Are Leopard geckos expensive to own?
In this guide, you’ll learn:
- Cost to purchase a leopard gecko
- How much ongoing costs to expect
- Where to buy a Leopard gecko
Leopard geckos (Eublepharis macularius) are quite popular among reptile enthusiasts, especially beginners, because of their straightforward care, handling tolerance, and ease of breeding.
They are usually sandy yellow with dark spots and are native to Northwest India, Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Iran, and Vietnam. Their natural habitat is dry and semi-dry desert regions and arid grasslands.
How Much Is A Leopard Gecko?
The cost of a Leopard gecko varies quite a bit due to numerous factors like morph, genetic lineage, and age. Typically, Leopard Geckos cost between $150-300 from a reputable breeder.
Certain morphs or “fancy” Leopard geckos can fetch prices between $300-1000, with some going for as much as $3000!
A morph is a term that describes a reptile’s overall appearance, such as its body type, scales (or lack of), color, and size. The terminology applies to other lizards and reptiles, such as bearded dragons, ball pythons, and iguanas.
The term is sometimes interchangeably used with “fancy.” Fancy Leopard geckos or different morphs are a variation of the standard geckos kept as pets with different, unique, and visually pleasing physical characteristics. Mutations in their genes usually cause these differences. These traits are expressed in subsequent generations through selective breeding.
Leopard Gecko Price Factors
Morph (Color, Pattern, Size)
Morphs are the biggest factor affecting the price of a Leopard gecko. There are a variety of morphs available, with the more prized varieties going for $200-300 and the rare ones like the Black Pearl or Black Night going for $1000 and up. These rare morphs are usually harder to breed and have unique but recessive traits.
Standard or regular Leopard geckos will cost $30-75 at the local pet store. Private breeders may sell standard morphs at a slightly higher price but you are assured of the care put into these geckos versus big chain pet stores that probably have sickly stock reptiles.
Common Leopard gecko morphs include Tangerine Leopard Geckos, High Yellows, Giant, Blood, and Raptor (ranging from $200-300) and fancy and hypo morphs that cost less than $100.
Compared to a few years back, Leopard gecko morphs are less expensive as the trade expands and ownership grows in popularity.
Lineage or Genetic Breeding
Lineage or genetic breeding is also a factor in determining the price of a Leopard gecko with more robust “bloodlines” fetching higher prices. Good genetic lineage can be known for large fertile clutches, good health, vibrant colors, and patterns. Robust or good genetic lineages often come from reputable breeders.
Leopard gecko prices tend to vary between states due to market saturation. In states with many reptile owners (such as Florida and Ohio), prices may be cheaper. In other states such as Hawaii, exotic pet ownership is regulated to protect the endemic species of the island ecosystem. It is illegal to own a Leopard Gecko in Hawaii.
Where you purchase your Leopard gecko can also affect its price. It’s cheaper from large chain pet stores or local pet stores but the health of reptiles purchased from these stores is often contested. It’s a bit more expensive to get geckos from private, specific, or online breeders but these are often more responsible in rearing their reptiles and you are assured of a healthy gecko. Responsible breeders will also gladly offer you help and information about caring for your first reptile or Leopard gecko.
Younger or juvenile Leopard geckos tend to be less expensive but can be quite tedious (and more expensive) to rear during the first 6 months. Do not buy hatchlings unless you are an experienced breeder.
Older, ready-to-breed, adult Leopard geckos are more expensive since they are assured survival and hence are more valuable and easier to care for.
Leopard Gecko Cost of Ownership
Leopard Geckos are relatively less expensive to care for because of their small size. They grow from 8-10 inches when mature and can live up to 20 years in captivity.
Ownership costs are usually divided into upfront costs and monthly or annual consumables like food, supplies, and veterinary fees.
The total cost of ownership for a Leopard Gecko is can run $700-1000, including the upfront cost and a year’s worth of monthly consumables.
