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Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Commentary: Why a crested or gargoyle gecko makes the perfect college pet

All you need to know about the coolest scaly study buddies


By SAVANNAH BURGER—arts@theaggie.org


Are you thinking about getting a pet while completing your degree at UC Davis but don’t know which is the perfect fit? Well, I have news for you — the perfect college pet is not a cat, dog, bird or rodent, but rather, a reptilian. Geckos, specifically the crested and gargoyle geckos, besides being super cute, make wonderful and easy-to-care-for pets that can perfectly fit into your busy class schedule. 

Crested geckos and gargoyle geckos hail from the subtropical islands of New Caledonia. They range between seven to 10 inches long, can stick on many surfaces, have the cutest little faces and are known to be great with hands-on activity with their human caretakers. The main difference between the crested and gargoyle geckos, as they are exceedingly similar, is that gargoyle geckos need more insect-based protein in their diets than crested geckos. In addition to this, if they drop their tails, unlike cresteds, gargoyles can regenerate them.

Being a crested gecko owner myself, I can vouch that if you follow their basic living requirements, crested geckos and gargoyle geckos are the best option for anybody, be you a beginner or advanced reptile owner. I got my crested gecko, Bijou, who is now almost five, as a total beginner in my sophomore year of high school. I did tons of research beforehand, got the necessary supplies and she’s been living happily and healthy ever since. Bijou is about nine inches long with a mellow temperament — when I take her out, she’ll slowly crawl around or just sit on my shoulder. Both crested and gargoyle geckos, which are nearly identical in their living requirements, do great with handling. This isn’t the case for many other lizards and geckos, so pay attention to this if you want to get hands-on with a different type of reptile.

Keep in mind that the most important thing to know before you get your crested or gargoyle gecko is that they can live up to a very long time. Sebastian Hawn, a second-year art studio major and proud gargoyle and crested gecko owner, stressed this detail.

“The biggest requirement is time; long-term time,” Hawn said. “I’ve had Asher, my crested gecko, since 2008, so he’s turning 15 this year. They can live up to 30.”

Time commitment is the key factor when thinking of becoming a future gecko owner. I see their longevity as a positive feature. Because many people live in smaller spaces, be it dorm, apartment or room sharing, they often want to get a small pet such as a fish or small rodent. The main caveat to these tiny animals, however, is that they only live two to three years — four at the most. If you want a pet that will stay with you throughout and after college, a crested or gargoyle gecko is for you. 

Even though they’re a big commitment in the long term, when it comes to the day-to-day, they require very little of your time, making it easy to fit them into your busy class schedule. Crested and gargoyle geckos are nocturnal, so by the time you come home from classes or work, they’ll be awake and active. If you want your gecko to be accustomed to handling, start by taking them out for 10 to 15 minutes every day or every other day. Other than that, they’re chill hanging out by themselves, being that they are solitary animals.

Another thing that geckos have over other pets: they don’t have pungent odors. If you spot-clean your lizard’s enclosure every now and then, and/or have a clean-up crew of small decomposers such as isopods or springtails, your gecko shouldn’t smell at all. This is one of the many reasons that a gecko is also a great option if you share a living space with someone else. Geckos, unlike animals such as dogs and cats, are able to be happily contained in a smaller space full-time.

“They have a small footprint, Hawn said. “Their tank is going to need to be at least 18 inches by 18 inches by 24 inches.” 

Hence, if your roommate isn’t interested in having your pet in their space, a gecko shouldn’t be a big problem. Don’t worry about noise, either. Crested and gargoyle geckos rarely make any noise at all. Not only this, but it’s nearly impossible for them to ruin any type of furniture. For these reasons, I guarantee that they are low on the invasiveness scale when it comes to your cohabitants’ personal space.

Let’s talk about overall costs — this is yet more proof that geckos are superb for people living on college student budgets. Compared with most other pets, they’re incredibly affordable. Although they do have a somewhat pricey upfront cost, I typically don’t spend more than fifteen dollars a month on Bijou.

“You’re going to need an upfront investment of probably a fair bit of money depending on what you’re going for, but definitely less than $500 for an initial setup,” Hawn said.

Including lights, a tank, plants, supplies and the lizard herself, I may have spent around $300 in total for Bijou’s initial setup. This is very financially accessible when compared to the average upfront costs of something like a dog or cat, which are commonly at the very least $1,000 with adoption fees, registration, supplies and vaccinations. Food for these geckos is equally as affordable and quite simple. They can range from powder that you mix with water, to baby food, to live crickets or small worms. If you don’t want to get into the creepy-crawly side of gecko food, you can always give them protein in alternative methods, such as baby food from the supermarket or protein-powdered worms or crickets.

So, if you find yourself studying in your room, dismal and alone, wishing for a little critter to keep you company — you know exactly which animal would fit the job. Just remember, before committing to anything, do your research.


Written by: Savannah Burger — arts@theaggie.org



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