The Art of Natural Dressage

Leopard Geckos!
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Author:  SunLily [ Thu Jul 25, 2013 8:54 am ]
Post subject:  Leopard Geckos!

I've begun target training with my geckos! It's basically going to be a chase the tiger start for them, and i'll see where it goes from there. I have a very soft clicker which i'm using, and a paintbrush with a bit of green electricians tape wrapped around it as a target.
I'll get some pictures of them once we've made some more progress, and i'll let you all know how it goes. There are four girls, and one boy, and at the moment three of them seem like the most willing candidates. We have a lovely girl called Spot, who figured out the correlation between the target and treats (mealworms) straight away. My youngest, Maya, is ever so playful, so I thought she would be great for training, but I fear she just found the session very confusing yesterday. Rizzo, the boy, has a very close bond to me, so in theory that should help a lot. I have realised that he only concentrates will in his home territory though. Originally I took him out and put him in a big tank with clay-based substrate (kind of like a leopard gecko sand school), but he was so involved in working out the new area, that he didn't even notice the treats or target or anything. It's so interesting training other animals because, obviously, they are so very different in their learning styles. I've learnt a couple of things already after two short sessions. Firstly, we have to keep training in their home environment - anywhere else becomes the main source of focus rather than the exercise. Secondly, at the moment reward and treat must be always very close together. Where I horse can learn patience, and a guess a 'keep going' signal, I think geckos may work in a different way. But we'll have to see! I'm excited about this because I love my five gecko friends so much, but working in this way is going to help us get to know each other even better.

Here is Maya

Author:  Morgan [ Thu Jul 25, 2013 9:22 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Leopard Geckos!

That's so cute! Living in South Africa we have many geckos, just not many kept as pets!!!!! Years ago I had one that lived in my shop and we would take hours to find him sometimes (he would morph into the colour of the item he was sitting on!).
They are real time wasters and fascinating to study. It's rare to find a large one as they are so good at disguising themselves. When we had a mountain fire I had about twenty brought to me for safekeeping that lived in my garden but it was not long before they disappeared for more interesting surroundings.
We love geckos and I am always happy to find them in the house as they eat all the other bugs we don't want :D

Author:  SunLily [ Thu Jul 25, 2013 9:42 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Leopard Geckos!

Ooooh that sounds lovely! I would love to live in a country where lots of wild geckos live! That's also so nice that you provided sanctuary to twenty of them! :applause:

I know what you mean about them being time wasters. When Bill and I are watching them, sometimes it can take hours to watch something actually unfold because of their loooong pauses where they just freeze. We now call this 'gecko time', as like you said, they're fascinating to study, but sometimes the world goes on stand still for a very long time too! I suppose this is another thing I will have to allow for when i'm playing my gecko 'AND games' with them... It may take a while! Hehe.

It's lovely to know there's another gecko lover here :) I'll definitely write up about my progress with them.

Author:  Volker [ Fri Jul 26, 2013 8:35 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Leopard Geckos!

Oh nice! :applause: I'm very interested in your experience with the geckos. That must be a wonderful opportunity to train and learn about behaviour.

I was wondering, do they react well to the clicker sound? I read that some reptiles respond best to visual markers, like a flash of light.
Anyway, maybe I can learn a lot from your gecko training, as Mucki sometimes also takes his good share of 'gecko time' during training :funny:

Author:  SunLily [ Sat Jul 27, 2013 3:34 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Leopard Geckos!

Hehe, I like the sound of Mucki's 'gecko time' ;) . These animals certainly make us sit back, be patient, and work on a kind of Zen mindset sometimes don't they?

The Leopard geckos actually communicate through clicks, and have really good hearing, unlike some reptiles. So I think the soft clicker (specially designed for nervous horses or puppies i think) should work okay, although a normal volume one might be too much.

That's interesting about using light... I think these guys might find that a bit unpleasant, as they prefer low light and have such good colour vision, but i'd love to experience training with an animal that works in that fashion.

One limitation I've noticed immediately is that I cannot do too much training at once, as they aren't supposed to have too much to eat. I usually feed them every two-three days, which as well as being correct to a natural diet, also makes life a lot more interesting than food always being around. As they are mini-predators, I think i'll find their ways very different to our big, hooved, hairy prey animals :yes:

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