Emzotic, Mariah Healey, Tyler Rugge, & Gabby Nikolle Talk REPTILES! | Beyond The Care Sheets | S1E4

Emzotic, Mariah Healey, Tyler Rugge, & Gabby Nikolle Talk REPTILES! | Beyond The Care Sheets | S1E4

Check out the full episode right here!

Em:Hey, what is up Zen friends? It's Em and today is the season finale of Beyond the Care Sheet, season one. So, I am so excited that today we are going to be having back our three amazing guests. We will be having Tyler Rugge, Mariah Healey of Reptifiles as well as Gabby Nikole. Thank you so much for joining us for this amazing season finale of season one of Beyond the Care Sheets. Now, you've all been such amazing guests and for anybody who's just joining, every single one of our guests here has had their own dedicated interview, which you can catch now out on the Zen Habitat's YouTube- so be sure to check those out and share them and like them and comment. But there were so many comments that were left after every episode ended that we thought we have to bring everyone back because there were so many questions about how everybody managed to get the professions, they’re in and also how others might be able to do the same. So, are we all ready for a couple of questions? Well, first of all, we have a question for Tyler. Are Crested Geckos good pets for children?

crested gecko on leaf. Beyond the care sheets episode 2 with popular reptile YouTubers Tyler Rugge and Emzotic discuss crested geckos

Tyler:I would say as far as reptiles go, they're pretty good as long as the child is being supervised, obviously, while handling it. Because they're pretty fragile small creatures so you don't want to roughhouse with it by any means. And they're also very fast. So, if it jumps off of a child and runs away, you want to be able to be in that situation and you know, be able to take control if you have to. But, as far as care goes, they are very simple for the most part. And yeah, I mean, I think that it's a good first reptile to have just in general.

Em:Mm Hmm, that's so, that's so wonderful to me to say- and you're so right that they're so fast. A lot of us see the really derpy side of Crested Geckos and the way they just like leap off into the abyss can really take people by surprise, so that's a good answer. Thank you so much and welcome everybody who's also just joining us. If you have any particular questions feel free to drop them down below and I'll see if I can slot those in. Next, we have a question for Gabby. Gabby, how did you know that you wanted to work with animals?

Gabby:Oh, well, it was just I was born with this passion. I've always wanted to work with animals, you know, ever since I was really young and would always be outside; like catching butterflies, fireflies, turtles, and frogs. So, I have always wanted to work with animals, I'm very lucky.

Em:That is so amazing. And it's so great that you're now based out of Florida because there's such amazing wildlife down there, both native and invasive, which we also spoke about in our interview with you last week. Next up, we have a question for Mariah. Mariah, I am so inspired by your work with Reptifiles. I'd like to do the same for small mammals, any advice as to how I can start?

Mariah:Get a website. And... yeah, that is probably the first step is just if you want to do something kind of Reptifiles-ish for small mammals, then going web based is definitely the way to go. So, get a website, get familiar with how websites work. I was digging around on a hobby site for... one or two years before I really got Reptifiles going, so I didn't really know what I was doing. I didn't really know even what I wanted to write about, or I hadn't really found my writing voice either. It took a while of just experimentation, seeing what works, seeing what didn’t, and figuring out what felt right. So, start with a website, if writing's not your strong suit, then find something that is. So, if speaking is more your style, then probably YouTube is going to be a better service for you. Make sure to research. Research, research, research. Become best friends with Google Scholar. That's something I really wish I would have gotten into earlier in the process of developing Reptifiles. Is incorporating more scholarly sources rather than just going off of discussions on forums and on social media. Those are great places to connect with modern keepers who have great ideas, people who are experimenting, finding out what works, what doesn't, connecting with readers, figuring out what it takes to get these animals to survive. And then combining that with the information that you're going to get from the scholarly sources, from field guides, figuring out what their natural history is. So, find a way to get familiar with both your community and with the scientific side of things. Combine those and whatever unique forum you decide to deliver your information to, make sure that you're supporting it... well.

Em:That's all such fantastic advice, and for anybody else who is interested in doing something similar to Reptifiles, whether it's for mammals or birds, there's so many places you can go to get a great website. I mean you can try GoDaddy, for example, just to get familiar with things. So that's some really great advice. Thank you so, so much for that, Mariah. I also saw just now down in the comment section, somebody was asking about a great enclosure size for Crested Geckos. Over on the Zen Habitats website, we have a 2x2x2 PVC panel enclosure, which is great for, say, a single adult Crested Gecko or even as a breeding setup. So, I highly recommend you go and check that out. Next up, we have another question for Tyler. I want to start a reptile YouTube channel; do you have any advice for me?

