Craigslist is an international “online community” that functions primarily as a “buy sell trade” classifieds list but also as a forum, source for dates, and employment listing, among other things. More information about Craigslist can be found through their FAQ . I have used Craigslist successfully for a variety of gecko related sales and purchases and feel that it can be a very productive resource if used with care and common sense.
How I Use Craigslist
I check my local and not-so-local Craigslist nearly every evening (more about that below). When I’m traveling somewhere by car, I check my destination Craigslist the week before I’m scheduled to leave. By far, the best results I’ve gotten from Craigslist have been gecko related supplies at amazing prices:
- a 4-cage stack hand-made from wood and plastic tubs with 1/4” thick sliding glass front doors, heat and lighting for $250 (http://s475.photobucket.com/user/acpart/media/IMG_2549.jpg.html)
- many exo-terra cages for $30 or less each, ranging from 12”x12”x18” to 24”x24”x24”
- two 12”x12”x18” Exo-Terra cages, 2 sets of lights, a plant, bamboo and a L. williamsi male gecko for $40
I’ve sold a number of geckos to people advertising on Craigslist looking for leopard geckos. Most of these sales have been to people who live within 2 hours of me and several of these people have been repeat customers. On two occasions, I’ve sold geckos to people in conjunction with long car trips after checking the Craigslist local to my destination. Some of these “customers” have contacted me for additional geckos and others continue to email me for advice several years after the sale.
I rarely buy reptiles from Craigslist, but the 3 purchases I did make, for a bearded dragon, a Mack snow blizzard leopard gecko, and a male gargoyle gecko (which turned out to be from someone I already knew), have been successful.
I’ve been able to provide advice and recommendations to people posting on Craigslist for help with their geckos. On two occasions I ended up fostering geckos for people who were having trouble with care or feeding. One woman was looking to give her geckos away because she had one that needed medication and she was going away for a month. It was clear from the ad that she loved these geckos, so I offered to take care of them in my home and medicate them while she was gone. They spent a month with me, and she was able to continue to have them as pets when she got back.
I occasionally sell equipment and supplies. Recently, I advertised on Craigslist to sell a 40 gallon tank that had cracked. I posted pictures of the cracks and pointed out that if the background which came with the tank was placed in front of the cracks it would be “as good as new”. I got a few nasty email responses from Craigslisters who felt that asking $40 for a cracked 40 gallon tank was unfair. One told me I had more of a chance of seeing God than selling that tank. I pointed out that the tank included a background, hinged mesh cover and 50-60 gallon sized UTH, all worth considerably more than $40. I saw God –I sold the tank!
The best way to find deals on Craigslist is to search it regularly, as I do nearly every evening. In order for this to be practical, I have gotten it down to a very quick process that takes approximately 5 minutes and is designed for maximum yield with minimal effort. I check the Craigslists for my state as well as 4 adjacent states. I search for 2 terms, “gecko” and “reptile” in 2 categories: “for sale” (in the “search Craigslist” function along the left side of the home screen) and “pets”. I could also search for “geckos”, “reptiles” and “lizards(s)” but the increased yield isn’t worth the additional time that it would take. I have the computer’s word prediction function turned on, so once I’ve typed “gecko” into the search box, the computer will bring up “gecko” as the first choice every time I type “g” into the box. One click + “enter” to access a search for “gecko”, a double click on “gecko” and a click + “enter” to search the same category for “reptile” and I’m on to the next category. As each screen of search results comes up, I check the dates and only look at the entries for the most recent date(s) I haven’t seen yet. The yield isn’t great: in an average week I probably send out 3-5 queries. But it’s worthwhile for the small time investment and the potential payoff.
Do’s and Don’t’s for Craigslist
What follows is my personal opinion on how it does and doesn’t make sense to use Craigslist in a rewarding, ethical and efficient manner:
Don’t sell your geckos: Officially, Craigslist prohibits sales of (non-feeder) live animals. Advertisers get around this by offering their animals for “adoption” and charging a “re-homing fee”. I’m not comfortable doing this because I feel it’s misleading. I’m not “re-homing” my geckos, I’m selling them. I used to advertise on Craigslist to sell my gecko set-ups and would include my website and the message “ask me about my geckos”. Even this seemed to me to be a way around the rules, though, in my opinion, more legitimate than the “adoption fee” wording. Since I get just as much return by responding to requests as as I would by advertising, without the hassle of posting, I don’t bother advertising anymore.
Don’t try to save the world: There are a lot of clueless people out there with a lot of misinformation about geckos and a lot of poorly cared for geckos. Those of us who participate in online gecko forums know how stubbornly ignorant some forum members can be, and those are people who specifically search out gecko forums. It’s much worse on a general interest site like Craigslist. If you get involved with every poster who has poor information or horrible looking geckos, you’ll burn out quickly and mostly end up with an Inbox full of nasty emails.
In a few cases, I try one round of gentle education and give up if it isn’t well received. Usually it’s along the lines of “the gecko you have in this ad is not an African Fat Tailed gecko as you wrote, but a Leopard Gecko”. In most of those cases, the poster will correct the ad.
Here’s an example of a text message exchange that didn’t go as well:
Me: “The eye shot of your [leopard gecko] Raptor on Craigslist indicates to me that she is not a Raptor because I don’t see either red eyes or snake eyes. That means at the most she would be Aptor (no eclipse). Correct me if I’m wrong”
Poster: Yeah your (sic) wrong she was off of a breeder
Me: Well if her eyes aren’t red then she’s not a raptor no matter what the breeder said (I’m a breeder too). I don’t mean to be a pain but I think it’s important to be accurate. I was considering her until I saw the eye”
Suffice it to say, we did not conclude a sale and whenever I see this person’s phone number in an ad, I just skip it.
By the same token, don’t try to save the world’s geckos: You will see lots of geckos in very poor shape and in really inappropriate enclosures. Don’t go on a mission of mercy to save all these animals. Harden your heart. Otherwise, you’ll end up with many dead geckos, high vet bills, and the possibility of losing the geckos you already own to some awful disease (think Cryptosporidiosis).
Quarantine, quarantine, quarantine: Let’s say you do end up getting a healthy looking gecko from Craigslist, or you see a gecko in poor health that you’re just dying to rescue. It goes without saying that any new gecko that comes into your household should be quarantined for at least a month. In the case of a sick looking gecko, for the protection of the rest of your geckos, maintain an even stricter quarantine: keep the gecko well away from your other geckos, in a separate room if possible. Handle it last and wash your hands well before and after attending to it. Use disposable cage furniture and a non-particulate substrate. Obviously, if for some reason the gecko does end up with a severe, incurable disease like cryptosporidiosis and dies, you’ll need to disinfect or get rid of any caging or cage furniture that the gecko was in contact with.
Don’t get too invested: A sale isn’t a sale until it’s successfully concluded. Craigslist responders are notorious for not showing up even if they’ve promised. Don’t assume, if you’re offering an animal or equipment, that it’s a “done deal” until it’s actually done. If you’re making a purchase, be prepared to find out that the actual item or gecko isn’t as it appeared in the advertisement. If anything concerns you about the item you’re purchasing or the person who wants to buy from you, be prepared to back out rather than make a purchase or sale you’ll regret.
In general, the trick to succeeding with Craigslist is having a “light touch”. Don’t expect or assume too much. Don’t get embroiled in online controversies. Look for the best deals and the most sincere posters and you (usually) can’t go wrong!