When you’re buying a leopard gecko there are many things that you should be considering. Essentially, however, you want to be sure that any leopard geckos for sale is ready to find its new home. Many factors make this determination and one of those should be weight. In this article, we look at what weight should leopard geckos for sale be?
What Does The Law Say?
UK law states specific criteria for when animals should be sold by breeders. For instance, rabbit breeders cannot sell their young until they’re eight weeks of age.
With leopard geckos, there isn’t a specific age. In fact, any reptile or snake can only be sold when it is fully able to feed, drink and poo by itself. This is rather ambiguous because most reptiles are born able to do most of this from a few days of old.
This is why you can sometimes get some very small leopard geckos for sale in some pet shops. But there are some problems. If a leopard gecko is too young, then it can struggle to acclimatise to the new environment. In addition, I often find that leopard geckos can have a period of time between 8 and 10 grams when they don’t grow as well. This lasts for about a week and then growth accelerates.
So leopard gecko breeders should look at different criteria before making leopard geckos available.
Weight is a really big criterion for most leopard gecko breeders. Some leopard geckos breeders will only release geckos for sale when they reach somewhere between 12 and 20 grams. This is fine, though a leopard gecko that reaches 20g can be disappointing for some new owners. By 20g, the leopard gecko has grown substantially and the new owner has missed out on lots of growth that can be fun for new owners.
At the same time, there is little difference between a 12g leopard gecko and a 20g leopard gecko. Most leopard geckos are perfectly able to hunt, feed, poo and shed without your assistance at 12g. So why are some breeders leaving it to 20g?
Partly this is due to courier runs. But geckos can survive courier runs at 15g with ease and many breeders have sent 12g leopard geckos via a courier successfully. Your reptile courier should be DEFRA registered.
However, if you’re looking to buy a leopard gecko, you should avoid any that are less than 10g for sure. There has been an increase in the number of pet shops and breeders who have pushed for sales on leopard geckos that are selling them young and underweight.
What we recommend is that if you see a leopard gecko that you really like, offer to place a reserve on it until it is at least 12g if you’re collecting, or 15g if you’re using a courier. This allows you to save the gecko that you want while ensuring the leopard gecko is established enough to move into a new home.
Another thing to look for is eating. Any leopard gecko that is sold should be eating consistently. Preferably, your leopard gecko should have been fed a varied diet as well. When a breeder feeds more than one prey item, the gecko can be acclimatised better to new environments because they will be happy to eat whatever the new owners provide.
However, there is another problem and that is with tong feeding. Tong feeding is when prey items are offered to a leopard gecko one at a time with the use of tongs. The leopard gecko has to take the prey item from the feeder’s tongs. This method, in theory, is supposed to regulate the feeding of the leopard gecko and ensure it feeds.
The trouble is that using this method does seem to contradict the requirements of selling a reptile (when it can feed itself). In addition, there are other issues, if the leopard gecko is used to tong feeding, it might not recognise the food bowl or a cricket roaming freely inside an enclosure as possible prey items. Therefore, geckos in their new homes can sometimes stop feeding.
Therefore, if you’re buying a leopard gecko, ask whether the gecko in question has been tong fed. If it is regularly being tong fed, you should avoid purchase unless the breeder is able to transfer to self-feeding successfully for you.
Toileting should be one of the key criteria when it comes to choosing whether a leopard gecko is ready for leaving. A baby leopard gecko should be eating every day and therefore going to the toilet every day. Though this isn’t an exact science. Some leopard gecko babies will not toilet every day but go every other day.
You should ask your leopard gecko breeder how often that particular gecko goes to the toilet.
Many leopard geckos don’t put much effort into the handling of their babies. Instead, they keep them in enclosures and get them out once every so often. While this is okay, it can sometimes be a disappointment for new leopard gecko keepers to get a baby home and have to start from scratch on the training.
Handling is an important part of the baby’s learning. It needs to recognise that humans are not dangerous and are providers of food, water, clean environments and enrichment. Handling is part of the enrichment. They will still take time to get used to you and likely calm down as they age but regular handling can help this process.
In addition, handling can be a useful way for the breeder to look over and give health checks to the babies. And their personalities can be determined through regular handling sessions. At DJL Exotics, we handle our babies once a day, every day. This allows us to notice small changes in appearance, temperaments and check their health every day. At the same time, handling for new keepers is improved.
That doesn’t mean that when your leopard gecko gets home it will be tame straight away. It’s important to note that your new leopard gecko will be in shock. It will have new sounds, sights, smells and be away from what it once knew. This is probably going to be very stressful and as a result, will be reluctant to be handled for very long, if at all, for the first few days or weeks. However, with patience and encouragement, most leopard geckos are good handlers and if a breeder has worked with your baby before, the adjustment time should be minimal, but this isn’t always the case.
This is a controversial subject. Some breeders will send out leopard geckos who are at weight but have thin tails. Others will over-feed their leopard geckos to fatten up the tail and sell them younger. The size of the tail is important. A good breeder should look at making sure that the tail is nice and plump but not too thick.
A plump tail has two benefits for a new leopard gecko keeper. The first is that if the new leopard gecko decides not to eat for the first few days, then the gecko has some reserves to live off. This can be a welcome relief to new owners. Another is that it shows that the leopard gecko is in good health and eating.
A too thick a tail can be troublesome, however. This can lead to liver problems in later life. The leopard gecko should be placed on a diet.
The Leopard Gecko Breeder
Another factor that should be considered important when you’re choosing your leopard gecko is the breeder themselves. There are many breeders across the UK. You will want to be sure that you’ve got a leopard gecko from a breeder who cares for your new leopard gecko as much as you will. Therefore, ask them lots of questions. Leopard gecko breeders should be willing to answer any question, no matter how basic they are, after all, there is lots of misinformation out there.
In addition, they should be willing to offer lifetime support. Their time is not the most important factor of the transaction nor the money that you offer for the leopard gecko, it is in fact the health and well-being of the animal. If you have any questions, they should be your first port of call.
Finally, you should be able to talk to the leopard gecko breeder about the parents of the baby. Most should know who the father and mother are. They should have good genetic history too. This can be tough for some because previous breeders have added genes into the mix that randomly show up and were not told to the breeder you’re dealing with. However, they should acknowledge that some random genes have displayed.
Final Word: What Weight Should Leopard Geckos Be?
When buying a leopard gecko, you should be sure that the leopard gecko is going to thrive in your home. The breeder is a crucial aspect of that. A well-bred leopard gecko is going to do well. A poorly bred leopard gecko, will not. Therefore, be sure that you know the breeder you’re dealing with and build a relationship with them. A good breeder will make time for you and offer a leopard gecko that is healthy with a good weight.