The Real Cost Of Owning A Leopard Gecko
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The leopard gecko is a small, friendly little lizard that makes a great pet for beginner reptile enthusiasts. These lizards are usually gentle and easy to handle making them a good pet for a beginner.
Leopard geckos can grow 8 to 10 inches long and live up to 20 years. They are generally docile and easy to tame, and are not likely to bite. These cute lizards even have fun personalities as well which makes them a lot of fun.
Before bringing home a leopard gecko, it’s important to do some research to understand the pet’s care requirements. You will also want to determine how much it will cost to keep your new pet.
So, how much money is a leopard gecko, and are they expensive to care for? In this article we discuss what you need to know about how much it costs to care for a pet leopard gecko and what reoccurring costs you may expect.
What You Need When Bringing Home A New Leopard Gecko?
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
Leopard Gecko Cost by Morph
|Morph||Average Cost (Low)||Average Cost (High)|
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.
Supplies And Setup
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|
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. 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. 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.
Leopard geckos should always have access to a hiding place on the warm and cool side of their habitat.
One hiding spot per gecko is a good rule. Use rocks and low branches to allow your leopard gecko places to climb closer to the basking lights or hide under.
Putting some moistened moss in their house will help when they’re ready to shed their skin. Spray or mist the moss periodically with a spray bottle of water to keep the humidity higher inside their house.
Leopard geckos also prefer to drink from large shallow dishes and will soak in their water dish for hydration. You will want to empty, clean and refill their water dish every day.
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.
The Cost Of Owning A Leopard Gecko
Your upfront costs in owning a leopard gecko will not be a lot, even in the first year. However, you’ll 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 important, especially if you want him to live to the expected 20 year life expectancy. Aside from that, you have to think about supplies to keep his enclosure clean and in working order plus the cost of veterinary services.
Leopard geckos originate from semi-arid deserts, so naturally, they love a warm, dry environment and this is something to consider when making yours a home. They will also need a hiding place that’s moist to retreat to when it’s time to shed their skin. Multiple leopard geckos may be kept in a size-appropriate terrarium, but only one should be male.
Annual Medical Expenses
All pets require an initial veterinary exam and an annual checkup, and that goes for your leopard gecko as well.
The challenge with reptiles like leopard geckos is that most veterinarians aren’t trained specifically in treating them.
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.
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|
Every 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 be worth it.
Instead, you are better off putting the savings in an emergency fund.
When it comes to emergency treatment for a leopard gecko, it 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 may be in the hundreds.
When you first bring them home, don’t handle your new leopard geckos for three or four days because they need to get used to their new surroundings.
Do keep a close eye on him, in case moving in has stressed him out or caused him to get sick. Even a settled-in lizard can get sick.
Food And Supplies
Your biggest reoccurring cost to keep a leopard gecko is food. Because leopard geckos are insectivores, you’ll need to provide an assortment of insects like crickets, mealworms, and roaches.
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|
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, so 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.
Total Annual Cost Of Owning A Leopard Gecko
A leopard gecko can be a wonderful pet, but you should be prepared for a long-term commitment considering their life expectancy of 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 type of pet.
In review here is 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
Overall Leopard Gecko Cost
The overall cost of a leopard gecko depends on what type of set up you choose, plus monthly supplies, once you have paid the initial adoption fee.
You will want to keep a budget of about $28 a month for supply replacement costs, vet visits and food. Its always best to purchase quality equipment like heating mats and ceramic heaters because they can last up to three years. If you opt for infrared heat bulbs, you maybe replacing them every few months.
Because pet insurance may not be easy to find, you will want to set aside money in your budget for any veterinary appointments.
The cost to purchase and keep a leopard gecko will vary depending on several factors like the type of gecko you choose and the enclosure you choose. Do your research before purchasing a leopard gecko to make sure you can care for it for years to come.
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 it cost to feed a leopard gecko for a month?
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.
How Much Does a Leopard Gecko Cost Per Month?
The monthly food and supplies for your leopard gecko will cost you $15 to $25.