Leopard Gecko Taming: Top 7 Steps To Bond With Them

Leopard geckos are usually docile and calm but can be skittish and jumpy when you first bring them home. However, as a gecko owner, you will need to pick up and handle your gecko while avoiding scaring them. This shows that you will need to tame and handle them regularly to keep them docile.

Taming leopard geckos may look complicated, but it is quite simple if you understand how to go about it. But you will need to use a few tricks while you put in your time and be patient with your gecko.

As a new leopard gecko owner, you may be wondering whether you can safely tame your gecko. In this article, we have broken down everything you need to know about leopard gecko taming and tips to help ensure your gecko trusts you.

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Cute Reptiles as Pets

Is Leopard Gecko Easy To Tame?

Yes, leopard geckos are easy to handle, and they adjust to taming quite easily. Many hobbyists believe that you can train leos to enjoy handling in a few weeks after you get them. This is because leopard geckos are slow-moving reptiles, and most of them seem to enjoy the heat from your hand or lap during handling.

Leopard Gecko Taming
The best way to bond with your pet leopard gecko is to give it time

How Long Does It Take To Tame Leopard Geckos?

Leopard geckos are naturally very low on the food chain, and they are usually afraid around people. However, you can tame your leopard gecko easily, and you can use around 4-6 weeks to get your gecko to trust you. But leopard gecko species usually vary, and it can take longer with some leos.

Once your gecko realizes that you are not a predator, they will not mind if you handle them whenever you want. But you need to be careful and patient during the taming process to avoid scaring or pushing your gecko away. If you make any mistake during the taming process, you will need to start the process from the start again.

Factors Affecting The Domestication Of Leopard Gecko

Unlike conventional pets, leopard geckos may not bond immediately with their owners. As a responsible gecko owner, you will need to understand the reasons that can affect the domestication of leopard geckos. Some of the factors are stated below.

Housing Your Leopard Gecko In An Unsuitable Enclosure

Although leopard geckos can stay in a small enclosure, they will need more space as they grow. Housing your gecko in the tank with a small space can cause discomfort, leading to stress and making your gecko aggressive.

It is recommended that you house a leopard gecko in a 20-gallon tank. This helps to provide enough space to explore their tank. Apart from space, leopard geckos are crepuscular creatures and will require up to three hides to keep them happy.

The more your gecko is happy with its environment, the happier and trusting it can be. This can then help to make the taming process faster as it can settle in very easily.

Housing Them In An Unclean Environment

It may be hard to tame your leopard gecko if its enclosure is not clean. Leopard geckos like a clean environment, and you should avoid leaving waste, calcium deposits, or dead food in their enclosure all day. 

Ensuring your gecko is in a clean environment helps to avoid stress and aggression, and your gecko will trust you more if you do this.

housing leopard geckos appropriately
To ensure your pet is happy, house it in a comfortable and ideal habitat

The Temperature In Their Enclosure Is Not At Optimal Level

There are times when leopard geckos can be aggressive because of the discomfort in their environment. This can be caused if the temperature in their enclosure is not at the optimal range.

Leopard geckos originate from the Middle East and parts of India, which usually have a dry and hot habitat, and the nights can be freezing. Although they can live under varying temperatures, the temperature in their enclosure is important for their happiness and survival.

You will need to provide them with three different temperature areas: cold side, warm side, and a basking area. The cold side can be around 75-80F, and they prefer that the temperature drops at night.

On the warm side, the temperature should be between 80-85F, and the basking area between 90-95F. Leopard geckos also need a humid hide for regulating their body temperature and for shedding. They also need a humidity range between 70-80% in their tank.

Handling Them Improperly

Most leopard gecko owners love touching their gecko, but too much handling can lead to stress to your gecko. Leopard geckos can easily drop their tail when stressed out. Furthermore, you should avoid handling your gecko when you notice it is distressed because doing so will make it more anxious.

You may find it hard to tame your leopard gecko if you are handling it improperly. This is why it is important that you handle your leopard gecko correctly, and they are used to handling before you think of handling them for a long time.