The initial cost to set up the enclosure is around $280 or about $380, including supplies that you’ll need to replace every few months (bulbs and substrate). Expect to spend about $10 monthly on food and supplements and about $80 for each vet visit.
An approximate summary of the costs is tabulated below, but note that prices vary depending on the source, brand, amount, and frequency of use. The links lead to a general search on Amazon.
Summary of Leopard Gecko Cost of Ownership
Estimated Upfront Costs
|Item||Frequency||Range||Average Cost||Ave. Monthly Cost|
|20 Gallon Tanks||As needed||$100-180||$140.00||–|
|Screen Mesh Covers||As needed||$12-20||$16.00||–|
|Ceramic Tiles||As needed||$15-30||$22.50||–|
|Various Supplies (Dish, Hide)||As needed||$50-100||$75.00||–|
|Heat/Basking Bulbs||2-5 Months||$10-20||$15.00||$3.00|
|Heat Pads||1-3 Years||$15-25||$20.00||$0.83|
|UVB Bulbs||6 Months||$15-25||$20.00||$3.33|
|Substrate – Reptile Carpet||1-2 Months||$15-20||$17.50||$11.67|
|Substrate – Excavator Clay||1-2 Months||$15-35||$25.00||$16.67|
|Upfront Cost (w/o consumables)||$278.50|
|Upfront Cost (w/ consumables)||$376.00|
Monthly Costs Food & Nutrition
|Item||Frequency||Range||Average Cost||Ave. Monthly Cost|
|Insect Feeders (Crickets); 250 pcs||1 Month||10-15||12.50||4.17|
|Insect Feeders (Mealworms); 500 pcs||1 Month||10-15||12.50||0.78|
|Vitamins and Supplements||1-2 Months||5-10||7.50||5.00|
|Monthly Cost (food and vitamins only)||$9.95|
|Monthly Cost (w/ consumable supplies)||$45.45|
Annual Veterinary Costs
|Item||Frequency||Range||Average Cost||Ave. Monthly Cost|
|Pet Insurance (optional)||Yearly||100-200||150.00||–|
|Annual Cost (Veterinary only)||87.50|
|Annual Cost (with total monthly costs)||$632.88|
|Total Cost (upfront and one year’s worth of monthly costs)||$911.38|
Supplies And Setup (Upfront Costs)
The minimum enclosure requirement for a Leopard Gecko is a 20-gallon tank which costs about $100-180. Most reptile cages already have screen covers included but a separate one usually costs about $16.
Various supplies to complete their terrarium such as water dishes and hides will cost about $50-100 while ceramic tiles for substrate use are about $15-30 depending on how big your enclosure is. A combination thermo-hygrometer costs about $10-15.
Ensure your thermometer and hygrometer are accurate, so you can keep the temperature on the hotter part of the tank at 75-88°F and 70-75°F at the cooler end. Temperatures at night should not drop below 68-70°F. Humidity should be between 30-40% RH.
Heat lamps cost about $10-20, while heating mats cost $15-25. Bulbs may need to be replaced every three months, while mats should last you for a couple of years. UVB bulbs range from $15-25 and need to be replaced every six months.
The health benefits of UVB lighting for Leopard geckos were confirmed in a recent 2020 study on vitamin D3 synthesis in Leopard geckos. They found that a Leopard gecko synthesizes vitamin D3 when exposed to UVB light. Low UVB level (UVI ≤ 1.6) exposure for 2 hours daily increased the vitamin D3 levels in their blood by 50%.
You may opt to use reptile carpets as a substrate which costs about $15, or excavator sand which costs about $20. The substrate will need to be cleaned weekly and replaced every 1-2 months depending on use.
Ceramic tiles are the most sustainable option for substrate, while newspapers and paper towels are the cheapest.
Food-Related (Monthly Costs)
Leopard geckos are insectivores, so live feeder insects such as crickets and mealworms should make up their staple diet. Other insects that can be included in your gecko’s diet are small locusts, silkworms, mealworms, waxworms, hornworms, beetles, sow bugs, cockroaches, superworms, grasshoppers, springtails, and pinkie or nestling mice.
