Newbie crested gecko pet owners simply cannot wait to handle this new member of their family. They would love to hold it and experience it walk all over them. Yet, there are precautions to take as far as handling crested geckos goes, especially with regard to the frequency with which it is done.
Over the course of our time that we have spent handling crested geckos, we have gauged that when trying to understand how often you should handle your crested gecko, 15 minutes is an ideal timeframe each time you handle it.
The frequency with which you handle your crested gecko completely depends on its level of comfort – the more comfortable your crested gecko is in being handled, more often you could do so.
In this post we will also be looking at mistakes that pet owners make while handling their crested gecko. We will also delve into the reasons for which we recommend not overdoing the handling bit – especially the abovementioned 15 minutes handling time.
At the end, you will have a very good, all-round perspective on both the frequency as well as the timeline for handling your crested gecko so continue to read on till the end.
Table of Contents
Starting the Handling Process
The first aspect to bear in mind is the stage at which you can actually begin handling your crested gecko. Too many newbie crested gecko owners make the fundamental mistake of attempting to handle their crested geckos the very day they bring it home.
You need to bear in mind the fact that cresties are docile and fearful creatures. So if you have bought your crestie from an exotic pet expo, it will obviously now be contained in a completely different environment to which it had been used to all this while.
You need to give your crestie ample time to get used to this change in the environment. Typically, this implies a timeframe of at least 15 days to a month before you make an attempt to handle your crestie, irrespective of its age.
Now, as far as age goes, you should not attempt to handle cresties that are too young. The rule of thumb here would be to let it grow till at least 3 inches in length; only then should you make an attempt to handle it.
Also, if you are new to Crested geckos, do not be surprised if your Crested gecko hides a lot! We explain why they do that here.
Gradually Initiating the Handling Process
Slow and steady is the way to go as far as handling crested geckos is concerned. Remember the whole handling process is stressful for crested geckos, especially at the outset. As the frequency of handling increases, cresties get used to the process and don’t feel stressed.
But initially, things are surely a bit stressful for them so you should approach things as slowly as possible. Some tips to be wary of in particular:
- Enclose the room where you plan to handle your crestie and keep it completely silent.
- Place your crestie’s habitat on the floor, on a soft surface, prior to handling it. This way, it won’t hurt itself, if it chooses to jump.
- Be patient; your crestie may not be comfortable being handled, the first time you try. Don’t force yourself – if it just won’t budge or come anywhere close to your hand, try another day.
Also, some Crested geckos might be aggressive in the beginning and might even bite. Fear is an obvious reason for “aggression”, but there are a lot more. Here are 11 reasons for aggression in Cresties!
Why is NOT Stressing your Crested Gecko SO Important?
The reason not stressing your crested gecko is so important is because if stressed, it could possibly lose its tail. Crested geckos do not grow their tail back – once it is gone, it is gone forever.
Further, cresties can also fall ill when stressed. That is surely the last thing you want!
The basic point here would be that cresties tend to get stressed very easily, and as a responsible crested gecko owner, you want to avoid doing anything that will stress it up.
The handling process is particularly stressful for crested geckos, especially when you begin handling them. It is only over time that they begin to get comfortable (actually “tolerate”) being handled.
Even so, more than 15 minutes does tend to get stressful for crested geckos, which is why it is recommended that you do not handle your crestie for more than that.
Frequency of Handling
Crested geckos that are comfortable with being handled can, in turn, be handled more frequently. Signs that show this comfort include:
- When you open its habitat and put your hand in, it readily approaches your hand instead of shying away.
- During the handling process, it is comfortable prancing around on you, showcasing its typical “stop and go” movement as it goes from your palm to your arms and then your shoulders, and so on.
Such cresties can even be handled daily or every other day.
As a responsible crestie owner, you need to take note of the comfort it is displaying in being handled and then handle it accordingly.
So if you clearly see it more comfortable with sporadic handling, maybe once or a couple of times a week and not daily, you should follow the former regimen and not the latter.
When to Handle
While there is nothing etched in stone as to when you should be handling your crested gecko, being crepuscular creatures, you would be better off handling them at night when they would be more alert and agile.
A useful tip we can give you is to combine the feeding routine you have devised with the handling process. So whenever you put food into your crestie’s habitat, you could also add in a bit of handling into the mix.
This way, your crestie will associate your handling with a desirable, necessary activity (that of being fed) and go on to form a positive reinforcement for the whole process of being handled.
When to Stop Handling
Cresties tend to get jumpy after being handled for a while. That is a classic sign of your crestie saying, “OK, I am done entertaining you and now put me back into my habitat”.
Respect this assertion from your crested gecko and put it back into its habitat as soon as it starts to get jumpy. Otherwise, you risk injuring it as it will try to jump away from you and possibly hurt itself.
Crested geckos are best handled for about 15 minutes, each time you handle them. There is no specific quantifiable frequency with which crested geckos can be handled. The thumb rule would be to gauge their comfort.
So if your crestie is comfortable being handled a few times a week and not more, you should stick to that regimen.
Now that you have a good perspective on how often you should handle your crested gecko, you might also want to know:
Do crested geckos like being handled?
Yes, crested geckos do like being handled. While individual preferences may vary – with some crested geckos not comfortable being handled, most cresties do tend to be comfortable with the handling process once they get used to it.
Can you play with crested geckos?
Yes, you can play with crested geckos. The implication of “playing” here would of course essentially be to handle them, let them walk on you, etc. As long as you do not stress your gecko, a little playfulness with it will be just fine!