Tyler:The number one advice I give anyone who asks me something like that is to just start your YouTube channel, even if you don't feel like you're ready. Because I feel like, you know, like you never truly feel ready to do that- or at least I never did. But once you start, you know, you'll kind of be awkward maybe on camera a little bit and not really know what to do or not know how to edit well, but as soon as you start, you're going to start getting experience and being able to get better, get more comfortable on camera. So, the sooner you start, the sooner you'll get better and get used to things. And like, I've wanted a YouTube channel way before I actually started mine and one of my biggest regrets is that I didn't start sooner. So, I would say just start making videos. Even if you don't necessarily post the videos, it's good to just film, edit and just kind of practice that sort of thing. And as far as starting like a reptile channel in general, another thing that a lot of people feel like they need is to have a lot of animals because a lot of YouTubers have a lot of animals. But there's also, you know, a lot of really successful YouTubers and animal accounts in general that's just focused around like one animal. So, you don't necessarily need to have a lot. Just make sure you know, you're passionate about it, and as long as you're doing it for the right reasons and all that stuff, other people can see that and, you know, just go from there.

Em:Awesome. Thank you so much for that, Tyler. Vikram then Murray- I can see that you just asked Tyler if Crested Geckos are good pets for children. Make sure you catch the replay of this over on YouTube because he already answered that very same question. Next up, we're heading over back to Gabby. Gabby it's my dream to be a vet tech, what do I need to study?

Gabby:So, it really depends on the course though. I first started in New York; I got hired right out of high school. I was a veterinary assistant in New York, you have to be licensed. So, it was pretty limited on what I was able to do. In Florida, you don't have to be licensed, which I'm not, but I can still monitor a seizure, I take blood, I do recovery, I can intubate patients. So, I can do everything, but I'm definitely going to say go ahead and get your certification if that's an option for you. A lot of clinics now will also kind of reimburse you and give you an incentive to go. So, they'll basically pay for the two years for you to go to school and get your certification, and as long as you work there for a year or two, they just pay it off. So, I would say definitely, if you can, if that's an option for you to get your certification.

Em:That is such great advice, thank you so much. And I see that KayRed47 just said, “Happy National Vet Tech Appreciation Week Gaby”. Next up, we have another question for Mariah. Mariah, I saw you at the Wasatch Reptile Expo, but I was too shy to say hello. I would love to be an educator for reptiles, but I am so awkward as a public speaker. Help.

Mariah:I'm going to have to take a leaf out of Tyler's book here and just say, get started. Practice really makes a difference. I will say one of the big ways I get through the Wasatch Reptile Expos is with a lot of caffeine. So that could definitely help with making me feel a little bit more extroverted and making me more talkative and a little bit just what I need to get over that hurdle of, you know, what should I talk to that person? I see them walking out with a dragon and should I say something? Yeah, I'm going to say something. So just having a little bit of a boost definitely helps energy wise, but aside from that, seriously, just get started. Find somebody who the local expo, local or herpetological society, somebody who can help you get started with educating if you want to do that in person, just get going. You might want to practice in front of the camera for a little bit. Set up your phone, talk to yourself a little bit, practice just talking in front of an audience, even if that audience is just your own face. Personally, I really don't like talking to my own face, so it does help. And then just have fun with it. Find what you're passionate about, use that to fuel what you're talking about. Because it's one thing to talk about something that's boring and we don't know very much about and lack of confidence really doesn't go well when you're trying to educate. So, find something that you're comfortable talking about and include a couple funny stories, be personable, and next time you're at the Wasatch reptile expo, I'm going to be there for the foreseeable future every time. So don't be afraid to come by and say hi.

bearded dragon sitting on zen cave, slate rock and basking platform in one. Bearded dragon in a Zen Habitats 4'x2'x2' enclosure

Em:Amazing, you heard it from Mariah. If you see her at these expos, go up and say hi, I'm sure she'll have some additional tips for you. Everybody is so welcoming, especially in the group that we have here. So, if you see anybody anywhere, since a lot of us do these live events, feel free to go up and say hi, nobody is going to bite you. I did see a question on this a while ago down in the comments section today asking about Bearded Dragons and whether or not they make a good first reptile. I personally would say that they do make a good first reptile that you should research. But the reason I'm saying that they do make a good first reptile is because there's so much information out there, not least on the Reptifiles websites and in some of the care guides that Tyler Rugge also puts out on YouTube. So, I would say that's a great first reptile to begin with, but to do your research for sure. And speaking of Tyler, we have another question for Tyler; and that is what inspired you to start actually breeding Crested Geckos with Celestial Exotics?

