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.
Can you touch or hold your gecko when you bring it home?
You can but take things very slowly so you don’t scare them – here’s our guide on taming your gecko.
My leopard gecko is still a young boy. I maybe had him for 3 months and he is still very scared of me. He eats, sleeps and poops but he will scream constantly at me and it is becoming a big problem. I put my hand in go up to the cage hand feed him but he’s just so stubborn, what do you recommend?
I’m getting a gecko in July and I’ve heard geckos prefer a paper towel instead of sand and don’t actually need a heat lamp. Is that correct?
You can find lots more info about tank/habitat set up here.
I just got my leopard gecko Tuesday which I named Kobe. He hasn’t been eating at all. I tried showing him meal worms, he looked at it and walked away – should I be worried? The pet store I got him from said he was eating crickets but they said mealworms are totally fine, should I go get crickets?
So I just got my leopard gecko and it was 3 days ago and he’s 6 weeks old. So he’s still a baby. I have been looking at him and everything looks good just the only thing that is scaring me is he’s not eating at all. But when I first got him he pooped and the next day he pooped again, and now he just doesn’t eat or poop at all. This is the fourth day.
It’s pretty normal for a new gecko not to eat at first – they are still adjusting and everything is a bit scary.
But also read more about feeding leopard geckos here, and also read about taming your new gecko here.
Enjoy your new pets 🙂
If your leopard gecko is new like that, it’s quite normal for them not to eat at first because they’re adjusting to their new environment. When leopard geckos get introduced to a new environment, they usually take a while to get used to it, and this could explain why he or she isn’t eating.
Don’t be worried, it’s just in a new environment. I suggest you watch leopard geckos videos.
Yeah probably because they might just be feeding them that so I would try that. If it still doesn’t work I would ask a vet.
This happened to me when I got mine, I asked a friend who has experience with these geckos and he says that it’s normal for them to not eat for the first couple of days of having them, also, maybe try showing him crickets? My leo doesn’t take much interest in meal worms so maybe try crickets.
My nephew just got a leopard gecko and is very upset that he has not eaten in 3 days. His family are not big pet people and I explained how they need time to de-stress in their new environment. I just forwarded your web site to his mom and dad so they can help him understand and tame his gecko who he named “Echo”. Echo is 8 weeks old so I am not sure how long they should let it go not eating before getting concerned. Can you please advise?
As long as the gecko isn’t losing large amounts of weight it can go a good week or so without eating. The leopard gecko needs to be left completely alone for a week or two until your nephew even attempts to put his hand in the tank. Leave some insects in a bowl and leave them in the tank and keep an eye out for poop. Also if your nephew is quite young he shouldn’t be left completely responsible for its care since reptiles are not in any way the same as a cat or dog. Many of the geckos behaviors such as not eating, difficulty shedding, becoming ill, or being skittish might discourage him from caring for the gecko. They’re ‘beginner reptiles’ but in no way are they easy to care for. Good luck! Just ask if you have any more questions.
What is that decoration the leopard gecko is climbing in the first picture called? I am looking for the brand, model, etc.
Hi just came upon your site and love it… got our first leopard gecko on Sunday and it ate 6 black soldier fly larvae. My kids and I played with him on Monday night around 7:00 pm and next morning saw he hadn’t eaten a thing. Played again Monday night at same time and noticed he didn’t eat Tuesday either. We left him alone Wednesday and he ate all the larvae. What’s the best time of day to play with the gecko… any other taming tips?
I have a bearded dragon and have been researching geckos. The best way I have found is to let it bond with one person at a time because too many people at once can stress out your gecko the same way it did with my beardie.
I have a 4½-5 month old leopard gecko called Alfie. I bought him a while ago and when we went to see him at the reptile shop we bought him from, he climbed out of his temporary tub and into my hand completely of his own accord (I did nothing to prompt him). I’ve had him for about a week now and when I change his food and water, he has been coming up to me and licking my hand. I’m not sure if I should start taming as it hasn’t been long since we got him, but I’m pretty sure he’s partially tamed anyway. What should I do?
