• strengthinleos

Midsize Breeding and Future Projects w/ Chris Charlton from Suburban Geckos

Updated: Mar 30, 2019

This is (more or less) the transcript form last Sunday's show. I apologize in advance for the formatting and syntax of the transcript.

Hey everybody, this Evan and welcome to the strength and Leo's podcast. You may know me from being a hobbyist Leopard Gecko breeder on social media, but today we're going to dive into that arena of Reptilian podcasting. First off, I want to thank everyone who is tuning in today for the first premiere episode. Without any of you guys, this would not be possible, but that said, please bear with me as I try to figure all this stuff out because I am very new to this and hopefully as time goes on I will continue to become more and more comfortable in front of the mic. I am very excited and also a bit anxious, but anyways, we have a great show lined up today with a guest, giveaway, and hopefully, you'll walk away learning something new. So without further ado, let's get started. Today we have a very special guest, Chris Charlton, who of course runs Suburban Geckos.

I'm super excited to finally be talking with Chris on the show about some of the awesome lines that he works with is definitely someone that I knew that when I started the Strength In Leos podcast had to be one of our guests. I personally think that he's one of the best breeders in the hobby and I consider him to be, someone was giving me a lot of great advice on today's show. We plan to discuss Chris's midsize breeding operation and get a small peek into how everything runs over a Suburban Geckos. So let's go ahead and bring Chris on. Welcome, Chris, you are now live on the Strength In Leos podcast. Chris, how's it going?

Hey, good, good. Evan, how are you doing man?

Good, good. So how's your breeding season going if you started yet?

Um, I have started, it's uh, it's pretty slow right now. I patched out now or not hashtag had probably only a handful that eggs laid, but uh, I've started, it was probably time to get up, get moving. So I think the other day I went in and paired about, I don't know about, I probably did about 30 pairs, I think. So it'll, it's one of these things that, uh, it always starts slow. And before I know it, it's, uh, I'll have more eggs and I know what to do with. So I try and kind of pace myself.

What stuff do you have paired, if you could share any of that with us?

Oh Man. You know, I've always got some, some tangerine stuff going. Um, a lot of them get her genetics blood stuff and um, you know, working with a few other, uh, taglines this year and a white and yellow bells, you know, that's the, all those kind of variants. It's definitely a, probably my most favorite thing. Um, so there'll be a lot of that stuff this year. Um, you know, snow stuff and the white and yellow in general is a big thing for me. So you know, whether that's, you know, in the snow stuff, you know, kind of combined with that. So I really, I've got 'em, I've got white and yellow tempers and, and white and yellow bells and everything. Yeah, yeah, it does. It's um, you know, it's subjective. I, you know, I used to be big on the other tramper thing and then over the last few years, the, uh, to me, you know, white and yellow and bell, it's like they were just made to go together, just kind of does something special.

So, um, so I really kind of focused more there. I'm still doing what and yellow Tremper stuff. It's a little bit less just because I need, you know, a lot of space. The different looks at, you know, the white and yellow bell stuff. I've Kinda got it now where there's kind of different flavors, different varieties of it. So, so yeah. Yeah. I, I'm a, I'm excited it based on, especially based on the things that I held back and some things that I brought in this season. A knock on wood. It should be, it should be a really good season, I'm hoping.

Oh, cool. And before we get too far into the interview, for anyone who doesn't know you, can you give a short intro of who you are and what you do at Suburban Geckos, how many animals you have, just that sort of thing?

Yeah, sure. So, uh, you know, I'm a, again, Chris Charlton, uh, owner, if you will, of Suburban Geckos. So, uh, I've been doing this for, I was just looking at, I guess this is my ninth season. Um, officially, so been doing it quite awhile. Um, on average I say anywhere between 150 and 200 breeders, uh, just, uh, uh, a lot more females than the males. Um, but, uh, yeah. And then production-wise, the last three seasons or so, um, I've been anywhere between 303 50. So hope to start to increase that this season.

And what signature lines do you have over at Suburban Geckos that you've been working with and you've been trying to refine over the years

as far as like, now when you say signature lines, are you thinking, is that more, I'm just combinations of genetics or things that are, that people have named, like, you know, if it was a, a like a Gecko, genetics, tangerine or an inferno, or is it more just kind of project-wise? What do you,

you said the Gecko genetics. Tangerines sure,

yeah. Yeah. The, I mean, that's, you know, that's a big one here as far as, you know, kind of the named lines. Um, you know, because that's something, I guess, I don't know, four or five years I've been working with those now. Um, as far as that, I, you know, I'm not big on number one. I'm, I'm, you know, the line names are fine, you know, but I think for me, you know, a lot of times people were quick to, to want to try and name something like that. I'm not saying it's not cool, but, um, you know, for me it's always been more about creating my own thing too, because I think, um, you know, of course like everybody's going to want, you know, there, you know, infernos or you know, things like that. Um, but, you know, to me it's, I think I may do a very little bit of reproducing things like that, but to me, you know, it's, it's, it's differentiating yourself in the market, right?

