Leopard geckos have quickly become one of the most popular pet reptiles on the planet and for good reason! They’re hardy, friendly, adorable, and curious, which makes them great pets for both newbie reptile owners and experts alike. If you’re thinking of adopting one yourself, the first question you probably have is, “How much does a leopard gecko cost?”
Fortunately, while the initial investment for the gecko itself, its enclosure, and supplies is a bit costly, the price of maintaining and caring for a leopard gecko is very manageable and inexpensive. Follow along with me as I break down the cost of purchasing and owning a leopard gecko. I’ll cover the prices of everything you’ll need for your new scaly friend, from enclosure to tank decorations and even food.
Where Can You Buy A Leopard Gecko?
The first thing you’ll need to consider as far as prices go is how much the actual leopard gecko costs. Compared to most other reptiles commonly kept as pets, leopard geckos are on the lower end of the spectrum. However, the exact price you’ll pay for a single lizard varies wildly depending on where you purchase it from, its genetics and morph, and its age.
For example, if you purchase a baby gecko from a local pet shop, you can expect to pay around $20 to $40 for a basic “wild type” morph and slightly more for more unique morphs with different colors and patterns. Buying from a pet shop is notoriously risky, though, as their staff typically aren’t as particular or knowledgeable about caring for these animals as dedicated reptile breeders are.
If you’re considering buying a leopard gecko, it is absolutely worth seeking out a reputable reptile breeder. There are many excellent breeders online who will ship reptiles safely and directly to your door overnight! Knowledgeable reptile breeders can also tell you more details about the gecko’s genetics, morph, and the proper husbandry required to care for them.
If you purchase a leopard gecko from a breeder, you can expect to pay anywhere from $20 for more basic wild-type morphs to as much as $500 or more for very specific morphs with unique patterns and vibrant colors. Some of the pricier morphs include albino, super giant, Mack snow, lavender, and blizzard geckos. There are even pure black geckos that are known to go for as much as $3,000!
Aside from their physical appearance, there is no real difference between a basic wild-type leopard gecko and a “fancy” morph. Choose whatever works best for your budget and preferences!
What Do You Need To Buy For A Leopard Gecko?
Although they are fairly low-maintenance reptiles, leopard geckos still have specific care requirements that must be met for them to thrive. Ideally, you should have an enclosure fully set up several days before you bring the animal home. This will allow you to work out any issues with lighting, humidity, etc. before placing the gecko in its new home.
You’ll need to buy the following items to properly house and care for your new pet:
- An enclosure. This should be your very first purchase as a new gecko owner. While a baby gecko can live comfortably in a 10-gallon tank, they will outgrow it. The minimum enclosure size for a single adult leopard gecko is a 20 gallon “long” enclosure. This means the tank should be longer than it is wide or tall, as leos are terrestrial and don’t need much climbing space.
- A humid hide and a dry hide. Hides are simply covered shelters for your gecko to have a bit of privacy. You’ll need one hide that will be kept moist and warm to assist your gecko with shedding, while the other should be kept dry.
- Lighting. Every leopard gecko enclosure needs proper temperatures with a gentle temperature gradient. A plain white basking bulb and a properly sized fixture to house the bulb is your best option. UVB lighting is optional but recommended, as it encourages healthy digestion and bone and muscle growth.
- Two dual thermometer/hygrometers. These are small gauges that monitor the temperature and humidity in the enclosure. You’ll need one for the cool side of the tank and one for the basking area/warmer side.
- Substrate. This is the material you’ll use as flooring in your gecko’s enclosure. Avoid loose substrates with small, indigestible particles like sand, as these can cause impaction. The safest and cheapest substrates are flat tiles or stones, stick-down linoleum, paper towels, reptile sand mats, and reptile carpet.
- Food and water dishes. These should be shallow enough for the gecko to access comfortably. Avoid very porous dishes, as they can be difficult to clean and promote bacterial growth.
- A ceramic heat emitter (optional). If temperatures dip below around 70F at night in your home, you’ll need a ceramic heat emitter. These fixtures produce heat yet no light, so they won’t be harsh on your gecko’s eyes at night.
How Much Do Leopard Gecko Enclosures Cost?
Now that you know what your gecko’s enclosure needs, let’s get into the approximate costs for each of the aforementioned items.
As I touched on earlier, an enclosure should be your first purchase if you’re adopting a leopard gecko. The enclosure should be fully furnished and set up a few days before you bring your gecko home. The best option is a glass tank with a screened top to allow adequate ventilation.
