Cat + Geckos = trouble…

I’m sure if you’ve read my last 2 posts you’re wondering just how we manage to keep Lilly from getting into Sam & Leslie’s cage.  Well…let’s just say we’ve already had to replace one screen for the top already.  At least the new one is made of a much heavier duty mesh.  She initially seemed more interested in the crickets than the geckos – she comes into my son’s room when I feed them & they’re all jumping around, which of course fascinates her immensely.  Maggie & Lilly follow me around the house wherever I go ’cause ya know, they might miss out on something really exciting – ya right…

It’s only been recently that Lilly discovered that there was something more in the tank…And she is an indoor/outdoor cat who LOVES to hunt and bring me “presents” – after she’s done playing with them, of course.  When the weather is warm, I’ll leave one of the kitchen windows that opens onto our deck open so she can come & go.  The problem with that is if I’m not paying attention, she brings her catches in with her.  She’s gotten in the house with several mice (already dead thankfully) & a couple of birds 😦  At least I noticed one of them in time & she dropped it – dazed & unhurt, on the table.  At which point, when I tried to pick it up to take it outside, it flew to another window & perched on top of the curtain.  I’m trying not to flip out at this point & keep Lilly out of the kitchen until I can safely get the poor thing outside.  Luckily, I managed to catch it from the curtain & get it out the back door to release it – thankfully.  It flew immediately into one of our maple trees and seemed no worse for wear.  I felt so guilty because I put out feeders for the birds, but honestly thought they were too high for her to reach.  She’d never caught a bird before (to my knowledge) and this one was a goldfinch – damn it!

But wait…a week later, I’m in the living room absorbed in something else and hear her rolling around on the other side of the room making playful noises.  At first, I’m thinking she’s just playing with one of her toys…Then the light bulb came on & I ran over to see what she was playing with.  It was a dead goldfinch…:(  I was too late this time.  Hopefully, it wasn’t the same one she brought in the week before – you’d think if it was, it would’ve made the poor thing a little more cautious.  I’ll never know…But again, I felt so guilty.

I grew up with cats and therefore, have virtually never lived without (at least) one.  I know they are predators, carnivores & sometimes…slightly *sadistic*.  I’m well aware that it’s in their nature to hunt – whether that hunting is a fuzzy catnip filled toy or a live animal.  They are only doing what comes naturally to them and you can’t get mad at them for being a cat.  But I *hate* it when they manage to kill a bird – which is pretty fucking hard to do.  I’ve had several cats in my lifetime that have managed to do just that – Lilly being one of those, obviously.

One of my previous fur babies (Pywackette – who I will never forget & miss for the rest of my life) left me half a squirrel on my front door step one day.  That was her particular signature kill – she would eat part of the mouse, or whatever she caught – but only half – the back half…BLEH…and leave the rest for me to *~admire~*.  At the time, I was living in OKC in a house with a lot of trees & an open air atrium which would get over run with field mice in the fall, so I was glad she was doing what cats do best – and learned to suck it up when I had to deal with the leftovers.  Finding the half eaten carcases when I got home every day wasn’t exactly pleasurable, but hey – nothing comes for free, right???  Right…

Back to the point of this post – if there ever really was one, other than to tell cat ~tails~;) – all I can do is try to keep my son’s door shut most of the time and occasionally holler for her if I don’t see her sleeping by my desk or in one of the chairs downstairs.  And pray to all the Gods of the Universe that the heavy duty mesh cover does what it is intended to do – keep the crickets inside the tank & Lilly out!

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And because I love George Carlin – he was BRILLIANT, enjoy this:

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New (Kind of) Additions to our Household Zoo – Pt. Deux

After we got home in record time (spent 1 short night in some remote “town” in Indiana – I won’t go into the motel accommodations – HA!) I got to work getting Leslie’s new home set up.  We had used a 10 gallon tank I’d bought years ago for many things – fish, a toad, tadpoles, crawdads, more fish…Anyway, after researching what we needed to prepare, we got Leslie’s home ready.  It was pretty cool actually.  I went to the pet store the next day for pinhead crickets & other supplies.  He seemed content – although not a pet you should handle, according to what we read.  But fun to look at and watch for my son.

One morning, about 4 months later, my son found Leslie dead in his very shallow water bowl.  He was very upset.  We had no idea how or why Leslie had died and had an even harder time trying to explain to my son (who has ADHD & we recently found out possibly Asperger syndrome) that sometimes nature takes it’s course.  We held a funereal for Leslie and he/she is buried alongside my (our) 2 cats that had crossed the Rainbow Bridge years before.  It’s a beautiful spot – under giant pine trees and across from our increasingly abundant berry bushes in the very back portion of our yard (we live in the burbs, but have over an acre of wooded land).