What do I have to offer, you know, by comparison to GeckoBoa or Highwoods or whomever you so many breeders out there? But, you know, that's, that's to me, something that, you know, just an overall business sense, you know, that's kind of what it was. It's, it's been very apparent to me and something that I've worked towards for at least the last handful of years is differentiating yourself. What makes the look of my white and yellow snow trampers different than anything else out there, you know? And, and why somebody's going to want to, to work with those jeans and, and work with me, uh, versus, you know, the next 10, 20 a hundred breeders sitting next to me. So that's Kinda, that's Kinda for me. You know, you find a, you find a look that you like, you know, and sometimes it's just a happy accident and then kind of starts to become my thing.

So I think that's why, you know, early in 2018 things like, you know, the white and yellows specifically the white, yellow snow, trempers white and yellow bells. I mean, um, you know, fire water's a big thing. You know, obviously, it's not something that, that I created. It's been around for a while, but, you know, those are the kinds of things that for me, um, they move this past season. It was as soon as they hit the website practically, they were, they were gone. So, and that's a good indication too, right? Like, I think, you know, if, if, you know, sales are high in a certain area, uh, you know, people were talking about it, that's probably a good indication that, that you're kind of on the right track. So that's, that's kind of my more, my focus than saying, um, you know, like a, like a black knight, you know.

Sure. They're, you know, they're cool. But, um, for my interest, if I were to bring something like that in or saw any other kind of melanocytic animal, it's, you know, it's more for me about what can I do with that, you know, what can I take that into, um, that might, you know, either make just a really cool cross or, or enhance something about, you know, the animal that I'm pairing too. So, um, you know, I think it's, it's that kind of stuff comes in phases, right? Like I definitely went through a phase, um, I had it probably five-plus years ago where, you know, whether or not it's, you know, universes or, you know, total eclipses or, you know, you know, it just kind of like been there, done that. And I think most breeders kind of proud, we go through some modicum of that too, right?

Where, you know, I remember my first season producing universes and it was like, oh my God, you know, these are my favorite. They're so awesome and they are awesome. They're cool. But there again, it's to me, you know, there are things that regardless of whether or not I think they're neat or not, you know, a total eclipse is, yeah, you've got the quote-unquote pied kind of thing. Um, but some of those within reason or kind of what I would consider dead-end morphs like super snows, like, you know, one yellow supers snows are cool, but aside from like, you know, getting them that pod kind of look or something, there's only so far that you are people always gonna like I'm sure they will. So it certainly doesn't hurt to produce here, them here, there, or if total eclipses are your favorite thing, I mean, produce a ton of them.

I, that's what I used to do. But then again, it's that evolution over time, kind of looking at it, you know, from that business side of things too and go on, okay. Like, you know, if I'm, if I'm trying to, and this is going to sound really business, but you know, that's kind of like the post I made on Facebook the other day. That's really what I'm, I'm trying to do. I would much rather work with Leopard Geckos full time than I would, you know, sitting behind a desk. So if I look at it from the business perspective, that would say, you know, I only have x amount of space in x amount of racks and x amount of tubs, so, you know, how do I maximize the value on a per tub basis? Right. Like, what makes the most sense to, you know, from a business perspective to, you know, does it make sense to have, you know, uh, you know, a bunch of dead end, you know, kind of morphs that, you know, you might make 150 on here there, does that make sense to have, you know, a firewater in there that's producing $800 babies.

Um, you know, so that's, that's kind of the reality of it. If you look at it from the perspective of, you know, not everybody wants to do as a business, but you know, when you're, when you're looking to do it that way and improve every year, you know, what, you know, what makes the most sense to, to maximize that return on a per tub basis. So

yeah, of course. And I totally agree on you with that. And I think that's a question that a lot of people ask when they get into this. What more should I work with when it should be thinking about what you like and what he could do to put a spin on it. Cause I feel on social media, especially on Facebook and Instagram, you'll see breeders basically putting out what, what other people think are amazing and they're limiting themselves. I think too that and not saying, okay, what lines do I like and what could I put my own spin on it and what could, what crosses can I make to make my line different from everybody else's?

Yeah. I, I totally agree with that. I think, you know, I was told years and years and years ago and you know, even from watching videos from breeders that aren't even around anymore, um, you know, start with what you like. And, and I, I still tell people that today. And I think part of that for me in that whole starting with what you like is, is, is, you know, not even from a business perspective so much as it is from what are you passionate about, right? Like what's going on? What's going to motivate you and keep your enjoyment and you know, will, for most people that are finding that thing that, you know, oh, I, you know, I always love tangerines and now I'm working with tangerines. And then, you know, the ball just keeps rolling. So, um, so yeah, I think it's, um, I think it's important to do what you like.

I think it's to, again, uh, you know, I think so many of these, these things that I say might be, you know, somewhat relative to, you know, somebody might go, oh, I just want to breathe because it's fun and you know, I just want to produce 10 or 20 Gecko's a year and, you know, keep them or sell them to the pet store or take them to a reptile show. That's perfectly fine. I remember the days that I was like that too. It's just if you get to that point to where you're, you know, trying to grow and, and you know, establish yourself and, um, I think it's best to have some kind of a little bit of business savvy and, and look at it through that Lens. That doesn't mean it changes your husbandry. That doesn't mean it changes it from being a hobby or something that you're passionate about.

