tubs but the 19 quart (2 month old to 7 or 8 month old) tubs. Clean clean clean. Wipe wipe wipe. Move the babies, more cleaning and more wiping. 35 baby tubs now become available. My guess…. We will have these filled in 2-3 weeks!
Aug 8 - Aug 14
My gecko list is constantly adjusting. A few years ago, I held back a high number of leopards and crested geckos, doubling the number of breeders we were working with. I’m now down to about ¼ to 1/3 the number of these breeders. I’m also keeping more African geckos and cave geckos (see prior blog entry). This means the facility needs to ebb and flow with these changes.
We are hatching a number of cave geckos and with last week’s additions, our cave gecko rack that we never thought would be full, is now full. We have a crested gecko rack just around the corner from the cave gecko rack that holds 10 bins. Only 8 are occupied. Our chewie rack (10 bins) currently only holds 2 groups of chewies. Hmmmmm, done with the math?
Now, the idea of moving cresties, tearing down the spare crestie rack, and building a new cave gecko rack was not mine but Nanette’s! Do you believe it?!?
I believe we could get 18 large (larger than sweater totes) containers on this rack. Enough for several pairs of ‘larger’ cave geckos and still have half the containers available for baby grow outs. Where’s my tape measure?
Enjoy the picture-ramma of our Sunday-
Feed Animals, check last night's baseball games, hit the playground with our granddaughter for 4 hours,
stop at Walmart, pizza with the family, 2 episodes of Breaking Bad. Whew!!!
Project Update- No new status
Facility- The baby crested are taking over the Wall Rack (@ 168 gecko capacity). We will need to move babies to their bigger grow out containers in the next few weeks. We continue to see odd balls hatching too. This is a fun time to be checking incubators.
Aug 1 - Aug 7
As you may know, I have been collecting cave geckos like Pokemon Go players have been collecting the little Pokemon creatures…. Except I don’t have to walk 10 kilometers every day. We are at 8 different species of the Goniurosaurus genus (araneus, bawanglingensis, hainanensis, kuroiwae, lichtenfelderi, luii, orientalis, and yamashinae).
Well, a very special offer came about a couple weeks ago and this week, we are seeing the results. We received a very nice grouping of the following additional cave geckos- Goniurosaurus huuliensis, splendens, and (very excited about this one!) catbaensis. I also received some young G. lichenfelderi and a pair of G. luii. Why did I get a pair of G. luii when I already had them? Well, the 5 I had (sent as probably 2.3) all turned out to be males! Now I have a pair.
Sunday was the SEWERFest reptile show. If you do not know about this show, you should check it out if you are in the Wisc., Ill., Mich., Minn., Indy, Ohio, Iowa areas. The show grows more and more with quality animals and knowledgeable breeders. We took some special animals to the show and, well did one of our absolutely best shows ever. I cannot believe the interest in some of the geckos we are breeding. If you’ve purchased from us these past few years, THANK YOU!
Project Update- No new status
Facility- We almost cannot keep up. I usually check incubators and egg containers every other day. Well, it is becoming a daily job now with so many hatching. We have certainly been lucky with the animals we work with this year.
|Goniurosaurus huuliensis||Goniurosaurus catbaensis||Goniurosaurus splendens|
July 25 - July 31
It’s always fun to do something new- try a new food, visit a new city, meet a new friend. For us gecko breeders though, there is a ‘best’ something new. That is hatching a ‘first time’ baby.
What is a ‘first time’ baby you might ask? The process starts with doing research on a species of gecko that you do now own. You might see this gecko at a reptile show, at a friend’s home, a sales page (Kingsnake or Faunaclassified), or simply on Facebook. You check the internet and with other breeders you know that have worked with this species. You find out the care requirements and might go as far as learning about their breeding needs (cooling period). Next you go on the hunt for this species. You check the sources listed above, find either sexable pairs or juveniles that you will raise up, and work out a deal.
The day comes when the animals are purchased and either arrives in the mail or are picked up at a reptile show/pet store. How exciting. For some, this is the pinnacle of their experience. For the gecko breeder, this is the first step.
You acclimate the new animals and provide as care as closely as was suggested by the prior owner/expert you contacted earlier. You nurture the animals and make sure they stay nice and healthy. Eventually, if you are fortunate enough and have provided optimal conditions, they breed. The female becomes noticeably gravid. You’ve provided a lay area/lay box in anticipation of the upcoming event.
One day while checking the enclosure for eggs, there they are! All nice and white, oval/round globes of pure excitement! You’ve already setup the incubation conditions from your earlier research and put away the eggs after marking specifics on the container. And….. now…… you…. Wait. They say a watched pot never boils. Well I can tell you, checking on eggs 3-4 times a day does not make them hatch any quicker.
