Herp Daily.com article
HerpDaily.com article on Garrick DeMeyer and Breeding Geckos:
Dated: March 30th 2010
This is part 2 of the 2 part series involving Garrick DeMeyer and his thoughts and advice on the breeding portion of the reptile hobby. Part 2 covers advice and insights on breeding Leopard Geckos and Crested Geckos.
CHRIS: Hello Mr.DeMeyer, we would like to start the 2nd portion of this series with the question: where do you see the Leopard and Crested Gecko industries in the next 5 years?
GARRICK:The leopard gecko market has seen some huge changes over the past few years. There have been so many new morphs introduced- raptors, diablos, embers, enigmas, snows, and all of the crosses. There were a lot of people that jumped into the market when these morphs became available. Many of these breeders found out the hard way just how quickly the prices of most leopard gecko morphs can drop- especially dominant and co-dominant morphs. Leopards just have such a short generation time. A breeder can turn a single individual dominant morph into hundreds, or even thousands of them in just a couple years. However, the demand for leopard geckos is as high now as it has been in years, at least for the lower-end geckos. They are just such a great introductory species. I feel they are one of the key reptiles to help bring in new hobbyists, which keeps our industry thriving. I see some breeders getting out of leopard geckos for the same reasons as the ball pythons.: lots of competition and overall pricing being lower than what they expected. Those that stick with it should see prices stabilize a bit, although at a lower level for most morphs.
The crested gecko marking is doing well, too. There are a lot of breeders working with them now, compared to 1998 when I got my first geckos. There are so many color and pattern morphs being developed. I just set up another dozen breeding groups of them yesterday. I couldn’t believe the colors of some of the geckos I was putting into groups. They are like nothing I’ve ever seen before! Brilliant reds, oranges, creamsickles, extremely harlequins, and pinstripes. The next 5 years will bring even more incredible morphs. Prices for more common types will stay pretty low, probably around where they are now. The top-notch individuals will always command a high price, though.
CHRIS: For aspiring Crested Gecko, and Leopard Gecko breeders all over the world on a tight budget: what 4 animal morphs would you suggest a person start with and why?
GARRICK: Crested Geckos are very polymorphic, so I don’t think I have any specific individual morphs I recommend. I would get a group of babies of nicer, mixed colors and patterns including reds, oranges, yellows, fires, harlequins, pinstripes, etc. Raise those up, keep all the females as well as a male to go with every 3 females. Use those as your breeders. Purchasing ready to breed young adults is the quickest way to start breeding, but it is a lot more expensive than buying a group of babies.
There are so many leopard gecko morphs, many of which are excellent sellers. I don’t know if I could give you just 4. The strategy I would take is to set up at least 4 breeding groups, each of a different morph. That way, you can offer a variety of physical appearances. As pretty as solid yellow geckos are, you don’t want to produce a hundred of those and nothing else. Variety is key.
CHRIS: What are your favorite Crested and Leopard gecko morphs?
GARRICK: For crested geckos, it’s a difficult decision, because each individual, even within a particular morph, can be so variable. I think a really bright red flame with bold pin-striping is probably the most attractive to me. My answer about a favorite leopard gecko morph will probably surprise you, I know there are a lot of incredible morphs out there, but a really bright high yellow with bold black spotting is probably my favorite. After all, that’s how the species got their common name. Most geckos nowadays don’t look too “leopard-like”. I love animals with bright colors and bold contrast.
CHRIS: Do you plan on breeding any new and groundbreaking morphs for any of the species you work with in 2010 and if so, do you mind sharing with us? ☺
GARRICK: For crested geckos, we’ll mostly be trying to produce more extreme versions of what we already have- super red Harlys and pinstripes, brilliant yellows, oranges, etc. We do have a few cool leopard gecko morphs in the works. Super Snow Diablo Blancos, Super Snow Bell Enigmas, Sunglow Raptors, and the brightest, most extreme Sunglows and carrot tails we’ve ever produced!
CHRIS: What kind of advice would you give to a young hobbyist who aspires to become a successful Leopard and Crested gecko breeder?
GARRICK: The first thing is to start out with healthy stock. Go for quality over pricing, especially when you are getting future breeding stock. That also goes for equipment. High-quality rack systems and thermostats are very important. Make sure to have enough housing for your breeders as well as your expected offspring. Have all the baby racks and cages ready when the babies start to hatch. I recommend starting with several different color morphs so you have a good variety to offer customers. You don’t generally want to produce a huge number of one particular type, because your customers’ tastes will vary. If you are only going to produce a small number of high-quality geckos, make sure to raise them up to a sub-adult or young adult size. Those fetch a much higher price than selling them as babies.
CHRIS: What makes the Leopard Gecko community different from other reptile communities? What about the Crested Gecko community??
GARRICK: There are certainly differences in each reptile species communities. Honestly, I am so busy every day- answering emails, phone calls, packing shipments, collecting eggs, cleaning cages, etc., etc., etc., that I really don’t get too involved in online forums. I like to occasionally post photos of new and exciting animals I’m producing, but I don’t get too involved in the day-to-day activity of forums. There just aren’t enough hours in the day to do everything and still have a family and personal life. I think forums, if used properly, are an excellent way to give/find advice, especially for more novice hobbyists. One thing I really get tired of seeing is the “market is crashing” type of posts. It happens in every community, but I see it the most in leopard geckos and ball pythons. Some people that really don’t understand how the market works like to predict the end of the market and the crash of prices. Leopard geckos in particular have had a large market for many years now, having up years and down years. It’ll continue to do so. Overall, I think both the leopard gecko community and the crested gecko community is mainly comprised of some great individuals, with a lot of expertise and love for the species they work with. I see a lot of dedication out there!
CHRIS: What do you think is the minimum capital investment ( in US$) to start a successful leopard gecko breeding business? Crested Gecko breeding business?
GARRICK: That is a really tough question. It really depends on the scale the breeder wants to achieve. If the goal is to produce a small number of high quality geckos, they may only need a couple racks and only a handful of geckos to start out with. I think a couple thousand dollars may cover a couple racks, thermostat and a small group of nicer geckos. Keep in mind that there are other costs in addition to the initial setup costs- mealworms, supplements, electricity, etc. If a breeder wants to produce large numbers of geckos for the pet trade, mostly being wholesaled, he or she will have to have multiple rack systems and may have to purchase 100 or more geckos to raise up for breeders. That kind of setup would require several thousand dollars at the very least. It would also take an entire room or more to fit an operation of that size in. Our gecko room houses about 500 adult breeder leopards, 300 breeder crested geckos, and at least 1500 babies and juveniles at any given time. It is just under 1000 square feet and probably has around 40 rack systems in it. It is a full time job to maintain that room. Between all the expenses including employee costs, I spend about $100,000 per year operating the gecko part of our business. Of course, I didn’t just start out that big overnight. I spent years building up the collection to that size. The best advice I can give is to start out small, get the experience, and grow gradually. You have to grow into being able to handle a large collection. I see some hobbyists get too big, too fast, and either go broke or burn out trying to keep up. Good planning, both short-term and long-term, is mandatory to running a successful breeding business.
We would again like to thank Mr. DeMeyer for his valuable insight, this time concerning Leopard Geckos and Crested Geckos. If you would like to know more about Garrick DeMeyer please visit his respective websites at:
His amazing videos can be found on YouTube channel name: thecrestedgecko