It's just you're acknowledging this other piece. And if you look at, you know, what's cool or what's selling out there, uh, you know, the last couple of years, it looks at things through my lens, it's been a lot of tangerines. It's been a lot of black, black knights everywhere. Like people just getting into the hobby. They're spending a ton of money on black knights and that's cool and all. But the problem is, or the thing to remember is, is that like everything in this hobby, even the breeders themselves, you know, you see people come and go, but everything is cyclical in this hobby, right? So what is cool today? Or what is the hot thing today isn't necessarily going to be the hot thing a year from now. Will they still sell? Well, that'd be out there certainly. But it's all cyclical. So when I see people that are putting the majority of their eggs in the basket of tangerines and the basket of black knights or you know, a couple of other things, I, it, it doesn't make sense to me because for me, you know, if you focus so much of your energy in those areas when you come back and everything's sick, cyclical and shifts again, you know, how many other breeders are going to be three, four, or five seasons ahead of you as far as what they've been doing with all these other animals.

Right? So, so I, I really, I, to be quite honest, I have no black knights here. Uh, you know, I think they're cool. You know, there's a few little, you know, can be some weird stuff with them just because they're so inbred. But, um, and they're unpredictable, right? Like, you know, some females, you know, you spend a bunch of money in the female never even produces eggs. So for me, you know, I liked the melanistic stuff. Um, I'm a little bit more partial to, you know, the black pearl stuff. Um, I may or may not have brought in carbons from Europe this year. So, um, things that are a little bit more robust, not so inbred. Um, the carbons that I brought in are amazing. They're big healthy, stout animals. Uh, and I can't say that with the majority of black knights that I see. I see.

You're right. Like really runt the animals. I see really short snouts like, yeah. Um, so, so for me it's, you know, I made a conscious decision and to be, I mean, look at it from a perspective of given everything else that, that I'm working with here, I could have brought in two, four, six pairs or having many of black knights and done that and probably made a killing doing it. Um, but it's just not, it's just not, it's not something that I look at and I go, it's not to the degree of the lemon for us by any stretch, but I look at it and I go, man, like if there isn't significant outcrossing done with this in the next five years, 10 years, like, what's the situation with these going to be? Um, and it's just, Eh, you know, it's, I, I came from a place where, uh, you know, early on when I didn't really know much, you know, I had guy, I said, oh, you know, I want an enigma and I want, you know, what, you know, once a Nigga was, you know, all the enigmas syndrome stuff came out and I stopped working with that.

Then it was like, oh, I want white and yellows. And I had gotten a couple of white and yellows and they produced a bunch of wonky babies, I hate to say white and yellow syndrome, but for lack of a better term, um, you know, some of that neurological balance stuff. So, um, so I dealt with, um, some really, really bad enigmas and really, really bad white and yellow are for the early on in my career or my, you know, my breeding career, um, for two, three, four years. Um, and it was really discouraging. So the fact that you know, once I started getting some advice from a buddy of mine, um, that, uh, it really, from, from talking to John Scarborough is, uh, you know, a few years back, I went through literally every animal that I had back through three, four years of, of records and every animal that came from an animal that was at one time.

So the problem with the white and yellow stuff, not to get too far off track, but it, um, it, it won't even necessarily display. And the parents sometimes it just displays the offspring. So I traced every bad offspring that I ever produced back all the way to the parents and literally removed, I don't know, um, if it was 20, 30 animals that I moved off his pads just for peace of mind for me, that I don't want to deal with this anymore. Um, so, so yeah, I, I, um, long story short, that's, that's why, you know, when I see things like the black knight or, you know, some of the other stuff out there that's a little weird, I'm just super sensitive to it because even here today, you know, I could put a white and yellow, you know, in, in a tub and show it to somebody and they say, you know, it's perfectly fine.

And you know, maybe it is, but for me, I'm so sensitive to it that if they just the slightest little head tilt where they're like off balance or kind of tea, I mean, I just, I won't, they won't be bread at all because I just, it's something that, you know, obviously in my operation I'm, I'm trying to create, you know, not only things that look cool, um, but things that are healthy, things that are stout, you know, that these, you can look at this animal and go, wow, that animals in really good shape. So, you know, it's, and that goes, you know, that's all the way down to temperament. Like a, you know, it's, it's almost like people approach, you know, breeding dogs. Like I just, you know, if an animal's, you know, it's not common for Leopard Geckos lot of times, what if an animal's got a really erratic, you know, personality and darting all over the tub or like darting or trying to like kind of act like they're going to tag you. Like I, chances are I won't, I won't breed that animal cause I just, I don't want to see, you know, angry, nasty babies either. So, um, but yeah, that's, so at the end of the day, that's, that's kind of why I'm, I'm, I'm working with, with what I'm working with and I don't always focus on what somebody else thinks is, is cool. So

you're talking about crossing and when you're working through a specific line per se, and you're trying to align breed for that best orangest or oldest a Gecko, what do you, what have you used to outcross those lines to diversify the genetics?