Eventually though the day comes when you go to check on the eggs and one or perhaps two are no longer plumped up orbs but are shattered, discarded shells left behind by……… BABIES! And of course, each new baby is 10X as cute as any baby you’ve ever produced.
You did it. You’ve helped bring new life into the world. Enjoy. Bask in the accomplishment, for you are a gecko breeder.
Below are two new geckos we’ve hatched at Supreme Gecko this year.
|Coleonyx variegatus bogerti||Chondrodactylus fitzsimonsi|
Project Update- No new status
Facility- Time for a change. I numbered well over 100 crested babies (painter’s tape with parents and hatch date). This is the first step in making the big move.
July 18 - July 24
This has been a good year so far for the Supreme Gecko hatchery. Several of our bread and butter species are producing well- crested, leopard, and picta geckos. A few more ‘exotic’ geckos are doing well also- H. tanganicus, H. ruspoli, P. rugosus, P. stumpffi. But, we are also producing some new babies as well- Banded geckos (Coleonyx), Chondrodactylus fitzsimonsi, Teratoscincus scincus (Frog Eye geckos), and Goniurosaurus yamashinae. It’s always a blast to hatch out ‘first timers’ (more on this next week.
When working with these hatchlings and juveniles of such diverse species of geckos, a breeder needs to be prepared. We have two separate rack systems for our babies and grow out non-bread and butter geckos. One is a 20 tub rack with long plastic shoebox type tubs for the babies. One is a 10 15-gallon tank setup for the growouts. Both heated and perfect for development of these smaller geckos.
Project Update- No new status
Facility- Picta are hatching like crazy. I have 6 bead boxes still full of eggs. If my math is correct, that is around 150 – 200 eggs! Leopards are hatching out slowly. Again, we minimized our breeding efforts with leos this year. Crested geckos are hatching out more consistently now too. We are seeing 2-3 babies a week and still collecting around 30 eggs each week. Lots of boxes with eggs in them!
July 11 - July 17
Do you sometime daydream? Daydream of ideas to help you better keep your animals? Dream of more enclosures, different animals, different ways to do the same thing you are doing today- but better.
I do. How can I improve how I keep and feed the dubias? How can I keep the supplies I need at finger tip access when I need them? How can I better label our animals so I can keep better track of the eggs/babies? How can I make it easier to keep the animals I keep?
This year, Nanette and I made a few changes in the facility to help improve breeding and help save time.
First- our numbing system last year was not good. Eggs are laid and placed in a deli cup or bead box with wax pencil written on the container. This worked ok for removal afterward but not so good when babies hatched and moved to another container or an egg did not hatch and had to be recorded. Example- Queen Elizabeth lays 2 eggs. One hatches one does not. The baby goes to a container and Queen Elizabeth is written on the front with the hatch date. But, I had to record the bad egg somewhere and write the name again. What if there were two females in the breeding container? What if I wrote down the males name instead? So now, we have names AND #s on all enclosures. We use the number now for reference (and switch to parent’s names when selling).
Also, we have a sheet hanging near our baby containers with each enclosure # and a place to put a tic mark for bad eggs. Easy Pasy. Also this year, and if you have kept up with past post you already know this, I wanted to give our gargoyles more room than they’ve had in past years. We took each female out of their prior 15 gallon homes and built a new stand with enclosures of 29 gallons! Twice their prior size. Results are proving out this change as being a success.
It always pays to daydream of better ways to do things.
July 04 - July 10
They couldn’t keep laying this many eggs! After weeks of 18-20 lays (40 eggs) per week from the crested geckos, we saw our first # decreases. Down to about 15 sets of eggs. Not much of a decrease but just enough. All babies are growing- growing- growing. We are very excited about the animals we will be taking to the next shows. There will be both variety and quantity.
Project Update- The project has slowed WAAAAAY down. I will not be releasing by the end of July. I may not release by end of August. The dog days of summer have caught up with me. From the work in the facility to family responsibilities to…. Heck, it’s summer! I am sure most of you are busy up to your eye balls too. The project is moving forward but just not at light speed like it was the past 3 months.
Facility- If you did not notice by now, summer time is when things hop! Every day we are seeing anywhere from 2-10 baby geckos. EVERY DAY! We have the space in the facility, we have the enclosures and food all ready for them…… but the extra time to feed/clean/work with the many new mouths to feed really adds up. I love this time of year!
June 27 - July 03
I now am keeping Three Frog Eyes. I did not say Three Eyed Frogs. No, this is not Springfield from The Simpsons.
There is no nuclear power plant in our back yard. I don’t have mutant amphibians running wild in the neighborhood. We just had our 3rd Teratoscincus scincus frog eye gecko hatch this year. While we hatched one last year, it is still very cool to see 3 hatchlings all together this year- so far. We still have 3 eggs cooking too.
