While crested geckos licking themselves – especially their eyes, is nothing unusual (for reasons we will explain later in the post), it is somewhat strange if your crested gecko begins to lick you all too frequently, whenever you handle it. No wonder then, owners of such crested geckos often ask themselves:
Why is my crested gecko licking me? As we delved deep into this pattern of behavior on the part of crested geckos, we realized that plain and simple curiosity drives your crested gecko to lick you. Remember that once out of its enclosure and onto you, it is an entirely different ambiance for your crested gecko. The different smell and taste, especially given the sweat on your skin, further fuels its tendency to lick.
In this post, we will look at other instances where crested geckos tend to display licking behavior, especially licking their own selves. This particularly includes licking their eyes, which is completely normal.
At the same time, there is a connection between mating and licking activity, which is also something we will explore in this post.
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Mistaking Licking for Affection!
Many pet crested gecko owners mistake licking activity on the part of their pets as a sign of affection towards them; this belief really does not hold any merit.
Your crested gecko-like a lot of its reptilian cousins, does not really have the ability to display affection or emotion.
Any licking behavior that it shows towards you would not have anything to do with a special bond that it has developed with you.
Instead, it is more likely your crested gecko is merely exploring the different “terrain” you have now exposed it to, once out of its habitat and onto you.
Licking as an Exploratory Mechanism
A lot of the licking activity showcased by crested geckos is simply a manifestation of their exploratory tendencies, especially when it comes to food. That is the reason you will witness cresties licking just about anything coming their way, be it:
- Even your hands and fingers!
Their curiosity is especially aroused to confirm if the object in front of them is actually edible or not, and the best way to do so is to give it a nice lick!
Licking their Eyes
Crested geckos do not have eyelids and therefore cannot blink. The only protection that their eyeballs have is tiny, transparent spectacles on them. These spectacles need to be cleaned from time to time and the best way to do so is for cresties to lick them.
That is precisely the reason for which you see crested geckos licking their eyes from time to time – it’s merely their cleaning regimen! Moreover, this action lends much-needed moisture to the spectacles as well.
Interestingly, this whole phenomenon of crested geckos licking their eyes has become a huge point of interest and curiosity among crested gecko enthusiasts.
In fact, if you are an owner of a crested gecko, don’t be surprised if you have folks coming over simply to observe your cresty licking its eyes! Online too, you will find videos galore that showcase crested geckos licking their eyes.
A Licking Cresty is an Unstressed Gecko!
Among the many signs of a stressed-out crested gecko is one that does not exhibit usual behavior for it, be it eating, pooping, moving out unabashedly, and yes, licking! So if your cresty is not licking around the way it is usually expected to, it may be a sign of stress.
That is the reason we would stress (no pun intended!) that you be more concerned about your crested gecko NOT licking around than if it does; as we have asserted above, it is largely its inherent curiosity which compels it to lick objects around it – you included.
So when it does so, it is completely fine but in case it does not, it may be a sign of stress that you may want to look into and address.
In extreme cases, it may even be an indication of poor health in which case you would want to take your cresty to the vet as soon as possible without any delay whatsoever.
Male Crested Geckos Licking their Hemipenis
Male crested geckos do have a tendency to lick their hemipenis. While this may be a sign of sexual desire, it may not always be so. For instance, your male cresty may simply be cleaning its genitals.
At the same time, as a responsible crested gecko owner, you should be wary of the possibility of your male cresty wanting to mate.
After all, sexual desires and instincts in your cresty are akin to most other species, us humans included. So the ideal scenario in this situation would be for you to pair your male crested gecko with a female one.
Alongside, you also need to be well prepared for a large brood of baby cresties which may come your way all too soon and suddenly!
Are you prepared to provide for and take care of so many cresties? Remember that when they are young, the care and attention they require is even higher.
Yes, you could always consider giving them away to friends and family members who might be yearning for a pet cresty themselves.
At the end of the day, whatever your plan may be, prepare for it in case you see your male cresty clearly yearning for female company and you give in to his coital desires!
A final point of note would be that male cresties tend to lick their hemipenis after mating as well. This is simply to ease retraction of the hemipenis. So don’t think your cresty has suddenly taken on Himeros’ mantle (and just can’t have enough of it)!
It is absolutely typical of your crested gecko to lick around; this is a sign of its curiosity instincts in action. At the same time, it is really not a sign of love or affection – which you may perceive when it licks you.
It is simply using its sense of smell to explore things around, which it adds to by licking, especially since it tends to be rather curious about items it could eat.
Alongside, some of the licking activity – such as licking its eyeballs, is for its own good since it lacks eyelids. Further, males may tend to lick their hemipenis when keen on mating (or after mating).
Having got a fairly good perspective on why your crested gecko licks you (or itself!), you might also want to know:
Do crested geckos change color? Yes, crested geckos can and do change color. Often, it is about the environment they are in and they tend to change color according to that. Cresties are quite good with blending into background colors. Their mood also plays a role in changing colors.
How long can you handle a crested gecko? While there is no hard and fast rule on how long you can handle a crested gecko, the thumb rule is only as long as it is comfortable. In terms of a specific timespan, we have seen that to be in the region of 15 minutes, each time you handle it.