A while back I said I was going to tell some bad breeding stories, which I absolutely will do, but first, I wanted to explain how I got into those situations and to do that, I think I have to tell how we got into some of the animals that eventually we would up breeding. All of that takes us back to the beginning when my wife and I first got married, so let’s whip out the Way-Back Machine Sherman and see how it all began.So right after we got married, we lived in an apartment, the only apartment we ever lived in, for about 10 months. It was supposedly no pets but there was an exception for fish so we got a fish tank. Both of us had come from homes where we had pets, me mostly dogs and she mostly cats, but fish would have to suffice. I think we had a 10-gallon fresh water tank, nothing special and I’m sure there’s a picture of it around somewhere if anyone cares to see it. I’d have to go digging back into the photo albums to find out.
Anyhow, we kind of rationalized that, if we could have fish in an aquarium, why couldn’t we have other things in an aquarium? After all, aquariums could leak and if you had something else… it would be safer, right? So we first got a pair of hatchling green iguanas that we put into a 20 gallon long aquarium before they graduated into a much larger house. Yes, getting iguanas right off the bat is insane, but we didn’t know any better. And of course, once you start, it’s hard to stop, so we started getting other things. My father-in-law had built this little wooden bookshelf that we weren’t using, it was just sitting at the bottom of the bed, so we decided to turn it into a terrarium. We put a back on it, added a clear plexiglass front and a wire mesh top and started a community vivarium. It eventually had a waterfall that went between the two levels, it was really nice and had a collection of peaceful reptiles and frogs. And we had a giant bookshelf that I had brought with me, built many years before by my uncle, but a lot of the shelves were oddly sized and not very useful so we started converting some of them into reptile cages, adding doors to the front, lighting inside, etc. Our first ball python, named Monty (duh), had his first house in that bookshelf.
Eventually, we realized that absolutely nobody paid any attention to the no-pets clause and openly walked their dogs around the complex, so we came across a stray gray tabby and she became our first cat. But we were never really happy about living in an apartment so we bought our first house not too long after and then we went completely crazy.
It was a big house on 3 acres with a massive fenced in back yard and we decided to get our first dog and that led to our second and third, etc. When you’re young and have more money than sense, you’re stupid and just take in everything you can find. We kind of ran an unofficial shelter out of our back yard, taking in homeless animals and finding homes for them. It got absurd at one point, where we had 14 dogs and 26 cats, only a few which were our pets, the rest were rescues. We decided that couldn’t continue so we stopped.
But we still had our reptiles and our fish. At one point, I had a massive reef tank in the living room and my wife had a smaller, probably 40 gallon freshwater tank in the back. We had a big aquarium on the kitchen counter (it was a big island looking out into the living room) that had our first bearded dragon in it and eventually, we got another and they bred, unintentionally the first time, and we were really intrigued. So we started breeding them. This is back when bearded dragons were brand new in the pet trade, when they were selling for a couple of hundred dollars each and color morphs were almost unheard of. I think this is just before Sandfire Ranch came up with the first red morphs. And since we also had both leopard geckos and African fat-tail geckos, those started getting bred too. We had plenty of outlets for them and they became a nice little side-business, although that wasn’t why we were doing it.
So next time, I’ll explain how we started getting involved with rats and mice and the first of our bad breeding stories will begin. Stay tuned.