Between the late 1880s and the 1990s, only a handful of specimens had been found, all of which were found in a single region of the Grand Terre island in New Caledonia. However, American herpetologist Dr. Tim Tytle had inspired a rise of interest in the crested gecko, leading to a new search for what Tytle had billed as the “ultimate pet gecko.”
The search was on and, in 1994, German herpetologist Wilhelm Henkel discovered live specimens of the crested gecko on neighboring Pine Island. Exports of the creatures surged and the crested gecko returned from believed extinction.
In the 20 years since, geckos have skyrocketed as one of the most popular types of reptiles for sale in the United States. One need only look to a certain insurance company to see geckos’ popularity in the world today. With a wide variety of color morphs, body styles, and personality traits, geckos provide a fantastic option for pet store owners looking to expand their reptile sales.
The word “gecko” refers to a group of lizards in the infraorder Gekkota having a great number of species found throughout the world. Various geckos live natively in areas ranging from the American Southwest to northwestern Pakistan to the area surrounding the Mediterranean. Geckos tend to vary in size, based on their particular species.
The two most popular varieties of pet geckos are the aforementioned crested gecko and the leopard gecko. However, other popular pet geckos include the fat-tailed gecko, the golden gecko, and the day geckos, among many others.
Geckos are a particularly voracious group of lizards, which provides a lucrative opportunity for canny pet store owners. A typical leopard gecko will eat five to six mealworms or crickets daily. With big box stores unable or unwilling to provide live food other than crickets for reptiles, a store that sells wax worms, dubia roaches, and other live food will have a significant advantage.
Further, crested geckos also enjoy nectar; packaged nectar can provide a great way to keep geckos healthy by providing necessary nutrients. Again, this nectar is not typically available at big box stores, so offering it to a gecko owner can help ensure repeat business.
The differences in gecko habitats can provide unique opportunities for a store owner willing to invest in quality displays. Crested geckos, for instance, are arboreal and thrive in a tall display with lush greenery to climb. Conversely, leopard geckos are terrestrial and prefer a more desert-like area with flat hides and basking areas. These contrasting displays can provide an eye-catching, unique way to draw customers’ attention to your reptiles. However, this does require you to invest some time and effort into ensuring that the displays are, in fact, visually appealing.
If you go this route, one thing to make sure of is to have any and all display elements in your reptiles’ cages available for sale. While eye-catching displays can garner a customer’s attention, that attention means little if the customer cannot recreate the display your store demonstrates. Always be sure to have the tanks, hides, and other items used in your displays on sale nearby.
In selecting the geckos for your store, begin with leopard geckos or crested geckos if you’re new to this area. They are easy to care for and a great entry point into this very important category.