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Thread: Noob with Leo's

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    Hello there everyone. Sorry in advance for the long read. I'm new to Leo's, and this past week I bought a Mack Snow for my children, who have been pleading for a pet reptile for some time. After exhaustive research that certainly piqued my interest, and also seemingly only scratched the surface, we decided on the Leo and brought him/her home. It's still a baby, and we don't know the sex, but my kids have affectionately named it Max. It is adorable in every seemingly way, and my wife and kids love it.

    Max is being housed in a 20 gallon long (about 30x12x16 inch) front opening enclosure, that I'm quickly learning was not adequately prepared. It was configured by the store we bought it from (a local not big name pet store that is fantastic is most ways). However, the tank had sand in it for the substrate which I removed immediately and replaced with paper towels for the time being while I figure out something more permanent. It also had a styrofoam backdrop that had had a hard rock type compound that "melts" away when water gets on it. I removed the back drop completely after the first night when I found that Max had climbed it and gotten behind it between the styrofoam and glass. I don't know if he was stuck, but I got Max out safely and will not be doing another back drop.

    I'm also quickly learning that the heating pad is woefully inadequate for the enclosure's needs. It's a 10-20 gallon Zilla heating mat, and it's only a 6x8 inch or something like that. The warm/dry hide is on top of it right now, and it's keeping that spot warm enough, but the rest of the tank seems to be on the low side. Ground temperatures are about 71 degrees F or so. Sometimes high 60's which concerns me. I've already got a Ultratherm 11x17 and a thermostat on order, but don't know how long it will take to get here. I've got 3 hides for the little guy, and am doing my best to keep Max as comfortable as possible until the Ultratherm gets here, and I can get it installed.

    Max is eating mostly crickets and a few mealworms so far, but being that things are still new, is understandably not eating tons yet.

    Anyway, I feel like I've got a good start, but I still have tons to learn and teach to my boys so they can also learn to care for Max as well.

    Also, any noob advice anyone is willing to provide is welcome. I'd like to ensure that I'm properly caring for this little guy. I'm currently going through Elizabeth Freer's care guide, but that's going to take a while with the wealth of information it is.
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    Last edited by hatchna; 05-11-2020 at 03:05 PM.
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    A warm welcome to you, to your family, and to leo Max. I hope he brings joy and camaraderie to you all during these unprecedented times.

    I'm happy you found Geckos Unlimited and that lengthy leo care sheet. I update it all the time.

    I use finely ground Zoo Med's ADULT Bearded Dragon Food for my leo's crickets and dubia. GU's acpart (Aliza) uses Professional Reptiles' Pro Gutload dry diet.


    Gutload Ingredients for Bugs & Worms......thanks to Olimpia -- August 2013

    "A commercial gut loading food like Bug Burger or Superload (both by Repashy), Cricket Crack, Dinofuel, etc. is going to make your life easier AND provide a nutritious diet to your crickets at the same time. Avoid Fluker's gutloads, as they are super feeble in their formulas.

    "If you opt for making your own gutload at home, here is a list of great ingredients to use:
    Best: mustard greens, turnip greens, dandelion flowers & leaves, collard greens, escarole lettuce, papaya, watercress, and alfalfa.
    Good: sweet potato, carrots, oranges, mango, butternut squash, kale, apples, beet greens, blackberries, bok choy, and green beans.
    Dry food: bee pollen, organic non-salted sunflower seeds, spirulina, dried seaweed, flax seed, and organic non-salted almonds.
    Avoid as much as possible: potatoes, cabbage, iceberg lettuce, romaine lettuce, spinach, broccoli, tomatoes, corn, grains, beans, oats, bread, cereal, meat, eggs, dog food, cat food, fish food, canned or dead insects, vertebrates."
    Here's a good supplement schedule for Max.
    Weekly Schedule 124 for Leopard Geckos 0-12 months old
    (withOUT UVB)
    Early stage metabolic bone disease (MBD) symptoms include uneven (lopsided) gait, walking on one or both "elbows", bowed limbs, belly dragging, and an underbite.
    The Reptile Supply Company based in Lodi, California stocks Zoo Med's ReptiVite multivitamins withOUT D3.
    Feed lightly dusted prey 3x per week.

    • Monday > > crickets or dubia lightly dusted with Zoo Med's Repti Calcium with D3
    • Tuesday > > mealworms, superworms, or black soldier fly larvae (Phoenix worms) > > no dusting
    • Wednesday > > crickets or dubia lightly dusted with pure precipitated calcium carbonate withOUT D3 (Zoo Med's Repti Calcium or NOW human brand calcium)
    • Thursday > > mealworms, superworms, or black soldier fly larvae (Phoenix worms) > > no dusting
    • Friday > > crickets or dubia lightly dusted with Zoo Med's ReptiVite multivitamins withOUT D3
    • Saturday > > mealworms, superworms, or black soldier fly larvae (Phoenix worms) > > no dusting
    • Sunday > > no food or free choice > > no dusting
    Last edited by Elizabeth Freer; 05-11-2020 at 03:43 PM.
    "If you can hear crickets, it's still summer." ;)

