As someone who has personally owned numerous leopard geckos over the years, I can definitely say that this question is one that I heavily took into consideration before buying one. Which, by the way, is a totally normal question to ask before buying any pet, because nobody wants to own something that doesn’t enjoy being around them, right? Luckily, if you’re looking into getting your first leopard gecko, you won’t be disappointed with the answer to this question.
Are leopard geckos friendly? Leopard geckos are, in fact, friendly pets. Although it may take a little time for your leopard gecko to warm up to you after bringing him or her home, generally, most of them are friendly after being given enough time to adapt to their surroundings and new owner.
Just like any other living creature such as a dog, cat, and even humans, leopard geckos have many different behaviors that they display depending on how they feel, but generally speaking, they are awesome pets to have and will treat you with the utmost respect if you love and care for them the right way. They are friendly by nature, but there are certain things you can do to make sure they stay that way so that you and your gecko are happy at all times.
Feeding your Gecko
Simple enough, but manually feeding your gecko is a great way to build a relationship between the two of you and will over time allow you to gain the trust and respect that your gecko needs to be friendly towards you.
It’s easy to just drop food right into its tank during feeding time, but when it comes to building that healthy relationship that’s needed between a pet and its owner, it’s always a better idea to pick up the food out of the container by hand and feed your gecko so that they can familiarize themselves with you and know that you are someone they can trust and go to when they want to fill their little bellies.
And I know it may be a little intimidating to hold your leopard gecko at the beginning of the ‘ bonding process ‘ out of fear that it might hiss or bite you ( which doesn’t hurt, btw), so instead, you can slide or lift your tank open and slowly feed your gecko its food one by one until you’ve given it enough food for the day and then repeat this process for 3 to 6 weeks after getting it so you can give your gecko adequate time to really get used to you. If you don’t feel 100% comfortable feeding it when your hands (which is totally understandable), you can just let it eat straight out of its food container as well.
Keeping it Stress-Free
Stress is a normal part of life, even for animals, but when it comes to leopard geckos, in particular, too much stress can actually cause a significant loss of trust and may make building a relationship that much harder in the short term and long term.
To make sure your gecko is staying as stress-free as possible, avoid doing certain mindless things that you might do without thinking too much about it because this might actually cause your gecko a lot of stress and in return, a bad relationship and bond between the two of you.
Here are just a handful of what may seem to be harmless things that can potentially cause your gecko a lot of stress and turmoil:
- Playing music too loudly
- Bringing it around other animals
- Touching it too much
- Not feeding it enough
- Making sudden movements
As a beginner, it’s normal to have little mishaps here and there or think that some of the things you are doing with your gecko are harmless, which is completely normal, but it’s important to always keep in mind that just like you and I, your gecko also has things that can trigger it to freak out a bit and cause it to want to avoid certain situations that could bring that unwanted fear and anxiety when it comes to certain and specific stressors as well.
It can be hard to keep all these things in mind in the beginning stages of having your new pet at home, but it’s very important. So in order to make sure that you don’t forget the things you should and shouldn’t do to keep the peace between you and your new little buddy, I highly suggest that you write them down and practice them every day so that you can avoid making too many mistakes, therefore, making it harder to care for and enjoy the company or your gecko.
Keeping a Schedule
As some of you may know, leopard geckos are, in fact, nocturnal creatures. And this basically means that they sleep at opposite times than us, so in other words, at night. With this schedule, it may be tempting to want to play with, handle, or feed your gecko while you are up and active during the day, but doing so can cause a lot of unwanted stress on your gecko and we all know that anyone who hasn’t gotten enough sleep is always a little less friendly than you’d like them to be.
To avoid this problem, make sure you always keep a schedule with your gecko and only feed and handle it when it is up and active more towards the night time. A lot of us have work and school to attend to in the morning and have to be in bed by a certain time making it hard to really spend time with your gecko, but luckily, a lot of them are up and active starting at 6-7 PM and sometimes sooner, making it a little easier to really get that much-needed time in to build up that bond and feed it when it’s up and ready to eat.
Also, while your gecko is sleeping, be sure to keep its environment nice and quiet to minimize the chance of stress that much more and to also make sure that they are less grumpy and just overall healthier and refreshed when they get up at night to move around and start their day.
Making an Identifiable Sound
Sounds can be certain triggers that can cause either a positive reaction or a negative one in someone or something whether it’s intentional or not, so in order to make sure your leopard gecko identifies you as something positive rather than negative in its life, it’s always a good idea to make a sound whether that be a name that you have for it or a chattering noise or pretty much any soothing, non-loud sound that your gecko can identify you with so it knows that you’re not a threat and that you’ve come to take care of it and are in no way harmful to its well-being or health.
If for example, you create your own unique sound between the two of you and then proceed to feed it or rub it very gently shortly after making the sound, then over time you might find that your gecko has now attached that sound with positive experiences with you and will no longer be afraid of your presence or be sketched out any time that you come around.
In order for this to fully work, it’s best to create and implement your sound the very first day you get your gecko and then proceed to repeatedly use it over the course of the bonding period and every time after that in order to gain and keep that trust for as long as you have your pet.
And the good thing is that not only can this sound be a positive greeting for your gecko, but it can also be used to calm your gecko down if accidentally spooked or if it’s too stressed out.
Only Handling your Gecko with Experience
Leopard geckos are great family pets but if handled by the wrong people, this can not only scare them but might even cause a safety concern if handled by someone with little to no experience with leopard geckos as well.
Beginners, children, or just anyone who has never had experience with geckos might be a little rough when handling them. Or if they get a hissing or biting reaction from the gecko, might even accidentally drop them, so if you have lots of family and friends and they show interest in your gecko, let them know how to handle them, about their potential reactions to being held by a new person, and never let them hold them for too long to keep your geckos stress levels down to a minimum.
If you find that your leopard gecko is reacting poorly to someone else holding them, gently take them back and make your unique sound to calm your gecko down and to let it know that you’re there and that it’s safe and no longer in danger.
Another thing I’ve come across quite frequently is how many owners have found that letting their gecko slowly crawl onto their hands from a tank that has front doors is far less stressful than picking them up from the top. Not only that, but you also have the danger of dropping them or even potentially ripping their tail off if handled incorrectly while picking them up from the top opposed from picking them up from the front.
If you want to eliminate the possibility of these things happening and make sure you’re keeping your gecko’s stress levels down to an absolute bare minimum while also making sure it’s safe, then I recommend checking out this terrarium by Exo Terra here on Amazon. It’s definitely one of my, if not only, personal favorites when it comes to terrariums.
Taking care of a leopard gecko can seem a little challenging in the beginning, but if you practice these tips and tricks daily and truly put your all into caring for it, it will all become second nature, and over time, you will find that your gecko will not only be a lot friendlier but trusting, healthier, and happier as well.