Taming A Baby Leopard Gecko Vs. An Adult Leopard Gecko

It is easier to tame a baby or juvenile leopard gecko than taming an adult leopard gecko. Baby or juvenile leopard geckos are usually fragile and can bond well with you as they grow older. Furthermore, handling your leopard geckos at an early age helps to make them calmer and docile as they grow up.

It can be harder to tame adult leopard geckos, especially those with a rough past, as they may never trust you fully. However, some leopard gecko species don’t like being handled, whether young or adult, and you will need to exercise a lot of patience with them.

Leopard Gecko Taming In 7 Steps

Leopard geckos are cute lizards, and you will be tempted to handle them. Furthermore, you don’t want your leopard geckos to be scared of you whenever you want to clean their cage. Taming your leopard geckos helps to make them docile and calm every time.

Some of the steps that you can follow to help tame your leopard geckos are stated below.

Provide Leopard Gecko A Safe Habitat

It is likely that your leopard gecko hides a lot during the first week or two that you bring it home. This is why it is recommended to provide two hideouts (one on the warm side and another on the cool side) in their enclosure. You will also need to provide a shedding box to help make their enclosure comfortable for them.

This is because leopard geckos need to feel safe and comfortable in their enclosure to help make the taming process easier. However, your gecko will feel vulnerable, and taming them can be hard if you do not provide the hides.

Note: avoid changing your leopard gecko’s set up for at least a month to help your gecko get used to its new environment. It is best to prepare everything before placing your gecko in the enclosure to help avoid changing anything in their enclosure.

Give Leopard Gecko Time For Acclimatization

You will need to give your leopard gecko some time to acclimatize once you place it in its new home. This is because leopard geckos are usually scared and will try to defend themselves after placing them in a new environment.

In the first week, you need to avoid standing around their enclosure. You can then start to sit and watch your gecko in the evenings once it is active and can see you after a week. It is also recommended that you avoid handling your gecko for the first three weeks that you bring it home.

During the acclimatization phase, you should place their food close to the hide box to help make it comfortable. You can then start moving the food further away slowly each day to help them come out of their hide.

Let Leopard Gecko Know Of Your Existence By Bringing The Food

This is a good way to gain the trust of your gecko. During the first two weeks, you should try to place your leopard gecko food in a bowl. Whenever you are bringing the food, ensure that your leopard gecko sees you help build trust.

It is likely that your leopard gecko refuses food for a few days to a week that you bring food to their home.

Start Hand Feeding To Tame

You can start to hand-feed your leopard gecko after about three weeks of acclimatization to build more trust. You can do this by placing a few insects on your hand and then placing it in your leopard gecko enclosure. This process will further help in taming your leopard gecko and also get used to you.

Avoid making sudden moves when your leopard gecko bites or grabs the food from your hand when hand-feeding. This is because making sudden moves can scare your gecko and make you lose all the trust and bond you have been building.

bonding with pet lizard during feeding
Feeding time is also a great time to bond with your pet leopard gecko.

Note: you should avoid hand-feeding your gecko in the first two weeks you bring it home as it may become scared and not bond with you. When inserting your hand in their tank, place your hand from the side and never from the top of your leopard gecko.

You can even check if your gecko is not afraid of your presence by placing your hand close to their bowl when eating to check whether it will continue eating. This should be done after two weeks of bringing it home, and if your gecko is not afraid, you can start to hand-feed your leopard gecko.

Let Your Leopard Gecko Be Used To Your Soft Voice

When taming your leopard gecko, it is recommended that you speak in a soft voice around your gecko. This will help your gecko to recognize your voice.

Note: leopard geckos hate noise, and you need to avoid screaming or shouting around their tank. You also need to place them in an area far from loud music or TV.

Avoid Make Any Sudden Movements Or Shout

Leopard geckos are down in the food chain and are usually scared of any sudden movements. You can easily scare your leopard gecko to death by making sudden or jerky movements around them. This can easily break the trust that your leopard gecko has for you.

