We are in the midst of breeding season, which brings up questions about breeders and pricing.  Although we all hope for the best, there can be difficulties in both departments:

Question 1:

I know there are tons of different types of morphs and combos, but a basic guide line for pricing, or at least how the bigger companies/breeders do it. I’m just starting out with breeding but have some amazing animals, I want to sell but have no idea what to sell them for, and I know I’m not the only one who may be having that problem.

Kristi Housman responds: This is an excellent question and one I still struggle with at times.  The best thing you can do is research.  I look online at other breeder’s websites and also look at classified ads.  Then I average the price for a morph and price it at the lower end because I’m still a relatively new breeder.  Try to research often because the market is always changing. In the end, it’s up to you.  Price the animal at what you think it’s worth and what you’re willing to sell it for.  Good luck with your breeding projects!

Garrick DeMeyer responds: Figuring out pricing for the many leopard gecko morphs can be pretty difficult.  There is a pretty large price range for leopard geckos, ranging from about $20 to over $1000, sometimes much higher.  I look at several factors when I’m trying to figure out what a particular morph is worth.  The first thing I determine is how common the morph in question is.  If it is a common morph, such as a typical Tremper Albino, I will price it near the bottom of the price range.  A rare morph, such as a Super Snow Bell Albino Enigma, would be near the top of the price range, because there are relatively few out in the market.  If I were to produce a brand-new morph that nobody else has, it would probably be at the top of the price range.  As a new morph becomes more common, the price drops due to competition from other breeders producing the same gecko.  For example, when the Tremper Albinos first became available in 1999, they were roughly $3000 a pair.  By the following year, they were down to about $1000 a pair, and dropped in price every year after that until they became about the same price as a normal.  Most leopard gecko morphs tend to drop in price relatively quickly, because they are very easy to produce in large numbers.  I purchased a pair of Tremper Albinos and thirty-three 50% possible het albinos in 1999 and by the end of the 2000 season, I had produced about 77 albinos and at least a couple hundred 100% het albinos.  The following year, I bred a few of my holdback albino males to a large number of those het albinos and produce several hundred albinos.  The price did drop fast on them, but the demand was good and I did well on the project due to the overall numbers I produced.  I also crossed the albino gene into other morphs such as patternless and blizzard in order to create new morphs.  Another factor that I look at is how attractive a particular morph is.  Some leopard gecko morphs are just prettier than others.  Usually, the nicest geckos will command a higher price than a more average one, even within the same morph.  For example, a sunglow raptor with average color intensity, snake eyes, and a shorter carrottail is going to sell for a lot less than a brilliant yellow/orange one that has solid red eyes and a nearly solid orange tail.  Even within the same morph, there can be a huge difference in price.  The best individuals within a particular morph can be worth double or even triple the value of an average or below average example of the same morph.  The other factor I look at is the leopard gecko market in general.  It has its ups and downs just like any other market.  Sometimes there is a higher demand for the more valuable morphs, sometimes it is difficult to sell them.  The cheaper morphs seem to always sell no matter what, but the demand for the expensive geckos can vary a lot.  The best thing about leopard geckos is that they will always be in demand.  They make such excellent pets, especially for the beginning reptile owner, which is a large base of the people keeping reptiles as pets.  There will always be a large number of hobbyists who will want leopard geckos so they should always remain an important piece of the reptile market.
 

Question 2:

I have a small colony of proven leopard gecko breeders  and am going to venture into breeding myself for the first time. One of my blizzards (F) I got the same week she laid a clutch and dropped her tail. The previous owner says she’s always been thin but it’s gotten worse as of late. She is separated from the others and still manages to stay skinny and has even lost more weight. She’s full grown about 4 years old and is only 23 grams. I’ve tried feeding live/dead crickets, meal worms. I even fed her a pinky a few days and she ate it but managed to vomit it back up that night. I’ve tried heating up the tank from 80 to 90-ish and it doesn’t seem to help. I took her to a vet and basically he told me to force feed her and bring in a sample of droppings whenever she does but she hasn’t been – nor has she been eating.
— Is there a such thing as a skinny leopard gecko?

–How to know when a “skinny” leopard gecko is no longer “skinny” but sick.

–Am I doing something wrong or do these things happen?

Kristi Housman responds: The first thing I would do is bump up her hot spot temperature to around 93-94 degress.  She is definitely too small and shouldn’t have been bred by her previous owner.  Laying eggs takes a lot out of a gecko.  I would try a different vet, too.  She needs to get testing done to see if she has parasites.  You can try feeding her superworms or roaches and see if she’ll eat those.  Make sure she always has access to calcium and fresh water.
 
I don’t know if they’re a set rule to know when a gecko is no longer skinny, but sick.  A small tail will tell you a lot, but it’s also behavior.  Not eating and not moving around a lot would be examples.  When a gecko loses its tail, they also lose all their fat reserves.
 
It sounds like you’re trying your best and she was ill before you got her.  It could have been the stress from laying or she may have parasites.  Sometimes just bumping the temps up can help, but she may need medication, too.  Good luck with her.

Aliza Arzt responds: Most normal adult leos weigh at least 45 grams, so even without a tail, 23 grams is quite underweight.  Since reptiles tend to behave “normally” even when ill as a survival mechanism (to look ill is to invite predation) it is often difficult to tell that your gecko is ill until it’s really ill.  Usually, failure of  a gecko to eat (in the absence of a normal life-cycle event such as stress, shedding, brumation, ovulating, etc.) is a symptom of another problem and not the problem itself.  A gecko that is so significantly underweight may very well be ill or extremely stressed. 

Hopefully, you have separated this gecko from the others and are housing her by herself.  When you say you’ve increased the heat to “90-ish”, if you mean the floor temperature, I recommend increasing it to the mid 90’s.  In order to help the gecko ingest something so you can get droppings for a stool sample, there are several types of puree you can use: commercially available “Jumpstart”, warm chicken baby food, or a home-made “slurry” (http://www.reptileculture.com/forums/showthread.php?t=759) created by Marcia McGuiness of Golden Gate Geckos.  These purees are best fed by putting a drop on the gecko’s nose and encouraging it to lick it off.

As far as whether you’re doing something wrong, I can’t say since I don’t know all the details of your husbandry.  However, the fact that you got a gecko that has laid eggs, dropped her tail and lost quite a bit of weight soon after you got her I would assume that this gecko was having problems before she came under your care.

Authors

Aliza Arzt is one of Gecko Time’s editors.  In her other life she is a home care speech therapist living in the Boston area.  She has been breeding leopard geckos since 2005 and has recently been successful in breeding African Fat Tail and Coleonyx geckos as well.  Other interests which she pursues in her copious free time include work in ceramics, practicing aikido and surfing the internet.  Her live and ceramic geckos can be found at http://geckcessories.wordpress.com

Garrick DeMeyer owns and operates CrestedGecko.com and Royal Constrictor Designs.  He has a BS in Biology from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.  Over the past 20 years, Garrick has bred dozens of species of reptiles, including many gecko species, and has produced thousands of babies during that time

Kristi Housman owns Ghoulish Geckos. She has just started her third season of breeding leopard geckos. She keeps other species as well, but doesn’t breed them.

AlizaVisit Website

Aliza is a home care speech therapist living in the Boston area. She has been breeding leopard geckos since 2005 and has also been successful in breeding Coleonyx, African Fat Tail and Gargoyle geckos. Other interests which she pursues in her copious free time include work in ceramics, practicing tai chi and surfing the internet.

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