The inhabitant of the terrarium grows alert when a pair of tweezers hands over a wriggling mealworm. Shiro the leopard gecko comes out of hiding, grabs the snack and swallows it whole. Anette Pulkkinen puts down the tweezers and picks up her pet.
“Shiro is a calm, gentle lizard who lets you pet him. Not all reptiles do.”
Anette has an Instagram account under the name Lizurdi where Shiro poses like a professional model, showing off his spotted skin and large eyes. He flicks his tongue on his owner’s hand and observes his surroundings. He is clearly used to being handled and knows who will give him treats. In this case, ‘treats’ refers to living sustenance suited for an insectivore, such as mealworms.
“Many lizards even know how to beg for food. They may jump up and down against the walls of the terrarium and try to get your attention.”
When meeting this insect-breeding lizard enthusiast living in a Lumo home in the Mustamännistö neighbourhood of Hyvinkää, we have to ask: how do visitors usually react when hearing about the smallest residents of the home?
“Most of the time, people are really surprised.”
Life in a terrarium in Vesitorninkatu
Since secondary school, Anette has grown accustomed to pets that do not need to be taken for walks or brushed. Just a few years ago, she kept frogs. Now, the frogs have been replaced with different kinds of pets. About 8 years old, Shiro is the first and oldest lizard in this two-bedroom home, but certainly not the only one.
Anette currently owns five lizards who have their own room in the home Anette shares with her boyfriend. In addition to Shiro, the lizard room is home to Brutus, Hilda, Nekku and Tilli. Brutus is a bearded dragon that may reach a total length of up to 60 cm.
“When my boyfriend and I moved in together, it was important for us to give the lizards a room of their own.”
After moving from Oulu 18 months ago, Anette has begun to feel at home in Hyvinkää and her Vesitorninkatu apartment that was built in the 1950s. Originally built to house the workers of the central machine shop of the national railway company, the buildings are full of history that is tangible on the courtyard and in the stairwells.
Anette appreciates the old-timey, cosy atmosphere of the building, the natural light in the apartment and the view of trees from the windows. While finishing her horticulturist studies, Anette lives a peaceful, safe life in Vesitorninkatu. The size of the city means she can get nearly anywhere by bicycle. The services of the Willa shopping centre are nearby, and the peaceful countryside is a stone’s throw away.
Lumo home full of lush vibrancy in Hyvinkää
Like many Hyvinkää residents, Anette commutes to the Helsinki metropolitan area for her horticulture job. The great transport connections, excellent location and the nature are some of the best assets of Hyvinkää.
As Anette shows me around her home with a lizard on her shoulders, sunlight pours into the living room. Her love of reptiles is also reflected in the art on the walls, featuring Anette’s drawings and paintings of creatures with large eyes, ranging from lizards to frogs. The art matches the green details of the home.
“Houseplants do quite well here.”
You can tell. With nearly 80 houseplants and all the four-legged creatures, it is clear that the residents of this Lumo home know how to grow more than just mealworms. Both the windowsills and the bioactive terrariums, using living plants to better retain moisture, are full of lush vibrancy.
Anette closes the doors of Shiro and Brutus’ terrariums. Usually, lizards sleep during the day and are awake at night, but in Vesitorninkatu, the daily rhythm is more unique.
“My lizards are often awake during the day as well. They like to stare out the window.”