It is generally a lot of fun to watch your Leopard Gecko explore their enclosure, but if they are spending a lot of time glass surfing, it can distract from your enjoyment of them and lead to some concerns. You may wonder why your Leopard Gecko is glass surfing and what, if anything, you should do about it.
Leopard geckos may glass surf because they are exploring their environment or because they’re bored, hungry, or cold. Leopard geckos may also glass surf in an attempt to get away from mites or other geckos in the enclosure that may be irritating them.
Here’s what you need to know about your Leopard Gecko’s glass surfing, problems this behavior may point to, and when you may need to intervene. Also, at the end of this article, we provide a decision tree that will help you to identify the reasons for glass surfing in your leo!
Table of Contents
What is Glass Surfing?
Leopard Gecko glass surfing is when your Leopard Gecko attempts to climb the wall of their enclosure. They may rub their nose against the glass and wave their arms as they attempt to get a grip on the glass.
Here is a good example of what Leopard Gecko glass surfing looks like:
Why Might my Leopard Gecko be Glass Surfing?
1. Your Leopard Gecko May Glass Surf to Explore Their Environment
Your Leopard Gecko is curious and has an instinct to explore its surroundings as thoroughly as possible. It is perfectly normal for your Leopard Gecko to try to explore the glass walls of their cage.
After all, they don’t intuitively know that they can’t climb glass. Young Leopard Geckos are particularly prone to glass surfing since they are still learning what their environment is all about.
Your Leopard Gecko will have to check every inch of the terrarium to discern for themselves that they cannot explore further in that direction.
Some Leopard Geckos only need to explore a couple of times to determine that they can’t go in that direction, while other Leopard Geckos will keep trying to explore up the glass every so often, almost as if they are checking to make sure that they still can’t go that way.
As long as glass surfing only occurs occasionally, it probably isn’t anything to worry about.
2. Glass Surfing Could be Occurring Because Your Leopard Gecko is Hungry
If your Leopard Gecko can’t find as much food as they need in their terrarium, they may start going out of their way to find more food elsewhere. They may do this even if they know from previous explorations that they can’t climb the glass.
Hunger can lead to desperation, causing your Leopard Gecko to search for food by climbing glass even if they know that they probably can’t get anywhere. If you notice glass surfing behavior before feeding time, it may be hunger that is the culprit.
You can try increasing the frequency of feeding or feed your Leopard Gecko more overall to reduce glass surfing behavior.
Using insects that are lower in calories may enable you to feed your Leopard Gecko more without causing them to gain too much weight. These crickets (check them out here) have the perfect size for adult geckos, and they are already gut loaded.
3. Leopard Geckos May Glass Surf in an Attempt to Get Closer to Heat Lights
If your Leopard Gecko’s cage is heated with overhead lights and you notice your Leopard Gecko glass surfing, it may be that they are trying to get closer to the heat lights and warmth because their cage is not heated appropriately.
Your Leopard Gecko’s warm area should be between 82.4 and 86 degrees Fahrenheit with a hot spot around 95 degrees Fahrenheit.
If the basking area isn’t warm enough, your Leopard Gecko may try to get closer to the lights and find more heat by glass surfing.
If you have a taller terrarium, setting your basking light on the top may not be sufficient. You may need to suspend lights within the terrarium or build up a higher basking area for your Leopard Gecko to climb.
Should your tank be too cold in general, you may need to get a heat bulb with higher wattage or add a ceramic heat emitter like this one to your tank setup.
Since ceramic heat emitters are so cheap and easy to use, they are loved by most reptile owners. For most tanks, a 60W ceramic heat emitter should be sufficient.
4. Bored Leopard Geckos May Glass Surf
Leopard Geckos do not tend to be the most active reptiles, but even Leopard Geckos need enough space and interesting terrain within their terrarium to allow them to go on little explorations and adventures throughout their day.
Leopard Geckos in a straightforward environment with a flat floor and few things to climb or places to dig may glass surf just to give them something to do.
If you notice glass surfing during the hours when Leopard Geckos are most active at dawn and dusk, it may be that they are glass surfing out of boredom. Try adding more interesting terrain and obstacles within the terrarium.
If you notice that your Leopard Gecko glass surfs after the terrarium has been in the same build for a while, it may be worth changing up the decoration every so often to give them a new environment to check out.
You may want to add some live plants to your leo tank. Check our article on that here!
5. Your Leopard Gecko May be Glass Surfing to Get Away From Mites
Mites are extremely irritating to your Leopard Gecko, causing painful bites as well as causing your Leopard Gecko irritation by climbing over their body and getting into their eyes.
A Leopard Gecko that is being pestered by mites may do whatever it can to get away from them, including trying to climb glass.
The irritation and frustration of dealing with mites can drive your Leopard Gecko to increasingly frustrated behavior, including glass surfing.
If you notice your Leopard Gecko clawing at their eyes or rubbing up against things in their environment along with glass surfing, mites may be more likely to be the culprit.
If you notice that your Leopard Gecko does not shed properly, seems lethargic between periods of trying to rub against things or scratch at themselves, or if their appetite increases, it is very likely that mites are the culprit.
By using a magnifying glass, you may be able to see the mites. Look especially around the eyes and in any skin folds on your Leopard Gecko.
To learn more about parasites in leopard geckos, how to identify and deal with them, we highly recommend getting this book on parasites in reptiles.
6. Glass Surfing May be Your Leopard Gecko’s Attempt to Get Away From Other Leopard Geckos
Leopard geckos are generally pretty sociable and willing to live in an enclosure with several other Leopard Geckos, so long as there is only one male.
However, the relationship does not always go smoothly. Sometimes Leopard Geckos have disagreements with one another.
If there is more than one male Leopard Gecko in an enclosure, you are sure to have problems. Male Leopard Geckos are territorial, so if there are multiple males in a cage, you can expect fighting.
The Leopard Gecko that is losing in a dominance struggle may try to escape by glass surfing.
If there are only one male and one female, the female may try to escape the male’s mating attempts by glass surfing. It is recommended to have at least three females with a male so that his attentions will be spread out amongst them and won’t overwhelm any single female.
If you notice any tension between your Leopard Geckos you may want to consider reducing the number of geckos in the enclosure.
Any wounds on a Leopard Gecko or a tail becoming less fat may indicate stress caused by a poor relationship between geckos in the enclosure. Even if you think you only have one male, persistent fighting between geckos may point to a misidentified gender.
We show you how to find out whether your leo is a girl or a boy here.