The consensus is out. I posted on FB recently asking if anyone was keeping the Blatta lateralis (red runner / Turkisan) roach. There were a few individuals that noted sthey have used this feeder for years without problem. However, the majority of keepers posted less than glowing responses to the believe that this is a useful feeder. The Pros- easy to breeder, quick and appetite stimulating, easy to feed and maintain. The Cons- they are quicker than dubia, they look icky (more like a roach), and they can quickly infest a house. Suggestions- feed only in non-escape dishes (but the animals will still manage to topple over or somehow allow some to get loose), non-escape substance on the top rim of your grow out tubs (this does not stop the occasional dropped insect- or worse dropped deli cup with about 100 of them), and watching each bug get eaten (no possible with over 500 enclosures). I believe I am of the opinion that there are other, better feeder options available. I wish I would have thought this through, before ordering 1000 a month ago.
Project Update- This week I finished off another big piece- Location Maps. All maps are complete. When I have a whole day to concentrate on something, I can really fly. While the maps are not exact and are probably missing a lot of information, they certainly will be a good start. I will look at the reptile community to help ‘fill in the blanks’.
Facility- While the breeding season is going hot and heavy, the hatchings are really cranking as well. We are seeing babies hatch out at the following rate per day- 1-2 cresteds, 2-3 picta, 2-3 Africans, and about 1/3 leo. No, we are not hatching parts of leopard geckos. We see a new leo about every third day so far. I am expecting that # to go up very soon. Now to get a few other never-bred-in-our-facility geckos to breed. For you Pokemon Go players- #gottacatchemall
July 04 - July 10
I’ve been maintaining 4 mourning geckos (Lepidodactylus lugubris) in a 3 gallon tank for about 3 months now. There are several sets (more than 3 for sure). I know they are crammed in there and need more room. Well this weekend, I took them from this 3 gallon tank to a 39 gallon tank! Whaaaaaaat! Imagine if you moved into a new home. You currently live in a 3 bedroom 2 bath, 2 car garage home. Poof! I just put you in a 30 bedroom-20 bath-20 car garage mansion! Score! Gotta love that- you mourning geckos you.
Project Update- Big piece just went in- Genus Quick Reference. This is one of the true ‘keys’ to this project. I wish I could say more but you will get it once the project is release. I’m still expecting release near the end of this month. This will not be the final product but will be a great source of initial information.
Facility-I am contemplating taking one of our 10 enclosure crested gecko breeding racks down and replacing it with a grow out stand. Last year we had the following for crested, gargoyles, and chewies- 91 baby containers, 87 grow outs, and 79 adult enclosures. About half the adult containers housed more than one female (we had around 100-110 females). In the winter, I whittled the adults down to about 60 females. This was dramatic for us. However, with the additional time dedicated to each animal this year, and the additional size of enclosure used for some of the geckos, I have seen the number of eggs/babies almost double. I really think this is making a big difference!
June 21 - June 26
Project Update- Part 1 (of Phase I) is complete. Whoot! Whoot! This makes up the main content. Content is the main part of this project. The hard part is over and now on to Part 2 (of Phase I). This part makes up about 120 hours or so. Sounds like a lot but it will go quickly. Spending evenings and weekends should put me right around my planned end of July timeline date to publish. Very exciting.
Facility- After moving the dubias a couple months ago, we are seeing decreased production. I believe we’ve been harvesting too much and will need to start rebuilding each container. I’m not too concerned about this as we have been ordering crickets the past couple months to add some variety to the food items. Breeding season is full steam ahead right now. This week, we found he following eggs- 60 P. picta, 40 cresties, 14 leopards, 10 P. stumpffi, 4 P. rugosus, 4 H. ruspoli, 4 cave geckos, 2 T. scincus (frog eye), 2 Chondro. fitzsimonsi, 2 Coleonyx mitratus, 4 N. milii, 2 S. petrii, and (sit down for this!) 20 H. tangaicus. That is ONE WEEK’s worth of eggs. Crazy.
June 13 - June 20
Project Update- More technical difficulties with the web page. I’m finding the google search settings are all messed up. How in the world did we get so much traffic and good placement on google without these settings, I will never know. This is all related to something in my application called SEF. Some of you might know what this is, most will not. Don’t google it, it will give you a headache. Working on this has cost me 2-3 nights. But, I think I figured it out…. At least for now.
Facility- Getting plenty of eggs- especially from our P. picta. Not sure how I am going to keep all the picta separated as we have over 20 pair and they are ALL breeding right now!