Tyler:So, like, I just love them very much that the biggest thing like they're just very cute animals and just I remember when I went to the first NARBC Tinley that I attended, mine at least, being so many different breeders with these amazing looking Crested Geckos. Like there are a ton of people who breed Crested Geckos, but not everyone breeds really nice, amazing quality geckos. And there aren't a lot of people at least at the expos I've been to before that I saw like, you know, breathtaking geckos. So, when I saw these amazing geckos at Tinley I was just like, that is so cool. And then I was really inspired. I was like, one day I want to breed Crested Geckos. It'd be cool to see if I could make something that someone would see and be like, whoa, I've never seen something that cool before. So, I remember that was like when I first was like, I want to try doing this. So, then Maddie and I started breeding just a couple just to kind of get a feel for it. And we just absolutely fell in love with the whole process of breeding and trying to find geckos and just planning different breeding projects and stuff like that. It is just so, just so fun for us. So, yeah.

Em:That's great, and you're being such a great advocate for breeding healthy specimens. Tyler, we did have a very quick additional question for you here, which is a very important question. Either you have to stop breeding geckos or shave your head, go.

Tyler;I guess I would shave my head, I swear.

Em:That’s a great answer, I love that answer. Let's swing back over to Gabby. Gabby, would you ever consider opening a rescue? And if so, will you be offering training for others looking to work with rescue?

Gabby:That's a great question. So, my dream, as well as Chris's, my boyfriend, is to open an animal sanctuary together. That's what we're working towards, that's one of the reasons we started our YouTube channel. We actually just did the paperwork last month to be a nonprofit, so that takes a few months, but the paperwork is submitted and we had been looking at properties. So hopefully in the future we will, you know, have our own sanctuary. And yes, we definitely want to offer something where volunteers can come learn how to safely work with crocodilians, learn how to take care of animals. So yeah, we would love to do that.

blue tounged skink in the wild. Zen Habitats show, beyond the care sheets where we interview reptile professionals. Zen Habitats makes reptile enclosures for blue tongued skinks. Zen Habitats 4x2x2 for blue tongued skinks

Em:Well, everybody has to get in line behind me. Gabby, that is so exciting. And I'm wishing you and Chris every success and luck with that venture. Everybody heard it here first on the Beyond the Care Sheet, so definitely stay tuned with everything that Gabby has going on. Ooh! Question for Mariah, if you could ban one thing for the benefit of bluetongue skinks, what would you ban and why?

Mariah:Ban one thing for bluetongue skinks? That's tough, Bluetongue skinks can survive a lot. They're really, really hardy reptiles. Probably any the 40-gallon standard that is still being circulated. I would love to just put down a hammer on that. You can take a lizard that is capable of getting to 24 inches long. You think it's okay to put it in something that measures 36 inches long, by 18 inches wide, that is insane. And some people have a hard time visualizing that space. It doesn't... they don't fit. They really don't. It's barely enough room to move around. And so that would probably be my first move if I had to ban something related to Bluetongue Skinks is all mentions of putting Bluetongue skinks in anything smaller than a 4x2 footprint gone, forever.

Em:That is such a great spur of the moment question because even I wasn't sure what you might say about that. But the 40-gallon breeder for Bluetongue skinks is definitely outdated. So, if you happen to be watching with your Bluetongue Skink in a 40 gallon, feel free to go over to the Zen Habitats website. You can check out the 4x2x2 PVC panel enclosure. Which also, if you happen to get a specimen which is especially large, has an extension kit so you can actually double more than double that space, which is really great for your Bluetongue Skinks. Thank you for that, Mariah. Next up, we have a question for everyone so I'm going to ask Tyler, then Gabby, then Mariah to answer in this order. What do you think the future of reptiles looks like with the impact of climate change? Tyler?