    "May the peace that
    You find at the beach
    Follow you home"

    Click: Leo Care Sheet's Table of Contents

    ===> No plain calcium, calcium with D3, or multivitamins inside an enclosure <===

    Oedura castelnaui ~ Lepidodactylus lugubris ~ Phelsuma barbouri ~ Ptychozoon kuhli ~ Cyrtodactylus peguensis zebraicus ~ Phyllurus platurus ~ Eublepharis macularius ~ Correlophus ciliatus ~ (L kimhowelli) ~ (P tigrinus) ~ (P klemmeri) ~ (H garnotii)
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    It was configured by the store we bought it from (a local not big name pet store that is fantastic is most ways). However, the tank had sand in it for the substrate which I removed immediately and replaced with paper towels for the time being while I figure out something more permanent.
    Slate is an ideal substrate in many ways, but slate is porous. Be sure to seal slate first with a water-base, low VOC, sealant like the sealant @Gutler has just used. Gutler's sealant is NOT on this link yet.

    Two slate cheese trays completely cover the floor of your 30 x 12. Only a bit will need cutting off. My 2 trays should arrive tomorrow.


    This may be Gutler's sealant: "I actually switched to a different sealant same brand but the new one is water based so its safer. https://www.amazon.com/Miracle-Seala...939611&sr=8-13"
    Last edited by Elizabeth Freer; 05-11-2020 at 04:18 PM.
    "If you can hear crickets, it's still summer." ;)

    "May the peace that
    You find at the beach
    Follow you home"

    Click: Leo Care Sheet's Table of Contents

    ===> No plain calcium, calcium with D3, or multivitamins inside an enclosure <===

    Oedura castelnaui ~ Lepidodactylus lugubris ~ Phelsuma barbouri ~ Ptychozoon kuhli ~ Cyrtodactylus peguensis zebraicus ~ Phyllurus platurus ~ Eublepharis macularius ~ Correlophus ciliatus ~ (L kimhowelli) ~ (P tigrinus) ~ (P klemmeri) ~ (H garnotii)
    Thanks hatchna thanked for this post

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    Thank you so much for the advice, Elizabeth. I greatly appreciate the information on feeding the feeders. I wasn't sure yet on how to get a setup going for the insects that Max will be feeding on, so that information helps immensely. Looking into it further, I'm disappointed now that another pet store I visited (not the one we got Max from) recommended the Nature Zone Total Bites for the insects. It looks like it will do well at keeping the crickets alive while providing little nutritional value to Max. I'll look into getting the bearded dragon food or the pre-ground food you mentioned. I still need to get some containers for the insects. Right now, I'm using an old, smaller tupperware container, which I realize is insufficient for long term use and keeping the insects alive as long as possible.

    I believe that tile or slate is the way I want to go for substrate. I'm going to see if I can find something local, as Amazon is unbearably slow shipping due to the Covid situation.Hopefully I can find some good looking slate that will work.
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    For crickets a 10 gallon glass tank works pretty well (they go for like 12$ at petco) and vermiculite is a great bedding for crickets helps keep humidity and the natural smell of crickets down.
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    So I now have multiple situations resolved I think. I got my thermostat and Ultratherm heat mat installed today, and I found some textured ceramic tile that is not completely flat and smooth to use for the substrate. I couldn't find any stone or slate tiles anywhere, which was odd. Anyway, everything is looking great, and I think Max is getting more comfortable in his new home. I am working on getting a habitat set up for crickets and dubia roaches, but every nearby garden center is out of vermiculite right now.

    Thanks for all the great advice in getting things going.
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    Quote Originally Posted by hatchna View Post
    So I now have multiple situations resolved I think. I got my thermostat and Ultratherm heat mat installed today, and I found some textured ceramic tile that is not completely flat and smooth to use for the substrate. I couldn't find any stone or slate tiles anywhere, which was odd. Anyway, everything is looking great, and I think Max is getting more comfortable in his new home. I am working on getting a habitat set up for crickets and dubia roaches, but every nearby garden center is out of vermiculite right now.

    Thanks for all the great advice in getting things going.
    You're welcome. You're definitely making progress!

    I'm not a fan of vermiculite. Crickets might eat it. If a cricket ate vermiculite, and then a gecko ate that cricket, maybe the vermiculite might remain inside the gecko??? Same goes for cricket water gels.

    The bigger the cricket enclosure the better. I order crickets for 25 geckos. Here's how I set up my 56 quart Sterilite cricket bins.

    Did you see this?
    ***** Ultratherms ***** (high quality) are reusable. Snugly attach the heat mat underneath a glass enclosure with double-sided heat safe tape (or tape rolls) down the center and with electrically safe Nashua tape around the edges. When you purchase supplies directly from Amazon, you'll be able to return even electrical products if they do not meet your gecko's needs. Amazon Prime also provides free return shipping. Reptile Basics (336-308-5767) ----> 11 x 11 Ultratherms = $20, 11 x 17 Ultratherms = $22. The Bean Farm (877-708-5882) sells Ultratherm UTHs in 11 different sizes.