June 6 - June 12
Project Update- I feel like this is actually coming together. Articles are becoming more than just outlines as content is being added. However (there is always a but, right?) as I add to all these articles, I am finding that I want to add more and more to this project. Anyone hear of a term called scope creep? Well, it is hitting me all over the place with this this project. I want to see more photos. I want to see more details (like climate info). I want to see video! So… instead of cramming all this together and taking the next 6 months to finish, I have been very good about only adding a few new pieces- and called it Phase I. Sorry fans, video is definitely in Phase II.
Facility- As the heat raises, so do our expectations on baby geckos. Crested geckos are really going nuts. All other geckos are taking off. I think we will have a down year for caves, unexpectedly. It’s still early but we’ve only had a few sets of eggs so far.
May 30 - June 5
I try to keep the business from interfering with the goal of the Supreme Gecko page (educate and share the passion of nature and especially geckos). But once in a while, I need to post what we have available simply to keep the lights on and the crickets coming in to feed all the hungry little mouths. So, without further ado…. Please check out the latest Price List posted on our Supreme Gecko Fan page at FB PRICE LIST PAGE
May 23 - May 29
A good friend of my recently offered up some animals off a post on FB. I was looking for a Pachydactylus rangei. It all started with this one animal. David Pelle then offered me a male Coleonyx variegatus which I also needed for a lone female. Then, before shipping, he informed me he has a pair of Oedura robusta available. I could not say no.
From 2 lone females to now 3 breed-able groups. Score. I couldn’t be happier.
Thank you David for this great transaction.
May 16 - May 22
Over the next two months, I will be working on a project that started almost 2 years ago. Working with a contract developer, we took many directions to get the page just right. My requirements were many and almost all were fulfilled. However, creation of each page would be around 4-6 hours and maintenance would have been a nightmare. Also, any little slip in format and every page could have been compromised. And this project is made up of at least 100 pages initially and several hundred eventually.
After 6 months of changes, and more money than it cost to initially build the Supreme Gecko page, I pulled the plug. It’s hard to change directions on something like this when you are so close but also know you are so far away.
In 2015, I picked the project back up, refocused my requirements and decided I did not need all the bells and whistles. There would be plenty of work in producing the content, and I did not want this to be a 1000-2000 hour projects- that still remained fragile to changes that could take the whole site down. KISS- keep it simple stupid was my new motto. I played around a bit with design and came up with a much simpler one that would work. But I did not have the time last year with work occupying 70 hours of my week or more.
In April of this year, I picked the project (we will call it Species Page going forward) back up. I detailed the work and am now at @ 360 total hours (phase I- phase II will be another 200+ hours).
So, you are asking (I hope) ‘When will this be published’? My goal is to complete and publish around August 1 if I can stay with the plan. Wish me luck.
May 9 - May 15
Here they come. I've made the transaction and am just awaiting the animals.
I have my wish list and there are 3 geckos on that list. These are the top of the top shelf animals (IMHO) that someday I may own. But there is another level of geckos that I would like to work with as well, juuuuuuuust a bit under this list. And one of those animals is now in our facility! So excited.
I saw the posting for a 2.2 offered by Zack Crookston and the decision was made instantly. The two pair are actually even different locations. How exciting.
The gecko? It is Saurodactylus brosseti. A Morrocan desert micro gecko. They are small but great eaters. I will be keeping a close eye on these two pair and updating everyone with any updates in the next few months.
A very special event was witnessed Saturday. A little background. I sold a group of geckos a month or so ago to another great hobbyist Robert Dufek on a payment plan (very common in the hobby). One of the geckos sold is Paroedura stumpffi. Well, these geckos have grown and, what do you know, are now breeding.
Today, we watched a female dig a hole and drop her eggs. How cool is that. And no Robert, I am not shipping the eggs with your geckos.
May 2 - May 8
I need a break from geckos. You need a break from geckos.
Nanette and I took off Sunday morning for Holland, Michigan. Home of the Tulip Festival. We heard so many great things about the event, we decided to take a 2 day break and get away.
What a great time. So many beautiful things to see. The 5 hour trip from Milwaukee to Holland placed us at the festival and the huge craft fair right around noon. From photos to necklaces to bird feeders to crafty dresses and hats. We picked up a couple of things but nothing really special. But, the highlight of the day was the wooden shoe dance. I don't know how the ladies dance for 15 minutes with those shoes! Back to South Haven and a wonderful dinner with the lady I love.
Monday was travel day- from Holland and Cenntenial Park to Windmill Park to the big tulip farm (watched them make wooden shoes) to the Lake Michigan beach to see Big Red the lighthouse. What a wonderful time away.
