“It relaxes me; nakakaaliw, nakakawala ng (amusing, it can relieve) stress.” Lance Joyce Sanchez is referring to her pale yellow pet gecko named Mia. She is one of the members of the Leopard Gecko Junkies at the Reptile X: Exotic Pets Showcase, a side feature of the World Gamefowl Expo at the World Trade Center.
The 21-year-old Architecture student from Mapua has been only a year into the gecko and reptile hobby. “A friend influenced me to try to raise geckos not for profit but as a hobby. Reptiles interest me. I was 7 years old when I saw my first sugar glider at Tiendesitas. Now I own a couple of sugar gliders named Snip and Snoop. But I also have two Shih Tzus at home, Aegon and Terra,” the animal lover shares.
Her eyes light up as she explains the joy of having pet geckos. “There is something unique [about] geckos—the color, for one. How can you improve them through selective breeding? If you’ll notice, Mia has these black ‘smiley’ markings on its head,” she says as she points out the odd patterns resembling the smiley icon. “My goal is to morph and attain…unique colors and patterns,” she says.
The words ‘morph’ and ‘genetics’ keep cropping up in our conversation. “There is this thrill; from eggs, you can see the development, from hatch days to [when they’re] adults. There is exciting anticipation [of] the outcome,” she enthuses.
“When the female gecko has these reddish dots on its belly, it is ovulation time. After two months, 1-2 eggs—[which] we call drop eggs]—per clutch are seen. Hatching takes 1 month to 2 and a half months. Temperature plays a big role. Mas mainit temperature, mas malaki lalabas (The higher the temperature, the bigger the creature that will be the result). Like when using [an] incubator, at 27°C, it [will] be females [which will] most likely…appear and at 33°C, it [will] be males,” she explains. “I feed them super worms, meal worms, dubia roaches, and crickets, supplemented by vitamins—calcium with D3. [As for] feeding—for hatchlings, it’s daily; for adults, it’s 2-3 times a week,” she adds.
By the way, Lance, who has to let go of her other interests to concentrate on her pet geckos, has still time to work on her thesis, “Improving Tourist Arrival and Economic Impact of Tourism in Divilacan, Isabela.”
She rattles off some pieces of advice, benefits, tips, trivia, and tidbits about having geckos as pets:“Easy to care [for]. Good for children. Cute. They look like they are always smiling. Easy to breed. One needs to familiarize [oneself with] genetics before breeding. Low maintenance compared with other pets. Good for beginners. Life span averages from 10-15 years. Origin – India and Afghanistan. Habitat – originally beneath the desert. Geckos are solitary animals so they prefer to be alone.
Prices range from ₱3,000 to ₱25,000 each depending on the morph. They are nocturnal animals so they are more active at night time. They always need calcium. No need for lighting. They sometimes get water from their eyes. Use newspaper as substrate. They shed…every once in a while. They eat their skin when they shed. They shed skin as they grow. They [become tame] if you hold them more often. They grow up to 11 inches. They store fats in their hP tails. They are good for starting the reptile hobby…”
She can go endlessly. One thing is certain: Lance is ardently absorbed, passionately a reptile enthusiast, and a genuine gecko lover.
This story appeared as “Gecko Girl” in Animal Scene’s March 2017 issue.