Yeah, I think for me it's, um, it can be a little more tricky with, with tangerines especially just because, you know, there's a, again, I, you know, I don't want to get off on the soapbox too much, but a lot of times, you know, people think that, yeah. So if I'm working with Gecko genetics, blood crosses, right. The, that came from, you know, directly from John that, uh, the blood that I used to cross in one of them a couple of years ago was from JMG. So it was legitimately blood. The Gecko genetics came from John, which came straight from Jason Haygoods who is, who, you know, produced or created the Gecko Genetics line if you will. So, which fun fact is mandarin just rebranded. So, um, yeah, I, I, for me every four to five years and that this is going to be subjective. I'm sure there are some people that breeding animals that are eight, you know, who knows how many years old.

But you know, when doing that line breeding stuff, I think it's, it's good to every three to four seasons be bringing something, you know, back in to freshen things up a bit. Because, you know, while all this stuff is built on inbreeding still, you know, you, you still want to freshen up that gene pool. So, um, so I'll, it likes what the tangs it's, it's difficult because you don't want to take away necessarily from the integrity of, of what they are. You know, I take the ecogenetics and I have a really melanistic line that I haven't even put anything out from yet that's that, you know, is much, much darker stuff. I have the stuff that I try and get kind of read more like the original bloods and then there are the really, really bright orange ones that right now that's what people freak out over.

So, so, you know, while I've got that stuff going on, it's, it's important to take note because, you know, the reality is, you know, and I, I've seen it this season, you know, I, you get a, an animal that, uh, that might have a bit of a shorter tail, not a real short stumpy tail, but just not long and kind of flowing like it should be. So those are kinds of things that I take note of any kind put all the offspring from that pairing next to each other and see, you know, so I think I'm looking at something genetic year? Do I think I'm looking at, you know, there might've been a temperature fluctuation, you know, in the incubator when there were a power outage and kind of tying it back to that. Um, but I do think it's, you know, so for me, it at this point where I'm at, you know, first and foremost is, you know, I don't bring in a ton of stuff anymore, but when I do, it has to be the top of the mark.

Um, and again, you know, referring to the Gecko genetics blood, right, if that, if an animal that I'm bringing in there isn't Gecko genetics or legitimately have from JMG, you know, blood, bloodlines, uh, do I really want to be bringing in that to this, this cross? Because at that point it changes it, right? Like there's no, there's no like bring in an inferno and crossing it in there for a year and not calling that out with the offspring. Right. So, you know, when you get so far down the line on some of these, uh, you know, uh, you know, lines if you will, uh, you've gotta be, at least I do, you know, have to be really picky and diligent about what I'm crossing in there. So, you know, my, not to say there's not a lot of great breeders out there, but my, you know, circle of trust, uh, gets really, really small, you know, when it comes to, to bring in things in anymore, just because, uh, you know, it's taken me years to get this collection where it is and, um, and I'm reproducing animals for the people who are purchasing too.

Right. So it's, I'm, I'm, you know, offering, you know, a product and, and you know, that that product needs to be, you know, top of the line for anybody. But especially, you know, when I have people, other breeders, you know, purchasing from me, so, uh, you know, the trust factor has to be there. Kind of a kind of all around. So, you know, I'll, uh, I'll bring in, um, things from, um, from Highwoods, from Don Hamilton, who's a buddy of mine. I'll bring in things from John, uh, maybe a couple other places, uh, here and there. Um, you know, Ramsey's reptiles, uh, just people that I know that have been around a long time and that I've talked to a lot and I can trust and that, you know, that goes, that goes both ways. You know, my, you know, I want to know that, you know, I don't want to have to worry when I bring something in here about what's there.

And with some of the people that, that I mentioned, you know, that, that worries taken out of the equation. You know, I know that they're, you know, you know, that I can trust their integrity and, and, um, you know, they know what they're doing. And so, yeah, but at the same thing, right? Like I, it, and it doesn't really matter, you know, $100 versus an at $800 per animal, but you know, with those, you know, the fire water's perfect example. Like, you know, somebody comes and buys a 1.2 or 1.3 of really nice Firewaters. That's a significant investment. So, you know. Yeah, I want to make sure that 100% there, they're getting what it is that they're looking for.

Yeah, of course. And especially you'll see things from other smaller breeders, I guess you could call them that are selling stuff. And when they're crossing things and they're not noting every single genetic that's in there as like say if you have a go genetics blood cross like you said and you could see that cause most of them have been really hypoed it out. But if you see them with a lot of say black on their heads, you're, you might be thinking, is this really a Gecko genetics Blood Cross does, is there like purple head in? There are other things. So it's important that you make sure that you label everything correctly. And can you talk a little bit about that from your experience?

Yeah, I think that's absolutely true. You know, that same thing. I mean that you know, that goes back to what I was saying about, you know, bringing, you know for an hour or something like that, a purple hat on. Do your line. If it had a bunch of black, you know, it could be a, you know, like electric in there, something like that. So yeah, at this point, you know, most people have a good idea of, you know, what these established lines, um, should look like. Um, you know, it's the same thing with, uh, like the atomic Trumpers that, you know, that stuff that I've been working with and crossing of the G project, like, you know, once you've been doing this long enough, I mean, you can spot that stuff and just see like, absolutely, you know, some of these animals that, uh, that I posted to Facebook but, but didn't, you know, they were holdbacks.

