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20 April 2002

I was in the pet store a few weeks ago buying a bull's pizzle for my dog Poochy when I noticed that they had a tank full of geckos for only $2.99 apiece. Now, I spent part of my formative years in the lush, sub-tropical setting of Okinawa, Japan. Consequently, geckos have immense nostalgic value for me, much as (e.g.) The Dukes of Hazzard has for others of my generation -- they used to crawl all over my bedroom ceiling with their pudgy little toes and quadruple-pinhole pupils, eating noxious insects and filling the house with lucky juju . (The geckos, I mean, not John Schneider and whatshisname.)
On top of all this, I've had my dog for six years now, and his shtick is getting a little dull, with the face-kissing and the pleading-for-tummy-rubs and the general toadying way that canines have. So I thought to myself, "Could there be more stimulating pets than reptiles? Surely not!" Twenty-five bucks later, I'd acquired a small vivarium, a starter supply of live crickets, and two herps: a Brooks gecko (Hemidactylus brooksi) and something called simply a house gecko (probably species H. frenatus). The Brooks gecko is the bigger of the two; because of its coquettish manner and large, doe-like eyes, I decided it was a girl and named it "Shields" -- a play on its species name and a tribute to the voluptuous star of Blue Lagoon and Sahara. Shields is highly nocturnal and tends to stick close to the ground even at night, making her a difficult photo subject -- which is all the more unfortunate because she has lovely (and variable) patterning on her skin. The other gecko is called "Yarnell," of course. Yarnell's arboreal instincts are in no way dampened by the reality of living in a fish tank with maybe seven inches of vertical space from soil to mesh cover, and he will scamper endlessly across the upper canopy of the habitat's plants. Yarnell is also fond of basking on a dead branch that I placed in the terrarium expressly for that purpose. Yes, whether they're swallowing and then excreting insects, licking water droplets from their eyeballs for moisture, or just clinging motionless to the glass walls of their terrarium, the fun never stops with GECKOS!!!

posted by Throbert | 4/20/2002 05:31:00 PM |
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