Something that is really important but often overlooked by first-time buyers wanting to buy a leopard gecko; is how important it is to choose the correct breeder.
Breeding is so much more than sticking a male and female together and waiting for the magic to happen, but a lot of people (myself included) don’t actually know much about this!
With that in mind, I decided to chat to Caitlin from Leopard Geckos London; a long-time leopard gecko owner, rescuer, re-homer and breeder, to answer some of my questions and hopefully help out some readers who come to my blog.
Leopard Gecko Care: Hi Caitlin, thanks for taking the time to talk to me today. My first question is around having leopard geckos shipped or sent by mail when buying online, as I know this is a popular method of procuring a new leopard gecko. Are the geckos usually ok upon arrival? It makes me sad thinking about them being frightened during transit. Are they couriered humanely and delicately?
Caitlin (Leopard Geckos London): Yep! They are usually shipped via courier same or next day, packaged very well and handled with care. DOAs (Dead on Arrival) are very rare. We have a great system for couriers in the UK where we use special reptile couriers who go on runs once or twice a month, but the US system seems to work ok too.
I’ve seen I think 2 DOAs in the communities I’m in and both have been wild-caught, more delicate animals from dodgy breeders who didn’t package them properly. I’ve had all my Leo’s shipped in – one from Portugal, and they were all good!
Leopard Gecko Care: Thank you, that’s really interesting and I didn’t know that. Are there any red flags you look out for when you’re researching an online breeder?
Caitlin (LGL): Yeah of course! Happy to help. So many people don’t realise shipping is an option so end up buying from less than ideal breeders or stores.
I always ask for videos of the animal I’m buying before sending any money over to make sure it’s real. Stuff like checking reviews and asking the breeder questions about the animal (how it’s eating, any issues shedding etc.) will say a lot. If they don’t know I usually avoid them as they’re not taking decent notes on the animals they produce. The animal should also be 15 – 20 grams before being shipped to ensure they’re big enough to make the journey safely.
Leopard Gecko Care: I remember the breeder I bought mine off couldn’t answer some basic questions about my geckos; she knew which the father was but not the mother, didn’t use the correct husbandry etc. and I naïvely didn’t push the subject. I guess this happens a lot with new owners and where people just breed for the money without consideration for the gecko?
Caitlin (LGL): Yeah exactly. I got one of my geckos from a lady who was rehoming him who bred him a few times. She did this knowing he was blind and had neurological issues so I have no idea what she was thinking.
I suspect he’s a White and Yellow super snow eclipse albino. The white & yellow gene is a funny one, some lines have quite bad nuerological issues while others are fine (unlike engima where it appears randomly and is tied to the gene). The woman also had no idea what strain of albino he is so had absolutely no clue what the babies’ morphs were which is a HUGE no with breeding.
I bought all new geckos to breed as none of my pets cut it genetically! It’s very expensive and hard work prepping everything; you have to know all the genetic stuff about each animal so you can label hatchlings and stuff. Breeding ethics is super important to me because if you end up with a bunch of unknowns you can really ruin somebody else’s projects or producing animals who aren’t as healthy as they could be. So worth it though, and it means I get to have way more geckos than I would otherwise 🙂
Grimey my black night gecko, was from a bad breeder so was much more likely to be infertile (black night is a line rather than a gene so involves inbreeding anyway, her breeder took it to the extreme).
A big old tumour popped up when she was about 2 months. Ended up amputating the legs. The founder of the line says he’s never seen anything like it so seems to just be bad luck, but she’s from a really crappy breeder who shipped her fresh out of the egg and lied to me about it. The bad side of buying online!
On the other hand for Glowworm my main male I have 5 generations of bloodlines, all of his genes and hets and support from the guy who produced him (recommended breeder: Wabisaur) Even a year after he came home. It’s crazy how much work and organisation it is to do it right
Leopard Gecko Care: As someone who doesn’t know much about breeding, this is really helpful and sheds so much light onto why it’s important to fully research how much due diligence your chosen breeder takes. My final question is when your new gecko arrives, how should you quarantine them from your other geckos/ pets?
Caitlin (LGL): I do 6 weeks on paper towel in a separate room to any others, a fecal test (I get them online) including crypto and use different tongs etc. to my other animals but it’s still very worrying, especially when I’m selling. I would hate to unintentionally sell somebody a sick animal and have it infect their other babies too.
Thank you so much Caitlin for spending the time talking to me today, there’s a lot of to know about breeding so it has been really good to understand just a fraction of what goes into this complicated process when done right.
If you have any questions or comments, please drop them below – I aim to respond to all comments within 24 hours!