One real problem you might run into as a leopard gecko owner is your leo might decide to make a jail break :-).
Usually, this seems to happen at night, since they are nocturnal and come out of their hides at night and explore.
Just about every leopard gecko owner has at one time woke up one morning and checked on their gecko only to realize that they are not there. It’s important that you don’t freak out when this happens. I have personally experienced leopard geckos escaping their tank over the years, and want to give you some pointers on how to get them back.
Don’t Freak Out Just Yet!
First, you have to understand leopard geckos before beginning to look for them. Since these lizards are burrowers by nature; they probably won’t be laying out in plain view. Leopard gecko’s minds work in a very simple fashion. They seek shelter, sleep, and then look for food. That is it; all the reptilian mind wants is shelter and food. They usually want a hide that is very sturdy and is hot.
So, let’s say your gecko escapes; where do you think they might be? Honestly, leopard geckos are usually found within 6 feet of their tank.
Remember these spots to check:
- Under the refrigerator.
- Under the stove.
- Under beds.
- Under the couch.
- Under end tables.
- Under TV stands.
- Under washer/dryer.
OK, I know this is worrying (particularly the first time!). So if you are freaking out, just remember that you don’t have to get your leopard gecko back immediately. As my leopard gecko feeding guide shows leos can go three weeks without eating. They have a very slow metabolism and store their fat in their tail which they can then use in case they get hungry.
Back To Finding Them: Clean Up Time
What I typically do is pick up everything off the floor. This means all shoes, clothes, etc. I clean the house up a bit and check shoes to make sure my leopard gecko hasn’t crawled up in there. Then, I put these on a shelf so I don’t have to keep rechecking them. Check clothing and bed sheets too. Shake them loosely, though. Geckos like to crawl into tight little spots.
Then, I check under all the furniture to see if I can find a little gecko sleeping under it. For me, it seems like Speedy is always hiding under the refrigerator. Every time she escapes she appears to be there. However, if you don’t locate your gecko for a couple of days or even a week don’t worry. They are sneaky little lizards.
TIP: Use Their Hides
This seems to work about 80% of the time if you know the general area they might be in. I would recommend putting their favorite hide on the floor and checking it in the morning to see if they crawled back into it.
This works because it’s something that they are used to and feel safe hiding in. You can move the hide around to somewhere different each night if they are not in there in the morning when you check.
TIP: Know Where They Are, But Can’t Get Them Out?
I know this scenario all too well. You know your leopard gecko is under the refrigerator, but you can’t just call their name, and they will come running to you. I wish it worked that way, but sadly it just doesn’t :-).
Instead, you have to get some super worms or waxworms (their favorite food) and let the worm crawl around a bit. Your leo will get interested in the food, and come out to get it.
It’s important to stay very still and don’t make any loud noises when your leopard gecko comes out. Instead, you are going to want to stay really quiet and place a cardboard box over them. Optionally, you can try to pick them up. But leos are very fast and sneaky – they usually get away when you try to pick them up and they don’t want you to!
Don’t worry because it might take a number of different tries when you’re trying to catch an escaped leopard gecko. Speedy drives me up the wall when she makes a jailbreak, but just remember to be persistent and you will eventually get your them back.
Securing Your Tank?
Make sure that you have a mesh lid. If you haven’t already read setting up a leopard gecko habitat and my best tank guide. A lot of times the little guys like to climb the rocks and can hang over the edge and push the lid up a little. Since they are very small and can maneuver their little bodies they can easily squeeze out. I like to put something on the top of their lids so they can’t get out. You can remove vertical hides if they become problematic.
Also, you can get a taller tank so they can’t reach the top and climb out. I have made these adjustments, and I have been gecko escape free for over a year now. Hopefully, you learn from your first mistake and don’t have to learn the lesson four times like I have had to do :-).