Why Does My Leopard Gecko Keep Trying to Escape?

Leopard geckos are free animals, so it’s no surprise to catch them trying to escape from time to time, but usually whenever it happens, there are a few other reasons to take into consideration as some of the reasons can actually be causing them to stress out and as a result, try to escape the cage.  To learn more about these reasons, I suggest reading on to get a better understanding of why they do it.

Why does my leopard gecko keep trying to escape?  They could be trying to escape for a multitude of reasons including high-temperature conditions, feeling as if they’re overly exposed and unsafe, and because they have not had enough time to get used to their enclosure yet.

Usually, when a leopard gecko starts to show signs of wanting to escape the tank, it really isn’t anything that an owner should be worried about as a lot of the times it’s just natural behavior that’s shown when in a new terrarium.  As stated above though, there are other reasons for why they could be trying to escape, so please read along as I elaborate on each potential cause.

First Thing’s First

Before we get into the other more serious potential causes of why they’re showing this particular behavior, I want to first let it be known that this is not at all unusual behavior to see from a leopard gecko that you’ve just brought home to a new habitat that’s different from what they’re used to.

Just like almost any other creature, they get stressed out, and when put into a completely foreign environment, their natural instinct is to escape so that they can get somewhere else where they feel a little more comfortable.

On top of that, leopard geckos have also adapted to living in the wild where they have all the space they could ever ask for to roam around in, so whenever they’re put into a tank, it may seem a little too cramped for them at first and as a result, they might try to escape.

If you have a tank that’s large enough for them to comfortably live in, then space isn’t an issue so don’t worry about that.  But no matter what you do or how big your tank is, sometimes you will notice them displaying this behavior anyway because naturally, they want to be able to walk around in a bigger area because that is what they’re used to.

While a 20-gallon tank is adequate for leopard geckos of all sizes, keep in mind that you can really never go too big when it comes to how large their tank is.  In the wild, they have unlimited amounts of space to walk around in, so if you’d like to minimize the chances of your leopard gecko trying to escape all of the time, then I recommend a larger tank than the standard 20 gallons.

But as I said, 20 gallons will do the trick for all single leopard geckos, so if watching them try to climb up the glass and escape on occasion doesn’t bother you, then 20 gallons is just fine.

It’s Too Hot

Aside from natural behavior, I want to now get into the reason that I feel is the most important as it can not only cause them to feel crummy but is a safety hazard to their health as well, and that’s an overly hot tank.

Whether you have a heat mat or a heat lamp, it can be easy for a tank to overheat if one does not have the right equipment to make sure that the temperatures are staying at a low and specified level.

But, if you do have the right equipment, ensuring that they do stay at these levels is a lot easier.  In order to do that, you’ll need a thermostat.  Thermostats are what keeps the temperature in your tank at a set level so that your tank doesn’t get too hot and as a result, make your leopard gecko want to escape.

It’s a necessity to have because without it, trying to make sure that the heat lamp or heat mat doesn’t get too hot manually is nearly next to impossible to do and can not only make your leopard gecko stressed out, but you stressed out as well.

When leopard geckos are too cold, they’ll tend to shut down by not eating, moving a lot less, and behaving unusually until they’ve warmed back up because their bodies need a certain amount of heat to properly function, but when it’s too hot, they’ll do the exact opposite and try to get away from the heat any way they can.

They’ll either try to burrow themselves into their substrate in attempts to get to cooler ground or try to escape the tank altogether for the same exact reason.  In order to avoid that, I suggest taking a look at this thermostat to ensure that their tanks aren’t getting way too hot.

Also, for more information on your tanks temperatures, I suggest going over to this page here that I wrote to learn everything you need to know about them and also how important they are as well.

Not Enough Hiding Places

Leopard geckos like to feel safe and protected, and when they don’t, you guessed it, they’ll try to escape the tank.  Without places to hide, they feel vulnerable to attacks from predators even if they are in captivity.

In the wild, they’ll hide by burrowing themselves into the ground and hiding under shaded rocks where larger predators can’t reach them.  In captivity though, the only way they can hide is if we provide them with adequate hiding places.

For each leopard gecko, they’ll need 3 hides.  One for the cold side of their tank, one for the hot side of their tank, and one for when they shed, or better known as their moist hide.  Feeling overly exposed will cause your leopard gecko a ton of stress and if hiding places aren’t provided to them soon, their immune system could weaken enough to the point where they’ll get sick.

In order to avoid that, you will need to get 3 hides ASAP.  Keep in mind that when choosing your hide, you will need to get the size that best suits your leopard gecko.  Smaller hides are for babies, medium-sized hides are for juveniles, and large hides are for adults.

Hides are mandatory pieces of equipment to have and without them, your leopard gecko will not only be trying to escape constantly, but they’ll be in a constant state of distress until they’re able to find a place to hide.

Tank Is Too Small

As stated above, leopard geckos are used to having plenty of space to move around, so if they’re confined in an enclosure that’s too small, they’ll make every attempt that they can to get out of there and into a space with more room.

Leopard geckos reach adulthood fairly quickly, so if you’re someone who started off with a 10-gallon tank, you’ll need to upgrade it to one that’s 20 gallons once they’ve reached the age of 2 months old in order to give them the space that they need.

If they’re kept in a tank that is too small as a juvenile or adult, they’ll feel way too cramped up, stressed, and unhappy.  In situations like these, it’s very normal for a leopard gecko to want to escape because living in spaces that are way too small for them isn’t natural and goes against what they’re used to.

Seeing as leopard geckos grow so fast, I don’t see much of a point in purchasing a 10-gallon tank just to turn around and replace it two months later.  So if possible, try to get your leopard gecko in a tank that’s at the very least 20 gallons.

Not only is a tank that size perfect for them once they’re fully grown, but it’s perfect for them while they’re still babies and juveniles as well.  So to ensure that you’ll never run into the problem of your leopard gecko trying to escape once they hit a certain age, I recommend just getting a tank that’s 20 gallons from the very beginning to save you a lot of stress and worry in the near future.


Although there are a few reasons for why a leopard gecko could be trying to escape their tank, none of them are too concerning and can be fixed fairly easily once you have the right equipment.  There are just certain things that you need in order to successfully own a leopard gecko, and without some of these things, problems like these can and will arise.

If you get the right gear from the very beginning though and make the adjustments needed in order to make them feel as comfortable as possible, chances are they’ll never even try to escape the tank.

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...