Rescue VS Breeder Geckos
I have two Leopard Geckos as examples of breeder vs rescue geckos, Rio, and Squib. They are six years old as of early 2020, and have identical husbandry (but are not cohabited!).
Rio was purchased from a small pet shop that most likely got her from a mill. She was a "rescue", returned to them after about 3 months of being owned by a child who knew nothing about proper husbandry resulting in her losing all of her toes.
Squib was bought from a wonderful pet shop / breeder, who is known to be one of the most reputable in South England (Crystal Palace Reptiles). They breed some in house and supply others from reputable breeders who they have a close working relationship with.
Rio (cost £20)
- Always has issues shedding, even with a humid hide and higher ambient humidity.
- She has problems gaining and holding onto weight - no matter how much I feed her she struggles to meet her weight goal of 70 grams.
- Is naturally small: this could be due to her being kept in bad conditions from the ages of 7 - 12 months, or it could be due to bad breeding.
- Develops HUGE armpit bubbles despite being given the same supplement schedule as Squib.
Squib (cost £60)
- Has never had a bad shed
- Has no issue gaining weight (and is now overweight and on a strict diet!)
- Is fairly large for a female gecko, even without the extra weight she is currently carrying.
The only positive thing that Rio gained from being a pet shop gecko is that she is far, far tamer than Squib. This is probably due to her being excessively handled, as well as cohabited in the shop. Squib, on the other hand, was mostly left to her own devices in the rack system as the breeder only lets serious customers who are looking to buy handle their animals.
As a small scale breeder myself, I do handle all of the animals in my care regularly and try to make sure they're all relatively tame and trusting before they head off to forever homes.
Rescuing is incredibly rewarding and makes a world of difference for the animal, but it can be more of a drain on resources.
Animals from good breeders, although more expensive at first, tend to be healthier from the get-go. They are given the best start in life and generally exceed the average lifespan of Leopard Geckos.