Do Leopard Geckos Like To Be Held or Petted?


by Simon Griffiths


Keeping an exotic gecko is always a dream come true for most herpetologists. A good example of an exotic gecko is the leopard gecko. They are considered to be exotic because they resemble leopards and are super cute. But the real question is whether you can hold and pet a leopard gecko.

Most people want reptile pets that can tolerate handling. No one wants to have a lizard that is more of a display pet. So, do leopard geckos like to be held? Yes, ‘leos’ are docile geckos that like to be pet by their owners.

Leopard geckos should be slowly introduced to handling. You have to get them to trust you before you even think of touching or handling them. So, let’s get into the details of petting Leos and how you should do it.


Leopard Gecko Handling Tips & Tricks

There are so many ways to bond and socialize with your leopard gecko, but petting them is the best one. As long as your ‘leo’ trusts you, it will feel safe when you hold him or her. The real tussle is how to get them to trust you! Luckily, I have compiled a few tips and tricks that should come in handy when handling your Leopard gecko.

1. Introduce your gecko to handling early

If you have the privilege of owning a baby or juvenile leopard gecko, then you should introduce it to handling as early as possible. This helps form an early bond with your gecko and most importantly, it ensures your leopard gecko becomes more docile and calm as it grows.

Remember that juvies tend to be fragile and they require to be handled in a delicate way. Petting your gecko from an early stage will give you a better understanding of what your leo likes and hates.

2. Go slow on them

As much as leopard geckos are open to being handled, you should go slowly on them. Forcing issues will only scare way the gecko and it will hate you more.

The best way is to give your leopard gecko time to adjust to its new terrarium. Once they get comfortable in their new habitat, then you should start interacting with them bit by bit.

You can tell that the gecko is scared and stressed when you try handling them forcefully. In most cases, they will run to their hiding area. Make sure to respect this and give it time to adjust.

3. Train your leopard gecko to get used to you

Training your leopard geckos to get used to you is the only way you can win their trust. The first thing you ought to do is assure your gecko that you are not a predator. Do this by placing your hand in the enclosure for a few minutes every day.

Your gecko will slowly learn that your hand is not a threat and it will start getting used to you. In most cases, it will first climb on to your hand or even lick it as a sign of affection. Once it gets to this level, then you can pick it up slowly, but don’t overdo it.

4. Avoid playing with Its tail

As is the case with most geckos, leos can drop their tails as a defensive mechanism. So, if you are looking to hold your gecko, avoid picking it by the tail. Messing with its tail will only increase the chances of your leopard gecko dropping its tail.

Remember that leopard geckos store nutrients in their tails and losing a tail will do more harm than good to the small creature. A leo’s tail will eventually grow back but it will be short and might take several months to do so.

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How Often Should I Handle My Leopard Gecko?

Handling or petting your leopard gecko is fine, but you should limit the number of times you do it. This gecko species is crepuscular, meaning they are most active at night. So if you want to pet a leo, you should do so at dawn or dusk.

Even though leopard geckos are docile and calm, you should not handle them too often. You should limit handling them to 20 minutes or so. This way, your gecko will remain happy and stress-free. Keep in mind that longer handling sessions can stress out your gecko.

Do Leopard geckos like to be pet on the head?

Well, it depends on how your leopard gecko behaves. Some leos respond well when being stroked around the head. You will even notice them closing their eyes as you touch the head area. Some leopard geckos will even rub their heads against your finger.

On the other hand, some geckos do not like it when you touch their heads. In such cases, the leopard gecko will scamper away, scream, make themselves bigger, or worst-case scenario bite your finger.

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When Should You Not Handle A Leopard Gecko

  • It is easy to tell whether your leopard gecko is open to handling or not. For instance, if your gecko shows signs of stress such as not eating, then it’s best that you leave him or her alone.
  • Avoid handling your leopard gecko when she is about to lay her eggs. It might cause stress and cause health conditions as well.
  • Leopard geckos should not be handled when they are shedding. Instead, leave them alone and provide them with conducive conditions to facilitate proper shedding.
  • Avoid holding a leopard gecko with cold hands, as they will feel uncomfortable. Remember that these geckos love some warmth and they will appreciate being petted with warm hands. They could use a little bit of warmth from your hands.
  • You should refrain from handling your gecko when she is inactive. This mostly happens during the day. Give her enough time to rest and digest food as well.

Wrapping Up

As you’ve learned from the above post, leopard geckos are among the best reptile pets for handling. You can show them affection by petting them and stroking their backs. Just don’t overdo it as they might end up being stressed or biting you!

Simon Griffiths

Hi guys, my name is Simon, a fellow pet lover. I love everything about traditional and exotic pets so I am here to help you create a better home for your pets.