This week on Gecko Nation Radio, David Pelle of David’s Fine Geckos invites guest Mike Layman, President of Gourmet Rodents, to speak about the new Lemon Frost Leopard Gecko Morph. Mr. Layman’s company, the Gourmet Rodent, is a large scale reptile breeding operation. They cater to the big-box pet store, PetCo, providing mostly the four most common types of leopard geckos available. Recently, a push to include higher end morphs within the cheaper selections at PetCo has made expensive geckos available to some first time leopard gecko owners. This year alone somewhere around 70,000 leopard geckos will be produced by the Gourmet Rodent, adding to the approximately 1.5 million produced by them over the past 15 years. 13 of those geckos, minus the original that has since passed, just happen to be the new Lemon Frost Leopard Gecko Morphs. One female will be auctioned off this October 10th and 11th at the Tinley Park NARBC.
“Long & the Short of the Genetics”
Mr. Pelle asked all the right questions when discussing the Lemon Frost Leopard Gecko with Gourmet Rodent owner. As Mr. Layman put it, here is the “long and short of the genetics.” From what we learned from Mike this past evening on Gecko Nation Radio, is the lemon frost leopard gecko morph can be characterized as a stand-alone mutation, emerging from a normal leopard gecko breeding colony; the first of it’s kind in quite a while. The gene has proven to be dominant. No animals carrying two copies of the lemon frost gene have been produced yet, so co-dominance is still an uncertainty. Two of the “original three” are currently breeding and a super should be produced at some point in the near future. In regards to a leopard gecko’s health, certain morphs have been seen to produce “weaker” offspring so to speak. Mr. Layman had mentioned through his experience, he has noticed leucistic leopard geckos fall into this category. These new lemon frost leopard gecko morphs do not show any of these signs of “weakness,” he explains.
Characteristics of the Lemon Frost
Upon hatching, the lemon frost leopard gecko can easily be identified within this first few seconds of looking at it, as described by Mr. Layman. It can easily be separated from normal geckos. They look similar to the adults. They end up getting more spotting and the dark pigment darkens more. The eyes are larger than normal leopard geckos, but no negative health effects have been seen due to this difference in eye size. As far as sexual dimorphism, both male and female lemon frost leopard geckos look the same. The two remaining “original three” variate to some degree of intensity, but the original mother and son look very similar. Some of the difference between two remaining “original three” could be slightly polygenic in nature, or simply an exceptional example of the lemon frost leopard gecko morph.
Future for the Lemon Frost Leopard Gecko
Even after producing upwards to 1.5 million leopard geckos in the past 15 years, Mike Layman was still awe struck at the new lemon blast he produced. Of the 12 remaining alive Lemon Frost Leopard Geckos at Gourmet Rodent, 10 are still in the “grow-out” stage and not producing at the moment. Two of the “original three” are currently in breeding projects. The founding female had passed after being taken out of breeding. Apparently had refused food and passed. Mr. Layman is being “fairly cautious” with the remain “original three,” keeping their breeding to a less vigorous level than his other breeding groups. “Better safe than sorry.” He describes the male as an “egg-producing machine…” though, this being his second season. According to Mike, the male is breeding 2 colonies of ten females. One colony consists of all normal girls. The second colony includes the female lemon frost leopard gecko, as well as normals. Some would say that he is taking it slower and being more cautious than needed, by not out-crossing the gene to other morphs. Mike Layman looks at it as “better safe than sorry.” He explains his envy of smaller breeders and their ability to focus on creative and fun projects with their leopard geckos, while someone in his position has to look at it from a business perspective. Overall his responsible manner in which he is dealing with the new morph has most breeders agreeing it is the most appropriate method of handling the situation. He mentioned considering adding albino and other morphs into breeding colonies in the future, but keeping it clean for now.
Operations at The Gourmet Rodent
Traditionally, the former owner of the Gourmet Rodent, Bill Brant, focused mainly on the production of leopard geckos and not any mutations. Recently, steps towards more specialized projects have been taken and credit has been given to Charlotte Lawrence. Mr. Layman describes her work as “un-muddying the water so to speak.” He joked around by mentioning the phrase, “its probably het for everything,” when talking about Pet shop geckos. He wants to get people more excited about leopard geckos again. He explains a situation in which a first time leopard gecko owner getting their first from PetCo and it’s something special like a RAPTOR. His thoughts are that it will encourage them even more to become part of the community.
Why auction off one of 12 Lemon Frost?!
When asked why he chose to auction off one of the new lemon frost leopard gecko morphs, he explained over everything else it is to benefit USARK. He expresses his support for the company, and stresses their need for funding. USARK uses limited funds to defend the reptile community against opponents with enormous amounts of funding; and they do with with just what is donated and raised through fund-raising events. For more information about donating to USARK, CLICK HERE. “At the end of the day, we all need each other…. we’re all small businesses [in regards to all businesses]. We should be working together, because there are a lot of people outside of the industry that want to see this industry fail.” His ideology has led him to let go of such an exclusive animal to the highest bidder this week at the October Tinley Park NARBC. He also feels that the publicity it will receive may help boost the leopard gecko popularity. Once again, he expresses his desire to get everyone excited about leopard geckos like they used to. He is hoping the Lemon Frost Leopard Gecko does just that.
Full Interview with Mike Layman of Gourmet Rodents
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