A few weeks later, my mother in law came over, as usual, to work with my son on his homework and had a surprise…She had bought him an albino leopard gecko!  And so, our journey into the lizard world continued…The gecko was named Leslie II – because, as is the case with most reptiles, the sex is hard to tell until they are completely mature (she was still a juvenile) and because my son wanted to commemorate his first Leslie – the 5-lined skink.  My son was overjoyed!  I was thinking, oh boy – more keeping crickets & trips to the pet store once or twice a week…We already have a cat (my baby barn kitty I got 3 yrs. ago rescued from living a very short life outdoors in a barn & part feral – well, she used to be…), a chocolate lab, 2 bettas & a tank of fish.

As turns out, she is very docile and extremely cute – for a lizard.  I began to realize that I was becoming just as fascinated with her as my son – if not more so!  We bought a new 20 gallon tank with all the necessary equipment and I have probably gone overboard filling it with decorations and researching what geckos like or need in their living space.  My son can hold and handle her without any concerns that she will scramble off or bite him.  (The pic below is not the real Leslie II – again, Google stock photo…)

Before we knew whether she was a “she”, I was already certain of her gender.  She loves pink fleece and will perch happily on my shoulder – sometimes a little too close – climbing into my hair and getting somewhat tangled, but it’s all good.  We took her to the pet store a month or so ago for them to “sex” her & yes, she is definitely a female.  The lady who helped us was very impressed with her since she didn’t squirm or bite when she held her to look at her belly.  Another concern with geckos is “dropping their tails” when they feel threatened.  Leslie is very laid back…My kind of lizard~!

As Christmas approached, my son wanted a friend for Leslie.  Again, more research – it’s OK to have 2 females but not a great idea to add a male with only 1 female.  I won’t go into specifics, but let’s just say males prefer a harem & most certainly do not want to be around other males.  They also need to be about the same size to prevent one trying to be the dominate gecko & causing stress, which can kill them.  I began my quest for finding Leslie’s new roommate.

About 3 weeks before Christmas, I found another leopard gecko that seemed to be about the same size and was NOT an albino (my son was quite specific) – although they couldn’t tell me whether it was male or female.  I decided to risk it anyway since my mother in law & I were not having much luck up to that point.  The pet store let me pay for it & keep it at the store for a couple of weeks.

A week before Christmas the pet store called to say I needed to collect my gecko.  My son got an early gift (he tends to get them anyway) and was very excited.  Only problem was this one is not so docile & very skiddish.  I’m sure it was raised in the pet store (not the one I typically go to which is locally owned, not a chain) and never handled or socialized.  My son named him/her “Sam” – again, a name that could go either way since we didn’t know the gender.  My son put him in the tank with Leslie and from that point on they would curl up together in the “rock” hide.  A good sign I thought – at least they seem to get along.

Yep, they get long alright – only too well.  About a week ago, I found 2 eggs buried in the moss in the “moist” hide .  One mystery solved – Sam is definitely a male.  My son was so excited!  We’re going to have baby geckos!!  Yea~!  More research on how to incubate the eggs, how many will she lay, etc.

Day before yesterday, my son insisted that the hide needed to be misted – I hadn’t found the right container or substrate yet to transfer the eggs.  Up until that time I had not touched the eggs.  When I did touch the one on top, it was very soft & come to find out, stuck to the egg underneath.  Not good.  So, I removed the hide and disposed of the contents rather reluctantly – my son was not convinced that they may not hatch.  He commented “don’t be surprised if some baby geckos appear in our trashcan”.  Ummmm…no.  But I can’t blame him for being optimistic!

Here’s some more pics of Sam & Leslie & their home and with that – this post finally comes to an end…(OK, I give up trying to figure out how to keep previous pics from showing up below…arrrggg…so actually it’s pics of the entire pet menagerie)

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New (Kind of…) Additions to Our Household Zoo

This past Summer, we drove down to Oklahoma to visit family (and Texas for our family reunion – which, BTW was in it’s 3rd consecutive month of triple digit weather).  While we were staying at my Sis & BIL’s Lakehouse in Okema, OK (and I DO mean LAKE HOUSE – 3 BR, 2 Baths, floor to ceiling window view of the lake, all pine wood floors/walls/ceilings, enormous 4 tier deck, 2 boats, etc, etc…) my son caught a lizard that’s indigenous to Eastern Oklahoma.  He researched the lizard and discovered it was called a 5-lined skink.  It was really kind of pretty – for a lizard – kind of a bright blueish purple colored body with bright yellow lines running from it’s head to the tip of it’s tail and about 3 inches long.

Five-Lined Skink

My son, always interested in animals, insects, reptiles and amphibians of all sorts, wanted to bring it back with us as a pet – which I love (OK, not so much the bugs, but…).  Soooo, we had an extra passenger on our trip back a few days later.  “Leslie” (my son gave it a unisex name since he had read that you can’t tell the sex until it’s matured…in a year or 2…) traveled 1,200+ miles back to Buffalo, NY in a large coffee can with grass, leaves & what small bugs my son could find to feed it with – AND SURVIVED (thankfully)!  I did feel guilty taking him/her out of their environment but given the alternative of being snake food (that’s a WHOLE nother post), I consoled myself that we were giving him/her a better home and consented.

More lizard posts to follow…