I remember the first day I bought my first leopard gecko. It was December 26, 2011. I had been wanting to buy one forever. I did so much research on them because I found these lizards so fascinating. First, I researched crested geckos and found out that they were a little harder to take care of than leopard geckos. Tokay geckos didn’t appeal to me because they were kind of ill tempered. Meaning that whenever you put food in or showed them your hand they almost wanted to fight you. Tokay geckos are the most aggressive gecko.
I remember watching YouTube video after video and just became completely obsessed with them. There were so many morphs. I seriously probably read 40 articles on them online. They had this cute little “I don’t care about the world attitude.” Maybe Geico sold me completely on them. Still to this day I don’t know why I was drawn to them. But, I was and it really is one of the best pets I have ever owned in my life. Leopard geckos did appeal to me because from what I have heard they were insanely docile and really didn’t require a lot of care. I certainly didn’t want a lizard that was always going to bite me or a reptile that I had to stress about, if they got out of the cage. It just seemed like a perfect fit for me.
So, here I was thinking I knew everything about leopard geckos. I bought Sly my first one from a local pet shop. She was so tiny and cute. I called my mother over and told her I bought a lizard. At first, she was kind of like why? I was like because they are cool. She came over and I attempted to show her Sly. Sly was hiding in her coconut. She didn’t come out one time my mother was there. Instead she was sleeping in her tank probably trying to catch up on some sleep. I would remove the coconut and she would wave her tail and run to the next hide. When I think about it, it was probably a really scary situation for her.
The first thing you’re going to want to do is hold your new gecko. But, you need to observe him/her to see what it’s doing. Holding a leopard gecko actually stresses the reptile out so for the first two to three weeks I just like to let my leopard gecko get used to his/her new habitat; you probably won’t see it much at first. They are going to be very scared. I tend to use paper towels for my substrate or newspaper for the first 2-3 weeks. What you’re going to be doing is monitoring its poop to make sure its not runny. It’s a good rule of thumb that if your gecko is pooping its eating. Remember that you can’t pick up a leopard gecko by it’s tail because their tail will detach. Just in case you’re wondering the tail does grow back, but it will look kind of messed up.
At night make sure you use a squirt bottle and mist their cage. Geckos love to lick water off the terrarium. You can feed them 3-4 small mealworms a day (dusted with calcium powder).
Put your hand in the terrarium and see how your leopard gecko reacts. Don’t be worried if they don’t show much interest at first. In fact, they’ll probably just run to their hide. After 2-3 weeks of this they might crawl up to your hand. Naturally, they are very afraid because they are so low on the food chain. They have to make sure you’re not a predator before trusting you. It takes time, but your gecko will eventually get used to your hand reaching inside the terrarium.
Once your leopard gecko starts crawling up to your hand you can pick them up. I would not pick them up from the top because that is how a bird would. Instead put your hand in front of it and gently touch it’s tail so that it will crawl on your hand. Lift up your hand and just let the gecko crawl on your hands. For the first 2-3 weeks (sometimes longer) I would only handle them for 5-10 minutes a day.
Make sure you keep your hands in the terrarium because baby geckos are very hard to catch when out of their cage.
Once two weeks pass you can begin taking your leopard gecko out of his/her cage, and put a plastic box underneath them and let them crawl on your hands. This just means letting the gecko go from hand to hand. It’s very important that you have a box under them so if the gecko gets frightened he/she will just jump into the box and you won’t be trying to hunt down a gecko under the furniture.
Provided you have read the leopard gecko caresheet and are taking proper care of your new gecko you’ll be fine. Remember that it’s a very slow process to get your leopard gecko to trust you, but in due time they’ll have no problem sleeping on you for hours and hours.
Then you will have 15 or so years to enjoy their company, show them to your friends, and watch them.