Read further>> Leopard Gecko Diet
Certain worms, such as waxworms and superworms, tend to be high in fat so these should only be fed once a week to ward off obesity.
Based on a diet of mealworms and crickets and a feeding schedule of an adult Leopard gecko (5 big crickets or a couple of worms every other day), monthly food costs go for about $5-10.
An interesting study on Leopard Gecko diets revealed that geckos on a pure beetle mealworm diet had a significantly greater body mass and larger body traits (head width, head length, basal tail width, and snout-vent length) as compared to geckos fed with crickets only or a mixed diet. Read more about the study here.
Calcium powder should be dusted onto your feeder insects in addition to vitamin D3 and multivitamins before you feed them to your geckos. You can also gut load your feeder insects a day before. Depending on usage, these supplements will cost about $3-5 monthly.
Annual Medical Expenses
A trip to the vet will set you back anywhere from $75-150, depending on the procedure needed. However, it’s also best to set aside a budget for an annual check-up or wellness exam to stay on top of your Leopard gecko’s health. An annual check-up will be about $75-100. Insurance may also be a good idea to budget for, which is about $100-200 per year.
How To Pick Out A Leopard Gecko
Always make sure you are purchasing a healthy Leopard gecko. Make sure the eyes and nose are clear and free from any discharge. The eyes should be clear and alert. The gecko should be active, responsive, and not too skittish. It should have broad, round, and plump tails and a full-looking stomach/body. No bones or ribs should be sticking out and their toes should be complete. The skin should not be pale or dry-looking.
In terms of picking out a type of Leopard gecko, there is a wide range of varieties to choose from in terms of morph. The only real limitation is budget and any special care needed for a particular morph.
When you first get your Leopard gecko, you should take it to the vet to get it checked for any health issues or parasites. Some breeders will have a guarantee or a warranty and allow you to return or exchange any unhealthy reptiles from their shop.
Where’s The Best Place To Buy A Leopard Gecko?
We recommend purchasing from private and responsible breeders versus large chain pet stores since these pet stores often provide substandard care for the animals they sell.
With an increasing number of reptile enthusiasts, large online communities are available so you can easily research thoroughly before purchasing. There are also a lot of well-known Leopard gecko breeders online (e.g., Happy Dragons, The Urban Reptile).
A responsible reptile breeder will gladly answer any and all questions you might have before purchasing a reptile from them. They gladly advocate responsible ownership first before trying to make a profit.
A Leopard gecko can range from $50 to $1000 because of the variety of morphs available in the market. Upfront costs include an initial setup ranging from $280-380 and then monthly food expenses that cost $15. An annual vet visit is about $80. The total cost of ownership for a Leopard Gecko is about $700-1000, including the upfront cost and a year’s worth of monthly consumables.
How much does a leopard gecko cost?
The cost of a Leopard gecko varies due to numerous factors like morph, genetic lineage, and age. The estimated range is between $30-50 from your local pet store chains for a regular or standard Leopard gecko. If you buy from a private breeder, it shouldn’t be more than $100 for a standard morph. Certain morphs or “fancy” Leopard geckos can fetch prices between $300-1000, with some going for as much as $3000.
How much does it cost to feed a leopard gecko for a month?
The monthly cost of live insect feeders and supplements for Leopard geckos is about $10-15.
Overview on Leopard geckos:
ADW: Eublepharis macularius: INFORMATION
Management and care of Leopard geckos:
Management, care, and common conditions of Leopard Geckos
Short article on care:
Leopard Gecko Husbandry and Nutrition
A study on diet variation and its effect on a gecko’s growth rate:
Growth Rate Variation in Captive Species: The case of Leopard Geckos
A detailed study on Leopard geckos:
Natural history and biology of hobbyist choice leopard gecko Eublepharis macularius
Study on UV patterns on the skin for defense
Ultraviolet reflectance and pattern properties in leopard geckos (Eublepharis macularius)