Do Leopard Geckos Like To Be Held? – Techniques & Interactions

Are you thinking about becoming a leopard gecko own? Well you may be thinking, do leopard geckos like to be held?

Before answering this question, you should know that handling a leopard gecko is not very hard at all. However there are a few things that you should be aware of before we dive into this article. 

  • Geckos are fast 
  • They will eventually accept you
  • At first they may try to get away 
  • Stay calm at all times
  • They are very docile reptiles 

These five points are the first rules you should come to terms with when handling a leopard gecko. You have to remember that leopard geckos are born with natural instinct, even when born in captivity. Humans are totally unnatural to geckos and at first you will be seen as a threat.

Geckos are fast

Like all other gecko species, leopard geckos are indeed very fast little reptiles. They will scurry along the floor, zig zagging in every direction to try and avoid being captured. Now, remember what I said before about their natural instincts. Geckos will always try and run for cover, specially if they are in an open space.

So when handling a leopard gecko for the first few months, be sure to create an inclosed space where your gecko can not escape, where your gecko can be handled safely. Maybe try to barrier off a corner of the room, so that you can sit comfortably in the corner with them, and let them climb over you at their will. 

This Pet Playpen Cage will give you all the security you need for your gecko to freely play.

Leopard geckos can climb, and will also jump. They actually have a very good leap on them. So if they feel there is a surface in sight which can be reached, they may well take a leap of faith. As long as there are no cupboards, wardrobes, or broken floor boards your gecko can get under in the room, then an open floor should be fine. Just make anyone else in the house aware, so they don’t open the door unknowingly. The last thing you need is to be chasing your gecko around the house, because they will find somewhere inaccessible to hide. It’s what they’re best at.

They will eventually accept you

First of all, this won’t happen over night. This is a fairly long process and really depends on the spare time you have to spend with your gecko. The first six months will most likely be slow progress. Through the juvenile stage leopard geckos are very curious and adventurous, so they will want to explore and climb all over you. This is completely natural and actually very beneficial.

If you imagine any young animal, more times than not the mother will stick round for the first couple of years until she believes her young are old enough to fend for themselves. And this is exactly the same for leopard geckos. However, you as their owner will be their new mother. The more time you spend with them through their juvenile stage, the more acceptant they will be of you in the future.

Naturally at first they will only see you as a threat. They will try to evade you at every opportunity and will hide in, under and on top of anything they can. But just being present will eventually pay off as they become familiar with you, and will eventually no longer see you as a threat.

The end goal is for your gecko to actually get excited to see you. You will become familiar to them for being held and taken out of their enclosure. In turn, they will see you as a chance to get out and explore (which they love).

At first they may try to get away 

Leopard geckos are thought to be very docile animals. This said, you will always need to be careful when handling them as they have a very delicate frame. As juveniles their bones aren’t yet at full strength, so a fall from height could be very damaging. 

Handling for the first few months can be very stressful for a gecko. They will ry to get away at every opportunity, so let them do as they please. Don’t ever force them to stay if they don’t want to be. 

Geckos are notorious escape artists. They are well equipped with a safety measure that may just save their life out in the wild. Leopard geckos can detach their tails in the event they are caught. In the wild geckos are always on the run. So when running away from a predator the first point of contact is usually the tail. Predators bite their tails and think they have just caught their next meal, when in fact, geckos can detect their tails to evade being caught.

So please don’t grab your geckos tails in an attempt to catch them and they will simply detect themselves and still run away. They will however eventually grow their tails back again, so don’t be afraid if this happens because its meant to.

Stay calm at all times 

Staying calm at all times will help to make your gecko feel at ease. If you are afraid, being twitchy and jumpy, then your gecko will easily pick up on this and start acting in a similar way. If they realise that you are just as scare of the as they are of you, then they will continue to act in a way which makes you jump.

I would suggest to start off with, just placing your hand inside the enclosure and getting your gecko used to your smell and company. In its own time, curiosity will take over and they will want to inspect further, specially once they realise you aren’t a threat.

Offer an open palm. Hopefully after a while your gecko will willingly walk onto your hand without having to forcefully pick them up. Don’t make any sudden movements as this will cause a lot of stress and may undo all your hard work to get to this stage.

Remember that leopard geckos aren’t going to bite. Or if on the rare occasion they do, the bite isn’t going to hurt. You’ll be more shocked than hurt. Please don’t take this as aggression though, as a form of defence for a gecko isn’t to attack, its to run and hide. If anything, they think a small part of you looks rather tasty (usually the loose skin around the hands hand which may look like mealworms).

