The Cost Of Owning A Leopard Gecko
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Reptiles are very unique pets, but they can also be a challenge to keep. If you’re looking for a reptile that might make a good pet for a beginner, consider the leopard gecko.
Leopard geckos are small lizards that grow 8 to 10 inches long and live up to 20 years. They are generally docile and easy to tame, plus they don’t tend to bite. These lizards develop perky personalities as well which makes them very entertaining.
Before bringing home a new pet, it’s important to do some research to understand the pet’s care requirements. You should also take the time to determine how much it will cost to keep your new pet.
Here’s what you need to know about how much it costs to keep a pet leopard gecko.
Bringing Home A New Leopard Gecko – One-Time Costs
The leopard gecko is a small, friendly little lizard that makes a great pet for beginner reptile enthusiasts. While these lizards are usually gentle and easy to handle, they do have certain requirements for care.
The first thing you should do when considering a leopard gecko as a pet is determine how much it will cost and decide if you can cover it. Start by thinking about the initial costs to get a leopard gecko – the cost to purchase the gecko but also to set up and equip its enclosure to the necessary specifications.
Here’s what you need to know about one-time costs for pet leopard geckos:
Buying A Leopard Gecko
The leopard gecko is named for its spotted pattern, but these lizards come in a wide variety of colors known as morphs. The standard leopard gecko, the wild type, is yellowish in color with black spots.
The wild type is the easiest to find and generally the most affordable. The hypomelanistic or hypo leopard gecko has fewer spots and is another common variety.
The price for these two morphs is similar but other morphs can become quite pricy.
Here are some of the most popular pet leopard gecko morphs:
- Normal (wild)
- Hypomelanistic (hypo)
- High yellow
- Super giant
Generally speaking, you can find normal and hypo leopard geckos under $50 and high yellow morphs under $100. Other varieties like tangerine and blizzard start around $60 to $75 and the super giant morph is likely to cost at least $200.
The cost of your leopard gecko depends where you get it.
You’re most likely to find normal leopard geckos at the pet store. If you want a specific color morph, you may have better luck buying directly from a breeder or going to a reptile show.
Because leopard geckos are fairly popular reptiles, you might be able to find one at a shelter or reptile rescue.
The cost will vary depending what comes with the reptile, but you can expect to pay an adoption fee of $50 or more.
Leopard Gecko Cost by Morph
|Morph||Average Cost (Low)||Average Cost (High)|
Supplies And Setup
The cost to purchase a leopard gecko is usually pretty affordable, but it’s not the only cost to consider.
Leopard geckos are desert animals, so they require a habitat that is warm and dry. These are crepuscular (active at dawn and dusk) animals as well, so you’ll have to keep that in mind when setting up your leopard gecko tank.
The minimum tank size for a leopard gecko is 10 gallons, but 15 or 20 gallons is better. For every additional gecko you plan to keep, add another 5 gallons. Just be careful not to keep more than one male together and avoid keeping males and females together to prevent unwanted breeding.
You can use a glass fish tank as your leopard gecko cage or go for a reptile terrarium. Depending on the size and design, you should expect to spend $50 to $250 on your enclosure.
In addition to your leopard gecko tank, you’ll need to fill it with substrate and decorate it appropriately.
The best leopard gecko substrate is one that is soft, easy to clean, and allows your gecko to burrow. Sand is generally not recommended because your gecko might accidentally ingest it. Good options include coconut fiber, clay, or other non-toxic materials.
Once you have the basics for your leopard gecko tank, you need to add decorations, lighting, and heating. Decorations include places for your gecko to hide and things to climb. You’ll also need food and water bowls for your pet.
For lighting and heating, you’ll primarily use heat lamps. Just remember that your gecko is not nocturnal, so you should avoid night lighting that’s too bright or it could disrupt his circadian rhythm.
On top of the initial costs to set up and equip your leopard gecko tank, there’s one final cost to consider – your initial vet visit. The vet exam itself will likely cost at least $50 and your vet may recommend a fecal exam for another $30 to $50. You should be prepared to spend up to $150 on this first visit.
Leopard Gecko Supplies and Setup
|Cost Type||Average Cost (Low)||Average Cost (High)|
|Initial Food and Substrate||$15||$30|
|Initial Vet Visit||$50||$150|
|Total = $190 to $630|
Cost Of Leopard Gecko Ownership – Annual Expense Breakdown
Your upfront costs to become a leopard gecko owner are not insignificant. On top of these costs, you also need to think about how much it will cost you on a monthly or annual basis to keep your pet.
