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Buying Your First Crested Gecko

Crested gecko in sphagnum moss

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There is certainly no shortage of places where crested geckos can be found for sale either in-store or online but what you may be wondering is what would be the best place to get one. Simply searching the term “Crested Gecko for Sale” will return you thousands of results. So where to start when considering buying your first crested gecko?

While we will not make direct breeder references we would like to discourage first-time crested gecko owners from buying from big box pet stores. The fact of the matter is that many people will continue to wholesale to such establishments because customers will continue to walk into such places and purchase crested geckos (along with many reptile species), a “habitat kit”, and a jar of food, on a whim. It’s just a fact of life. Take a moment to pat yourself on the back, and just by the sheer fact that you are reading this before having purchased one, you are already many steps ahead of the average consumer.

Where to Start?

Here at Brona Herpetology, we recommend the first-time crested gecko owner to only purchase an adult or sub-adult weighs a minimum of 15 grams from either a reputable breeder or small business pet shop that seems to have a good reputation. The reason for this is simple, adult care vs juvenile care is just easier. It requires less experience, knowledge, and nuance. Typically, crested geckos at this stage of life are already feeding reliably and will be well past any issues that tend to crop up. Crested Geckos weighing under 12-15 grams tend to require close monitoring to ensure that they are eating and pooping and shedding completely. Juvenile crested geckos also run the risk of their health going downhill quite rapidly when sick and often before they show signs or symptoms. Since juveniles shed frequently, as often as once a week, the last thing you want to be dealing with are shed issues when you may be already overwhelmed.

As for finding a reputable breeder online, Google is your friend and there’s certainly no shortage of smaller-scale breeders on websites like Morph Market. As said, we won’t make any personal recommendations, but we would suggest looking up a seller’s husbandry practices on either their website or social media and look out for the following red flags:

  • Avoid sellers who say they will ship anywhere year around. Reputable breeders should be mindful of temperatures not only where the animal is being shipped from but also where it is being shipped to. Anyone willing to ship a reptile in the United States in Mid January or July is not what we would consider a reputable breeder. For most of the United States, a reputable breeder will typically only agree to ship during the spring or fall.
  • Avoid sellers who list crested geckos for sale that are under 5 grams. Geckos at this size are potentially only weeks old and most breeders who care about the welfare of the animal and their reputation won’t sell geckos under this size. Most geckos you see in big-box retailers are around this size or smaller.
  • Avoid sellers who lack an online presence outside of MorphMarket – In today’s day and age everyone has some kind of social media account at a minimum. If a MorphMarket seller does not provide a link to their social media or their own website, this should be considered a red flag. Not suggesting every breeder without an online presence may be a scammer but the odds are higher that they could be if they are effectively anonymous outside of MorphMarket.

Finally, we’d suggest asking any breeder you’re potentially considering any or all from the following list of questions:

  1. Hatch date
  2. Photos of the animal’s current setup and current weight
  3. Photos of their parentage, both the sire (male) and the dam (female), if available.
  4. What they’re eating – species of insects and what brand and flavor of CGD they prefer as well as a feeding schedule.

Any breeder worth your time and money should be able to answer these questions and provide proof of the quality of their animals. For example, here at BRONA Herpetology, we keep in-depth lineage, diet information, and growth charts for all of the crested geckos we sell.

A fantastic option is to attend a reptile expo near where you live. There you can meet the breeders in person and interact with them as well as get a close-up look at the animal you may be purchasing. This face-to-face interaction could serve to answer a lot of questions you might have without having to deal with back-and-forth correspondence. Breeders often sell their geckos at a lower rate at expos as well. Additionally, this will save you on the shipping costs and logistics as well as the stress to the animal from shipping.

hands holding US currency

Figure Out Your Budget

If you haven’t already, check out our Guide to Crested Gecko Care for a list of items you’ll need but for a quick rundown of costs you need to consider:

