For those curious about lizards, leopard geckos are ideal pets in the event of a pandemic | animal question | Pittsburgh

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Photo: Courtesy of Lauren Girvin

Malvo the leopard gecko

As people spent more time at home during the pandemic, cuddly and furry friends became common additions to families and homes. But for Laura Girvin, the pandemic was an opportunity to introduce her partner to a new type of pet: lizards.

After Girvin and his partner’s hamster died early in the pandemic, they decided they wanted another living being in the apartment. His partner had never had a lizard before, but Girvin worked for a reptile breeder, which gave him some experience with non-mammalian creatures. Thus, Malvo the leopard gecko entered their life.

“Leopard geckos are a great introductory lizard for anyone who wants to enter the reptile world,” says Girvin. “They’re really docile and tame, and they’re pretty hardy.”

Malvo was only three or four weeks old when Girvin and his partner picked him up from The Enclosure in Plum. Named for the Antagonist of Season 1 of Fargo – Girvin has never seen the show, but she trusts her partner’s description of the character as “looking like a reptile” – Malvo is now about a year old and could live another 15 to 20 years, if not more.

Girvin was unemployed during part of the pandemic, freeing up more time to devote to Malvo’s care. Because she and her partner weren’t spending that much money on dating, they could also invest it in Malvo.

Girvin researched and drew on the knowledge she gained while working for Tom Kelly, the chief reptile expert at Steel City Reptile Expo. When a shortage of crickets during the pandemic – due to shipping delays and increased demand for reptiles – threatened Malvo’s food supply, Girvin prepared and returned to The Enclosure, which is raising its own crickets.

Outside of feeding time, however, Girvin and his partner had limited interactions with Malvo, as, according to Girvin, reptiles generally do not bond with their owners the way mammals do. Since Malvo is nocturnal and Girvin and his partner are diurnal, the hours when everyone is awake are slim. But when they hang out or play with Malvo, they take care to remember how different he is from other pets.

“What I find really interesting about lizards, not furry animals, is that they move and act so differently. And I think a lot of times we anthropomorphize,” Girvin says. “But with them. lizards, you really shouldn’t be doing this because they’re so different from us. ”

Girvin understands why some people are hesitant or afraid to have lizards as pets, and enjoys teaching people about creature habits and preferences, which she says can help people appreciate them better.

“If there is to be another pandemic, my advice is to have a lizard,” Girvin says. “Because you don’t have to socialize them like you do with other lizards, and they don’t like people that much. It is therefore in a way the ideal pet.

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