Take one look at a leopard gecko and you may just fall in love. After all, they feature many different morphs and plenty of cool patterns and combine this with the smile they always appear to be wearing, and you have a winner of a pet.
Are leopard geckos really friendly? The answer to this is yes. Like any new pet, it is going to take some time for them to warm up to you. However, each sex, and gender of these lovable reptiles are friendly and a real pleasure to keep in your home.
Now you know that these reptiles are friendly little guys, and you likely are really interested in getting one of your own.
And even though they are all friendly, you will find that no two geckos’ personalities are exactly alike. Keep on reading to understand how you can successfully keep leopard geckos and help them be friendly as can be.
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A Note on Baby Leopard Geckos
Baby leopard geckos are very territorial. They can even be a bit mean at times. That being said, you can take some steps to get them acclimated and help them feel right at home.
These youngsters are quite skittish. Therefore, handling them when they are small helps get them used to your touch and help them feel safe around hands.
However, you must be EXTREMELY careful when you handle your babies until they are at least three inches in length. It is easy to injure them when they are very small, so be sure to allow them to grow before handling them on a regular basis.
And as they grow, they may find themselves in a bigger habitat than before. Or, perhaps they are arriving from their shipping container to their new forever habitat. Do your best NOT to handle them for about two weeks so they can get used to their new home.
After the two-week period is up, you can handle the babies for about five to fifteen minutes each day. This is a slow but sure way to help them develop a friendly personality and keep them free from the stress that sometimes results from seeing hands come into the tank.
If your Leopard gecko stays aggressive and it doesn’t get better, have a look at the various reasons that can cause aggression in Leopard geckos here! It will help you to “tame” your leo!
Handling A Baby Leo Safely
And here is the most important part of all: NEVER handle a baby gecko by their tail. Geckos drop their tails when they are snatched up by predators.
This causes the tail to break off in some cases. Many geckos can regrow their tails, but the break leaves them open to infection. The tail may also be different in shape or color.
Therefore, the best method for handling a baby gecko is to hold them in the palm of your hand, keeping the hand flat, and using the other hand to make sure your baby does not run away or jump off.
One fun game you can play with your baby leo to bond and make them feel at home is to “hand walk.” The gecko sits on one palm, flat and upright, while you put your other hand out in front, also upright and flat.
You keep doing this over and over again-it’s kind of like one of those toy springs walking down the stairs!
Helping Leos Become Friendly with Food
Manually feeding your leopard gecko is a good way for you to establish a friendly relationship. It will help you build up trust between you and your pet, and he will eventually become friendly and enjoy spending time in your hands.
Certainly, it is very easy to drop in the insects or food and let them have at it. But to really build up that relationship, pick up the insects or the food with clean hands and feed them yourself.
This will show them that you are someone they can rely on and trust when it comes to their care and well-being. Plus, they may get active and come out of their hides when they sense you are coming-and that’s reward enough.
Geckos may hiss or bite. Thankfully, these bites do not hurt, but they can make an owner question if the gecko is ready to interact with him or her.
In this regard, we recommend reading the following articles:
You should wait till your leopard gecko is used to his tank beforehand feeding him.
Once that period is over, lift the lid and slowly hand in some food to your gecko. Feed him a piece at a time until they have their daily amount.
Do this for approximately three to six weeks, and you will find that your gecko responds well to you. It may be shorter or longer for you, as every gecko is different, but consistency and patience is the key.
And, if at any point you don’t feel comfortable doing this, it’s okay. Just make sure your leo gets enough to eat so he can grow, explore, and otherwise feel great.
Keep Things Consistent
Animals are a lot more like us than we give them credit for. They, like us, thrive on a routine. There’s a certain comfort in knowing what comes next and knowing when your next meal is, when it’s time to rest, and when there will be time for leisure.
Geckos love the night, as they are nocturnal after all. Since most of us humans are daytime creatures, it can be so tempting to play with your leopard gecko during the daytime hours, especially when friends and family come over.
However, this causes your gecko to feel stressed out, and he or she will not be very friendly toward others if they are disturbed or unable to sleep when nature tells them to.
So, the solution is simple: Keep a timetable about when you will feed, handle and play with your gecko. Do this in the nighttime.
Even though it can be difficult to manage with other responsibilities like employment and school, you will find that your gecko will be most active during the evening hours.
Just be patient and wait until then to handle your gecko-you will be glad you did, and you will find that the act of bonding is a lot easier when you work with their schedule.
Keep It Zen
Your gecko does not want a lot of stress. So, you as the owner have to keep things peaceful and stress-free as best you can.
Some stress is normal-every living thing has to deal with it at some point. Too much stress, and your gecko could become sick or even lose trust in you.
Avoid the following things to keep your relationship in good shape:
- Inconsistent feeding times
- Loud noises like TV, music, or video games
- Sudden movements that scare the reptile
- Too much touching
- Bringing other pets around it (Do not keep leopard geckos with other leopard geckos! We explain why here.)
If this is your first time having a leopard gecko, you may have already made these mistakes. Now is the time to avoid doing this going forward. Keep other pets away from the gecko.
Wear a headset if you game or keep the volume at a manageable level. Keep TV and movies at a reasonable volume or hit the MUTE button if a loud sound happens.
Some sudden movements are understandable – everybody’s had that moment where a friend jumps out to scare them-but don’t make them a habit.
And only handle your gecko for about 5 to 15 minutes per day. You may have to go less depending on what your gecko is feeling. Watch and see how he or she acts and go from there.
Make Yourself Known
Dogs and cats know their owners by scent and sound. Even fish have been known to come to the glass when their owners come walking into the room.
Your gecko is no different. He or she wants to know and recognize you. And the way to do it is a lot easier than you think.
To make your gecko friendly and sociable, start by making sure they know YOU. Make a gentle sound that lets them know you are entering the room.
Figure out a sound that is not loud, and soothing if possible. You can call your gecko by their name, or even use your smartphone to make a gentle sound like calming wind chimes or the sound of falling rain. That way, your gecko knows you’re in the room, AND that you are not a threat.
You can say his or her name or make the sound, and then provide something to eat or offer a small touch afterward.
You may find that your gecko is a lot easier to get along with over repeated instances of this. You will find that your reptile hides a lot less when they hear you approach.
Start this process right away (avoid handling, however, offer food instead) for the best results.
Now you know that geckos can be friendly, but only if we train them to be that way. Mishandling and neglect can result in geckos that understandably want nothing to do with humans.
By treating our geckos with respect and ensuring all basic needs are met-and handling them little by little-we can have friendly reptiles to enjoy.