Leopard Gecko breeders are all over the world now, and especially in America, since leopard geckos have recently become the United States’ number one most popular reptile, beating out turtles, snakes and anything else you can think of. They are currently available for purchase in almost any major pet retailer in the country, and are a hit at reptile shows, where you can often find hundreds of them for sale. But are all leopard gecko breeders created equally? Of course not.
There are a few things you should consider when you’re first looking to purchase an animal, whether from a breeder or a regular pet store. First, are the eyes free of debris? This is the first major sign that the lizard is sick or malnourished. Do they have claws on their toes? If not, they won’t be growing back, and your gecko will not be able to climb or balance as well. Is the tail fat? If not, they will need to be fattened up to prevent starving to death, which is a major problem for many people bringing home a new animal. Many new owners report leopard geckos not eating when they come home for the first time, which is pretty normal behavior, but it can kill the extra-skinny ones.
But aside from the geckos themselves, where do you buy from? We commonly assume that pet stores know what they’re doing, and therefore, there shouldn’t be much of a difference between a pet store gecko and a professional breeder’s. Nothing could be further from the truth. Most pet stores are in the business of selling dog and cat accessories, and sell reptile supplies as only a small part of their gross income. The employees, regardless of their knowledge, are forced to follow company guidelines in keeping the animals, which are often focused more on presenting their products and saving space than the health of the animal.
For instance, how many geckos do you see in the same tank at most pet stores? The answer is usually seven or eight, since the babies will fit in that area, and rarely fight. However, putting all the geckos in the same tank exposes them all to the parasites, fungi and diseases that any one of them might carry. Leopard geckos should rarely be kept together, and if they are, there definitely should not be more than three to a very large tank.
A leopard gecko breeder should know that, and should be willing to provide pictures of the geckos, as well as their living conditions. Ask the breeder what other kinds of animals they breed, as the geckos might be nothing more than a side business – he or she may know no more about them than the pet store. You should also check out pricing. While I don’t think that you need to pay an absolute premium price or to get a special morph, an extra low price on an animal means that the breeder is trying to get rid of them. They could be sick and dying before you even bring them home.
Good breeders are going to provide you with a caresheet no matter what, and be interested in giving you as much information as they can. They’ll charge you a lot for shipping because they are interested in providing your animal the most comfortable journey possible. They might not accept far away buyers since there is a higher chance for problems to happen along the journey from their home to yours.
Overall, just look for a leopard gecko breeder that truly cares for their animals, and you’ll be fine.