Wondering if a specific animal is going to be friendly is a great question to ask when considering a new pet. After all, nobody wants to own something that doesn’t enjoy being around them, right? Most people know all about cat and dog personalities, but what about reptiles? Let’s look specifically at leopard geckos and talk about if leopard geckos are friendly.
Are leopard geckos friendly?
Yes, leopard geckos are friendly pets. It may take a little time for your leopard gecko to warm up to you after bringing it home. But this often doesn’t take long and 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. 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. Let’s look at five ways to keep your leopard gecko happy and friendly.
Get to know your leopard gecko – 6 tips to stay friendly
1. Feeding your Gecko by hand
Manually feeding your gecko is a great way to build a relationship between the two of you and will 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. This allows them to familiarize themselves with you and identify you as someone they can trust and go to when they want to fill their little bellies.
If you are feeling a little intimidated about holding your leopard gecko, instead slide or lift your tank open and slowly feed piece by piece until you’ve given it enough food for the day. Repeat this process for 3 to 6 weeks so you can give your gecko adequate time to really get used to you. If you don’t feel 100% comfortable feeding it with your hands (which is totally understandable), you can just let it eat straight out of its food container as well.
2. Reduce Stress
Stress is a normal part of life, even for animals. 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.
You may be doing things that stress out your gecko without even realizing it. 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. But it’s important to keep in mind that just like you and I, your gecko also has things that can trigger it to freak out or cause it to want to avoid certain situations that could bring it unwanted fear and anxiety.
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. This will help you avoid making too many mistakes, and in turn keep your gecko (and you) happier!
3. Keeping a Consistent Schedule
As some of you may know, leopard geckos nocturnal creatures. So they want to sleep more during the day while you are awake. It may be tempting to want to play with, handle, or feed your gecko during the day since that is when YOU are active, but doing so can cause a lot of unwanted stress on your gecko. 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 night time. This doesn’t mean you have to stay up until midnight before you can interact with your gecko. Luckily, a lot of them are up and active starting at 6-7 PM and sometimes sooner. Pay attention in the early evening to what time your gecko seems to be waking up. Then every night set aside some time to 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. This will minimize the chance of stressing it out, a make it less grumpy and just overall healthier and more refreshed when they wake up at night.
4. Making an Identifiable Sound
Sounds can be triggers that can cause either a positive or negative reaction. This is as true for leopard geckos as people. So in order to make sure your leopard gecko identifies you as something positive rather than negative in its life, you can try to get it to associate you with a particular sound. When you are having a good interaction, make a sound. That could be saying it’s name, a chattering noise, or pretty much any soothing, non-loud sound that your gecko can identify you with. If you consistently make the same sound your gecko will soon associate that sound with you. Then when it hears that sound it will know 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.
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 it is accidentally spooked or stressed out.
5. Don’t let inexperienced people handle your gecko
Leopard geckos are great family pets but if handled by someone with no experience, it can not only scare them but might even cause a safety concern.
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.
6. Consider a front opening terrarium
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. It puts your hand down on the geckos level and keep the movement horizontal. This seems less stressful for them then being scooped up from above and lifted vertically out of the tan. 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 front opening terrarium. It’s definitely one of my 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. Over time, you will find that your gecko will not only be a lot friendlier but trusting, healthier, and happier as well.