Um, I mean they're, they're amazing. Um, this atomic stuff, but you know that, but you can look at these atomic Trempers and if you know what you're doing, you know, immediately, you know, if nothing else, the head pattern, you look at it and go, yeah, that's absolutely from atomic lineage. So, um, yeah, I mean as far as your kind of seems like, you know, kind of talking about, you know, record keeping in a way and things like that, you know, that's, um, that's hugely important, you know, in my opinion, I'm not a lot of people ask, you know, those kinds of questions. But you know, if, uh, if I had to, um, you know, I can, I can absolutely go back nine seasons, um, even though, you know, probably there's no animals from nine seasons ago when I started working that, that I'm still working with anymore.

Um, but yeah, I mean the, they'll, I don't care the last two, three, four, five, six generations. Yeah, absolutely. Um, so I can go back and trace everything I have back 100%. And again, that's, that's another piece of mind for me. Uh, you know, I know that, uh, that nobody's ever going to ask me a question about, you know, where my, you know, animals came from and you know, who was the sire and who was the dam. And you know, I, I don't care. I can tell you who the great grandparents were. So, um, again, it's just to some people, it's not important at all. To some people it's, it's everything. So yeah, I think keeping good records and, you know, it goes without saying, you know, how you're labeling your tubs, you know, in the, you know, in your room as far as your breeders and, and you know, even the babies, you know, making sure that you've got down what it is, got the heads, you know, possible hats, you know, written on there.

Uh, you know, but it's, it's impossible. It doesn't matter at any size. Like everybody makes a mistake. You know, I, um, even last year I, you know, I, I found myself in a situation where, you know, I felt like, I guess I had been doing it so long that, that I had this down and you know, that I could, you know, go and pull, you know, multiple clutches of eggs and, you know, put them on the cart and, you know, have them laid out in a way that I remembered, you know, this is where it came from. That and, and it, it, it bit me, um, you know, it, you know, some things, uh, one pair hatched out and I was like, oh, that definitely shouldn't have come from, from what I had it labeled. Right. So that in that case like that, you know, that's, that's on me.

And, and you know, those animals get moved as, as pets. Um, because I, I couldn't verify where they came from. So, but yeah, I think the most important thing is just learning from those lessons. I mean, everybody's still, you know, nine years in and I'm still learning every season. Um, but now, you know, I've gone back to where it's, it's one clutch of eggs at a time, you know, you know that that accident is only going to happen to me one time. Um, and I'll, I'll learn and go back. So now it's pulling a clutch of eggs and riding down, you know, on the tape next to him where it came from and then pulling another clutch eggs, which obviously it takes more time, but, uh, for, for peace of mind and just making sure that everything's wired tight, my operation. That's, that's Kinda how I have to do it.

Yeah. And to get a little bit back into reading and what are you're working with, can you say any specific crosses that you're excited about for the 2019 breeding seasons or any more from mixing with different genetic that you're looking into?

Yeah, yeah. Um, as I talked about before, the, you know, the white and yellow bell stuff has just, um, uh, I've just been lucky and made some good choices with pairings. Um, that, uh, in my opinion, uh, you know, I'm at a place where it's really, I've kind of honed in on what my look or my looks with those look like. And uh, created a couple of animals, hatch them out in 2018 that were really exceptional in my opinion. And they came from, they came from, you know, it was white and yellow bells, but they also had red stripe influence on getting a lot of oranges, some crazy stripes down the back. And uh, it, it really jumped, it took a leap forward from, from the parents that even produced them. They were nice parents, but some of the things that hatched out this year, we're just exceptional.

So when I think about, you know, that some of that stuff is the starting point for where we go for 20, 19. I mean, I can't even imagine what the babies would look like from, from those parents. I hope because you never know. I mean, I've, it wouldn't be the first time that I've put, you know, to really, really nice animals together and everything that comes out is not at all what I expect and doesn't really look that Nice. So we'll knock on wood and hope the Gecko gods or are good to me this year. Um, but yeah, you know, there's some, there's some various, um, there's some various tang stuff. Uh, as I said, you know, the Gecko genetic stuff will be nice. I made some investments and some other, um, blood and, and striped blood thing. So the tags will, those will always be there.

Uh, the higher contrast Tremper stuff, going back to the atomic and g project stuff, which is, I mean, in all honesty, it really came from, um, I was a big fan of the JMG stone wash stuff and, you know, once they stopped, it was always difficult, if not impossible to get ahold of that stuff, even when they were still kind of in the Leopard Gecko game. But, um, it just got to the point with me where it's like, okay, well if I can't get it ever, I'm going to try and create my own. Um, and I'm, I'm not there yet. It has a little bit of a different color to it, but I'm starting to see some really crazy contrast, the patches and you know, that had patterns. And so it's funny, I posted some of those, uh, holdbacks the other day on Facebook and somebody came in and said, that looks like a stone wash.