    Using Styrofoam Insulation Underneath an Ultratherm Heat Mat . . . . . . Keith -- April 2018
    "I suggest that an Ultratherm UTH is a must. The Ultratherm needs (styro)foam insulation under it, directing the heat upward and into the enclosure. From what I understand, other brands call for air under the UTH, which just allows heat to be lost! The fact that the Ultratherms should have foam insulation under them rather than air also says volumes about their safety. I only know this because I’m still setting up my Vivarium as well."
    Last edited by Elizabeth Freer; 05-17-2020 at 12:04 AM.
    "If you can hear crickets, it's still summer." ;)

    "May the peace that
    You find at the beach
    Follow you home"

    Click: Leo Care Sheet's Table of Contents

    ===> No plain calcium, calcium with D3, or multivitamins inside an enclosure <===

    Oedura castelnaui ~ Lepidodactylus lugubris ~ Phelsuma barbouri ~ Ptychozoon kuhli ~ Cyrtodactylus peguensis zebraicus ~ Phyllurus platurus ~ Eublepharis macularius ~ Correlophus ciliatus ~ (L kimhowelli) ~ (P tigrinus) ~ (P klemmeri) ~ (H garnotii)
    Thanks hatchna thanked for this post

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    Quote Originally Posted by Elizabeth Freer View Post
    You're welcome. You're definitely making progress!

    I'm not a fan of vermiculite. Leos might eat it.

    The bigger the cricket enclosure the better. I order crickets for 25 geckos. Here's how I set up my 56 quart Sterilite cricket bins.

    Did you see this?
    I did see the post about the polystyrene. I tried putting some underneath the enclosure, but it's too thick. I'll need a panel that is about 1/4" thick instead of about 1/2" thick. I'll see what I can come up with. Right now, it's heating the substrate fairly well though. The overall temperature of the enclosure is much nicer. It's nice to have the thermostat to prevent it from overheating. I still need to add a thermometer to monitor ambient air temperature so I know if I need to add an overhead CHP.

    I'll definitely look into the larger Sterilite bins. The one I'm using is I think a 20 quart, so I may see about increasing the size. I'm also going to try dubia roached again to see if Max will take those. I've had a few crickets get loose inside while trying to feed Max, and it would be nice to have something like dubia that are easier to round up if they escape.
    Thanks Elizabeth Freer thanked for this post

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    Quote Originally Posted by Elizabeth Freer View Post
    You're welcome. You're definitely making progress!

    I'm not a fan of vermiculite. Leos might eat it.

    The bigger the cricket enclosure the better. I order crickets for 25 geckos. Here's how I set up my 56 quart Sterilite cricket bins.

    Did you see this?
    I did see the post about the polystyrene. I tried putting some underneath the enclosure, but it's too thick. I'll need a panel that is about 1/4" thick instead of about 1/2" thick. I'll see what I can come up with. Right now, it's heating the substrate fairly well though. The overall temperature of the enclosure is much nicer. It's nice to have the thermostat to prevent it from overheating. I still need to add a thermometer to monitor ambient air temperature so I know if I need to add an overhead CHP.

    I'll definitely look into the larger Sterilite bins. The one I'm using is I think a 20 quart, so I may see about increasing the size. I'm also going to try dubia roached again to see if Max will take those. I've had a few crickets get loose inside while trying to feed Max, and it would be nice to have something like dubia that are easier to round up if they escape.

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    Quote Originally Posted by hatchna View Post
    I did see the post about the polystyrene. I tried putting some underneath the enclosure, but it's too thick. I'll need a panel that is about 1/4" thick instead of about 1/2" thick. I'll see what I can come up with. Right now, it's heating the substrate fairly well though. The overall temperature of the enclosure is much nicer. It's nice to have the thermostat to prevent it from overheating. I still need to add a thermometer to monitor ambient air temperature so I know if I need to add an overhead CHP.

    I'll definitely look into the larger Sterilite bins. The one I'm using is I think a 20 quart, so I may see about increasing the size. I'm also going to try dubia roached again to see if Max will take those. I've had a few crickets get loose inside while trying to feed Max, and it would be nice to have something like dubia that are easier to round up if they escape.
    Just wait till you have a mature male cricket loose in your house! It will sound like summer until he dies.

    I meant to say: "Crickets might eat it (vermiculite)."

    Kyle made a video about self-cleaning roach bins. You may have found that too.
    "If you can hear crickets, it's still summer." ;)

    "May the peace that
    You find at the beach
    Follow you home"

    Click: Leo Care Sheet's Table of Contents

    ===> No plain calcium, calcium with D3, or multivitamins inside an enclosure <===

    Oedura castelnaui ~ Lepidodactylus lugubris ~ Phelsuma barbouri ~ Ptychozoon kuhli ~ Cyrtodactylus peguensis zebraicus ~ Phyllurus platurus ~ Eublepharis macularius ~ Correlophus ciliatus ~ (L kimhowelli) ~ (P tigrinus) ~ (P klemmeri) ~ (H garnotii)
    Thanks hatchna thanked for this post

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