This is some really good information about leopard geckos. My nephew is allergic to pet fur, but he really wants a pet. It seems like a gecko would be a good thing for him to get. I like that you pointed out that it would be smart to keep a box underneath the gecko if he wants to hold him.
I just got my gecko and I forgot to buy a mister, how long can they go without a mist?
You don’t “have” to have a mister. I just use a spray bottle and spray the tank every 3 days or so.
I just use a regular spray bottle from the dollar store
I have been researching leopard geckos for about a month. How should i convince my parents? Already have a custom home for it. We may be going to a reptile show soon.
Send them to leopardgeckoland.com and you can show them how easy they are to take care of 🙂
What a wonderful post! In my family we’ve had all kind of pets already (except snakes lol) but it’s hard to look after pets like dogs or cats if everyone is in school or working.
We’ve been considering to take a few little fish or a new gecko – your post was helpful in determining whether taking a new gecko is a good idea. You provide a lot of good tips – thank you.
A question though – what happens if they get out of their cage? What are the chances that we don’t catch it and someone will accidentally step on it or something?
I have good memories with geckos – catched one long time ago when I was a kid and I was so proud! :))
Thanks for this wonderful article.
I actually wrote an article on leopard geckos escaping. It can be tough to get them back, but eventually you will get them back. You probably won’t ever step on them or anything because they are masters of hiding. They are like little ninjas.
It’s true! Mine has a cave like hide with a small fake tree on it, he has learned that he can climb onto the tree.
This is good and detailed information on purchasing your first Gecko, especially not picking them up. As humans we are relational and like to touch. Because of this we assume all animals like and want to be touched. This isn’t so with Geckos. I think it’s what killed the Gecko we had. We didn’t know and the local pet store didn’t have much to offer. We did some research but obviously not enough. This article of yours is perfect for new or people thinking of getting a Gecko. Thanks.
Oh wow, I never knew that any Geckos would make a good pet. I love them, they are so cute. We get lots of wild ones around here but I don’t know what the breed is, the ones we get here appear to be smaller than the Leopard Gecko in your picture.
Now I’m trying to think how I can tame a wild Gecko…
PS I am in South Africa, not sure if you know what breed of Gecko is common here?
They are probably spotted thick toed gecko’s which are native to South Africa. You will have to take a picture of one sometime and show me 🙂
Where I lived in SA the only gecko we got in my house was the common house gecko.
What a great site for information on Leopard geckos. We used to have a pair (Ok my younger son did) and I was really surprised that they each had their own personality. Seeing the lovely pictures on your site actually made me miss ours.
I have to say they are a really good first pet for a young child because they are actually very forgiving when it comes to a skipped meal here and there due to being forgotten (since they store nutrients in their tails). Over time I could tell that the boys were actually remembering to feed them because their tails were really fat.
This site will be a great asset to new gecko owners because you have a lot of great information here for them.
Thanks, yep they can go up to 3 weeks without being fed. However, I feed mine everyday.
Hi, thanks for the tips! I kind of adopted a Madagascar Gecko in Hawaii a few years back and I’ve just started researching keeping one as a pet – mind you, these leopard geckos are cute!!
Where do you get the mealworms and calcium powder?
I typically like to purchase the mealworms on eBay since they are cheaper there than the stores. Also, you can get the calcium powder on eBay too 🙂
I’ve captured geckos when I lived in Mesa, AZ. However, I have never purchased a gecko. This leopard gecko is cool. I agree, geckos are very interesting creatures. So, do you have a Geico policy? I had a coworker who was with them. I asked him why he chose them for his car insurance, and he said that the only reason he chose Geico was because he liked seeing the Geico Gecko in the commercials. 🙂 It’s good to know that the leopard gecko is easier to manage as a pet. I’m not an animal person, however, after reading this article, I would consider a leopard gecko as a pet. The pictures in this article are excellent. I didn’t realize that they lived for 15 years. Sly is a unique and interesting name. I like it. Thanks for the write up. I enjoyed reading this.
Nope, sorry they don’t come with a Geico policy. 🙂 Smart marketing for them to use one of the most friendliest lizards, though.