As part of of Prime Time Early Learning Center’s “Growing Green” environmental awareness and education program, Prime Time continues to look for ways to introduce nature into our classrooms. Each Prime Time Center has a tropical fish tank in the lobby, and some Prime Time classrooms have Betta fish bowls or Hermit Crabs to introduce children to other animal species. Now, Prime Time is happy to introduce “Coastie” the Crested Gecko to our New Jersey Centers. Prime Time found Coastie by researching the best types of amphibians or reptiles for an early childhood classroom environment. Pet store specialists recommended Crested Geckos above all other species due to their easy care, mostly vegetarian diet, affinity for humans and their long life spans (up to 20 years)! Coastie was named when Prime Time co-owner Jeff Wasserman randomly noted that Crested Gecko started with the same initials as his 30 year alma mater, the U.S. Coast Guard. He suggested “Coastie” as a name for the new Prime Time team member, and it stuck!
Crested Geckos are happiest when they are in a specialty habitat that is more vertically oriented than a typical “fish tank” enclosure, so Prime Time invested in a special Crested Gecko enclosure. The glass enclosure has hinged front doors to make it easier to clean the enclosure and fill the water and food bowls. It has a formed “Tree” with leafs in the center for a Gecko to explore and a small hidden “cave” in the back for the Gecko to hide in when it needs some “personal time”. There are hanging leaf vines on the side of the enclosure that allow the Gecko to wrap its tail around to secure itself while it sleeps.
Crested Geckos are really interesting because until 1994 they were believed to be extinct. Then, an expedition to New Caledonia, a French protectorate in the southwest Pacific Ocean, discovered a small but thriving population of Crested Geckos. Some were exported to the United States and to Great Britain, where they have flourished as pets that reproduce readily in captivity. Crested Gecko females mate once then produce two fertilized eggs per month; for approximately nine months. After resting for a few months, they mate again and start the nine month cycle egg laying again. Crested Gecko eggs gestate for up to four months before hatching. Crested Geckos primarily live on a baby food like formula that consists largely of different fruits but they are happiest when they also get to chase and devour the occasional live cricket!
Prime Time plans to share Coastie among their four NJ child care centers and after school programs in Paramus, Edgewater, Hoboken and East Rutherford, while evaluating his reception among children and families, and assessing the difficulty of his care and feeding. If Coastie remains popular, healthy and happy, Prime Time would like to purchase more Crested Geckos and habitats, and rotate them among all six Prime Time centers, including their New York Centers in Middletown and Farmingdale, NY. The children at Prime Time seem thrilled to meet Coastie and their most common question is “What other kinds of interesting animals will Prime Time introduce to their classroom next”? Turtles? Some frogs? A Pterodactyl? Well … just you wait and see!