Mar 25 - May 1
Let me start with the addition of two additions to the web page- The Gecko Room Tour and Gecko of the Month. I’ve never worked with the Genus Stenodactylus. I’ve had several opportunities but never really pulled the trigger. This is a really cool, small group of geckos that chirp. Fun. I was fortunate to be able to pick up both S. petri and S. stenodactylus from Kevin Saunders (visit Kevin on FB by clicking HERE. They are both setup in their own 10 gallon tanks and as simply as it possibly could be. I may add some plastic plants in the future. Next, from a long ago transaction Max Sullivan (visit Max on FB by clicking HERE) came through with 3 pairs of Colyonex v. variegatus/bogerti intergrades from Santan AZ. Three pairs! I love the banded group of geckos and this is a much welcomed addition to our collection.
The Room Tour is a long awaited, detailed look into our facility. I’ve had many, many requests for visits and it is simply too time consuming for me (50-60 hour job and family time restricts my availability). So I did the next best thing and put together a photo-tour of the facility. Enjoy and PLEASE comment below both good and bad- Gecko Room Tour
The Bug Room went through a drastic change over this past week. As you may know, we are doing 6 BIG containers of dubias. We’ve had success with them but I think we could do better. The groups are separated in the facility- 3 in the Bug Room and 3 near our sink area. All have heat pads in the enclosures to provide a very high heat source. So, we moved the 3 containers into the Bug Room, put in a space heater to keep the room 90 degrees (yes 90!!!). I expect the production to double in a month’s time.
Received our first crested hatchling this week. Whoop! More to come shortly. Still waiting on leos. Breeding and egg laying are in full mode and it should be an exciting year.
Apr 18 - Apr 24
It’s that time again. Time to clean the dubias. We do this 2-3 times a year. Everything comes out of the dubia enclosures and new egg cartons and substrate is added. This cleaning, we are going with oats as a substrate instead of wheat (newly found wheat allergy cause). With me manning the egg cartons and separating bins and Nanette setting up the food, we can usually finish this task of 6 bins in about an hour and a half. Saturday we started at 6 am and finished at 8 as we had a couple other activities thrown in the mix. While cleaning of course, we harvest the young dubias. This month’s return was a touch under our average but I attribute this to the winter heat going off. We will need to add a space heater to the bug room to bump it up about 10 degrees.
I’ve had several requests over the years for a room tour. In fact, when customers ask to stop by to pick up Pangea or a gecko, I believe part of the request is to see the facility. Unfortunately, due to the time it takes to prepare (I’m a perfectionist and it seemed I would spend a week cleaning before an arrival) I’ve avoided any room viewing for about 6 or more years. It’s not that we are doing anything special or different. I love showing off the animals but it just became too difficult. So, a close friend recently mentioned that I would have to open up some time, I thought of the next best thing- a virtual tour. I am working on a facility chart, a room by room description, and even rack by rack photo gallery. This is a BIG project but I think it could be one that really benefits the hobbyist thinking of expending out past their current collection.
We are almost at full egg production from our leoard and crested geckos. Again, this year we will see far less of both as each collection has been intentionally whittled down to about 75% of the breeding groups of last year. We still are hatching out misc. other geckos.
Apr 11 - Apr 17
The Survey & Does your Crested Gecko Eat Insects?
How are we doing? I put together a quick survey asking our most recent customers how we are doing with shipping their new geckos. Supreme Gecko has been shipping geckos since around 2005 and has sent hundreds and hundreds of animals to new homes. I’m always looking for ways to improve the process to get the healthiest animal to its new owner as quickly, and as fiscally responsibly, as possible.
With dozens of geckos going out since the first of the year, I felt this would be a great gauge to see where we need to improve our process.
If you have not participated in the survey and have received an animal in the past few years from Supreme Gecko, please do participate. It will only take you 2 minutes and I will be giving out a $50 gift certificate to a random participant at the end of the year. First, click the icon to the right, fill out the survey, then go to the comment section below and write DONE.
So, do your crested geckos refuse insects? Do you know why it is important to offer them a more complete diet? Want to know how to get them to eat more insects? Read here- How To Get Your Crested Gecko To Eat Insects.
Apr 04 - Apr 10
It’s WIRE time! That’s the Wisconsin Reptile Expo held in Madison, Wisconsin. The best little reptile show around. I say little but it has really taken off recently with the additional advertising and vendor selection. I’ve been doing this show for around 8 years or so and have really seen a wonderful growth in the show. With around 30 quality vendors, a great location, and excellent animals and supplies, this is one of my favorite shows. We do well at this show with our stock of animals. More importantly, we make some amazing contacts. These are great Wisconsin reptile keepers thirsting for more information on their wonderful pets. I really enjoy the ‘chat’ time over the ‘sales’ time at this show .
