Leopard Gecko - Breeder Information
Purchasing your leopard gecko from a breeder should always be one of the first avenues of purchase you should explore. The only option that supersedes buying from a breeder is when you opt to adopt.
Unlike pet stores, private leopard gecko breeders have much more to lose if they misrepresent their animals, sell ill animals, or do not properly care for their leopard geckos. In the reptile industry, your reputation is everything. For this very purpose, most leopard gecko breeders go to great lengths to ensure that the buyer is getting exactly what they want. For breeders, the best advertising is word of mouth and that only occurs when their customers are satisfied.
Leopard gecko breeders typically incubate for sex. In doing so, they are able to list their geckos as temperature sexed and the buyer is then capable of purchasing the gender they either require, or wish to own with a great deal of confidence. This is crucial if the buyer already owns a male and has the intent on housing multiple geckos together (following the quarantine period) or if they are intent on breeding. This is not something offered at pet stores. In fact, when you buy a leopard gecko from Petco or another one of the large chains, you have a 50% chance in the sex that you will be receiving.
Another asset to buying from a breeder are the hatchlings living conditions. To keep things as easy to maintain and clean, leopard gecko breeders often resort to minimalism in the housing department. Paper towels, newspaper, butchers block and the like are the typical choices for substrates. This allows the breeder the ease of cleaning, removes the risk of an impaction, and allows them to quickly and efficiently monitor the stool of the animal. Particulate substrates like calci-sand used by some of the larger chain stores increases the chance that an impaction could occur. Private breeders also feed their hatchlings gutloaded insects regularly so they can help bulk them up as quickly as possible. The faster the leopard gecko grows, the sooner they can be shipped out.
If you yourself are planning on breeding in the future, and have considered selling your offspring online, you will want to be able to define the bloodlines that the parents of the offspring have come from. This is not something that can be done when you purchase from a pet store.
One of the largest assets to purchasing from a private breeder is that you are supporting the hobby and not the chain stores. The more animals the chain stores sell, the more animals they are going to purchase.
Between the diverse selection of leopard geckos found online, the reputable breeders that can be purchased from, and the fact that you will be supporting the private breeders, you really have no reason to not buy from them and avoid the pet stores.
Pet Store Cons
There are some minor drawbacks to purchasing your leopard gecko online from a private breeder. It is typically these drawbacks that have persuaded people to buy from their local chain store.
Buying online means you will be paying a shipping fee in addition to the cost of the animal. It also means that you will likely be paying more money for the leopard gecko itself than you would at the store. The final drawback is that you will not be able to see the animal before you purchase it. Of course, the vast majority of breeders do supply pictures of the available animal, but that isn't the same as seeing it in person.
While these drawbacks may seem like relevant reasons not to purchase from a private leopard gecko breeder, they are not. When thinking of the costs, the old saying of "you get what you pay for" comes to mind and is in fact the case with buying and supporting your leopard gecko breeders.
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Author: Richard Brooks