Are Leopard Geckos From PetSmart Healthy?

You would think that large companies like PetSmart would be reliable when it comes to providing hearty and healthy reptiles but sometimes, this isn’t always the case.  Whether you’re buying a leopard gecko from a large company like this or from a small, independent reptile shop in your city, research should always be done before purchasing so that issues don’t arise in the future.

Are leopard geckos from PetSmart healthy?  It depends.  Each PetSmart location doesn’t treat all of their reptiles the same.  So, before buying, check online for reviews before visiting your local shop.

I’m not here to slander PetSmart because I, myself, have bought animals from them in the past with no issues.  But, there are a ton of people out there who have had different experiences than I’ve had and because of that, potential leopard geckos owners should be wary before buying from there.  That said, here is some more information that you might find useful.

Any Place Can Sell Bad Pets

Although PetSmart has been known to sell pets that are less than healthy, they’re definitely not the only business out there to do so.  In fact, there’s a local reptile shop in my town that would probably make the worst PetSmart out there look like the best reptile shop around.

The amount of care that will go into how reptiles are treated at your local PetSmart will be completely dependent on the employees and the managers that run the store.  We would all like to think that most managers and employees who work with leopard geckos and reptiles, in general, have our future pet’s best interest at heart but the truth of the matter is that a lot of the time, they don’t.

Most people who apply to work for pet stores like these are just looking for a job and that’s it.  It’s very rare that you find someone who actually has a deep passion for the animals they’re caring for when working in large chain companies like these.

Leopard geckos aren’t very hard to care for, but despite this fact, if you don’t have the proper training or knowledge for how to care for them, it’s likely that they will end up becoming very unhealthy lizards.

So, as stated above, before buying your leopard gecko from any place, do your due diligence and research the place you plan on buying from.  You’d be surprised what you might find from a quick online search and by checking out some reviews.

Buy From Reptile-Specific Locations

As previously mentioned, any place can and will sell you bad pets no matter where it is.  But, when buying from locations where they specialize in caring for reptiles in specific, the chances of the animals actually being healthy and treated right are much, much higher than buying from a large chain.

The reason for this is that because these types of shops are centered around reptiles, the attention is more focused on caring for them instead of being focused on caring for all kinds of different animals like general pet stores, like PetSmart, do.

In order to find these local reptile stores, type in “reptile shops near me” into Google and see what you find.  Reptile-specific stores aren’t always available to you in your own city, but a lot of the time, they can be found in cities that are still around you.

Aside from reptile shops, reptile expos are also a good place for finding leopard geckos that have been more cared for.  The reptiles that are sold at these events are sold by experienced breeders, so with that said, it’s probably safe to say that any reptile you buy at any one of these events will be healthy.

Reptiles expos usually only occur at certain times throughout the year, so if getting your leopard gecko at one is something that you might be interested in, search online for your nearest expo and see the next time one of them starts.

Not only will the reptiles be healthier, but you’ll likely have a lot more of a variety to choose from as well.  PetSmart can be a good place to buy a leopard gecko depending on the store you’re buying it from, but a lot of the time, common leopard geckos are the only leos that are sold.

Search for Private Sellers

In addition to reptile stores and expos, places like Craigslist and eBay are also two good places to look when searching for a leopard gecko to buy.  Buying through these platforms can seem a little sketchy at first, but a lot of the time, sellers who sell on these sites are a lot more educated than the workers at large pet store chains.

On top of that, a lot of individuals selling their lizards are also giving away their whole setup at a price that’s a lot cheaper than you would expect to spend if you bought everything new from the store.

There’s always the risk of private sellers selling unhealthy leopard geckos as well, but even though that may be true, the chances of getting one that is unhealthy is a lot slimmer than if you were to get one at PetSmart simply for the fact that, again, owners are a lot more knowledgeable when it comes to these lizards than employees are that work at general pet stores.

It’s not guaranteed that you will find a leopard gecko whenever you search on these sites, but it wouldn’t hurt to look if going to your local PetSmart isn’t an option for you.  If you happen to live by a PetSmart that doesn’t treat their reptiles with care and there are no leopard geckos available whenever you search on Craigslist or eBay, just wait until something becomes available.

Potential owners can get quite antsy whenever they’re looking for a leopard gecko to buy, but if you don’t have patience and you buy from a PetSmart location that doesn’t have good reviews, you’ll not only potentially lose a lot of money on equipment, but you might lose your leopard gecko as well.

So with that said, check for reptile expos, other reputable shops around you that sell reptiles, or just wait it out until something becomes available online.  By doing this, you’ll prevent yourself from not only losing a lot of money but a lot of time as well.

Other Pet Store Chains Aren’t Much Better

Again, this isn’t an attack against large pet store chains, but when talking about places other than PetSmart that hire employees that don’t have very much knowledge on the reptiles they’re caring for, it should kind of be expected for a lot of the animals to be in the same condition as animals that are housed at these different kinds of PetSmart’s.

Whether we’re talking about PetSmart, Petco, or any other well-known store that sells reptiles, there are tons of people online who have had nothing but bad experiences buying through these companies and that’s because most of the employees have received the same basic and ineffective training.

And the reason I say that is because if you’ve had a bad experience shopping at one large chain then it’s very likely that you’ll have a similar experience shopping at another.  That isn’t guaranteed though because as I said, not all pet store chains are the same.

So before assuming that you will, in fact, have a bad experience shopping somewhere besides PetSmart, make sure to not forget to check the reviews of the store you want to shop at and then base your buying decision accordingly.

Some owners have had absolutely horrible experiences shopping at PetSmart and Petco while others haven’t.  So, before disregarding these companies altogether, do a little research first to validate whether or not your local PetSmart or Petco does or doesn’t take good care of their reptiles so that you don’t potentially miss out on good leopard geckos just because of what you’ve read online.


All PetSmart’s aren’t bad, but they’re definitely not all good either.  Before visiting one near you, take the time to do a little research so that you can better determine whether or not it’d be worth your time and money to buy your leopard gecko from there.

Before doing so though, check around to see if there are reptile shops close by first.  When it comes to the care of reptiles, reptile-specific shops are a little more trustworthy because those are the type of animals that they specialize in.

If PetSmart, Petco, or a reptile shop isn’t an option, you can still always look into searching for a leopard gecko at an expo or through the internet.  Craigslist and eBay are two great places to look at, but there are also other reputable companies online that sell leopard geckos as well.

The only problem with a lot of these shops though is that the morphs that they sell can be pretty expensive.  So before you go searching for some of these websites, keep in mind that a lot of the morphs being sold are not cheap.

With enough time and patience though, you’ll have a happy and healthy leopard gecko before you know it.

I’m Devin Nunn, an average joe that just so happens to have a deep love and passion for everything to do with reptiles. Because taking care of them for the vast majority of my life wasn’t fulfilling enough, I decided to begin educating others about them through my articles. read more...