Reptileapartment.com had the privilege of speaking with someone that in our opinion is on the very cutting edge of Leopard Gecko Eublepharis macularius breeding today. So without further ado, we introduce Brittney Gougeon of PacHerp and learn about how “The Turtle Patrol” opened her eyes to the wonderful world of reptiles. To say that Brittney is an entrepreneur would be an understatement. Not only has she brought sexy back to the world of the Leopard Geckos Eublepharis macularius, but she is also a web design maestro in the fact that she also owns ReptileCreative.com and ReptileCulture.com. Reptile Creative is a web design firm while ReptileCulture.com is an online forum that is poised to expand. She will soon be blending all three businesses into one happy family sometime in near future. When we asked Brittney how she got started in the reptile industry in the first place, she explains that it really wasn’t a matter of choice for her, she was chosen.“I was working the dream job at Apple Computers in Palo Alto California. I was actually working at Steve Jobs store and was very happy and had every intention of working there my entire life.” Brittney explained.
Life can sometimes throw you and this was the case for Brittney. While working for Apple Computers Brittney became very ill, and was unable to continue working even though she was involved in management training and working full time, she had no choice but to leave. It was at this time that she began to work freelance graphic design in order to stay afloat. Interestingly enough, her freelance work landed her jobs with people in the reptile industry. This “re-sparked” her interest in reptiles and really her whole world view on what she was going to do.
Brittney chose reptiles, over other species to work with due to ease of care; specifically that you can take them out and handle them then put them back into their cage. Where as a dog is a matter ofconstant maintenance, she should know she has two Pugs and two Cats. When asked about the very first reptile she ever kept you can hear Brittney smile as she starts off with what I think should be her first children’s book “Turtle Patrol”. At just nine years old she got a Red Eared Slider Trachemys scripta elegans she actually obtained the Turtle by completing several rounds of what her mom and she called “Turtle Patrol”.
“My mom was always proactive and always encouraged the things I enjoyed. In order to get something I had to earn it. As a kid I always wanted my own animal. So we spent my summer afternoons rescuing all the renegade turtles and tortoises that were stuck on the road, we moved them out of danger by moving them to the side of the road in the direction they were going.”
The reptiles Brittney has chosen to breed are all uniquely different in their personalities and she isn’t only working with Leopard Gecko Eublepharis macularius, African Fat Tail Geckos Hemitheconyx caudicinctus and Hognose. We found out that she is also dabbling in Knob tails Nephrurus sp., Rhacodactylus ssp., and even Crested Geckos Rhacodactylus ciliatus.
Brittney says, “I tend to work with animals which have some unique paint jobs.”
If you want to see why we we’re so pumped to speak with Brittney in the first place check out the Halloween Mask line. We found out she was one of the first to work with this line, and now she is producing some incredible morphs. We also discovered that if you want to get Brittney’s attention, breed something that is either Bold or Lavender in coloration. Brittney’s truest drive according to what she told us is the fact that she is interested in not just breeding the Bold bloodline but crossing into the existing patterns to create what will essentially be a whole new blood line of Bold Geckos. She is also working with the Afghan Leopard Gecko Eublepharis macularius afghanicus sub-species which she is working on crossing into other Bold Bloodlines and has been unsuccessful until recently even after she learned the trick to do it from a close friend.
“Several of the species I work with can be a challenge to breed. But Leopard Gecko Eublepharis macularius seem to be one of easier ones to breed. They’ve been around 30 plus years in captivity and people have really developed a lot of different techniques for working with them. To me, there is really an art to getting the technique down.”
Brittney was mentored by Marcia from Golden Gate Geckos who’s been in the industry for 15 years. She taught Brittney everything from ‘pairing up quality geckos, to aspirating eggs.’ Brittney has not been completely self taught, she says there were a lot of people who helped her to get where she is now.
Speaking of breeding Brittney told us that a clear vision of the genetics involved in breeding is something that you must have if you plan to breed any species. When we asked if there was any guess work left in the breeding of reptiles Brittney said “It really depends on the species you’re breeding. Breeding African Fat Tail Geckos Hemitheconyx caudicinctus and breeding Leopard Gecko Eublepharis macularius is almost like night and day.” We still have a lot to learn according Brittney about the cyclical life of breeding when it comes to African Fat Tail Geckos Hemitheconyx caudicinctus. Brittney broke it down to four major points when asked about her driving passion to continue on.
“Education, Community, Consistency, and Honesty.” That really keeps me going, Brittney says. As far as inspiration is concerned, Brittney finds that her Mom, youngest sister, Marcia, and Sean who introduced her to Leopard Gecko Eublepharis macularius. The most common question Brittney is asked is on introducing Geckos to one another into the same enclosure. She is currently planning to write an in depth article on Gecko Introductions with a video reference for www.pacherp.com and of course when she does we will provide links to it.
As for the future Brittney is planning to expand PacHerp into breeding more Knobtail Geckos Nephrurus sp. as well as Halloween Mask morphs which when defined by Brittney is as follows, “it’s a bold head pattern which gets bolder as the Gecko gets older”. So we are clear Bold, Stripe, and Bold Stripe are all different things when you talk to Brittney. That being said she dropped an exclusive hint about her new project called “B-3’s” It is a ‘Banded Bold Bandit’ so the animal is banded and it’s bold and it also has a nose band! She is currently working on removing the stripe and introducing more Halloween Mask influence. Imagine if you will a Halloween Mask gecko that has Tiger Bands! Essentially, Brittney is taking the Gecko back to the natural banding pattern with an intense head pattern.
When it comes to advice for anyone who wants to breed reptiles Brittney says
“Always and most importantly do what you like. Always stay within your budget, always pay for stuff out of pocket and do not get in debt.” She also recommends housing them individually in a rack system.
“Leopard and Fat Tail Geckos are solitary creatures and do not require the presence of ‘cage mates’. This will also keep them properly quarantined in case something happens. As a new breeder I think it’s very important to keep everything separate until you know what you have. I would say two trios of animals are sufficient.”
“I want to work with the entire Nephrurus complex, when it comes to geckos I have a soft spot in my heart for Australian Geckos.” For the future Brittney is hoping to work with the Nephrurus amyae,Nephrurus levis occidentalis and Nephrurus levis pilberensis.
We would like to thank Brittney for taking the time to speak with us today and of course we suggest you check out the geckos that she is producing at www.pacherp.com and if you need a site designed for your own business which involves reptiles, then stop by at www.reptilecreative.com
All Photos are copyrighted by Brittney Gougeon and used with her express permission.