They are very docile reptiles

Leopard geckos are very docile tempered. They have very little, if any aggression inside them, which makes them one of the most favourable reptiles for first time owners, or owners with young children.

They do also like to be handled, so this makes them even more desirable. May pet owners want an animal they can interact with. So unless you are looking for a particular reptile, then leopard geckos are high up on the wanted list.

Being docile makes leopard geckos very approachable and easy to handle. Obviously like I have said before, this will take time but eventually they will become comfortable being handled regularly.

Do Leopard Geckos Like To Be Held A Lot?

The answer is… YES.

Every leopard geckos is difference, but commonly leopard geckos do like to be held. They are very docile reptiles that will quickly accept you as a friend. Leopard geckos like to be handled and cuddled as they enjoy the warmth a human has to offer. Once they are done climbing over you and have found a nice level spot at lay, they will usually lay completely flat to enjoy the warmth of your skin. Almost like sunbathing.

However leopard geckos will not willingly run up to you and expect to be handled. In fact they probably could care less if you pick them up or not. However, after a while they will become acceptant to it. 

It’s easy to tell if leopard geckos are enjoying being handled or not by their characteristics. If they are moving constantly and seem to be agitated, then it’s most likely they are not enjoying the experience. However, if they are being still, and seem to be relaxed, then I’d say they are enjoy the experience.

This can change on a daily basis, so I would never assume your leopard gecko is enjoying being held. After all, this is completely unnatural for them. If they seem stressed for any reason, I would recommend putting them back in their enclosure.

Why Do Leopard Geckos Like To Be Held?

Having a leopard gecko as a pet is great, but why do leopard geckos like being held?

There are many benefits that your leopard gecko gains from being held. When handling your leopard gecko, the best way you can interact with them is by playing with them.

Thats right, play with them.

Leopard geckos love to explore. This is pretty much all they do in the wild, so you want to replicate this as much as possible as a pet. Playing with them will keep their minds stimulated and will no doubt improve your relationship with them.

The goal from this is for your leopard gecko to be handled when it’s feeling happy. This will eradicate any scared feelings it may have towards you. It will hopefully eliminate the thought of threat.

Take them out of their enclosure

A reptiles enclosure gives them a safe haven to relax in. The enclosure will become their home where they can relax completely stress free. But from time to time they will want to explore. 

A great way to interact with your gecko is to let them explore outside of their enclosure. Handle your leopard gecko in a safe, enclosed room, and let them free to explore. They will enjoy running around a bedroom floor for a while, and climbing over any obstacles you may have.

Mainly they will try to find the highest spot, so using you as a climbing frame will most likely be the outcome. This is a great way to improve your relationship with a gecko as they will acknowledge you as a fun activity.

Treasure hunt 

Another game which you can try with your leopard gecko is a treasure hunt. 

In the wild geckos are continuously on the look out for their next meal. So then you take your gecko out of its enclosure to explore, put a few mealworms out for it to find. This interaction will be a great exercise for its natural instincts.

I would suggest only 3-5 mealworms as you want this to be a treat for them. Any more and they may begin to believe that leaving the enclosure means feeding time, which is not what you want. I would suggest only doing this once a week also.

Climbing tools

Lastly, leopard geckos love to climb. They specially love to climb up trees and branched as they commonly use these as view points in the wild. 

There a great product called Exo-terra, which specialises in Reptile Climbing Branches. They are made from a safe material which is sterile and soft on the skin. Natural branches from outside may be harmful to geckos as you never know what toxins it may have. Home found branches may also be covered in harmful bacteria and parasites which may also be very harmful to your gecko. 

They also offer Foam Climbing Walls, for reptiles which can also be used inside enclosures.

Always refrain from finding your own climbing branches as more times than less they will be harmful to your reptile in one way or another. Exo-terra branches are not very expensive either, so I would just suggests the one off payment for a climbing branch online or in store. This is undoubtably the safest equipment for your gecko.


I hope this has helped answer the question, do leopard geckos like to be held?

Yes. Leopard geckos do like to be held and they will eventually become acceptant to your presence. Handling your leopard gecko at first can be quite stressful for both parties, so keep the contact time short to begin with. Respect your geckos needs. If they seem stressed or uncomfortable, then put them back in their enclosure.

I hope you have learnt how to handle your leopard gecko correctly and the do’s and don’ts when handling them.  Remember, gaining someones trust takes time and this is no different for geckos. Be patient and before you know it, you will have a gecko which enjoys your company and being held.

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Do Leopard Geckos Like To Be Held? – Techniques & Interactions

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