I have a rack/stand that holds 21 10 gallon tanks- 3 shelves of 7 tanks each. It is a very simple design- 2x2 framework on 4 2x2 legs supported in the middle by 2 2x2s. As each tank has a small amount of weight in each, this is a perfect stand. Unfortunately, there are 2 issues. The lower shelf is just too low to be functional. We hold crickets in some tanks when we over order. The second issue- because this is a framework stand, I have to use incandescent lights to heat these tanks (African geckos). That’s a lot of lights that constantly are dying and need replacing and also a lot of energy going to waste. This week, we added plywood shelves to the two top rows, took off the incandescent canisters, and added flexwatt heat tape to keep about 25% of the enclosures in the mid 90 degrees. This will be a more reliable heat source and save a LOT of money.
Setup our new Herstat thermostats on our leo tanks. What a difference. We have used dimmer switches in the past but, as you know, as room temperatures cool in the winter and warm in the summer the dimmer switches need to me managed as well. With the Herpstat units, we can set it and forget it. Love that!
Finding more and more crested, leopard, and picta eggs. It won’t be long before we are in full production.
Mar 28 - Apr 03
You're Hot Then You're Cold
Weather in Wisconsin- It’s like the Kati Perry song- ‘Cause you’re hot then you’re cold, you’re yes then you’re no, you’re in then you’re out, you’re up then you’re down”. Thank you Wisc. weather for kicking in the gecko breeding season then shutting it right down again. 70 degree weather one day, snow flurries the next. I know this is the land of the Frozen Tundra of Lambeau Field and all but come on!
Our big old gargoyle enclosures seemed so bare. Coil fiber as substrate, a hide, some cork bark, and a plastic plant. Very functional but sort of not as there really isn’t a lot of used floor space for the geckos. So to remedy this, I went back to a tried and true trick used for grow out crested geckos.
In our 19 quart grow out crested gecko setups, I have a cut-to-size foam noodle- one of those swimming pool toys. They work great to extend the livable area for the geckos. So, for the gargoyles, I went out and purchased 15 of the super big noodles and cut them up for the gargoyle enclosures. Within a day or so, half of the geckos had found the new ledge and was starting to utilize them. A big win for the gargs.
Mar 22 - Mar 27
Feeding, moving babies, setting up breeder animals- so much to do downstairs. Well Friday saw me with my tool belt on fixing thing. I love working with the animals- I hate spending quality time doing maintenance chores but I know it needs to be done.
The task at the top of the list at the beginning of the day was to add flexwatt to a stand made up of 14 10 gallon tanks. The heat tape is to replace about 7 canister lights used to heat the enclosures. This should reduce the cost of heating these enclosures and reduce the cost of replacing so many incandescent light bulbs. Well, after several failed attempts, I realized that running the HT through a dimmer switch connected to a power strip, connected to a power strip, connected to an extension cord, connected to the power source was not a good idea. Ok, I know! Bad idea. So now it is connected through the dimmer switch directly to the power source. Much safer and efficient.
Lights- I found 3 florescent bulbs out in the room. Not a big deal but if you do not have the bulbs, that means a trip to the store. I learned a lesson from my father years ago. If you go to the store to buy something that you may need to again replace within the year, BUY TWO! That way you minimize your trips. Well, I buy bulbs in 10 packs. More economical and again I save on store visits.
In addition to the electrical duties, I also had screen patching, and other minor misc. tasks to catch up on. Wouldn’t you know it, right in the middle of all this, the power when down! Not for long but just long enough to require resetting timers and the leo room heater. I’m lucky this happened during the day as I might have forgotten about these resets and, in the middle of the leopard gecko breeding season, this could have been really bad!
Mar 14 - Mar 22
Getting Ready BEFORE the Big Show
While this was NARBC Tinley Park Reptile Show week, I am not going to talk about the show, nor the show setup. I would like to however address the finer details of getting ready for this show.
My prep for a large show like this usually starts around a month before the show. I start taking photos of the available animals, post on the web page, and post on the social media pages. Why? Well, this is done to bring attention to the fact that we will have animals ready for the show. A side effect to this advertising is of course sales before the show. Of the 75 or so animals added to the web page and facebook (out of about 150 that we have ready for sale), over the next month, we sold over 40! Spring temps were very good to us this past month and we were able to ship out all animals (almost all as we do have a couple of customers we are holding animals for that are making payments). We also sent a bunch of crested gecko diet with these orders. This was a big selling time for SG. With all the inquiries on the animals (I would venture to say we have 3 inquiries to every one sale) temp delays in shipping dates, some orders on payment plans, some orders picked up at the show, all this info must be tracked to make sure we send out the right animal to the right person on the right date.
Guess what my favorite tool is during this time. Ding! Ding! That’s right Excel. I keep track of all the inquiries (Date first contacted, person’s name, animal interested in, Email/FB contact info, Status, and my last contact date with the customer). Inquiries hopefully turn into customers and I track total sale amount, down payments, when paid in full, shipping addresses, and Date to Ship. I use status codes and colors to keep track of all this.
Do I need all this info? Yes. Could I use a different tool than Excel? Maybe. The key is that during this time, I have a one-page look up that gives me all the info quickly at one glanse.
