In this post, I will discuss what you need to consider when buying a crested gecko.
As with all reptiles you should, in my view, try to get geckos that were bred in captivity. This avoids supporting the illegal trade in this endangered species and your geckos will generally be in a much better condition.
Where to buy a crested gecko
Crested geckos can be bought from professional and private breeders, pet stores and at reptile shows. Many breeders will ship your geckos, but as you would expect, this bears some risks. Ideally you will see your gecko and watch it a little while before buying it. If you don’t have access to a breeder or store nearby, you may have to resort to the shipped option. If you do, you should speak with the breeder first to get a good idea as to whether he/she is experienced with shipping geckos. Risks are clearly higher in the cold or hot season when the package may be exposed to temperatures outside the comfort zone of your gecko.
My favourite option when buying any reptile is to find private enthusiasts who breed them. As mentioned in other articles, crested geckos are fairly easy to breed and therefore there is no shortage. Try to find a private breeder that you can visit and select your gecko in person. That way you will see how the parent geckos are kept.
What to look out for
Clearly, it is best to see the geckos on offer before taking them home. If you are unable to do that though, you should try to obtain a number of pictures of the geckos on offer in order to get an impression of the condition of them.
You should pay attention to the following:
General constitution: The body weight is a good indicator of the overall health of a crested gecko. While you don’t need to weight him, make sure that no bones are protruding.
Skin: have a close look at the skin of the gecko, in particular the armpits to make sure that there are no parasites. Also, the gecko should not have any skin flaps. Geckos regularly shed their skin, but they should be able to rid themselves of the entire skin.
Bone structure: the bones should look straight and not have any kinks in them. This could be a sign of metabolic bone disease. If the crested gecko is missing its tail, it does not make it unhealthy. Just make sure that the wound is properly sealed.
Eyes: the eyes of the gecko should be clear with the pupils vertically dilated
No damages: apart from a missing tail, no other blemishes or injuries are acceptable.
Agility: hold the gecko and watch what he/she will do. The gecko should make an agile appearance and not sit limply on your hand. If he tries to bite you, it’s actually a good sign.
If your new crested gecko will join others in your cage, you should consider putting the newbie through two or three weeks of quarantine. This will avoid importing any parasites or diseases. A basic cage will do the job, though you should still ensure that basic needs, such as temperature and humidity are met. Keep the interior simple and use, for example kitchen roll rather than a more natural substrate. This way you will be able to see any excrement, which may indicate a problem. If you don’t know much about the origins of your new crested gecko, you may even decide to have the gecko dung examined by a lab to determine the presence of parasites. Contact a vet who specialises in reptiles for advice.
During the quarantine you should regularly spend time to watch your new crested gecko, see how he feeds (try live food) and behaves in general.
Choosing a new crested gecko is not very difficult. You should try to get one that is bred in captivity and see it in person before buying it if you can. If you have to resort to buying one over a distance, make sure that you obtain a number of pictures first that will help you get a good impression on the condition of the gecko. Also check with the breeder how he/she sends out the gecko to avoid any horrible surprises when the postman delivers…