Entering senior Daniel Jadallah’s house, one might be surprised that the first animal encountered is not a gecko scuttling around its tank, but rather a dog greeting with a wagging tail.
“He’s totally addicted to attention,” Daniel’s brother Nick, a 2016 Aragon alumnus, said.
Large and social, the Jadallah’s canine is seemingly complementary to that of the small and reclusive geckos whose tanks pervade the house.
Daniel first walked over to a pair of tanks that sat on a high countertop near the sink, and pointed to a white gecko in the first tank — a lily white morph. “This one here I imported from the U.K.,” he said. “It just got released a couple years ago. It’s pretty cool, because we’re the first breeder in Northern California with it.”
Jadallah explained that white geckos are a rare and valuable trait. The lily white is expecially valuable beacuse 50 percent of its offsping will have similar amounts of white patterning.
There are around 2,000 species of geckos, but there are only a handful that are common as pets. Within each species are different morphs, which can be compared to how dogs have various breeds. However, while dogs are allelomorphic — meaning that breeders can use pedigrees and selective breeding to produce a specific desired trait — most geckos are not, and thus traits show up with complete randomness.
That is why Jadallah is so enamored with his lily white morph. The traits of its offspring come in semi-predictable ratios, which guarantees him visually appealing, and thus, valuable offspring. When asked exactly how valuable, he demurred, “Can I keep the information undisclosed? I’ll just say I saved up for a while for them.”
Although his business started as a solo venture, over the course of the six years he has been breeding geckos, Jadallah has managed to partner with two adults to create Bay Gecko, which styles itself as the “Premiere crested gecko breeder in the San Francisco Bay Area.”
Jadallah explained how the business works, “Joe Stewart, the guy in Dublin is working with dalmatians, and I’m working with lily whites. Adam Nisbet, the guy in San Francisco, is breeding gargoyles … Adam is in charge of reds, although I’m breeding the nicest reds so that’s kinda ironic.”
All three of them agree to try to breed different morphs or species of geckos so as to avoid stepping on each others’ toes, and Jadallah is planning on giving up his red geckos soon to focus on the more lucrative lily whites. He has yet to decide a price for the them, but he predicts it will be significantly higher than the $100 he charges for reds.
For a business of three guys who raise geckos at their houses, Bay Gecko has a surprisingly robust marketing and sales system. The group’s Facebook, Instagram and YouTube pages point to their account on Morphmarket, an online marketplace for snake and gecko breeders. The geckos are shipped overnight in small insulated cardboard boxes.
For those who are local, the group also does business on Craigslist. “You’d be surprised at how many people are looking for geckos on Craigslist,” remarked Jadallah.
Jadallah’s preferred method of sales, though, is reptile shows. They are the way he was introduced to geckos when he was nine, and he continues to appreciate how it allows him to interact with others who are as passionate as he is. “There’s a lot of clubs on Facebook who just sell unhealthy animals, and you can sort them out. The people who actually go to the shows usually take care of their geckos there because they’re actually showing their faces.”
Jadallah spoke of his plans for future shows. “We’re trying to do a big booth, because we are doing the Sacramento show in September, which is the largest show in Northern California. There’s also the super show in L.A., which is like goals, but you have to fly to L.A.. [It’s also,] if you can imagine, pretty cutthroat.”
Jadallah plans to put his work on hold while he goes to college, handing off all of his geckos to Stewart. Judging by the amount of work that he has put into raising his animals, it will likely be an adjustment to give them away for four years.
Well, that is, except for his perennially aggressive red gargoyle male. “He’s such a jerk. It just consumes me.”