Why You Should Never Buy a Gecko

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4 min read

You can walk into any major pet store and buy a gecko for as little as $25. No knowledge about these unique and fragile individuals is required for you to purchase them as if they were plush toys or other playthings. But what did they endure before you got to the store? And what will happen after you leave, holding a box containing a confused and frightened animal fearing for their life?

‘Herping’ Is a Horrible ‘Hobby’

Breeding, trapping, and selling living, feeling animals for human amusement is wrong, full stop. It’s speciesist to prioritize human amusement over other animals’ suffering. Geckos are individuals with their own preferences and needs—and they don’t want to be kept in a cage.

Reptile breeders and captive-reptile supply companies try to make their perverse hobby sound legit by appealing to “hobbyist herpetologists.” But they’re not fooling us.

The Reptile Trade Is Hell

As seen in PETA’s investigation into Reptiles by Mack (a PetSmart supplier), the captive-reptile trade breeds animals—often by the thousands—in hellish warehouses, ships them in substandard conditions, and sells them to the public, often in poor health and without adequate instructions on proper care. Traffickers snatch other reptiles from their homes in nature.

For every live reptile you see at a pet store, countless others died painfully in its isolation tanks, due to extreme temperatures during shipment, or at the reptile mills that bred them.

What Would a Gecko Choose?

No gecko has ever chosen to live in a cage instead of their natural environment. Take the hint! Instead of buying geckos from breeders and pet stores or abducting them from their natural homes, just leave them alone.

Geckos Live for Decades

What’s your 20-year plan? If you don’t have one, you’re not alone. But here’s the thing: Geckos can be expected to live more than two decades if they’re treated well! Keeping someone in a cage for 20 years is sadistic.

How Deep Are Your Pockets?

Even though you can buy a gecko for next to nothing, providing for them is expensive. They need complex heating and humidification setups, specialty food, pricey lighting, and expert medical care. Assuming they’re in good health, caring for a gecko properly costs in the range of $50 to $100 per month.

Can You Really Take Care Of a Gecko?

Because their needs are so different from humans’, it’s a constant struggle to ensure that captive geckos even survive, let alone thrive. And handling them is notoriously difficult. If they feel threatened, they lose their tails, which is physically and psychologically stressful for them.

a green day gecko with scales across their body. their tail, clearly dropped and regenerated, is an ashy gray.
This gecko has lost their tail before.

And here are a few other things you should know about geckos:

  • They need to eat a variety of live insects, and when they’re not in nature, they require expensive nutritional supplements—and malnutrition leads to serious health conditions, such as metabolic bone disease.
  • If your power goes out in a storm, you may need emergency heating pads to keep them alive.
  • Errors in setting up their heating or lighting can easily lead them to endure excruciating full-body burns.
  • Their bedding must be changed frequently.
  • Ambient humidity must be closely monitored and strictly controlled to keep them healthy.
  • Veterinarians qualified to work with exotic animals like geckos are expensive and rare. Depending on where you live, there may be no medical assistance available if something goes wrong.
  • It’s easy to mess up the conditions necessary for geckos’ survival, and they have no way to help themselves—they’re condemned to suffer and die in a cage instead of seeking out a better location as they would in nature.

These are just some of the reasons why 75% of reptiles die within one year in human homes.

PetSmart profits on the live-animal trade—investigation after investigation into its animal suppliers has found factory farm conditions, filth, extreme crowding, deprivation, neglect, cruelty, and prolonged, painful death. Yet it continues to sell animals and do business with these vile operations.

Please help spare animals these horrors by urging PetSmart to stop selling live animals immediately:



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