Leopard Gecko - Pet Store Information
Pet Store Pros
The convenience factor is the number one reason why people purchase reptiles from a pet store. The ease of walking into a pet store, seeing the animal you are interested in, and walking out with that animal makes the buying process much easier for many.
The cost of a leopard gecko at a chain store like Petco is around $20.00 - $25.00. This is a relatively inexpensive investment for most, so the price certainly plays a role why some prefer to purchase from pet stores.
Beyond the 3 factors listed (convenience, viewing, cost), there are no other reasons to buy a reptile from a pet store.
Pet Store Cons
The largest problem with the big chain pet stores is that they severely overcrowd their enclosures and simply do not provide the proper husbandry to the animals that they sell. My local Petco houses their hatchling leopard geckos on repti-sand. While substrates are a controversial topic when it comes to leopard geckos, one thing all literature agrees upon is that hatchling leopard geckos should not be housed on particulate substrates as the likelihood for an impaction is much higher.
The overcrowding issue brings with it illness and malnourishment. Parasites are easily spread among cage mates. In an enclosure with 15 leopard gecko hatchlings, all it takes is for one of them to be introduced that carries a parasite. At that point, all of those in the cage now have the potential to acquire this parasite, and most of them will. In an enclosure with that many geckos, the largest and most dominant of the group consume the vast majority of the prey offered during feeding time. The smaller and weaker ultimately go without, or eat very little as a result of the competition in the enclosure. This leads to extremely stressed animals, and yet again, illness.
Something that many people don’t think about is the bloodlines of the animal they are purchasing. If you intend on breeding leopard geckos at any point in time, it is to your benefit to know what bloodlines your geckos are carrying. This can not be established when purchasing from a pet store.
Male leopard geckos can not be housed together. As they mature, even if raised together, the vast majority of dual male housing results in violent fights that can injure and kill a leopard gecko. The leopard geckos sold at the larger chains are not temperature sexed, and therefore are sold on an as is basis.
Buying from a pet store also places you in the path of the sales associate preparing the animal to be sold to you. Most sales associates only know what they are taught, which is very little, and many do not have experience with the species they are selling. As a result, a new owner who hasn't properly researched the leopard geckos care thoroughly can easily be persuaded into purchasing items for the animal that they simply do not need. These impulsive purchases, based off the knowledge of someone they know little about, can actually prove fatal for the leopard gecko. Two great examples include the associate telling the potential buyer they need sand as a substrate, which for hatchlings, is a big mistake. You may also hear that the leopard gecko requires a UVB producing light. These lights are expensive and are not needed. In fact, over-exposure to UV lighting in intense ranges can blind the leopard gecko.
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Author: Richard Brooks