Mar 7 - Mar 13
Benefits of Having the Gecko Facility in Our Home
The alarm has gone off - 6 a.m. and my day begins: most of my day I play “beat the clock”. This is a time management game where I set the alarm on my phone and whatever task I have I give it a specific amount of time to get it done. Then I start the task and try to beat the clock. This has become a very effective tool for me. The beginnings of my days are spent getting lunch, coffee made for Wally and him off to work; then a load of laundry in, daycare kids come in around 6:30 a.m., Christal up for school, breakfast for the kids, feed gut load to feeders, mist enclosures, everyone ready to leave for school. This all happens before 8:15 a.m. Then the rest of the day goes something like this :
Facility time ( can range from 1 ½ hours to 5 hours a day depending on what needs to be done ) feeding, cleaning, shipping, and anything else that needs to be done. I normally start with the leopard gecko room and work my way around the facility. Our feeding schedule allows for me to feed specific groups daily (that way not everyone has to be fed on the same day). After feeding I work on washing dishes and clean up in the room. Some days I spend my time cleaning animal enclosures (which requires my plastic black spoon – that will be a whole other blog post). There are days I work on getting shipments ready too.
Throughout the day I am doing laundry in between other tasks, answering emails, making calls, running to post office and other miscellaneous errands. We have Christal 3 days a week so I also am spending time playing and doing things with her in between other things. There are days that I spend time at our church doing bible study, working on things for the class I run on Sunday mornings, or working on women ministry things. Those days I have to work in the facility on a different routine.
Daycare kids come home around 3:30 and leave by 5:30. During that time I normally finish laundry, make dinner, work on the computer, make a run to post office if shipping animals ( I like to take them as late as possible to the post office for shipping). As you can see I tend to be very busy most days and having Supreme Gecko facility in our home (basement) is a great benefit as I can work in between other things that are happening throughout the day.
Feb 29 - Mar 6
Leo Tails are Rattlin'
Is there a better sound for a leo breeder? Males introduced to females rattle their tails to make sure their lady friends know they are around. Breeding usually commences shortly after- as long as the females are receptive.
Feeding has been heavy the past few weeks to get all animals up to size as quick as possible. We’ve brought in more crickets that we normally bring in during this time. As well, the animals always have mealworms in their dishes. As Hans and Franz would say, we’re feeding heavy to “Pump… You Up”.
As I look at 2016, I am realizing I have no facility Big Projects. No new rack systems, no new rooms to venture into, no tape measure adventures. I feel a bit underwhelmed by this as for me, this has always been part of the fun. Getting more enclosures in the facility is a challenge to me.
Well, I am scouting out new challenges. This years goals focuses back on the animals. I have plans to only add about a half dozen new animals (not counting 'fill in the blanks' for some leo males and a couple of new cresties). I have my eye on a couple already (a very cool African species and a new cave gecko (new to us)).
A focus this year will be in feeding better, housing more closely to the animals natural needs, and being more diligent about schedules (recording temps/animal movements/breeding records). Back to the basics for us.
Feb 22 - Feb 28
Warm Weather Means Big Shipping Day
What a rollercoaster- from the mid 50s to the 20s and back again. Unfortunately, the warm weather has been hitting on the weekends so we have been unable to ship. Well, Monday gave us an ever so brief window of shipping. I think we shipped 20 boxes or so. Issues- NONE! Thank you everyone for your purchases.
Why the success rate (We’ve only had about 4 tail drops and only one leo die in transit [I believe] out of hundreds and hundreds of shipments) - it’s very simple. Good healthy animals precede any shipping precautions we take. Our young and mature geckos are absolutely as healthy as they can be when they leave our facility – healthy first, then well fed and well hydrated. Finally, we’ve been shipping over 10 years and have learned a lot about the process. A couple of tips- good heatpacks, heavy insulation, some moisture but not wet in the deli cups. Finally, the key to these transactions is COMMUNICATION. No Surprises! That’s our motto.
Facility- Spending time finalizing all crested gecko pairings. Wanna see our collection- CLICK HERE
Hatched- All quit on the hatchling scene this week.
Eggs- No eggs again this week.
Feb 15 - Feb 21
Picta and Leo Pairings
No, I do not mean to say we are breeding leos and Paroedura together. This weekend, we setup our leopard geckos and setup our P. picta breeding groups.
By plan, we will be breeding far fewer leopard geckos this year than in past years. From over 100 females about 4 years ago to 34 this year! That is dramatic. What is different? I am not doing ‘projects’ per se. While I have different groups, I am no longer keeping back dozens of animals to ‘see what happens’ with morphs and lines. I love the line bred traits. Show me a Raptor with blaze orange and full tail and that will make my day. So, currently the morphs I will be working with include- Bells, Blizzard, SHTCT (still a fav), only 2 enigma females, RAPTORs, Reverse Stripe (2), Snow/RS (ok, I’m working one fun project), Mack Super Snows, and Tansuns. This seems like a lot but each group averages 2-3 females.
