The Hippo


May 25, 2020








A sugar glider from Our Sugar Gliders Sanctuary and Rescue of New Hampshire. Courtesy photo.

Small animal selection
Birds, reptiles, small mammals and fish

By Matt Ingersoll

 It’s not all hamsters and goldfish. Local breeders and pet store owners discuss some of the more unusual animals that can be kept as pets here in the Granite State, plus what you need to take care of them.. 

Reptile: Crested Gecko
Dave Yao has a selection of reptiles, amphibians, tarantulas, turtles, tortoises and more from regions all over the world at Dave’s Dragons (679 Mast Road, Manchester, 606-2120, 
One of the more unusual species of reptiles Yao said make great pets for beginner reptile owners is the crested gecko, a small animal that reaches a size of around eight inches in length. The species is originally native to New Caledonia, a French island territory in the southwestern Pacific Ocean between Australia and Fiji.
“They are pretty low-maintenance, which makes them a good beginner pet,” Yao said. “They only require between 65 and 80 degrees for a temperature, though they do like high humidity, so you should spray their terrarium with water a couple times a day.”
Yao said the crested gecko’s diet consists largely of small insects, worms and a special formula called Repashy that is also available for purchase inside the store.
“They can actually be fed on Repashy alone,” he said. “It’s a powdered formula that you mix with water and leave it for them to come down and lick it up. … They are nocturnal, so they usually like to be fed in the nighttime.”
The best size for a terrarium for the crested gecko, according to Yao, depends on the age of the animal. Baby crested geckos do well in 12x12x18-sized, while older and larger geckos require an 18x18x24.
“They don’t run really quickly, but they’re kind of a jumpy little critter and are very good climbers,” Yao said, “so you don’t want to let them run around loose too much.”
Crested geckos typically live for about 10 to 12 years and Yao said the animals he has in stock at Dave’s Dragons are about a few months old.
Bird: Bourke’s Parakeet
Allen Fox is co-owner of Bird Supply of New Hampshire (522 Amherst St., Nashua, 882-4737,, which has been in business since early 2005 and is southern New Hampshire’s oldest exotic bird specialty shop. His shop carries a variety of canaries, parrots, parakeets, lovebirds, cockatoos, cockatiels and more.
The Bourke’s parakeet is, according to Fox, one of the more unique species of bird available. It grows to about 10 to 12 inches in length and has a distinct color mutation of grey and blue with a little bit of pink.
“Any parakeet you’ll find in the U.S. is domestically bred, but the Bourke’s parakeet originally comes from Australia,” Fox said. “They are very quiet, laid back and easy-going birds, for the family that doesn’t necessarily want that intense personality. … They’re not as chatty or active as some other kind of parakeets.”
Because the lifespan of Bourke’s parakeets is not nearly as long as that of other domesticated birds — they have a life expectancy of around 15 to 25 years — Fox said the bird also makes for great pets for beginner or inexperienced owners.
“It’s the type of bird you can get where you don’t have that lifetime commitment,” he said. “You’d have it as long as you might have a dog or a cat.”
Small mammal: Sugar Glider
Think of a cross between a small possum and a flying squirrel, and you’ll get a sugar glider. These small critters are mostly native to regions in Oceania — especially in Australia, New Guinea and some Indonesian islands — but are available as pets from breeders and sanctuaries in a few areas of New England as well.
Erik Hammarstrom and his wife Jen of Our Sugar Gliders of New Hampshire have been breeding sugar gliders and taking in rescues at their Raymond home since 2010. They work with local veterinarians and other breeders for treatment of the animals, which tend to live for about up to 15 years.
Hammarstrom said sugar gliders make great exotic pets but do require new owners to do their research before seeking one out.
“When they’re little babies, they’re called joeys and they’re only about the size of your thumb,” he said, “and even when they’re full grown, they can still fit in the palm of your hand.”
According to Hammarstrom, state laws vary on the legality of sugar gliders as pets. They are legal in most U.S. states — including New Hampshire, Maine and, as of 2014, Massachusetts — but are not in Alaska, California and the five boroughs of New York City.
“State laws change all the time, so if someone out of state is buying from us, we say that it’s their responsibility to call the state Fish and Game [department] where they live,” he said.
Sugar gliders enjoy all types of fruits and vegetables, especially apples, bananas, carrots and celery.
“They are nocturnal, so we’ll put food in their cage at night, and then when the sun comes up they go back to sleep,” Hammarstrom said.
A 4x4 foot cage is generally good for sugar gliders, but Hammarstrom said the bars should be no more than about a half-inch width apart from each other.
“The rule of thumb is if you can put your full finger in between two of the bars, then the gliders can get out,” he said.
Visit the Hammarstroms’ Facebook page at or for more information.
Fish: Moorish Idol
Fish come from all over the world at Aquatic Creations (100 Route 101A, Unit B, Amherst, 809-7733,, a retail shop and aquarium installation company owned by Myk Gillespie. One of the more sought after species he has available is the Moorish idol, a disk-like fish with black, white and yellow stripes, small fins and a long dorsal filament.
According to Gillespie, Moorish idols come from oceans all over the world, but most of the ones he gets for his store come from the central Pacific Ocean near Hawaii.
“They tend to come in from Hawaii in the best condition, and it’s just easier because that’s technically U.S. water and the chain of custody is shorter than, say, if it came from the Philippines,” he said.
The Moorish idol can live in aquariums for about 10 to 25 years, Gillespie said, and reach a size of about six to eight inches in length.
“It’s a beautiful fish,” he said. “They are challenging to care for, mainly because they need a lot of room to graze in an aquarium and they also like to be in pairs, but people seem to like the challenge of something more difficult.”
They will eat almost anything, according to Gillespie, including seaweed, mysis shrimp, clams, plankton and squid.
“They’re not specific to any one type of food, but having a variety in their diet is definitely important,” he said. 

®2020 Hippo Press. site by wedu