So I, I thought that was kind of funny. So, uh, it's just, you know, again, it's, it's trying to make things that, that are unique. Um, yeah. If I can, you know, all ego aside, you know, cause you know, it is what it is. If I, if I can kind of blow my mind, you know when I see an animal at, at, you know, 20 grams or 25 grams, when they really kind of start to look cool. If I can look at that, as long as I'm still impressed with it, then you know, I, I feel like I'm, I'm on the right track. So, um, yeah, I, I'm excited for the season, man. It's a, there should be some really, really, really cool stuff, you know, the, in the goto things like the firewaters, um, you know, and, and it's the Bryan Jet line that, uh, that I work with.

There is the first year that I ever worked with rainwater. It's one of these things where, you know, I always said, you know, I only have so much space so you can't work with, you can't work with every single gene out there. Um, obviously, yeah, I mean, you know, it, it could be done, but you know, when you're trying to maximize space, like there were just things like, okay, I'm going to focus on Tremper and bell, predominantly bell and that's it. And then I bought another, a breeder's collection a year or so ago, and he had had a really nice pair of firewaters and I'm like, oh, why not, you know, pair them and, see what happens. And the babies hatched last year and I was just like, oh my God, you know, these things are unbelievable. So, so, you know, there's the firewater thing is a, is a big one for me. Those were super, super awesome and uh, I mean really just a little bit of a little bit of everything, but always, always a lot of a lot of white and yellow stuff. Um, so it should be a pretty exciting year. I hope. And I know you have firewaters

in your collection and those were looking really nice. What do you have planned up for those this year?

I, uh, I, how can I forget about the firebolds? I, um, you know, I didn't produce nearly enough of those last year. Um, because, you know, I took some risks, crossing other things into it to see what would come out. And um, one of those was the Gecko genetic stuff. And it's not that they look bad at all, they just, they don't retain. It would take a long time to get a, a Tang that's that hypoed out into something like the firebold and maintain any of the black. So basically that, that solid orange took over pretty much every bit of, of what was fire bold. And they just kind of had this like green kind of overlay and they weren't bad, but it was, it was just less than learning. Okay, I'll never make that pairing again. And I went, I thought in my head last year, I took a big gamble in thought all this is going to be awesome.

And I paired so many of my firebold females to tangs and other things, and the vast majority of it just didn't pan out. And of course, you know, I had people asking me for Firebolds, uh, like crazy and I only had a very small handful too, uh, to move. So, you know, the, again, you know, that's, that's those things. It's, it's a lesson learned sometimes. You know, nothing ventured, nothing gained. Uh, if, if you don't try to take some of those risks, but yeah, I have some really nice firebolds that, uh, that I did, two females in particular that I did hold back, uh, from 2018. So, um, my focus will definitely be creating as many a nice, just straight up firebolds as I can. Uh, and then probably two years ago, uh, I did cross a fire bolt with the universe and got a crazy, for lack of a better term, we'll say I'm white and Yellow Mack snow firebold, just, um, it was unreal and people tripped out about, uh, over the pictures of it.

Um, I have not reproduced that yet. Um, but that's another thing too I think is, you know, I've seen some really neat stuff if none of the other crosses worked. Firebold with snow and fire bold with white and yellow, both work very nicely. Um, there was another white and yellow fireball baby that I posted this year with like, uh, it looked like it had a huge like heart eraser mark on its head that, uh, again was one of those. It was like, oh my God, it's crazy. So, um, so yeah, definitely some, hopefully, some cool firebold stuff coming too.

Nice. Nice. I know you're, you're could sit, you consider yourself a hobbyist breeder, but really you're a mid-sized reader because I think your collection is just top of the line. It's amazing what you do over there. How do you do everything that you do, seeing that you have a day job along with breeding Leopard Geckos?

It's not easy, really not. Um, yeah, so for those people that I haven't talked to, I um, so I am a, I am a 43-year-old, uh, corporate it director, um, for a, uh, uh, uh, a very large company here in Cincinnati. Um, so that's the day job, which is usually a, a 40 hour plus job. Then, um, I've got a two-year-old toddler son and we have another baby on the way in June. So, um, aside from that, you know, doing, you know, uh, music as much as I can still playing music. Uh, it is, it's not easy. It's a, you know, with animals with the amount that size. My wife actually used to do it, uh, with me. Um, so we'd go and do local shows and we went and did Tinley and, uh, she basically one day said, you know if you get it any larger than what it is now I'm, I'm out.

I, uh, I tested her on that and she wasn't kidding. So for worth probably the last four years, at least I'd say I've been doing it myself. So it's, um, it's just a balancing act. It's, you know, you have to, that's where, you know, you have to be passionate about it. And I think sometimes, rightfully so, I think sometimes some of the younger breeders don't see that yet. And it's not because things like school aren't, you know, busy and things like that. But I think once you get to that point to where you know you're married, you know, you've got the mortgage, you've got kids, you've got you, you know, legitimate career. And this said like, it, it's, it's, I, you know, I said it yesterday, you know, it's not, it's not necessarily for the faint of heart. You know, my, my peers that I work with, um, my friends, they all look at me and they're like, you're absolutely insane that you do this.