Tyler:That's a really good question. Obviously, I think there's a lot going on with reptiles and other animals as well; obviously their natural environment is completely being destroyed and a lot of things are becoming endangered. And, you know, it's hard to say. I think a lot of people are starting to feel inclined to try breeding a lot more endangered animals in captivity. So, it would kind of be nice to see a lot more of that happening. But at the same time, there's a lot of bans people are trying to pass on reptile keeping because some people think that that's going to help the wild animals because of less importing and whatnot. So, it's really hard to say. It could go either way, like maybe reptiles will be banned or maybe they'll just be more, you know, in captivity breeding hopefully, in my opinion. But yeah, I don't know.

Em:Oh, that's some good thoughts there. Gabby, what do you think about the impact of climate change on reptile hobbies?

Gabby:Well, for wild animals it's definitely a concern, especially for reptiles. A lot of reptiles are, you know, alligators and sea turtles. So, with rising temperatures, that's definitely a problem for sure.

Em:Absolutely. Same question then up to Mariah. What do you think about the impact of climate change on reptiles?

Mariah:I'm really glad I'm last because this gave me a chance to think. I think, the first place my brain goes is thinking about the way that climate change related legislation is affecting the equipment that we can get in the hobby for keeping our reptiles. A very common complaint that I hear is it's difficult to find halogen bulb lamps in certain states such as California and unless they're reptile branded. So... it's becoming a little harder to find quality reptile heating equipment because the kind of heat that you're going to get it from a halogen lamp is very different from the kind of heat that you're going to get from a standard plain, for lack of a better word, incandescent reptile bulb or having a heat mat or a or a radiant heat panel, or ceramic heat emitter. They're all good in their own applications but for daytime lighting and heating, nothing really beats halogen for heat. So, I'm concerned about, okay, limiting the amount of energy that a bulb can put out because yeah, in your average household, that's great. We should be energy efficient. But with reptiles, the goal is kind of actually to be not very energy efficient to produce that heat. Same goes for UVB bulbs, actually. I see a lot of people being concerned about the amount of energy that they're consuming at home, and that's really, really great. But that's putting everybody's attention toward LED UVB light fixtures. And right now, despite the fact that I know a lot of them are entering the market, none of them, according to Dr. Francis Bane and other lighting experts, are quite ready to be safe to be used with reptiles. Right now, they're not producing enough UVA, they're not emitting a safe spectrum of UVB. We need more testing and more time for the technology before an LED bulb is going to be safe.

Em:Wow. That is so fascinating Mariah, I saw Maddie Moos comment just now in the comment section saying, “I didn't even realize California restricted halogen”. Well, those are my thoughts as well. Do you have a place where we can learn maybe more about this, Mariah? I'm sure a lot of people would be interested to learn more about.

Mariah:It's pretty easy, try to order off Amazon and they will tell you whether or not they will ship it to your state. That's the easiest way to go and how I usually do. But the good news is that you can make a reptile branded halogen bulb last a while. The two that come to mind are the Arcadia halogens. A floodlight is obviously your best option. I know for a fact that the bio dude that sells them. And then there's also the ZooMed reptituff halogen which technically has a turtle on the packaging. So, it's a little bit misleading, but it's very similar bulb. Both of them can be used and if you're concerned about them blowing early, plug it in to a power strip. It will save you so much. I have had reptile bulbs last as long as guaranteed or longer and I live in an apartment that's very old, does not have exactly the best electrical wiring. But because I always plug my equipment serge protected power strips, I’ve never had anything glow before the expiration date.

bearded dragon in a zen habitats 4'x2'x'2' enclosure for bearded dragons

Em:Amazing. Thank you so much for that, Mariah. For anybody who is interested, especially in Arcadia, because at Zen Habitats we're really big fans of both Arcadia and The Bio Dude. Arcadia has just actually launched in PetSmart, so you might be able to find Arcadia bulbs much easier. So definitely look out for those in your local PetSmart. That's really, really exciting. I have another question for everyone. We're going to go in the same order. So, Tyler, Gabby than Mariah. Tyler, I'm just going to throw this at you. What advice do you have for others looking to work with animals and to become an animal expert?

Tyler:That's, that's a hard one. It depends. I guess it kind of depends on what you want to do working with animals. A lot of people think the first thing is like you have to be either a zookeeper or a veterinarian, but there are so many other options as well. So, it’s kind of just depends on what specifically you want to do. A lot of jobs obviously require formal education. So, you might want to think about if you want to go to college, like what degree specifically you want to get for whatever job you're getting, whether you're going to like zoo keeping or ecology or biology, etc. But just in general, it doesn't hurt to do as much research as you can. Reading like the scientific articles and reading books and joining groups and stuff on Facebook and just being active in different communities again, depending what you want to do and what animals you want to work with, just trying to familiarize yourself and maybe even reaching out to people who are doing whatever it is specifically you want to do and asking them how they got to do what they're doing and getting a good idea of what you need to do to get in to their position as well.

