Leopard geckos are normally docile pet reptiles. From time to time though, you might catch your gecko on a bad day. Or maybe you accidentally startle him and he feels the need to defend himself. Despite how cute you might think they are, no owner wants to get bitten. So, do leopard geckos bite and should you be worried?
Let’s find out.
Do leopard geckos bite?
Like other animals, leopard geckos can and will bite if they feel threatened and need to defend themselves. Most of the time it doesn’t break the skin, but on rare occasions, it can. With regular handling and socialization, a leopard gecko is not normally temperamental or known for biting.
Because of how a leopard geckos jaw is shaped, they hardly possess enough power to make you bleed whenever they bite. In the times that they do though, it definitely should not cause you to worry.
Not only are most bites harmless, but according to many different owners, and myself, they hardly ever hurt either. Getting bitten is shocking enough, but when it bleeds, that makes things even more surprising because of how small leopard geckos are.
As stated above though, if they do happen to draw blood, don’t worry. You’ll just have to follow these steps and you’ll be fine.
Know what to do if a leopard gecko bites you
1. Sterilize the Bite
By now you know the answer to the question “do leopard geckos bite”. They can, and you need to treat a leopard gecko bite like any other wound.
Leopard geckos don’t have very harmful bites. Even though that may be true, it’s still safe to sterilize the affected area in any instance where the bite is strong enough to break through the skin. Fortunately, doing this is simple.
All you’ll need to do is pour a little hydrogen peroxide over the bite to kill any and all bacteria and then gently wash your hands with antiseptic soap afterward to get get rid of any blood that’s still remaining.
It may sting a little bit, but it’s necessary that you clean the bite so that it doesn’t get infected from dirt, further bacteria, or anything else that can potentially get into it.
After that’s done, you’ll want to place a bandaid over the bite and then you’re done. Many people think that since they’ve just been bitten by an animal that they have to go to the hospital or that they’ll catch something.
And while this may be true when getting bitten by other animals like dogs, for example, this is hardly ever the case when dealing with a bite from a leopard gecko. Doing what I mentioned above will likely be enough for caring for the bite after it’s happened.
Pretty simple stuff. Just clean the wound and bandage it to be safe.
But, if you’re still worried and you want some reassurance, you can always call a herp vet and explain the situation to them for further advice or go get checked at the hospital to give yourself peace of mind.
2. How to avoid future bites
Most people who get bitten by leopard geckos surprisingly don’t ever really find it to be very painful. But on the other hand, it’s not something that owners enjoy very much either. That said, it’s probably safe to do everything you can to avoid getting bitten again so that you don’t go through a similar experience like this one.
The way to do this is fairly easy. You’ll want to avoid hand feeding your leopard gecko, reaching in from the top of the tank, and trying to hold or pet them while they’re in a state of protection or aggression.
To prevent the first cause I mentioned, which is getting bitten while hand-feeding your leopard gecko, you’ll need a tool to use that doesn’t require putting your fingers anywhere near their mouth like this one here from Amazon. Not only will that help with preventing future bites, but it’s also good for those who don’t enjoy touching certain feeder insects by hand as well.
As stated above, another way to accidentally get bitten is by reaching your hand in from above. The reason this happens is because your fingers can resemble worms to a leopard gecko. So when you reach in from the top and they don’t know that it’s you, they may think it’s lunchtime and rush to bite one of your fingers.
Luckily though, there is a way to avoid this issue from happening. But, it’ll require you getting a tank that opens up from the front like this one here that I currently own and have my leopard gecko housed in so that there’s no confusion when reaching into the tank.
Last but not least, if your leopard gecko is pregnant, going through a shed, or is just naturally a little aggressive, these are also times when you should not put your hand in their face. Unfortunately, there’s no quick solution for the first two instances, you’ll just have to allow nature to run its course.
But, for leopard geckos that are aggressive, here’s an article I wrote that may help you tame them down a bit. The article is aimed at older leopard geckos, but fortunately, the steps can be applied to leopard geckos of any age.
3. When bites are most common
First thing’s first, bites from leopard geckos are not very common but when they do occur and especially when they occur where the end result is a bleeding finger or any other body part they’re able to get ahold of, it’s usually from leopard geckos that are super giant.
And the reason for this is because, well, they’re considerably bigger than your average leopard gecko. Super giants are very sweet and loving lizards as well, but the risk of a more painful bite is way likely to occur as opposed to if you were to get bitten by a much smaller common leopard gecko simply because of their size.
This isn’t because they’re any more aggressive than smaller leopard geckos, it’s just that their jaws are considerably bigger and because of that, their bites will pack a little more of a bunch whenever they clamp onto you.
Again, though, if you want to avoid getting bitten at all in the future (which I’m sure we all do), try not to bother them while they’re in a state of aggression. Aggressive behavior isn’t something that occurs frequently in most leopard geckos, but when it does, it’s best to take the proper cautionary steps to avoid ending up as one of their chew toys.
4. Your reaction to the bite is important
Whenever a person gets bitten or stung by something, generally, their first reaction is to swat or tug at whatever is biting or stinging them. And while there’s nothing necessarily wrong with this, it’s not something that you should do after you’ve been bitten by your leopard gecko.
That might sound crazy, but by tugging at your leopard gecko or trying to pry their mouth open in an attempt to break free from their grip, you’re basically telling the leopard gecko that their bite is effective and also that in order to be left alone or not handled, all they’ll have to do is bite you and they won’t be messed with.
As uncomfortable as it may seem, even though it typically isn’t, don’t give them the reaction they’re looking for whenever they bite. It may take a few seconds or even a few minutes, but as long as you’re unresponsive until they get tired and decide to let go, the number of times they bite you should decrease as they will gradually start to know that it doesn’t work.
Not only that but because leopard geckos are fragile creatures, tugging might actually cause damage to their bones and really any other body part that’s pulled on.
So, with that said, it might be hard to keep your cool whenever a bite occurs, but it’s important that you do so that you not only train your gecko to not attack you but also so that you don’t hurt your gecko in the process of trying to pull them off as well.
It’s easy to become worried whenever you’re in a situation where you’ve been bitten and blood starts to come out but because plenty of other owners who have had this happen haven’t experienced any serious health issues after cleaning and maintaining the bite after it’s happened, it’s probably safe to say that nothing will happen to you as well.
As stated above though, if you are still worried despite that fact, there’s absolutely no harm in visiting a doctor for reassurance on whether or not you’ll be okay or not. A bite from a leopard gecko that draws blood is quite shocking, so it’d be totally understandable to be concerned enough to contact a professional if you feel that your safety could potentially be at risk.
Also, before wondering why your leopard gecko bit you, always keep in mind that there’s usually a reason why they did it so that you can figure out what can be done to prevent it from happening again in the future.
Take into consideration their sheds, pregnancy, or if there’s something else going on with them that would cause them to lash out at you the way that they did. Yes, some leopard geckos are naturally a little more aggressive than others, but most of the time, they only bite for a reason.
As long as you can identify these reasons, you can know what needs to be done now or in the future to avoid any more incidents down the road that end with you bleeding again.