It’s a fair statement to say that I have become more accustomed to routine the older I grow. A typical Saturday starts with driving Stephanie to work around 5 AM (Starbucks opening shift), coming home, and sleeping for a few more hours. I then climb out of bed, brew a cup of coffee, and catch up on all that’s wrong with the world via the news. Then the real fun starts. I turn up Pandora (or iTunes radio) and dive into the weekly gecko cleaning. Weekdays are reserved for feeding and basic maintenance. The weekend is when I dive into my reptile kingdom and sort out all that has happened that week.
The gecko collection we moved with to Massachusetts has grown. What was once a styrofoam cooler of 30 geckos or so has become a collection, at its peak, of around 200. The breeding gods have been good to us with most of the species we’ve kept.
This Saturday is different though. I’m sitting on the living floor and looking at a collection of animals I am proud of, a collection I’ve spent years building, and a part of my life I pour 4-10 hours per week into maintaining. Today I’m packing up the geckos and tearing down the gecko room.
When we moved here we were lucky to find an apartment with three bedrooms. Wow, we thought, two bedrooms and a gecko room! Stephanie wasn’t sold on the idea at first, but I convinced her eventually. The landlord said sure, you can keep a few geckos. I’m happy she didn’t freak when she finally found out a dozen or so geckos really turned out to be a few hundred.
The time in our apartment has come to an end, the landlord has decided to sell the house and we need to find a new place to live. If you’re ever moving, don’t bother mentioning you have reptiles. I learned that the hard way. Saying you breed geckos gets an odd look and quick dismissal. Saying you keep reptiles leads people to assume you have multiple 10 foot slimy snakes that eat children and dogs alike.
In our apartment hunt we discovered two things: we couldn’t afford a three bedroom apartment in Cambridge, MA and landlords don’t like the idea of pets. The current rate per bedroom in the areas we were looking to live is $1,000-$1,500 per room. Our three bedroom apartment with a loft was valued around $3,300/month and we were paying a fraction of that. It was time to be realistic. We can’t have reptiles overflowing into the living room and we can’t afford a third room. Some apartments had a small office without much higher rent but they seemed to all be at least a mile away from the subway I took daily.
Which brings me back to my living room, with the radio playing, looking at a collection that will be gone in the next 24 hours.
It was hard.
I’ve poured hours into this, and while the hobby often turned out to be frustrating and time consuming, I overlooked how rewarding it was for me. Dusting crickets, pulling eggs, chasing hatchlings, and raising babies was my outlet from the real world. It was how I escaped my 8 hour days of email and web crawling. It was how I mentally recharged.
Over the course of the day, late into the evening, I packed up the final part of my collection. I began selling geckos two months previous to this day, largely selling my more rare species online before the upcoming reptile show in Manchester, New Hampshire.
The last bit of the hobby I hold on to is limited to a group of poison dart frogs. The beautiful terrariums and lack of crickets is an easier sell to my girlfriend and landlord. I plan to stay connected to the reptile community, continue plugging away at Gecko Time, and continue visiting local reptile shows (maybe even selling some froglets from time to time).
But, for now, I’ve said goodbye to my last gecko. Goodbye to my fancy incubators. And goodbye to my excess spare terrariums.
Now I say hello to a new chapter. I look forward to watching the hobby evolve, helping Gecko Time grow, and keeping in touch with the friends I’ve made through this strange thing we all love so much.