If you’re looking to break into the world of pet reptiles, you’ve probably noticed leopard geckos are a popular choice. Before you get one, however, you may be wondering; are leopard geckos friendly pets that are good for beginners?
Leopard Geckos are friendly pets known for their easy going temperaments and handleability. They are amiable pets and are easy to care for compared to other reptiles. Since they are smaller-sized lizards with easy going temperaments they are a great for beginners.
Though leopard geckos do well with being handled, like many reptiles they do not particularly love being handled for long periods of time. However, if you start early they will likely be ok with it.
We’ll discuss why they are great for beginners, how you should handle them, and give you tips on the best way to keep them happy and healthy. The first step of your reptile-owning journey starts here.
Leopard Gecko Temperament And Handleability
As long as you take the proper steps, Leopard geckos are friendly and docile when being handled. This is one of the things that makes leopard geckos such great pets. After all, not all reptile species are great for handling. That said, there are a few things you might want to do to help your leopard gecko get used to handling.
Below we’ve outlined a few of the things you’ll want to know before you start regularly picking up your new reptile buddy.
- Get to know them first. Leopard geckos are a little shy at first. You should get them when they’re young and slowly introduce yourself to them. Wait at least a day until you pick them up, but visit them often so they can get used to your presence. A good rule of thumb to keep in mind is that once they start coming out of their hiding spot while you’re around, it’s safe to pick them up.
- Talk to your gecko. This might sound a little silly, however, it’s a fun way of letting them get used to your presence.
- Take things slowly. They are likely to have some trepidation about you when you first meet. Don’t ever rush in fast to pick them up. Instead, move in nice and slowly so they know you are not a threat.
Do Leopard Geckos Like To Be Handled?
Again a leopard gecko is typically friendly and docile when being handled. However, they probably will not enjoy it as much as you do. However, when done correctly you can get to enjoy handling your gecko without putting too much stress on your pet.
How To Handle Leopard Geckos
Now that you know how to approach your gecko for handling, you’ll want to know exactly how you’re supposed to pick them up. Below we’ll walk you through the dos and don’ts of actually holding your gecko.
- No snatching at first! It’s tempting to reach into the tank and just snatch your little guy up, however that’s a good way of just stressing them out. Until they really get used to you, set your hand down near them so they can familiarize themselves with it all on their own. Believe us, they will eventually climb on board.
- Gently does it. Once your gecko is familiar with you, you actually can pick them up (though it’s still best practice to let them climb on you.) If you do need to quickly pick them up, do it gently and use your fingers to brace their belly.
- Don’t touch the tail! Your gecko will feel threatened if you try to pick it up by the tail and it will likely detach it. This causes undue stress and a long process of regeneration.
- Don’t hold them too long. Your gecko needs the warmth of its tank. Once their belly becomes cool it’s time to put them back. This usually happens around the ten-minute mark.
Are Leopard Geckos Friendly Enough For Beginners?
Owning a leopard gecko is a great way to get into raising reptiles. Leopard geckos are my top pick for best lizards for kids and beginners.
They are docile lizards and easy to bond with. A leopard gecko’s temperament and size make them great choices for beginners.
That said, their size is both a good and bad option as a pet lizard for a child. Their smaller size is great because they are not going to be able to harm your child like a pet iguana can. On the other hand, very small children might accidentally squeeze or crush the leopard gecko due to their smaller size.
They are still my number one pick for best pet lizard for kids. But they are most ideal for children that are at least over the age of 5 years old and can understand how to handle their pet lizard.
Creating A Stress Free Environment For Your Gecko
- Housing: You should have your leopard gecko’s tank set up before you bring it home to reduce the stress it will feel when introduced to a new environment. As for their tank, a 20-gallon aquarium or terrarium with a screen lid is the best way to house them. Some say a 10-gallon tank is enough but I would disagree.
- Reptile lamps: Leopard geckos are most active during the late evening and into the night, however, they do need some light during the day when they are sleeping. A reptile lamp placed on one side of the tank should provide all of the light they need.
- Heat/humidity: Leopard geckos need a certain level of heat and humidity to properly shed. Placing a heating pad in the container is a great way of providing this. You can also measure the humidity and heat levels with a hydrometer or humidity gauge. Remember the humidity should stay around 30% to 40%.
- Shelter: Part of what makes leopard geckos so much fun is that they love to play. You should provide them a hiding place to help them feel safe.
Are Leopard Geckos Friendly With Other Leopard Geckos?
Like many other animals, male leopard geckos do not get along with one another. For this reason, you should never house two males in one enclosure. If you do they are likely to attack and injure one another.
Female leopard geckos are far more social than their male counterparts. You can have multiple female leopard geckos in one enclosure as long as you bear in mind that it would require more space. You can keep two females in a 20-gallon tank but you will need to add about 10 gallons per leopard gecko after that.
Lastly, male and female leopard geckos can be kept together as long as there is only one male. Having multiple males and females will actually increase the aggression the males express towards one another.
Leopard Geckos are quite friendly and fairly easy to take care of. You should always ensure that you set up their tank ahead of time, so they can go right in it when you get them home.
When you do handle your gecko for the first few times, let them crawl onto your hand before you just pick them up. Remember to always hold them gently and never keep them out of the tank for too long.
The moment their belly is cool is the moment you should put them back. As long as you properly handle your leopard gecko and provide them with plenty to do, they’ll make a great little buddy and first pet reptile.