Why Is My Leopard Gecko Pacing?

If leopard geckos were aware of their thoughts and actions light humans are, they’d probably be pacing back and forth trying to think of a master plan to get out of their enclosures like the little escape artists that they are.  Since they aren’t though, there may be something else going on with them that might be worth investigating to ensure that nothing is wrong with.  Let’s dig deeper.

Why is my leopard gecko pacing?  There are a few different reasons why you might catch your leopard gecko pacing back and forth in their enclosures, but the most common reasons are because they’re either stressed out or irritated.

Unfortunately, a pacing leopard gecko is one of those behaviors that you should a little worried about because it’s usually an indicator that something is bothering them.  But luckily, this issue goes away on its own when given enough time.  Here are some times where you might catch your leopard gecko pacing along with things not to do while they’re displaying this behavior.

After Reorganizing Your Enclosure

There’s nothing wrong with moving things around or adding things into your enclosure but because leopard geckos are lizards that seem to find comfort in owners keeping a consistent layout within the tank, they can sometimes start to get a little agitated when you change their equipment around in a way that they’re not used to.

This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t move anything in your tank around, it just means that that’s the type of behavior you can expect from your gecko after you’ve done it.  That said, it’s fine to make changes, but for the sake of their sanity, it’s best not to do it too often.

Not only do frequent changes make them uncomfortable and unfamiliar with their surroundings for a short amount of time, but they also can stress your leopard gecko out a great deal as well.  Also, when you do make changes to your tank, do it slowly.

As you now know, changes can make your gecko stressed out.  But if you make very slow and subtle changes over the course of a few days and not all at once, the shock value for them won’t be as intense.

Not only will these slower changes cause them less stress, but it may even prevent them from pacing as well.  While there’s no harm in pacing, stress is detrimental to a leopard gecko’s health and wellbeing.  So any way you can prevent it will be work wonders in ensuring that live long, healthy lives.

Upon Entering Breeding Season

If you’re the owner of a female leopard gecko, then another reason you may be seeing them pace is because of this.  Just like how leopard geckos begin to change during a shed, they also do it when entering into the breeding season.

Leopard geckos are known to sometimes be very aggressive and nippy during this time, so it’s no surprise that it’s associated with an aggressive type of behavior such as pacing.  If you suspect that this is what you might be going through with your leopard gecko, I suggest giving them their space until things blow over.

When leopard geckos are aggressive, they have been known to bite owners and act very rebellious until coming back to their senses.  Dealing with this kind of behavior can be tricky because as an owner, you want to be able to handle and feed them with no problem.

But while they’re in this aggressive-like state, doing so can prove to be very challenging.  As mentioned above, the best thing you can do is keep your distance until they begin acting normally again and so you don’t end up getting attacked while trying to love and care for them.

And when I say keep your distance I don’t mean not interacting with them at all because they’ll need you to in order to stay alive, but instead, being very careful with how you interact with them so that you don’t experience what I mentioned above.

Leopard geckos are loving and caring animals, but just like almost any other being, they go through things that cause them to act way differently than they normally would.  The good thing though is that this behavior is only temporary and will go away in time.

Things to Avoid

As mentioned above, dealing with a leopard gecko that’s in a state of aggression can be a little difficult.  Because it can be difficult, caring for them how you want may not be possible.  When leopard geckos begin to pace, that’s an indicator that their in a mood where they’re ready to attack any and everything that they feel is of annoyance to them.

As disheartening as it can feel to think that you’re annoying your leopard gecko when all you’re trying to do is care for them, the only thing you can do is respect what they’re feeling and act accordingly so that they don’t lash out on you when you do try to.

One way you can respect them is by completely avoiding placing your hand in the tank whenever you catch them displaying this behavior.  Owners who have caught their leopard gecko pacing and then stuck their hand in the tank shortly after have reported that their leopard gecko charged at them when they did.

So with that said, it’s probably best to not try it yourself.  Leopard gecko bites don’t generally hurt and some people can barely even tell they’ve been bitten when they do bite, but that still doesn’t mean that it’s a pleasant feeling whenever it happens.

If you want to avoid that happening to you, I highly suggest keeping your hands out of reach until they seem to have calmed down.  This includes no hand feeding, handling, or reaching in the tank just to touch them.

Doing all of those things includes you coming in contact with them and potentially putting yourself at risk of becoming a victim of one of their little bites.  In addition to that, you’ll also want to avoid stressing them out even further.

They’re already in a state of stress, so if you happen to do things that could potentially stress them out even more, you could potentially prolong the issue, which I’m sure is something you definitely don’t want to do.

Things that can stress them out can include, but not limited to, the following:

  • Playing loud music
  • Handling them
  • Allowing other pets to be around them
  • Disturbing them while they sleep

Basically, if there’s anything that can affect them directly, it’s likely to stress them out.

Things You Should Do

Since you won’t be able to touch them, you’ll need to find an alternative way to provide them with what they need so that they won’t be neglected in the process.  That said, I recommend checking out these feeding tongs here from Amazon.

Not only will those be helpful in feeding your leopard gecko, but they’ll also be helpful with picking up any extra insects that they may not have eaten as well.  In addition to everything else, leopard geckos have also been known to stop eating altogether whenever they’re in this slight state of aggression.

So because that’s a possibility, having something to pick your insects up not only when feeding them but when removing their leftovers will be extremely useful.  As an alternative to the tongs, you could just place their food in their bowl, but because that requires putting your hand into the tank, I’d even be hesitant to do that.

Not only that, but some insects, like crickets, will obviously not stay in the bowl.  For any other feeder that doesn’t hop around though, that may be more of a possibility.  But, again, you will still be taking a risk even if you’re not touching them directly.

Leopard geckos are fast when they want to be, so even if your hand isn’t near them, chances are they’ll still be able to run to it pretty quickly.


Of course, ‘pacing’ is another one of those odd behaviors that you might catch your leopard gecko displaying from time to time.  But fortunately, for most leopard geckos, it doesn’t last very long.

Whether you have to let them settle into their new environment, adjust to changes made in your tank, or go through their aggressive phase upon entering breeding season if you have a female, you have to do what you have to do until they start behaving a little more calmy.

Be mindful of doing things that might stress them out and avoid getting near them as the outcome will probably not be the prettiest.  Not that they’re capable of bringing any harm to you or anything, it’s just that they won’t be as loving as they usually were before the pacing began.

Just like how some owners have to wait until a shed is over before being able to spend time with their leopard gecko again, the same will apply for situations like these as well.  Keep your distance, avoid worsening the problem, and ride out the storm until things start to settle down again.

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...