Leopard geckos have a reputation for being friendly and docile reptiles. As a Leopard gecko owner, you may be interested in knowing every detail about your Leo.
This includes, among others, do Leopard geckos like to be held? What are the things that make a Leopard gecko happy?
Let’s take a closer look at these geckos to find out more about handling them.
Do Leopard Geckos Like to be Held? A Detailed Analysis
So, do Leopard geckos like to be held? Yes, and no. The answer to the question has a little twist to it. A Leopard gecko does tolerate being held, but it doesn’t like it. With time and patience, it will become less stressed during the handling session, but it still won’t be looking forward to being held.
To better understand why Leopard geckos detest being held and the best ways to slowly tame them, read on as we discuss some tips and tricks on how to build a lasting bond and trust with your Leo.
Why don’t Leopard Geckos Like to be Held?
Like all reptiles, geckos too lack the ability to become emotionally attached to their owners. They do recognize the owner or others with whom they frequently interact, for example, the one who feeds them. But since, unlike other pets, such as cats and dogs, geckos’ domestication is a recent phenomenon, they have not learned to trust humans the way other pets have.
This is not just about geckos; it is about all reptiles. They have lived in the wild since time immemorial, away from humans, and have not developed sophisticated emotions—say, pleasure and love—to interact with humans. They have not developed these emotions because it doesn’t benefit them. It may be a survival instinct or the way they have evolved.
For this reason, a Leopard gecko doesn’t like being held a lot. Unlike other pets who enjoy being held or cuddled, they don’t enjoy it. With time, as your Leo becomes familiar to you, it will start trusting you and become more relaxed in your presence.
But they, as we said, do recognize some humans. “Some reptiles do appear to enjoy human contact,” says Dr. Sharman Hoppes, clinical assistant professor at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, “especially when food is offered. Many will respond to feeding times, coming to certain people they associate with food.”
That said, there are certain ways that can help you develop trust with your gecko.
Steps to Strengthen Your Bond with a Leopard Gecko
As previously discussed, a Leopard gecko will feel relaxed around you once you earn its trust and treat it with love and patience. This will make handling it easy and a stress-free experience for your Leo.
Following are the steps you can take to ensure your gecko is happy around you.
Gradually Make Yourself Familiar to the Gecko
A gecko gets stressed when it is in a new place. Thus, to make it comfortable with you in a new setting, you should slowly familiarize it with yourself. Never rush holding your gecko because doing so will scare it.
The best way to make a gecko familiar and be at ease with you is to show it you are not a threat. Once it associates you with safety, your gecko will become relaxed around you. “Many reptile owners believe that their personal reptiles do recognize the good intentions they have towards them,” says Pet Talk, a service of Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences.
Another tip to put your gecko at ease is to offer it food. This is proved to be an effective way to bond with your pet. Just like other pets, geckos too like to be fed by their owner. Apart from feeding it the regular Leopard gecko diet, you should also offer some treats to surprise it while you are holding it. This will make your gecko associate handling with treats and will become comfortable when you hold it.
You need to be consistent with the feeding frequency so you can build a routine for your gecko.
After establishing a feeding routine, your gecko will easily link up food with you. This will prove helpful in making your gecko comfortable with you and warming up to you.
Let the Gecko Explore Its Surroundings
Geckos like to explore their surroundings and experience their environment on their own. So let your Leo inspect its tank and other places near to it. By doing so, you would allow it to become familiar with its living space and the nearby areas. This will eventually result in your gecko associating you with fun experiences.
Thus, you should let your Leo explore its surroundings, and it will soon warm up to you.
Give Your Leo a Name
Surprisingly, your Leopard gecko can get familiar with the name you call it or the sound you make to call it. After you bring home a Leo, start calling it by a specific name, and soon it will start reacting to that name. This is another tip to make a Leopard gecko comfortable with your presence.
The Right Way to Pick a Leopard Gecko
Do Leopard geckos like to be held? We know they don’t, but once they start being comfortable with their owners, they can tolerate being held. But how should we pick up a Leopard gecko? What are the dos and don’ts of holding or picking up a Leopard gecko?
Below, we have gathered some useful tips before you try holding your Leo.
- Before you try picking up your Leo, make sure there are no signs of stress or anxiety. A happy gecko is active and responds to the movement outside its tank. A stressed gecko, on the other hand, is lethargic and inactive.
- To hold your gecko, try scooping it up from beneath instead of picking it up. When you try to pick the gecko, your hand may look like a predator to it, which will scare it.
- Don’t forcefully hold or pick your gecko. If your gecko starts making a loud noise, hides away, or drops its tail, it means it is scared. It is better to leave your Leo and not try holding it again anytime soon.
- Once the gecko is relaxed, gently put your hand inside its tank from a place where the gecko can see you. Avoid sneaking up on them so they know you are not harmful and won’t attack them.
- Don’t hold your Leo for a long time. It shouldn’t be held for more than 15 minutes.
- Just as picking up a gecko needs care and tenderness, it is also important to gently put it back down.
How to Know My Leopard Gecko is Angry?
A gecko can start acting aggressively towards its owner for a couple of reasons. But the signs it exhibits are always a sure way to understand it is angry. Below, we have listed the signs when a gecko is angry or stressed.
- Screaming and making a loud noise
- Hiding when it sees you.
- Making an S pattern with its tail in the standing position.
- Dropping its tail.
- Running towards you with an open mouth.
- If provoked or attacked, it may bite you as Leopard geckos do have teeth.
What to Do if My Leopard Gecko Runs Away from Me?
Be patient and wait it out. The main reason a gecko runs away from its owner or hides is that it is scared. Additionally, Leopard geckos are shy reptiles. They don’t socialize or become comfortable right away. So it is always a better idea to wait for your Leo to get comfortable with its surroundings and with you.
If you rush the process of handling it, your gecko may become scared or stressed. Thus, to keep your gecko happy and thriving, it is important to let it take its time to warm up to you.
We hope you now have enough information regarding the question do Leopard geckos like to be held? Many geckos tolerate being held, but they don’t like or look forward to it.
Leopard gecko is a shy and docile reptile that is more of a display pet than being the one that likes being pet or handheld.
If you have just brought home a juvenile Leo, you need to know it may take 6 – 7 months before it warms up to you and become friendly towards you. Avoid rushing the handling process and let the gecko live on its own terms. This will help your gecko feel at ease around you and would help it adapt to its surroundings.
Whether tamed or not, keeping a Leopard gecko as a pet will prove a fulfilling and rewarding experience for you. Although these geckos are known for their obedient nature and meek temperament, they still are living beings. You need to be very gentle towards them and be respectful of their needs. Once comfortable, they will become your best pals and prove to be good company.