Crested geckos vary in price for a number of reasons. Generally, reptiles (and other exotic pets) are priced depending on their rarity and scarcity in the marketplace. Many reptiles are very challenging to keep. Some animals may take a long time to mature, may be difficult to breed, or have few offspring. Most Rhacodactylus species are typically easy to care for and crested geckos are especially easy to breed in captivity, and they are very prolific. This makes them the most affordable of all the Rhac species.
The more popular a pet becomes, the more people will attempt to breed it, whether to enhance the hobby experience or to simply make money. Cresties are no exception. With an animal that has a high degree of variability to the look of the offspring, there will be a focus on what can be called “designer” or “high-end” quality. Something special that can be reproduced in future generations. Check out our morph and color guide for descriptions on colors and patterns. Because this takes time to develop, animals of this nature will be priced more highly than a “plain” or common-looking animal. In crested geckos, this usually means a drab color without a lot of pattern. Buckskins are usually priced lower than red harlequins. However, neither make better pets and if you are looking for a pet-quality crested gecko, the price range may be around $35-$60, depending on availability in your area.
Speaking of availability, supply and demand also comes into play in the cost of a crested gecko. Some areas don’t have a lot of breeders or pet stores that carry them, so even a plain gecko could be close to $100. Having a breeder ship to you from another location may be an option! In this way you may get more gecko for your money, depending on overnight shipping costs. Some areas are conversely very saturated with crested geckos, and even “designer” quality juveniles can be bought for under $100. Many breeders want to prevent crested geckos from becoming a “disposable” pet, similar to hamsters, gerbils and the proverbial goldfish (which, contrary to popular belief is actually a very long-lived animal). Rarely do they go for under $20 unless you are buying several or the seller gives personal discounts.
The term “high end” can be over used because it’s not defining any set of traits. Anyone can use a label; do your research before buying! Prices can also fluctuate depending on local economy and time of year; summer is typically breeding season and many breeders may reduce prices if they have a lot of available geckos. Some people who’ve bred reptiles for a long time have noted pricing cycles that boom and bust depending on popularity. If you intend to breed crested geckos, you need to be prepared to ride out these cycles or take financial losses as a part of your hobby. Most dedicated breeders will reduce their pairings in order to not be overwhelmed, or only breed if they have a waiting list for potential offspring. It takes years to recoup your investment in breeding stock and supplies. Don’t think that breeding crested geckos will make you rich!
Most reptile breeders are not in it for the money. Their goals are usually simple: get back what you put into them financially, plus a little extra to expand to new projects and even new species. Most crested gecko “morphs” do not breed true because they are a combination of polygenic traits. Established, long term breeders have invested in a set look to their projects, and their own lines generally reproduce well. Buyers within the reptile community are willing to spend more for it. However, beware of made-up morph names (moonglow, blizzard, camo, etc) designed to jack up the price. A breeder may have a famous line of geckos they’ve worked hard on and have a right to name them, but crested gecko prices should be consistent with the quality of the animal, regardless of label.
Structure is as highly sought after as color and pattern. Crests are what make these geckos so unique! If a gecko is particularly lacking in the crest department, they’re considered “bald” and are not the best choice for breeding. Again, it has no bearing on their suitability as a pet, and all crested geckos cost the same for quality care and maintenance.
Many breeders also prefer a wider head, varying from a wedge-shape to arrow-head dimensions. Shorter snouts tend to enhance the wedge-head look. “Crowned” crested geckos have a head length less than 1.3 times the width of their head. A crowned gecko can still have short or missing crests, however, it just refers to the proportion.
Adult females tend to be priced more highly than males because of the potential to breed them and keep them with other females in a community tank. If you are looking for a single pet, consider a juvenile or a sub-adult male for the best value. Many pet stores have a set price regardless of gender, so you may get lucky and find a nice-looking female for a lower price locally. Reptile shows or expos can also be a good place to bargain shop; prices tend to be lowered on the last day so you may be able to find a nice inexpensive pet at a show.