Holding a Leopard Gecko

How to Pick the Best Leopard Gecko

Leopard geckos are fairly popular reptilian pets, so they shouldn't be difficult to find. However, where is the best place to get a leopard gecko and how do you pick out the healthiest gecko to bring home? This page will go over everything you need to know about finding the perfect leopard gecko.

Where to Get Leopard Geckos

Since leopard geckos are fairly popular, there will always be leopard geckos available. But where exactly is the best place to get a leopard gecko? We have highlighted the most popular places people get leopard geckos below.

Pet Stores

Leopard geckos are common reptile pets most pet stores will carry them or be able to recommend a place to find them. However, pet stores will generally not have a wide range of leopard gecko morphs available (different sizes, colors, patterns, etc.), so you will not have the selection that breeders will have. You may also have a concern about the leopard gecko's sleep cycle being interrupted since leopard geckos are nocturnal and pet stores are busiest during the day, the leopard geckos you get from a pet store may have an irregular sleep cycle. Lastly, you don't know how well the leopard geckos are cared for at pet stores. They could have been cared for by an experienced herpetologist, or by someone completely inexperienced with reptiles.


Leopard gecko breeders are fairly popular and are great places to get healthy and beautifully colored geckos. Most breeders have several years of experience and have a deep interest in their reptiles so you will most likely receive an extremely healthy gecko with paperwork documenting their age and specific morphs (if you intend on breeding your gecko yourself). However, breeders are generally more expensive and if you want a particular morph you may have to search for a breeder that's familiar with that morph.

Reptile Rescues

Reptile rescues are another great place to get leopard geckos. Not only will you be bettering the life of the leopard gecko you're adopting, but you will also give the rescue more room to save another reptile's life. The disadvantages of getting a gecko from a reptile rescue is that he/she may have been rescued from a neglected home, which could make it more difficult for people inexperienced with reptiles to manage.

Classified Ads

Many people will receive leopard geckos as gifts or may decide they aren't the right pet for them and will sell leopard geckos (and sometimes entire habitats) for very good prices. You can occasionally find an owner that just wants to make sure the gecko is going to a good home and will give you a great deal. There have been some stories of people getting free leopard geckos from classified ads.

Choosing A Healthy Leopard Gecko

When you do go and look for a leopard gecko, you will want to make sure you're getting a healthy gecko. After all, the average leopard gecko lifespan is 20+ years old and you don't want to get a leopard gecko that could potentially have health problems (unless you're rescuing a gecko and are prepared for the responsibility required to care for sick geckos). Below is a list of things to look for to find the healthiest gecko.

Healthy Leopard Gecko Checklist
If your gecko isn't sleeping, make sure they are alert when you approach their cage. If they are indifferent of your presence, it is generally a sign that they are ill.
Make sure their tail appears plump and healthy. In nature the leopard gecko will store excess fat in their tail to use as emergency sustenance if they can't eat for weeks at a time. If a leopard gecko's tail is full and plump, it's a good sign that the gecko has been fed properly and taken care of.
They should appear healthy and have a full body. This also indicates that the leopard gecko has had a healthy appetite and has been fed properly.
The skin should be healthy and free of sores, burns, or other wounds. If there was a past injury, it should look like its healing properly.
Their mouth, nostrils, and eyes should be clean, appear healthy, and not have excess fluids.
The leopard gecko tank should be clean and any fecal matter in the cage should be black, brown, or white.
There is fresh water available in the leopard gecko tank.
When held, the gecko should feel strong in your hand. Leopard geckos have good strength for their size and should not feel as if they are barely able to hang on.
The leopard gecko setup should be intended for use by leopard geckos only and not other types of reptiles. Make sure they are using the correct lighting and there is no loose substrate being used that the leopard gecko may have accidentally ingested (such as sand).
Warning Signs of an Unhealthy Leopard Gecko
Their tail is unusually thin or frail. This can be a sign that the leopard gecko is sick or hasn't been fed properly.
The leopard gecko looks skinny or you they are thin enough you can see their bones.
The skin appears to be sweating, they have discoloration on certain parts of their skin, they have open wounds, or any other skin issues that appear unusual.
Their mouth or eyes appear swollen. They have fluids either from mucus or puss around their eyes, nostrils, or mouth.
Their cage is unclean and/or their fecal matter is odd colored or there's evidence of diarrhea.
The water in the leopard gecko terrarium appears dirty or there are dead bugs in the tank.
If you pick up the leopard gecko and they are barely strong enough to hold onto your hand.

Young vs Adult Leopard Geckos

Should you get a baby leopard gecko or should you get an adult leopard gecko? Sometimes you will not have the option of choosing, but if you do you should know the pro's and con's of each.

Young Leopard Geckos

Young geckos are cheaper to purchase and gives you more time to bond with them before they get older. Its also more common to find baby leopard geckos for sale than adult geckos, so more places will have them available. There's also a better chance of you knowing exactly how old your leopard gecko is and they are young enough that there is little risk that they were severely neglected.

The younger a leopard gecko is, the more fragile they are. Even though leopard geckos are extremely hardy and healthy reptiles as adults, they are not as resilient to illnesses or drastic temperature changes when young. Many inexperienced reptile owners learn this the hard way because sometimes even minor temperature changes can dramatically affect a younger leopard gecko's health. This is something you will have to keep in mind if you decide to get a young gecko.

Adult Leopard Geckos

An adult leopard gecko will be stronger and less susceptible to illnesses than a younger leopard gecko. Plus, the chances are that they have been handled and are tamer as well.

However, adult leopard geckos can be more expensive and you don't always know their past. They could have been neglected and may have developed unwanted traits. If you plan on breeding your leopard gecko and you get an adult it will be more difficult to determine their age and genetic traits than it would be with a younger leopard gecko.

Leopard Gecko Morphs

Learn about the different types, colors, and color patterns of leopard geckos.

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