If you’re adopting a baby leopard gecko, you have a couple of options as far as enclosures go. You could buy a 10-gallon tank to house the gecko for now, but they will outgrow it within 6 months. This will initially save you a bit of money, but it will cost more in the long term. Most 10-gallon glass enclosures designed for leopard geckos cost around $50 to $80.
Your other option is to go ahead and buy a 20+ gallon enclosure. This enclosure will house your gecko for the entirety of its lifespan. Although they cost more than 10-gallon tanks, you’ll save more money in the long run, as your gecko will need the extra space once they reach adulthood anyway. A typical 20 to 30-gallon “long” enclosure will cost you anywhere from $100 to $150.
Many brands, such as Exo-Terra, Zilla, and Zoo Med also have starter kits that include many of the items you’ll need. These enclosure kits often include lighting, food and water dishes, hides, additional tank decorations like logs and artificial plants, and more.
These starter kits are a great option for beginner reptile owners looking to save money and time! They are sold by pet shops and online retailers for around $100 to $200, depending on the brand, size, and what items they include.
How Much Do Supplies for a Leopard Gecko Cost?
Once you’ve purchased an enclosure, you’re ready to buy additional supplies such as lighting, hides, substrate, and more! These items should also be purchased and set up a few days before you bring your gecko home.
Here’s what you can expect to pay for the various supplies your gecko’s enclosure will need:
- A humid and dry hide. There are various types of suitable hides for leopard geckos, from caves to hollowed-out logs and plastic hides. Depending on what type you choose, you can expect to pay anywhere from $5 to $15 per hide.
- Lighting. A typical 60 to 75 watt white basking bulb will cost around $7 to $12 each. You’ll also need to replace these every few months when they burn out. Dome fixtures to house these bulbs usually cost roughly $15 to $20 each, and they won’t need to be replaced unless they become damaged. If you’re also including separate UVB lighting, expect to pay around $15 to $20 for a 5% to 10% output bulb. These can be housed in deep dome fixtures that usually cost around $15 to $20. UVB bulbs only need to be replaced every 5 to 6 months.
- Dual thermometer/hygrometers. These usually cost around $5 to $10 each. They are also often available in value packs of 2 to 4 for around $15 to $20. Remember, you’ll need two for the enclosure to properly measure the temperature and humidity at both ends of the tank.
- Substrate. Substrate varies wildly in price, as there are many different options available for leopard geckos. The cheapest option by far is simply paper towels, as you can buy them in bulk for as little as $0.25 per roll. Other safe, easy-to-clean, and cost-effective options include reptile carpet, which can cost around $15 per roll, and linoleum stick-down “tiles,” which costs as little as $30 for packs of 12 to 20 tiles.
- Food and water dishes. You’ll need one of each. These are also very inexpensive at only around $2 to $5 per dish.
- A ceramic heat emitter (optional). This will only be necessary if temperatures in your home dip below around 68F to 70F at night. These are roughly the same price as basking bulbs, or around $10 to $15 for a single 60 to 70 watt bulb. These can be housed in the same basic dome fixtures listed above.
All in all, expect to pay at least around $100 to $200 to furnish your gecko’s enclosure. Remember, certain items will need to be replaced from time to time, such as substrate, heat lighting, UVB lighting, and ceramic heat emitters.
How Much Does Food for a Leopard Gecko Cost?
Finally, once you’ve set up your gecko’s enclosure, you’ll need to make sure you have food available for them. Thankfully, leopard geckos are strict insectivores, meaning they are very inexpensive to feed.
Don’t simply feed your gecko any insects you find in your yard! Wild insects typically carry parasites and illnesses, as well as pesticides and other chemicals. You’ll need to purchase your feeder insects either from a pet shop or an online retailer that breeds and sells them in controlled, sanitary conditions.
In addition, your gecko needs a calcium and D3 supplement for proper digestion and bone health. These are usually in powder or liquid formulations, and you’ll coat your feeder insects with them before each of your gecko’s meals. A small container of a calcium and vitamin D3 supplement typically costs around $5 to $7 and will last anywhere from a few weeks to a few months.
Leopard Gecko Price: The Total Cost of Owning a Leopard Gecko
All in all, you can expect to pay around $300 to $400 for your gecko, its enclosure, and all of its furnishings. Keep in mind this price will increase drastically if you’re intending on purchasing a particularly rare gecko morph. The initial investment is the most expensive part of caring for a leopard gecko by far.
When it comes to monthly upkeep costs, expect to pay around $20 to $50 per month on food and replacement lighting and substrate. However, this can also increase drastically if you need to take your gecko to the vet for illnesses or certain health conditions. You’ll need to have a vet fund on hand of at least $500 or more to cover any medical costs for your gecko.
The photo featured at the top of this post is © iStock.com/David Kenny
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