Geckos Etc. is owned by Steve and Debra Sykes. Based near Sacramento, California, Geckos Etc. specializes in rare and unique leopard geckos and knobtail geckos. In additional to these animals, we also keep rosy boas, sulcata tortoises, and other lizards. We have been producing top-of-the-line leopard geckos since 1996, and we continually strive to provide quality animals for both the novice pet keeper and the most serious leopard gecko breeder.
I grew up in Holmdel, New Jersey, and from an early age I was always busy exploring nature and catching reptiles, amphibians, and insects. I received my first reptile pets, three-toed box turtles, when I was four. I accumulated quite a menagerie during my childhood, including numerous species of turtles, lizards, snakes, and amphibians, raccoons, squirrels, rabbits, chinchillas, gerbils, pigeons, and hundreds of gallons of fish. From an early age I was always interested in "propagating" my pets, and started breeding rabbits, gerbils, chinchillas, and numerous fish species, but reptiles were always my favorite pets.
My interest in animals continued into my college years at Rutgers University in New Jersey, where I focused my studies in ecology and zoology. After graduating from Rutgers I worked at Herpetological Associates, Inc., a private environmental consulting firm that specializes in endangered reptiles and amphibians. This was an amazing experience that allowed me to work all over the Northeast with such endangered species as the bog turtle (Clemmys muhlenbergii), timber rattlesnake (Crotalus horridus), northern pine snake (Pituophis melanoleucus), Pine Barrens treefrog (Hyla andersonii), and northern cricket frog (Acris crepitans).
I left Herpetological Associates in 2000 and moved to Santa Barbara, California to start graduate school at the University of California, Santa Barbara. My research was focused on understanding the ecology of the California tiger salamander (Ambystoma californiense), a federally endangered species listed in 2000. You can see a couple of my pictures of California tiger salamanders in the photos below. This species was listed as endangered in response to development of former salamander habitat into intensive agriculture, such as vineyards. California tiger salamanders live underground in the burrows of ground squirrels and gophers during the dry season, but migrate to vernal pools to breed during the heavy winter rains. I conducted a three year drift fence study at two ponds in northern Santa Barbara County, and also radio-tracked salamanders as they migrated away from their breeding ponds.
During the time I lived in Santa Barbara, Geckos Etc. was born. I had been breeding leopard geckos since 1996, but it was time to expand. I amassed quite a collection of geckos over those years. During this time, I also met Deb, and together, we have made Geckos Etc. what it is today.
I grew up in Newington, Connecticut, and studied botany in college. After receiving a Master's Degree in Botany from Washington State University, I moved to Santa Barbara to pursue a Ph.D. at UC Santa Barbara. I didn't have much of an interest in reptiles growing up, but I always had a love for nature. When I first met Steve, I thought he had an interesting "hobby." Little did I know what was going to happen! Now, I couldn't imagine my life without the geckos (or Steve for that matter!), and I love working with them. I think my favorite part of this job is watching all the new babies hatch and grow up each year and going to the reptile shows to see our friends and customers.
I have a full time job as a botanist with an environmental consulting company, and my other full time job is working with Steve and the animals. It keeps me busy, but I love it!
When we got engaged, Marcia McGuiness of Golden Gate Geckos suggested a crazy idea for our wedding. Why not get married at a reptile show? It didn't take much to convince ourselves that this was the perfect fit. We had been vending at the reptile shows for years, and many of our friends would be at the reptile show already. We decided to get married at the North American Reptile Breeders Conference in Anaheim on September 10, 2005. This was quite the wedding for the herper! Mark O'Shea from Animal Planet was the best man, and Bubba the Alligator was the ring bearer. Reptiles Magazine even provided the cake. We could not have asked for a more memorable wedding. To this day, people still say it was the best wedding they had ever been to! To top it off, we went on an incredible herping expedition to Costa Rica for our honeymoon.
Click the picture below to see more pictures from our wedding.
What's Happening Now
In 2006, we moved from southern California to the Sacramento area. Even though this move took us further away from most of the California reptile shows, it was a great move for us. Not only could we buy a house, but we also had room to expand the business. In addition to the geckos, we both also work as environmental consultants. Deb spends her days as a botanist with a company in town, and Steve continues his work with California tiger salamanders (and other endangered herps) as an independent biologist doing subcontract work for local companies.
We are very excited about the future of the leopard gecko, fat tail gecko, and knobtail gecko industries. There have been many exciting new morphs that have come out recently, and we hope that the trend of new and exciting morphs will continue in the future. We would also like to thank our family, friends, and all of our customers who have supported Geckos Etc. over the years.