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    Default Leo Breeding Ethics


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    Hey folks,

    So I've been looking more into breeding lately as I finally (knock on wood) appear to have a good clutch. The more I look into these professional breeders, I see most, if not all, of them are simply sticking their leos in plastic storage bins more. They look like filing cabinets, I'm sure you've seen them but here's a picture of what I'm talking about:
    geckosbins.jpg

    By reflex, I shudder at this. Obviously breeders are in a money making operation and are being as efficient as possible. But when it comes to the welfare of the animal (lack of light and space), I couldn't imagine this being beneficial. I'm sure this has been brought up, probably many times, before so if this is one of several repeats, feel free to post a link to another thread. But otherwise, what are your opinions on this large scale/efficiency breeding?

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    Lots of people in the herp hobby despise tubs and rack systems. I'm not one of them. While they aren't appropriate for some species, and some are certainly better than others, they do have their place. First and foremost, they are efficient in terms of space and time, so they allow breeders to produce a larger volume of animals at a lower price. Not only have rack systems allowed breeders to deliver animals to the hobbyist at lower prices, but they have also allowed breeders to develop a faster learning curve with the various species (by enabling more volume) contributing to the knowledge base of caring for and breeding the animals. The volume model has also contributed to the development of the morphs that are so coveted in the hobby. These effects are greatly enhanced by the fact that they allow breeders to make a part time or even full time income, thus encouraging them in their efforts. In short, I don't think that the herp hobby would be where it is today without the efficiencies afforded by rack systems.
    There are downsides, though. Some breeders use tubs that are too small, tubs that are opaque, tubs without hide boxes, etc. Some use them for species that really shouldn't be in rack systems. These systems also make it easy for people to accumulate more animals than they really have the time, energy, or inclination to care for. And, as you pointed out, there are trade offs in respect to the amount of space, thermal or moisture gradients, lighting, and other things that aren't practicable with tubs.
    Some hobbyists feel that breeders shouldn't ever use rack systems, but this simply isn't realistic. Few large (or even moderate) scale breeders are willing to produce animals at a loss, and few hobbyists are willing to pay double or triple for an animal that was produced by a facility that used only large elaborate housing. If you don't wish to support large breeders that use rack systems, you are free to seek out small hobby breeders who don't. You should expect to pay a higher price, and expect to find a smaller selection of animals to choose from. Either way, once the animals are in your care and possession, you are free to keep them as lavishly as you like.
    As I said, it's a trade off, but let's be realistic. If we were exclusively going to put the needs of the herps ahead of our own needs, we wouldn't have them in captivity in the first place.

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    About 7 or 8 years ago I ran a series in Gecko Time (www.geckotime.com/archives) where we would introduce an issue, give both sides and invite people to comment. Then we'd publish the comments in an article the following month. In early 2013 we did an article called "Glass or Racks?" I'm putting the link to the initial article and the comment article below:

    Prose and Controversies: Glass or Rack? - Gecko Time - Gecko Time
    "Glass or Rack" Comments - Gecko Time - Gecko Time

    Aliza

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    Quote Originally Posted by Herpin Man View Post
    If we were exclusively going to put the needs of the herps ahead of our own needs, we wouldn't have them in captivity in the first place.
    Herpin Man, I appreciate the other side perspective from somebody who's been at it for a while. I agree with your statement I quoted, indeed that could be a tough pill to swallow.

    Aliza, thank you (6 years late but w/e) for putting that together. I actually find it surprising that most folks there seem to support a rack system to some degree. I'll need to do some more research on this but thank you for the start!

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    I keep my "main" geckos in 60l terariums, but the babies I have in racks until I sell them (about 6 weeks in a 1 gallon box). Itīs actually safer for the babies. They are easy to clean, have a good ventilation, keep moisture and itīs easier for the babies to learn how to hunt in a small space (I feed them crickets as soon as possible).
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    I think for breeding, unless you happened to be filthy rich and could afford a top tier enclosure for every single gecko, it is economically most sufficient to use some sort of rack system. Even for myself, who is planning to start breeding leopard geckos on a very small scale within the next year or so, I think a rack system makes the most sense to at least keep the babies in. I keep my adult geckos in basic glass terrariums currently and it gets sooo expensive.

    As long as the geckos meet their basic needs and the owners are taking care of them properly, I think its fine.

    If the racks are smaller than recommended and it can't meet all of the gecko's care requirements, that's when I think a rack system would be a problem. Some rack systems out there do seem to be rather small. But I can't say much from experience.

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    I can see both sides of the issue. I also have ball pythons and they are almost exclusively bred by racks even when it is small scale breeders. The ease of temperature control, space, and efficiency do make it more economical from a business stand point , but I think anyone who breeds any species for money HAS to acknowledge and be ok with a few things that some people find distasteful, not just type of enclosure. (1) racks are not ideal perfect habitats, (but then no cage is), (2) breeding comes with risks and losses - some eggs/young will die, fights between the adults, etc and (3) choosing to breed animals is making money on living things.
    These are facts that just are. A rack system isn't cruel or neglectful if used responsibly and for hatching's or very shy animals may encourage feeding and growth during their first vulnerable weeks and will be of benefit. Breeding animals for the pet trade isn't wrong unless the adults are wild caught from at risk populations or are irresponsibly bred to the point of causing harm to the animals or knowingly producing lines with malformations / health issues. Also, we see so many people that have a single pet gecko in a 20 gal or larger aquarium that are far less cared for than the breeder that has 200 animals in racks.
    It all comes down to care of all animals involved. Rack systems are not abusive for lizards the way puppy mills are for dogs for instance. As hobbyists the best way to ensure we support proper care of our animals at all stages is to buy from breeders that are ethical and take good care of their stock.

    On the side against racks...well... I couldn't keep my personal pets in one. Any animal I have has to have to largest and most natural/interactive habitat that I can provide them. But I don't breed and I enjoy all the maintenance required for large enclosures. Part of my personal enjoyment is tinkering with the cages and making things that mimic natural areas and encourage natural behaviors, not everyone has the time and inclination for that. My male ball python is in a 6'x3'x2' cage and I was told by so many people on the bp forum that this was too big, he'd be too scared to eat, temps and humidity would be too hard to maintain etc. But he's 5 years old and has never had a single problem - because I am obsessive with his care. It is the same with my geckos. Does a single gecko need a 4' cage? no, but I have room for one and like giving him lots of space.

    We can talk about right or wrong all day - what it comes down to is the health of the animal. A rack that is a 30qt bin but has the right heating, humidity, substrate, nutrition offered etc is much better than a 40gal tank with sand, no hides, red heat lamp 24/7 and no supplements fed at all. The one in the rack will live a normal life, the one in the tank will most likely die of impaction or MDB at a young age.
    Nature is the best teacher, learn by observing
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