Leopard geckos are one of the most popular lizards herp owners own today. So far, you have probably already learned that they are a beginner lizard. Meaning that they are not as hard to take care of as chameleons, skinks, tegus, and agamids. However you should be aware of a number of things when your are buying your first leopard gecko. They are offered at a lot of pet places like Petco and Petsmart. As you will learn in this article I really don’t favor buying a leopard gecko from Petsmart or Petco because there are much better options out there. Since, these lizards live up to 20 years your going to need to choose one carefully. You’re going to have a little buddy that is going to be with you for many years to come. Down below I will discuss some of the hotspots for finding your first leopard gecko.
These are two of the biggest companies that sell everything from dogs, kittens, fish, birds, and yes you guessed it, lizards too. The only drawback is these stores don’t have very high end morphs of leopard geckos. They typically don’t have the best colors, and often times the workers don’t know very much about reptiles. In fact, true story at Petsmart they actually tried selling me a UVB light for a leopard gecko. These reptiles don’t require one! Not to mention they will try to sell you dried mealworms, grasshoppers, crickets which don’t actually move. Since these bugs are not actually moving your leopard geckos will not care to eat them. I have already made this mistake before, and wanted to warn anyone that is considering a leopard gecko to NOT buy dried food because they are trying to save money.
I often wonder about the well-being of the reptiles at these two companies, because they are nocturnal and kids will bang on the glass and disrupt the geckos sleeping cycle. It seems to be hit or miss with reptiles at Petsmart and Petco. A better option would be a local reptile shop in your area. They are better options because they deal with reptiles exclusively and know how to properly care for them.
Breeders are better option for purchasing leopard geckos. Why? Because, they have a passion for the animals and don’t just do it to make money (well most of them). They actually care for the reptiles properly. It’s their business and they have paved a business out of doing something they love. Typically, a breeder will know a thing or two about them, and have years of experience taking care of them. A lot of times they come with paperwork so you know about the morph you own and even a hatch date. With leopard geckos from the store, you usually don’t know how old they are or where they came from.
- Leopard geckos sleep during the day, so if they’re sleeping when you go to pick them up in their cage, and they don’t act alarmed when you stick your hand in there they could be sick. They should be timid and untrusting to people trying to pick them up.
- The tail tells a lot about the leopard gecko. They should have a fatter tail compared to their they body. They store food in their tail when food is low. They do this in case they can’t eat for a couple weeks at a time.
- They shouldn’t be super skinny and look like they are struggling to get around. Don’t buy one out of guilt because you’ll just end up with a dead gecko a month on down the road. They should be fat or have some meat on their bodies.
- There skin tells a lot about the gecko. If they have scratches, burns or sores all over their body; there is a good chance they could be unhealthy. Geckos don’t heal from cuts and scrapes because they’re a very fragile little lizard.
- They shouldn’t have anything coming out of their mouth or nose. Leopard gecko’s eyes should be clear.
- Their living environment should be clean. There shouldn’t be weeks and weeks worth of poop in the cage. The poop should be blackish brown with a little white (which is calcium). Don’t buy a leopard gecko with red poop in the cage.
- Your gecko should be stronger than you think when holding the little lizard. They shouldn’t be struggling to climb on your hands and feel like they need to be helped standing on their four legs.
- If they’re shedding it’s a good sign. This means they are eating properly and growing.