  • Enclosure – Anywhere from a few dollars for a plastic tub to hundreds of dollars for glass terrariums. Keep in mind the size of the enclosure should be dependent on the size of your gecko. If you took our earlier advice and bought a gecko over 15 grams you should be able to comfortably house them in an adult-size enclosure without having to graduate them into multiple enclosures over time.
  • Crested Gecko Diet – We only recommend Pangea and Repashy brand CGD and to start with buying at least three small (2oz) packages in multiple flavors to find one your gecko responds to best before buying in larger quantities when you settle on a flavor. A single 2oz package can last you a couple of weeks and the last thing you want is to be stuck with a pound of CGD your gecko won’t eat.
  • Enclosure substrate and fixtures – After deciding whether you want to do a bioactive enclosure or take the minimalist approach you’ll need to provide plenty of climbing furniture like branches and cork logs as well as foliage (either live or fake plants) to provide your new crested with all the security and enrichment she needs.
  • Misting bottle
  • Food dishes
  • Calcium supplement either with or without D3 for dusting live insects- Depending on whether or not you decide to provide UVB (see our nutrition guide on whether or not you need to supplement with D3).

Your options can vary greatly depending on what you want for your new crested gecko’s home but we recommend planning on at least $200 for basic necessities depending on what enclosure option you choose. We highly recommend you have all these items purchased and ready to go before you even begin shopping for your crested gecko. Keep in mind this hasn’t even factored in the cost of purchasing the animal.

a crested gecko vivarium

Selecting Your Crested Gecko

So now you’ve got everything you need for your little crestie and are ready to shop and now begins the hard part, choosing your new scaley best friend. There are so many colors and patterns to choose from that it’s not hard to see why so many of us end up collecting so many of them after we get our first. Fundamentally, there is no difference in the care or requirements between any of the “morph” varieties so just choose something that you like. Try not to concern yourself with what’s popular or having to buy a high-end showstopper of a gecko (unless that is of course what you really want) and focus on the health and quality of the animal. If shopping online try to make sure the pictures don’t appear edited with colors enhanced or using filters etc. Ask for multiple angles so you can ensure the structure of the animal appears healthy. Sunken eyes, deformities, missing toes (something a lot of people forget to look for) can all be signs of health issues. The animal should appear proportional and have a healthy body mass with no ribs obviously showing or overly bony limbs. Preference on whether the gecko has a tail or not is up to you, there is no physical disability in one without a tail and there’s always the likelihood they drop their tail during shipping or later on in their life. A crested gecko with a tail is no more valuable than one without.

If shopping in person, ask to hold the animal. Observe the movement of the animal across your hand, they should act a little startled and jumpy about being held and a gecko that appears overly calm and seems to “like” being held could actually be lethargic and is a sign that there may be underlying health issues.

Once You’ve Got Your New Friend Home

The first couple of weeks of gecko ownership can be a nervous time. Especially if this is your first crested gecko or your first reptile period. The urge to interact and hold your new best friend can be strong but try to resist that urge during the first few weeks. Your animal has just been through a stressful period and now suddenly in a new environment. It is not uncommon for a crested gecko to hide, not eat, and be relatively inactive during the first two weeks in their new home. Do your best to just leave them alone and not interact with them beyond normal enclosure maintenance, feeding, and misting. After a couple weeks you should start to see your animal exploring their new home and eating and pooping regularly. If after three weeks you aren’t noticing them eating or pooping there could be some real issues at play. You may need to reevaluate your habitat, make sure you’re providing accurate temperatures and humidity, or even make a visit to the vet. Assuming that there’s no issues, you can begin taking your gecko out and handling them once they are acting normally in their new home. Try to keep these first sessions to no more than 20 minutes at a time and when you reach in to pick them up, if they quickly dart away and hide give them a little more time and come back and try again. When handling your gecko be mindful of signs that the experience may be overly stressful for them. Heavy rapid breathing and darting are all signs of a stressed gecko. An unstressed animal should either sit still or explore your hands and arms while inquisitively licking you. Our favorite thing is when holding our geckos, they kind of “smoosh” out in our hands and enjoy our body heat.

Congratulations, you’re now the proud owner of a healthy crested gecko with a loving owner and a proper habitat and hopefully, many many years of enjoyment and satisfaction with your new animal. Welcome to the hobby and try not to break the bank when you decide you can’t have just one!

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