Note: Making sudden movements not only scare new leopard geckos, but it can also scare geckos that you have for a long time.

Start Handling Short Sessions After 3-4 Weeks

Once you notice that your leopard gecko is comfortable eating from your hand, you can then start to handle your gecko. However, the handling session should be short. You can start by handling your gecko for 5 minutes and then add a minute to the time every other day.

Always ensure that you handle your leopard gecko when it wakes up from sleep, like in the evening. You should also avoid waking your leopard gecko for handling as it can stress them out.

Note: Avoid picking up your leopard gecko during the first week of handling but only allow it to climb your hand. You should avoid stroking your leopard gecko during the first week of handling. You can then start to stroke your leopard gecko gently with a few touches to not scare them after the first week of handling them.

Taming your leopard gecko [source: AsianBatman]

Bonus: 5 Tips To Tame A Leopard Gecko

Here are some other tips that can help make taming your leopard gecko easy:

  • always handle them before feeding
  • avoid any accident, handle your leopard gecko safely
  • be patient and always move slowly
  • never pick it up by their tail and avoid reaching from above
  • don’t forget to wash your hands before and after

Always Handle Them Before Feeding

It is essential that you handle your leopard gecko before you feed them. Handling your gecko before you feed them helps to show that you are a positive figure, and they should expect to eat after you appear.

Another thing is that handling your gecko after feeding them can make them regurgitate their food and even pee on you.

handling pet leopard gecko
Ensure that when handling your pet that he feels safe in your hands. This help to build trust.

Avoid Any Accident, Handle Your Leopard Gecko Safely

When handling your leopard gecko, you need to ensure that your leopard gecko falls down or you accidentally injure it with your grip. Your leopard gecko will not trust you or even trust you if there is an accident. This is why it is essential to avoid an accident by handling them safely.

You can start handling your gecko by sitting on the floor or at a table with your hands just some inches over the surface. This will help to ensure that your leopard gecko is not injured even if it falls down. 

Be Patient And Always Move Slowly

When handling your leopard gecko, allow it to walk on your hands and avoid keeping it in a spot. After your gecko is comfortable with you, you can then slowly lift your gecko a few inches from the ground. 

This is a new experience for your leopard gecko, and you need to be careful when lifting them.

Never Pick It Up By Their Tail And Avoid Reaching From Above

You should avoid placing your hand over a leopard gecko as they usually see this as a threat and will not trust you. Whenever you want to handle them, it is best to place your hand in their tank from the front. 

If their enclosure does not have a front opening door, you can place your hand in their tank from the side and away from your gecko. Leopard geckos can easily lose their tails, and you need to avoid picking them up by their tail.

They can also lose their tail if they feel threatened or cornered. This means whenever your gecko does not feel like being handled and is running from your hand, you can opt against picking it up. You can then try handling them again after some time.

Don’t Forget To Wash Your Hands Before And After

Always ensure that you clean your hands before and after you have handled your leopard gecko. Leopard geckos have the habit of smelling and licking their owner’s hand before climbing it. 

Using a clean hand to handle your gecko helps to ensure your gecko does not contract a disease from you and vice versa.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Do leopard geckos show affection?

Leopard geckos are usually friendly and affectionate creatures if they are brought up among humans. It is quite easy for them to get along with everybody, and caring for them is quite easy.

Can leopard geckos recognize their names?

Yes, it is possible for leopard geckos to recognize their names. However, this requires a lot of patience and time. You can do this by repeating your gecko’s name over and over every time you feed it. This means your gecko can then associate its name with food and your voice.

You can also make a signature sound before you call their name to help them recognize it.

Do geckos like being stroked?

Leopard geckos are more concerned about their survival than pleasure. They can experience hunger, pain, fear but cannot feel pleasure. This shows that they do not feel pleased when you stroke them. However, petting your gecko can be more rewarding to us as humans.

Wrapping Up

You can easily tame your leopard gecko regardless of whether it is young or old. However, each leopard gecko has a different personality, and taming each gecko is usually different. But with enough commitment and patience, you can tame most leopard geckos, even those that are aggressive.