In this article, I will be talking about how to choose a healthy leopard gecko when you’re shopping for leopard geckos or just where to get leopard geckos in general. This is the topic I definitely struggled with when I first was looking for a leopard gecko, so I thought I would help you out if you’re in that stage, because I couldn’t really find an article that really helped me exactly. So I’m trying to create that for you and hope that it helps.
Where to buy your leopard gecko?
Some places I’d recommend buying leopard geckos from are reptile expos, and good online websites. There are some websites that you do not want to be ordering from. So you have to research to make sure you’re ordering from a good one.
Nearby breeders are a great option if you can find the good ones. If you go to a breeder that breeds lots of different reptiles they might not be educated on leopard gecko care very well.
But if you find a breeder that breeds just leopard geckos they’ll know a lot more about leopard geckos if that’s the only or one of the only reptiles they sell.
Also, breeders that breed hundreds of reptiles probably won’t check if every reptile is healthy before selling them. At least not as well as a smaller breeder, because bigger breeders just have too many reptiles that they won’t be able to care for as well compared to a breeder that has less reptiles.
So breeders that have less reptiles can focus on each and every reptile. For breeders the smaller the better.
You might be wondering why I didn’t mention pet stores. This is because pet stores aren’t really the best option for buying reptiles.
They have some good supplies but they also have calcium sand so yeah not really the best place to look for a healthy leopard gecko. Because they tend to neglect their geckos and don’t really know how to care for them very well. That’s kind of it.
They don’t check if they’re healthy, they don’t care for them properly, don’t even feed them live insects sometimes.
The pet stores are like the last resort, if you really need one for some reason and a pet store is the only place you can get it you can but just know that you’re taking the risk of getting a really unhealthy gecko and are also kind of promoting, getting it from a pet store.
let’s move on to the health check.
6 Helpful Tips to choose a healthy leopard gecko
1. Health Check
As soon as you find a gecko you like the first thing you should do is a health check. This is just looking at the overall geckos to see if it looks healthy.
The first thing you need to check is the eyes, nose, and mouth. Are the eyes clear and bright and really nice and vibrant? Is the gecko’s nose clear, nothing coming out of it? Is the gecko’s mouth clear and nothing coming out of it?
If there’s something coming out of the mouth like white foamy bubbles or that stuff coming out of the nose too then the gecko might have a respiratory issue and you don’t want to buy a gecko who has a respiratory issue.
2. Color Check
To choose a healthy leopard gecko check if the gecko’s colors are really bright? There are some morphs that are darker but if it looks like it’s supposed to be a brighter morph but it’s like a dark gray usually you can tell.
But also you have to watch out to see if it’s shedding. So it might just be shedding and it looks dark gray. There is a difference, if shedding looks more like a white coat around a color and dull the color is just entirely dull.
So if you can spot the difference then that can make a huge difference.
If the color is nice and vibrant then you should also check if there’s any stuck shed. So this is after the white coat kind of skin thing comes off and then if there are any white things around their toes or on their nose and mouth area then it means that they’re stuck shed.
So you should ask how long ago the gecko shedded to see if it’s a built-up shed or if it’s just a fresh shed that they’re about to take off because that’s really important.
If it’s been there for a while then their limbs can fall off. If they just keep building up all the layers of skin in that one area then it can cut off the circulation from that area and fall off.
3. Check if the leopard gecko has mbd or metabolic bone disease
You can tell this by seeing if their jaw is aligned, if it has an underbite or an overbite or if you can touch the gecko or hold it if it feels spongy and squishy like all their limbs or their jaw feel spongy then their bones might be messed up.
And if it’s like struggling to walk around your hands, usually they let you hold the gecko. So if you’re holding the gecko and you’re letting it walk hand to hand and it’s like struggling and falling over a lot or if its limbs just like twisted around it most likely has mbd.
So you should not get a leopard gecko with mbd or else you’re gonna have to figure that out once you get it.
One more thing to check about mbd is what position is the gecko sleeping in? Since leopard geckos are nocturnal or more specifically crepuscular they sleep mostly during the day, so you’ll probably watch them sleep.
So if the gecko is in like a really uncomfortable position with its limbs twisted and weird stuff, I know leopard geckos sleep in really weird positions that look really uncomfortable but you can usually tell when its limbs aren’t supposed to do that.
Geckos with mbd will have their arms backward and it looks completely off.
4. To choose a healthy leopard gecko check how plump is it
The last thing I think you should check observationally about the gecko is how plump is it? So it should not be obese, the tail should not be wider than the gecko’s neck, but it should have a thick tail, it shouldn’t be too skinny and it should just look like nice plumpness for the gecko body type.
For baby geckos, they’re going to look skinnier because they’re still growing. So basically you just don’t want to buy a really skinny and malnourished gecko.
5. Check the shop to choose a healthy leopard gecko
Once you do a little observational check on your gecko then you should also check about the shop or wherever you’re getting it. I know I already said to do research on the place that you’re getting them from just to make sure that they’re a good place.
But one thing you can ask the people is just asking a question about leopard geckos that you already know the answer to. Like, do leopard geckos need heat or something like that, just like a really simple question that they should know or something really important for leopard gecko care.
Like can you house them on calcium sand? The answer is no you cannot. So if they say yes then you know that that is not a good place to buy a gecko.
You should also check how they’re taking care of their geckos like mostly their tank set up, how big the tank they’re being housed in, how many geckos are in one tank, and what are they feeding the geckos?
I know that it can be hard to care for each and every gecko really really well but they should know basic things like that you can’t have a red light, I’ve seen some people who have red lights, you have to dust their food or else they can get mbd, they should at least be like spot cleaning the tank, that’s not that hard to do.
So as long as they have the basics down then I’m sure that their geckos will be okay.
6. Pet store
If you do decide to buy from a pet store which again I don’t recommend, but if you do there are a few things you need to keep in mind. So I’ll just go over those really quick.
The first thing is if you want to buy a sick-looking gecko which isn’t a good idea you have to be prepared to go to the vet a lot and you have to have a lot of money to do that.
So I personally would not choose to buy a sick-looking gecko and it’s sad because it probably wouldn’t survive a long time but there’s nothing I can really do about it and they might just end up dying on you.
Another really important thing is if all the geckos are like forty, fifty dollars and there’s like one ten-dollar gecko it’s most likely because it has a problem with it or it’s sick.
It could just be because it lost its tail and it’s not as I don’t know, not a lot of people would want a gecko who lost its tail, but it could also be that it’s sick.
So if it doesn’t look like there’s anything wrong with it probably has a problem that you can’t see so you shouldn’t buy a discounted gecko unless you want to have to pay more anyway if you want to take them to an exotic vet.
The last thing you need to be careful of is for leopard geckos that they name fancy leopard geckos. So when you look at the title of a leopard gecko or whatever you call it, usually it’ll say like a common morph or a tangerine or whatever morph they are.
But if it says fancy just means that they don’t know the morph and they just wanted it to seem more appealing to people who want to get a leopard gecko.
So I would not recommend getting a fancy leopard gecko because it can be an enigma morph or a white and yellow, those morphs have neurological disorders. So unless you want a gecko that might have a neurological disorder I would not recommend getting a fancy gecko.
You just want to make sure that the leopard gecko that you want to buy looks overall healthy. Try not to buy them from a pet shop and you have to make sure you have money for vet bills just in case anything happens.
Even if you choose a completely healthy leopard gecko anything can happen and you don’t want to just not know what to do and put a gecko’s life at risk for no reason. This article turned out a little bit longer than I expected it to but I hope that this little health check helped you find a healthy gecko. Thank you so much for reading.