Em:Amazing. Thank you so much for that Tyler and I can just see a ton of people suddenly joining us in on this live. So, thank you all so much for joining this live. We're really excited to have you. Now over to Gabby for the same question. What advice do you have for people looking to work with animals and become animal experts?

Gabby:Sure. Great advice that I always give, get as much experience as you can on our YouTube channel, we actually go over this. We actually have like a whole 30-minute video on like career advice and step by step, you know, because there's just so much. But my advice is hands on experience. So, whether that is volunteering at a nature center, or a lot of people say they're very limited and they don't have a lot of places that will accept volunteers, something as simple as reaching out to a school, seeing if they have any classroom pets, just start somewhere. You know? And reading is very important, but I've learned a lot about animals from hands on experience. So, I'm always going to say hands on experience is priceless.

Em:Oh, I completely agree with you. Thank you so much for that. Let's go up to Mariah, same question.

Mariah:I don't know what else there is to say. I think it's already been covered. Get hands on experience where you can, where you can't read and talk to the people who have an experience because obviously it's not realistic to get experience with everything. I mean, look at me. I'm trying to create really comprehensive care information for literally dozens, hundreds, eventually reptile species. It's not possible for me to care for them all individually at some point in my life. So, talking to the people who have experience, listen to them, compiling lots of different accounts of how things go and then, and then figuring out how those fits in again with natural history information, with the scientific literature is your best bet for getting up to that perceived expert level.

Em:That's amazing, thank you so much for that. And I really agree with what everybody, all of our amazing guests, have been saying. Working with animals is so very competitive. Even when you think that they might not be competitive jobs. So, any work you can get, any experience you can get, whether it's in a dog daycare or in a pet store or even caring for animals in your own home. None of that is wasted knowledge. So definitely just start wherever you can. And as Mariah said, you can also do as much reading as possible just to get ahead as well. There's a great comment down in the comment section by Maddy saying “Wildlife rehab was one of the best experiences I've ever had that didn't require a formal education”. So that is a really, really great little nugget of information there shed so amazingly down in the comment section. Well, that about wraps it up, all of you amazing guests. We have had Mariah Healey up here from ReptiFiles, Tyler Rugge from the YouTube channel Tyler Rugge and Gabby Nikole of Florida's Wildest. Make sure you go and check all of them out. Do any of you have any final thoughts before I let you go?

Mariah:Make sure your sources are good. I said that earlier, I did lots of reading. There’s a lot of bad. Please make sure that you're actually repeatable.

Em:Perfect. Tyler, any final thoughts?

Tyler:Uh, I agree with that one. And also, thank you for having us.

Em:Oh, you're so welcome. It's such a pleasure to have you on. Gabby, do you have any final thoughts or words for us before I let you go?

Gabby:Thank you so much to everybody who watched, this was a lot of fun. Thank you so much Zen Habitats for including me. This was awesome.

Check Out The Full Series Here!

Beyond the care sheets, a Zen Habitats series where reptile experts and influencers chat on Instagram live.

Em:Thank you. Bye Maddie. Bye Tyler, bye Mariah. Bye, Gabby. And that concludes the very first series of Beyond the Care Sheet. Let me know in the comments section below if you would like to see perhaps a season two and if you would like to see season two, who should we have on as our resident animal experts? I also just want to let you know that we have amazing products over on the website and we just launched SMS marketing. Which means if you go over to the website and sign up now for text messages, you'll be able to be among the first to know any time there's a brand-new product drop or any really interesting things happening over at Zen. It's always innovating, so really exciting, I highly recommend that you get on the SMS marketing. Also, because I know a lot of you are wondering about the UK, yes, we are going to be launching in the UK and we're looking for a projected drop date sometime in the new year. So again, hit that SMS marketing over on the Zen Habitats website. Thank you all so much for joining and this has been such a great first season of Beyond the Care Sheet, and a huge thank you and shoutout to all of our guests; but also, to Joanne, to Kaylee and also to Justin, who worked really hard behind the scenes making sure that this was possible. Huge shoutout to the whole Zen team as well. I've been Em and I will see you in the very next season. Drop a comment down below if you want to go to next season and who we should have. Thank you all so much. Take care, bye.

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