Feeding your gecko a healthy diet is essential, especially if you want him to reach his maximum lifespan. Aside from that, you have to think about supplies to keep his enclosure clean and in working order plus the cost of veterinary services.
Here’s what you need to know about annual costs for pet leopard geckos:
Annual Medical Expenses
All pets require an initial veterinary exam and an annual checkup, even your leopard gecko.
The challenge with reptiles like leopard geckos is that many veterinarians aren’t trained in their care. You’ll need to do some research to find a local exotics vet and you should expect to pay about $50 or more for the exam alone.
Each year, you’ll want to take your gecko in for a routine exam. Your veterinarian may also recommend a fecal test, though other tests are generally unnecessary if your gecko isn’t showing signs of illness.
Some reptile owners consider pet insurance to help control costs, but it isn’t always the best option.
Many pet insurance companies don’t cover exotic pets and, if they do, the monthly premium on top of other charges may not make it worth it. Instead, put savings aside in case of emergency.
When it comes to emergency treatment for a leopard gecko, things can get expensive. Not only will you need to find an emergency vet that is trained with reptiles, but the cost of testing and treatment can be in the hundreds.
Estimated Medical Costs for Leopard Geckos
|Cost Type||Frequency||Average Cost|
|Fecal Exam||Annual||$30 – $50|
|Flea, Tick, and Worm Treatments||N/A||N/A|
|Emergency Expenses||Occasional||$200 and up|
Food And Supplies
Your biggest recurring cost to keep a leopard gecko is food.
Leopard geckos are insectivores, so you’ll need to provide an assortment of insects like crickets, mealworms, and roaches. You can save money by raising them yourself, but you should expect to spend $10 to $15 per month for each lizard.
In addition to insects for your leopard gecko, you’ll need to purchase supplements. Your leopard gecko needs calcium and vitamin D3 – expect to spend another $5 to $10 on this, though not every month.
Other additional costs to consider include replacements for tank substrate, light bulbs, and cleaning supplies. You won’t need to pay for these things every month but it doesn’t hurt to save a few dollars so you have it when you need it.
Food and Supply Costs for Leopard Geckos
|Cost Type||Frequency||Average Cost|
|Food and Treats||Monthly||$10 to $15|
|Supplements||Monthly||$5 to $10|
|Substrate||Occasionally||$10 to $15|
|Additional Supplies||Occasionally||$5 to $10|
Total Annual Cost Of Owning A Leopard Gecko
The leopard gecko is a wonderful pet, but you should be prepared for a long-term commitment.
With proper care, leopard geckos can live up to 20 years. Unless you can commit to caring for your gecko for the duration of his entire life, you may want to consider another pet.
Here’s a quick summary of the estimated annual cost for keeping a leopard gecko:
- Purchasing/Adopting = $30 to $600
- Cage and Setup = $190 to $630
- Annual Veterinary Costs = $80 to $100
- Monthly Food and Supplies = $15 to $25
The cost to purchase and keep a leopard gecko will vary depending on a number of factors. The type of gecko you choose and the enclosure you set up are the primary costs.
Do your research before deciding on a leopard gecko to make sure you can care for your pet properly.
Frequently Asked Questions
How much does a leopard gecko cost?
A normal or wild type leopard gecko shouldn’t cost more than $30 to $45. Other common morphs generally cost under $100, but there are some morphs that cost several hundred dollars.
How much does it cost to neuter/spay a leopard gecko?
Leopard geckos can technically be spayed or neutered, but the surgery is costly and generally not recommended. It is safer to neuter a male gecko but is generally only done for medical reasons. If you’re not planning to breed your geckos, avoid keeping a male with any females.
How much does a leopard gecko vet checkup cost?
Most veterinarians don’t treat exotic pets, so you’ll need to find a reptile vet or an exotics vet. You can expect to pay $50 or more for a visit.
How much does it cost to microchip a leopard gecko?
The cost to microchip a pet is usually a one-time fee of $35. This procedure is not recommended for leopard geckos, however, because the microchip is typically embedded under the skin on furry pets.
How much does leopard gecko food cost?
Leopard geckos are insectivores, so the majority of your monthly food costs will be spent on insects like crickets and roaches. Be prepared to spend $15 to $25 per month on food and supplements.
How much does a leopard gecko cage cost?
Leopard geckos are desert animals, so you need a cage that will retain heat well. A 15- to 20-gallon tank works well for one or two geckos but a terrarium may be the best option. Depending on the size and type of tank you choose, expect to spend $50 to $250 on it.