Thinking about becoming a gecko owner… Well you may be thinking, do leopard geckos like to be held?
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Before answering this question, you should know that handling leopard geckos 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 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.