Sunday, August 10, 2014

Training is Universal Language

This is the happiest Gecko I have ever seen, look at that smile! I recently purchased a Madagascar Giant Day Gecko (today actually) and man is this guy HUGE! He's only 1 year 8 months old and he's already 8 or so inches long. I'm so very excited about this new addition because I'm hoping to accomplish something no one has ever done before.

Photo Credit: Bernard Spragg at Flickr
I am hoping to train my new gecko to learn how to station on my hand, a color, or another object. Teaching an animal to station is a fancy way of saying "stay in one spot" and is used as a great husbandry behavior in zoos worldwide.

I have never trained a reptile using Positive Reinforcement and it doesn't seem to be common practice in reptile circles. Two people I know even mentioned that it is impossible to train geckos because of their nature (speed, jitteryness, "small brain") and ability of their skin to fall off if grabbed, leading to possible infection. Yet I bet that if a gecko's skin did not slough off when grabbed or harassed these same people would readily train these lizards.

Photo Credit: Bernard Spragg at Flickr
The beauty here is that where one contingency fails (Negative Reinforcement resulting in skin loss) another can take place and begin to work (Positive Reinforcement). I have already seen and heard that geckos can learn to associate a hand with food and this is all you need to train.

To get a sneak peek about how I plan to train my Madagascar Giant Day Gecko learn about Approximations on my most recent blog post.

Copyright 2014 Caitlin Bird
The Sequential Psittacine Blog
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