There are Alternatives!

By: Steven Hicks

It is abundantly clear when we put together our annual Pet issue here at SpaceCoast Living that most of us have cats, dogs, or both. Sure, we’ll get the occasional horse, ferret or guinea pig, but for the most part we’re conservative when it comes to the animals, or creatures, in our homes. But that comfort level ignores a large contingent of people who prefer a pet that is…a little less “standard.” This author happens to know a relative expert in this field, 11-year-old Alexa Adams. Adams is a neighbor and I can call her an expert, because to me she is one. I know nothing about these creatures, but she’ll talk my ear off for an hour, and it is with hard facts and information gained through her first-hand experience. That works for me.

I caught up with Adams the day before a long summer trip began. She’s taking her birds with her on the trip, has arranged for her snakes to stay with a trusted breeder for the summer, and as I write this, she’s trying to convince my 11-year-old son to watch over a cute little leopard gecko until her return in August. I’m allowing her “cute” to describe a lizard. Adams will talk about fish, birds, reptiles and amphibians. “Fish and mammals are the only categories of pets with both exotic and domestic species,” she says. “Dogs are dogs, snakes are snakes, but fish, for example, have two completely different habitats.” And back to the snakes, “Snakes are interesting because you feed them what others sometimes keep as pets…mice!” She finds a leopard gecko to be a great balance of unusual yet
still approachable.

Is a Gecko cuddly?

When asked how she interacts with a gecko as a pet, Adams just dismisses that a gecko can’t be enjoyable. “I hold it, pet it, and let it run around a small area while I watch over it.” She adds, “When I lived in Oregon, I was in a club of gecko owners. We made costumes for them, dressed them, and took photos. It was great fun! These are show pets!” For the aspiring gecko owner, she will caution you. “You have to be comfortable handling worms. Geckos eat mealworms and waxworms, and you must count out and handle the worms to feed the gecko properly. It isn’t like dog or cat food that you just pour into a bowl.”

All in all, she says, we should expand our horizons and consider other pets to love. Maybe they don’t bring you your slippers or purr against your leg, but they are every bit as enjoyable, and certainly conversation starters. Learn more about geckos at the QR code below; you’ll be surprised how “pet-like” they are!