I’ve been holding back P. picta for a few months to develop a few new groups. Well, I think I over heldback as I now have about 18 different pairs/groups! I will probably whittle this down to about a dozen (look out Tinley NARBC as I will have some nice P. picta coming down). My main goals this year are- 1. Obtain new blood (eclipse?) 2. Work on the T+ Albino 3. Develop a nice group of snows and set that trait.
Facility- Lots of moving and marking animals for the breeding season.
Hatched- I don't believe we had a single hatch this week. Of course we are only incubating 4 dozen eggs currently.
Eggs- Zero eggs this week. Everyone is just waking up!
Feb 8 - Feb 14
FINALLY! I’ve survived 3 week being ill and having NO energy. Time to catch up in the facility.
Facility- Lots of maintenance. Lots of cleanup. Checking on the animals, they are all doing very well. Just beginning the process of warming up the leopards. I expect in the next month, we will have the females fattened up, introduced to the males, and receiving our first eggs.
Hatched- Being the winter time, we don't expect to see many hatches. This past week we only had 2 Paroedura picta hatch out.
Eggs- Good Gosh! I checked on P. stumpffi, H. tanganicus, H. ruspoli and, well WOW. 20 stumpffi, 15 tanganicus, and 2 ruspoli. Nice! Maybe I should not bother these animals so much in the future. We are now collecting crested gecko eggs. Game on. So far 8 but I see this picking up dramatically in the next month. Also found our first 2 morning gecko eggs. Fun.
Jan 24 - Feb 7
The past 3 weeks have hit me hard with a flu, sinus infection, bronchitis, etc. Ouch. Down and out! It is everything I can do to work 8 hrs a day and right to bed at night. Weekends are recovery time as I’ve spent as much time in bed as I could to get better.
Facility- Being sick sucks! In the past though, I’ve depended on Nanette to help so much with picking up the slack. Not this time. She is just as sick as I. Fortunately, she can hit the facility ever couple of days to feed insects and to feed the animals. Right now it is absolutely minimal maintenance for the animals until we both get better.
Hatched- Just a very few P. picta, H. tanganicus, and P stumpffi. Super Bowl Sunday- Watching the Super Bowl with the family. Congrats to Denver and to Payton on winning his 2nd. Checking Email after the game and there are a dozen inquiries for animals! Six cresties sold today and I am sure several will continue to sell early next week as I confirm info and available animals. Is this a trend? I will have to watch this next year.
Facility- The cold (-7 today) is biting us on the arse. We are holding sold animals ready for shipment, cranking up the thermostat to keep pace, and worse yet we cannot order bugs. Officially, we will be out of food for the geckos by mid next week. Ouch. Our stash of mealworms will be used up by then and any crickets available in the facility are long gone (except that one in the wall that keeps chirping). So, what do we do? Simple- make due with dubias! The power of home grown feeders! We collected over 300 grams this weekend and are set for about a month, given their fast growth. But, I would sure like to get some other feeders in soon.
Hatched- I think we’ve had 6 Paroedura stumpffi, 4 Hemidactylus ruspoli, and 4 Hemidactylus tanganicus hatch this week. Oh, and 2 Paroedura picta. We lost a cat gecko this week. Why? No idea. Very sad. Web Page- Added over 50 cresteds to the For Sale page (http://supremegecko.com/crested-geckos/crested-geckos )! If you know me, you know that is some major time behind the scenes. Also introduced the following-
Not updated yet but we will probably be taking off the Clark’s Diet from the store. More to come on this shortly. Featured Vendor-
We’ve added Zilla Products to our stable of vendors advertising with SG. Please visit their page.
As you can see, I will be changing up from a daily post to a weekly post. This will keep things a bit fresher and easier for me to keep up with. It's all about quality and not quantity.
This week has found me non-existent in the gecko room until Saturday. In fact, I have not been downstairs since the day after Christmas. Why? Well, we finally went live with the project I've been working on for over a year and a half. This will be the last time I mention this but, pulling in 70-80 hours a week for some time now has really taken a lot out of me and has made it difficult to keep up with everything in the facility.
However, with a wonderful wife and partner, Nanette has kept up with everything and then some. More babies, juvies are growing like weeds, and the adults are doing great. I cannot thank her enough.
Yesterday we collected dubia babies and gathered enough for at least a month of feeding the smaller geckos. This really cuts down our costs in the facility. Today was photo day and I actually got in about 15 adult photos. These will be appearing on the store in the next few days but here is a little tease below.