Do Leopard Geckos Like to Be Held?

If you’re a leopard gecko owner then you know how hard it is to resist touching them, holding them, and basically doing anything that involves interacting with them. Just like how we want our dogs and cats to cuddle with us, we want to do the same with our leopard geckos. Even though that’s what we want, it may not be what they want. To be sure though, in this article we’ll answer the question “do leopard geckos like being held?”.

Let’s get into it!

Do leopard geckos like to be held?

Leopard geckos are a great beginner pet lizard that really do well with being held. These geckos seem to genuinely enjoy close interaction with their owner. Don’t expect them to cuddle like a kitten or a puppy, but they do sort of “nestle up” into their owner’s hands and soak up any body heat that they can get. In this way they do enjoy being held.

This sort of “cuddling” is usually a sign of affection but because leopard geckos don’t experience any feelings or emotion, they only appear to do it for the warmth that we can give them.  And even though that makes it sound like they’re using us, it’s really because they only base their actions purely on instinct and only do what’s needed in order to survive and be comfortable.  Let’s dig a little deeper.

Cuddling vs holding

If you were looking into leopard gecko ownership for the cuddling, it may be disheartening to hear that leopard geckos don’t enjoy it. Having said that, they do not mind being held. I think most of us see a difference.

Handling a leopard gecko is more gentle and stress-free for the animal. When I think of cuddling I think of holding the animal in a more constricting manner, that could come off as threatening to a leopard gecko.

We’d like to think that leopard geckos have the capabilities to think like dogs and cats do, but they don’t. When it comes to things like interaction with owners, dogs and cats have evolved over the years with affection from their owners. That’s why more types of interaction with them is much more of a possibility.

They do well with beginners

Leopard geckos, on the other hand, have not evolved to this point and are only worried about survival. If you’re looking for an pet lizard that’s great for beginners and does great with light to moderate handling, then a leopard gecko is the perfect choice!

However if you’re looking for a pet that you can cuddle with in bed and paint its toenails, then leopard geckos are probably not the pet that you want. So they may nestle up into your hand or any other warm body part, but they won’t voluntarily cuddle with you like a cat or dog.

But they’re loners

When it comes to a lot of different animal species, it’s normal for the mother and father to provide for their young until they reach a certain age where they eventually let them go to fend for themselves. When it comes to leopard geckos though, they have to be on their own from the moment they hatch out of their egg.

Not only do they not get any love from their parents, but they’re also immediately outcasted and seen as a burden right from the very beginning. It sounds harsh, but because this is another thing they’ve evolved into doing in order to thrive as a species, it’s the reality that a lot of leopard geckos have had to deal with for a very long time.

Separate your geckos

That said, if you’re a new breeder or you’re cohabiting leopard geckos that are vastly different in age, then I highly recommend separating your geckos so that there’s no animosity in the tank between any of them.

It may seem cute to have a baby and parent leopard gecko in the same tank but if you know anything about how hostile leopard geckos can get if they’re in the same enclosure together then you’ll know that it’s actually very dangerous.

I recommend cohabiting when it comes to certain gender and age pair-ups, but when it comes to adults and babies being in the same tank together, this is one pair-up that I don’t recommend at all.  Older leopard geckos can defend themselves better if things suddenly go left within the tank but unfortunately, babies can’t.

They will be subjected to harsh attacks and in some cases, can even be eaten depending on how large the leopard gecko is that attacked them.

If you currently happen to be in a situation similar to this and you’d like to remove one of your leopard geckos from the tank but don’t have a backup to place them in, I recommend looking into getting this one herefrom Amazon.

Placing them in any kind of tank is better than keeping them together but because that’s the one I use, I felt like it’d be a worthy mention for those looking for a secondary enclosure.

A word on cohabitation

Although I’m someone who’s all for cohabiting, I am completely aware of the risks that come with it when too many or too aggressive leopard geckos are placed all in the same tank.  Cohabiting is something that is completely possible and has been proven by many different owners, but when it’s done wrong, it’s inevitable that things will eventually end up going bad.

With that being said, if you do cohabit or plan to in the near future, make sure that you not only have a backup tank just in case your geckos end up going at it but also so that the tank that you’re keeping them in is a large enough size to where they can comfortably share it.

Some owners can get away with cohabiting their leopard geckos in a 20-gallon tank but just to be extra cautious, I recommend going with something a little larger so that you can have room for extra equipment and less interactions.

As I mentioned, cohabiting in a 20-gallon tank has worked for some, but for others, the issue of overcrowding can and has most definitely occurred. That means that the leopard geckos will be fighting over everything including the water bowl, food bowl, and even hides.

The fact of the matter is that whenever this happens, it’s because there’s likely not enough equipment in the tank and because of that they’re sometimes forced to literally stack on top of each other in order to satisfy their basic needs.

Have the right supplies

To avoid this, you’ll need to size up and also invest in further equipment. That means for each leopard gecko, you’ll want to double the size and essentials until there’s enough of everything for all of them to have a piece of equipment of their own.

Not only will this help prevent them from fighting but it’ll also help with preventing them from stacking on top of each other as well. Here’s the leopard gecko tank I recommend for two leopard geckos that don’t seem to want to get along.

It’s not guaranteed that a larger tank will stop them from going at it but what it will do is greatly minimize the risk of it by giving them the space that they need to stay out of each other’s way.

It may seem cute to us whenever we see our leopard geckos sharing something, but because they’re solitary lizards, they actually prefer to be alone and are only sharing because they absolutely have to.

This won’t happen with every owner who tries to cohabit but because leopard geckos can be extremely unpredictable whenever it comes to their behavior, it’s best to be very cautious and take the measures necessary just in case something does potentially end up happening.


Leopard geckos can come off as very loving and affectionate lizards when displaying certain actions. In all reality, it usually just means that they’re trying to benefit from something because they think that it’ll help with their survival.

Leopard geckos will, however, get comfortable around their owners and show a certain level of trust after a while. Let’s say your leopard gecko is in the palm of your hand, and lays down then curls up. This may be confused with some higher form of affection, but it’s really not.

Because they’re lizards that are cold-blooded, they’re only doing this because our hand feels extremely warm to the bottom of their stomachs and they enjoy the comfortable feeling that they get whenever laying in the palm of our hand. So in their own way, leopard geckos do enjoy being held.

There are many types of pet reptiles that don’t mind being held, and human interaction in general. Once you’ve formed a bond with your pet, the experience of being held can be enjoyable for the pet and the owner.

I’m Devin Nunn, an average joe that just so happens to have a deep love and passion for everything to do with reptiles. Because taking care of them for the vast majority of my life wasn’t fulfilling enough, I decided to begin educating others about them through my articles. read more...