Um, but I think, I dunno, some of that stuff kind of, not that I, you know, want to get overstressed, but some of it kind of keeps you alive and, and uh, you know, keeps you young too. I think, you know, it just, I, I don't, I couldn't ever, I mean, the relaxation would be nice, but I could never envision coming home from work and just sitting in front of the TV and, and doing nothing. Um, so, you know, and I, when I was younger, I was a big fan of doing nothing. So I think now, you know, you realize like, time is, is much more precious. You know, the older that you get and, and you know, what do I want to do with my time? You know, what kind of legacy do I want to leave behind? So, um, it's uh, you know, sorry it gets a little deep, but, uh, yeah, it's, it just, it's something that I love doing.

And again, you know, my goal has been for the last few years to try and get to that point where literally I can walk away from, from that kind of a career, um, and not be impacted financially. And I think that's, that's one of those things with any business that, uh, it's not going to be, generally speaking, it's not going to be easy, you know, on the front end. And, you know, here I am like essentially working a full-time job and then, you know, at least a part-time job if not more. Because you know, I come home and you know, I've got, you know, customers or you know, people asking questions or what I mean, like from the Facebook standpoint or going to do youtube videos here and there or it's, it's definitely a lot. But I also, I recognize, you know, where I feel like I've gotten to at this point, after nine years of, of that kind of dedication and much like being in a band, it would be a really, really difficult thing to walk away from at this point.

And I've seen a lot of good friends of mine that were breeders that just, it got to the point where they couldn't do it anymore. And, uh, I hope that that never, that day never comes for me cause it's just, I don't know, it's got to the point where it's just a huge part of, you know, if who I am in my life and, you know, I look at the animals now and I can absolutely say like how they're looking now is as a result of nine years of really hard work and, you know, doing this stuff at night or, you know, when I get up in the morning on a Saturday, um, you know, doing it all the time when there was plenty of times that, that I didn't want to do it. So I approached this, this thing, um, you know, the same way that I do, you know, any song that I would write band that I'm in, you know, job that I'm working, you know, day, it's just, it's, it's a, it's a serious, really important thing to me.

So, um, you know, much sometimes probably to the dismay of my wife or friends or you know, a lot of times that that has to come first. You know, vacations, uh, are really difficult. Um, especially during breeding season, you know, who am I going to, who am I going to train up to come over here and, um, you know, check, you know, incubators for babies and set them up. Right. And so, you know, luckily, you know, I, I've married a, a really nice generous person that, uh, is his understanding of that. And you know, if, if she wants to go on a vacation, you know, with the kids or something, then that's totally fine because, you know, it's just, there's a lot of sacrifices associated with doing it at this level. Um, and especially when you haven't really crossed that line yet to say, I can walk away from the job. Um, so it's just, you know, it's, there's time. Um, you know, so, uh, it, uh,

that's, that's kind of my story. And do you think in the future you'd want to be independent and have this Gecko breeding as a full-time job? Or do you think you'd like to work and Gecko breeding balance that you have now?

I am honest, I, you know, I would love, I say this now, I would love nothing more than to, uh, to be able to do it, you know, for a living. Um, you know, there's, there are not many people out there, at least in the states that, that are at that point, uh, and you know, had long, long, many, many talks with, with the ones that have. So it's, um, it's been helpful to kind of hear about their, their journey and their experiences too. But it's absolutely, that's today it, that, that's where I'm, that's where I'm going. You know, I'd love to be able to, you know, in two seasons, three seasons, whatever that is. I don't even care if it's by the time I'm 50, you know, I would love to be able to say that, you know, I, I put that kind of effort into something and, and it was successful, whatever that means to me. And um, you know, build something to the point to where it was, you know, a sustainable business. So,

but a lot of work into this and it really shows and your animals and we'd love to keep seeing this as big of a scale as you would like it to be because it, for us, it's really just amazing what you're doing over there.

Thanks. I appreciate that. Yeah, no problem.

We're getting close on our time now. So for the last question, I'd want to ask you, is there any advice you would like to give to people who want to get into breeding as a hobbyist level like you are right now?

Yeah, absolutely. Um, I would say number one, start small. Um, you know, it's, uh, there's a lot of, I've seen it the last couple of years and, and maybe it's something that's gone on for forever, but it seems really prevalent now that, um, I don't know if it's a, a lack of patients or what it is, but you know, you can tell that there's a lot of young people out there that, you know, and, and you know, maybe they have fantastic jobs that, you know, 20 or 21 years old maybe, but the general population, I would say that's not the case. Right. So you do to kind of put two and two together and say, well, you know, if they don't have parents that are funding them or they're not, you know, kind of a trust fund in that kind of a situation, then they're probably racking up a bunch of credit cards and it's just not, it's a horrible way to get started doing this.

Um, and especially like, I look at it, people that are, you know, in their twenties and stuff and just trying this out and I go, man, like you don't even have a concept of how much time you have to be successful with this, right? Like you don't need to be, uh, you know, trying to be an overnight success. So take it slow. Like the amount of, the amount of appreciation I have for my situation and where I'm at now it is a good part because of I can go on Facebook and look back at the pictures that I was posting nine years ago in the animals that I was working with. And I go, oh my God, like this has been a journey. Uh, so I think, you know, start slow, start with what you like. If you want to make a modest investment on some nicer animals, do that.

