Taming Your Leopard Gecko

There is a good chance that if you have a leopard gecko you’re going to at some point pick them up and handle them.  You don’t want them to be scared of you every time you clean their cage either.  I have briefly touched on how to tame a leopard gecko in previous articles I have written at leopardgeckoland.com.  Truth be told, it’s just a good idea to tame your leopard gecko so it’s used to you.

In this article, you I am going to provide you with some step by step ways in which you can tame your leo.

1. Leave Your Hand In The Tank

Hand in leopard gecko cageMake sure you take all of their hides out of their tank when you’re going to be taming your gecko.  This gives them no place to hide. They are forced to see your hand. Don’t be surprised if they shy away or even run in the other direction the first time you do this. The first step you should be taking when taming a leopard gecko is just put your hand in the tank for about 5 to 15 minutes at a time.

They may or may not walk up to your hand within the first couple days of doing this.  Eventually, they will walk up to you.  They might try to lick you.  That is how they smell their surroundings.  Don’t worry leopard geckos generally don’t bite.  Once they walk up to your hand you can eventually pick them up.  I typically do this for up to 2 weeks before handling my leopard gecko.

IMPORTANT:

Go very slow with this step. I know you’re nice and not scary, but think about how big and scary you look (at first) to your leo! So start by just putting your hand in but not low enough that they can reach it. Give them time to get used to the idea. Move slowly and quietly. Don’t have other people coming in and out of the room and being noisy during this early stage. And don’t be scared yourself, you’re both getting to know each other :-). Just take your time and it will happen.

It’s also important to note that not all leopard geckos become tame at the same rate.  I have had leopard geckos that took 1 or 2 days before they were comfortable with me.  On the other hand I have had geckos that have taken 4 to 6 weeks before they become comfortable with me.  

2. Pick Up Your Leopard Gecko

The next step is picking them up.  Remember that you should never pick them up by their tails.  They might drop their tail if they become very frightened.  Generally, I try to let them crawl on my hand when picking up my leopard gecko.  The reason for this is because in the wild a bird would pick them up from the top to snatch them up.

If you do decide to pick them up don’t squeeze them very hard at all.  They have very fragile bodies and you could end up harming them.  

Remember that the first 1 to 2 weeks that you pick them up you’re going to want to hold them over their cage.  The reason being is because if you drop them you don’t want be searching the house for a leopard gecko.   The second reason is because they will be a lot less skittish when they are handled near their natural habitat.

3. Hand Taming Leopard Gecko’s

Hand Tame Leopard Gecko

Once you leopard gecko is comfortable with you picking him/her up you’re ready to start getting them more comfortable with you.  The best way to do this is to let your leopard gecko walk from hand to hand.  I tend to this for 5 to 10 minutes at a time.  At first, you will start to notice that your gecko will move fairly quickly from hand to hand.

I would let your gecko walk from your hand to hand for 5 to 10 minutes a day, and keep this up for a week or so.

4. Take Them Out of Their Habitat

Leopard Gecko On My LaptopLastly, it’s time to take your gecko out of their cage.  Meaning, that the above steps should be done above their habitat.  Now, you can bring them in the living room, on your bed, or anywhere else where they can’t quickly crawl under something where you won’t be able to get them back.

Make sure you follow these guidelines when you have your gecko out:

  • Don’t leave them out by themselves.  Always make sure you are present.
  • Don’t put them somewhere they could fall.  Leopard geckos have no fear of heights – but really should!
  • Keep them away from stereo systems.  Speak quietly to them.
  • Keep other pets like cats and dogs out of the room when you have your gecko out.

How long does it take to tame a leopard gecko?

It is going to take time to tame your leo.  It can take 4 to 6 weeks to get your leopard gecko used to you.  Don’t worry if it takes longer than that.  Some geckos take a lot longer to get used to humans.  Naturally, they are very low on the food chain so they are very timid around people.  Once they realize that you are not a predator they really won’t mind you handling them whenever you want.