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Saturday, September 6, 2014

Training in Action: Baby Step Number 2, 3, 4...11!

Photo Credit to Catie from Flickr.


Remember how big and scary our list of approximations looked when we first started training? In order to train my gecko, Absinthe, to perch on my hand I wrote out a list of 13 step by step instructions  on how to get to my goal. The beauty of approximations (baby steps) is that, as long as you write them down, you know exactly where you are and how you want to get to where you're going. Often each and every step doesn't happen and the animal will make leaps and bounds, skipping steps as they go. Out of the 13 original steps 8 have been skipped! See today's video to see where he's at!

Approximation 1 - Take cricket from tweezers (or fingers!) in front of face.

Approximation 1 in action.

Approximation 2 - take one step to tweezers until each leg/arm(?) moved one time each

Approximation 3 - Follow tweezers one length of cage.
Approximation 4 - Follow tweezers two lengths of cage.
Approximation 5 - Follow tweezers regardless where on cage.

These steps were unnecessary as Absinthe learned to hang out at the front of his enclosure for training.

Approximation 6 - Follow tweezers on perch.

Approximation 7 - Jump onto perch/hand to follow tweezers.
Approximation 8 - Stay on perch/hand for 5 sec
Approximation 9 - 10 sec
Approximation 10 - 15 sec
Approximation 11 - 20 sec


Appoximation 7 and on!

I greatly overestimated a gecko's jumping ability. They do not seem to do it very often and when he does jump it is very short and not graceful. I successfully lured only one of his feet onto my hand and he didn't seem to enjoy the experience too much as he kept his little sticky foot pads (anyone have an accurate anatomical term?) curled up and away from my skin. I quickly changed his perch from a hand to a clean, plastic soap holder which he seemed to prefer. After luring all of him (all four of his legs) onto the perch he proceeded to stay for a full minute before showing body language to go back to his habitat's glass.

Approximation 12 - until five minutes.
Approximation 13 - Stay on perch while it moves.

Approximations 12 & 13 should be easy for Absinthe to generalize because staying still is something that reptiles are really good at doing, Learning to stay put is pretty simple, just reinforce for staying still! See you at the next update!


Copyright 2014 Caitlin Bird
The Sequential Psittacine Blog

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Food Management for Geckos

Photo credit - L. Brand from Flickr
The first week I had Absinthe, my Madagascar Giant Day Gecko, I started to train her to take squirmy crickets dusted in vitamins from my fingertips. She was voracious and ate every one I offered. But that's changed now.


Sunday, August 17, 2014

Training in Action: Baby Steps!


My goal is to have a tame Day Gecko that will sit in my hand while I feed him, and maybe while carrying him in the palm of my hand. This will be a challenge for most people because you cannot grab a day gecko without risking serious injury to the animal because their skin falls off if grabbed! It is because of this characteristic that many people claim Giant Day Geckos are untrainable and are a strictly hands off reptile. These people say this because they rely primarily on training involving Negative Reinforcement (R-) which involves grabbing animals. Fortunately training with exclusively Positive Reinforcement (R+) relies on 100% willing participation on the animal's part, and if the animal doesn't want to train they can walk away and the session stops. My training plan with R+ includes a long list of approximations (baby steps). See the videos to see where we are at with training!

Training doesn't always go as planned.


Approximation 1 - Take cricket from tweezers (or fingers!) in front of face.

Approximation 1 in action.

Approximation 2 - take one step to tweezers until each leg/arm(?) moved one time each

Approximation 3 - Follow tweezers one length of cage.

Approximation 4 - Follow tweezers two lengths of cage.

Approximation 5 - Follow tweezers regardless where on cage.

Approximation 6 - Follow tweezers on perch.

Approximation 7 - Jump onto perch/hand to follow tweezers.

Approximation 8 - Stay on perch/hand for 5 sec

Approximation 9 - 10 sec

Approximation 10 - 15 sec

Approximation 11 - 20 sec

Approximation 12 - until five minutes.

Approximation 13 - Stay on perch while it moves.

Gecko is now trained to be held!

Copyright 2014 Caitlin Bird
The Sequential Psittacine Blog