You know, I've had people that are just getting into it, there'll be like, oh, I want a 1.3 group of, you know, these basic just bell albinos. And I'm like, okay, well does it make more sense? It's, it's, it's making sure it's quality and not quantity in my opinion. Right. Does it make more sense to invest that whatever it is, 300, $500 on this 1.3, because now you have four animals or does it make much sense or more sense to buy a really, really nice pairing, and start there? So I think those are, that's really important. Um, and then just, you know, things that I would like to think are common sense, you know, being honest and doing your research. Um, you know, far too often, you know, I, I've always say, you know, and I talk about this with my peers in the Gecko business, um, you can always see the people that have done just even some modicum of due diligence and then the ones that just come to you wanting to be spoon fed.

And, and, and I, you know, I've, I'm in management in my, my real life job. Um, so, you know, I've always been, I'm a fan of, of helping people and I can talk about Gecko stuff all day long. Um, but I'm, I'm much more apt to help the person that in that first conversation, I can tell what kind of research they've done. Just by the questions they ask. Absolutely. Absolutely. Um, and you know, quite honestly that, you know, sometimes people that, that want the spoon-fed, they kind of come at it from a sense of entitlement to and, and, you know, I look at that, you know, I know people like me. Um, I was just talking to John about this the other day. Um, you know, we get hit up a lot about how we take our pictures, right? And it's like, man, I'll, I'll talk to you about photography all day too because it's something that I love, but I'll also tell you, I have what people haven't seen.

When you see pictures like that, whether it be for me, John, whomever, they don't see the process of learning photography on the back end and look back at the pictures and go, man. What it took me to get the pictures today. I have been behind the scenes, like screaming and like throwing things because I can't get the picture right, you know, for, for years. So, so by that rationale, it's like, yeah, I'm going to help guide you, but I'm more kind of like that, you know, teach somebody to fish versus giving them a fish. Um, so, so yeah, when people just, it's kind of like, you know, what camera to use, how do you do it? How's your lighting set up? How's your, you know, it's Kinda like, man, you're kind of skipping your, you're wanting the super cliff notes version for something that I've spent years trying to accomplish.

So, um, so yeah, due diligence is big with me. I love, I love it when people, even if they can't get to the answer that they need, which is why they're engaging me. I love the fact that they've tried to help themselves versus, you know, people that don't even want to crack open Google and do a search because there's so much information out there. Um, but from a business standpoint, you know, customer service, um, you know, providing a good experience for the customer. You know, good communication, try and be friendly. Even if you are exhausted from working all day and have a toddler hanging from your leg, like try and try and take that and set that aside and, and make it a positive experience for people. Um, you know, people that haven't, it's their first Gecko. They've certainly never had a Gecko shipped in a box across the country to their door.

You know, there's just, there are all varying degrees of, of people that, that you're going to deal with. So, um, but you know, that's, it's, it's really kind of, I'd like to hope it would be common sense to what it makes. You know, what's made me successful, at least at the point that I'm at now. Um, just a good person, you know, do your record keeping your due diligence, you know, treat people the way that you want to be treated. Um, it's pretty simple really. There hasn't really been a some magical, some magical theory, um, you know, with me or a process that's, that's got me to where I am. It's just kind of doing things the way that I feel like everybody should do them. So

philosophical thinking right there. Awesome. Great advice! So I want to thank Chris for coming on the show today. Chris again from Suburban Geckos. I hope you had as good as good of a time as I did with our premiere episode here at Strength In Leos. And I just want to thank you again for your time and all the advice and insight you've given us for the Gecko Hobby.

Yeah, no, this is awesome and I appreciate your reaching out and it's definitely been fun and I would gladly do it again.

Of course. Anytime. You're welcome back. Anytime.

All right, thanks, man. Okay, thank you. Yup.

So there you go, guys. Our first episode of strength in Leo's is officially a wrap. I hope you enjoy today's show. Of course, featuring Chris at Suburban Geckos from today's show. You can definitely tell that what Chris is doing over there in his collection is amazing. So be sure to look out for what he's doing in the future are really enjoyed making this episode and having direct insight into the neat stuff that he's working on this season. Again, I want to thank Chris for agreeing to be on the show and sharing such great information. You could find Chris on Instagram and Facebook over at Suburban Geckos. He also has an awesome youtube channel which shows us some of his beautiful morphs as discussed today at Suburban Geckos to see what he has available. Check out don't forget to share with a friend radar podcast and subscribe.

If you would like to support us, please check out our pattern page at Leos or buy a tee shirt, mug or Hoodie on our website. Follow us on Instagram and Facebook at Strength In Leo's. Would you like to be a sponsor of the strength and Leo's podcast for a chance for your business to be featured in the podcast, please contact us at if you're interested in becoming a sponsor of the show? And last but not least, don't forget to tune in on March, 17th 2019 for our next episode with Marcia McGuinness on Spotify, iTunes, and our website at StrengthInLeos.Com this is your host, Evan Wooldridge, signing off. Continue to grow in knowledge and share The Strength In Leos.

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