Leopard Gecko Handling

By Snaketracks / January 19, 2021

Leopard Gecko Handling Guide

Handling your leopard gecko is pretty much a given, I mean ultimately that’s the best part about having one.

Whether you just got your leopard gecko or are hoping to raise a hatchling to be accustomed to handling, there are a few things you should educate yourself on before trying to handle your leopard gecko.

Leopard gecko handling isn’t that much of an issue since these guys are generally docile creatures by nature. However, they are easily stressed out by nature as well; and when this happens, their natural reaction is to drop their tail in defense.

If you don’t want your lizard to lose its tail out of fear, there are some things you want to do to ensure that they will only get more and more comfortable with you handling them.

Timing

leopard gecko handling
baby leopard gecko being held in hand

When it comes to figuring out when the best time to start handling your leopard gecko is, you need to observe and consider their age.

If you bring home a baby leopard gecko, they will generally need a few weeks, maybe even up to 4 weeks, to get used to their new surroundings and you as well.

Feeding them daily will help them see you as their caregiver rather than a very large predator. If they aren’t acting skittishly or hide less, you can start trying to put your hand in their enclosure or slowly get into tong feeding a few times so that they can get used to seeing your hand near them.

Don’t rush your leopard gecko and let them take their own time to get used to you, otherwise, you can stress them out and will have to start the whole process over again.

A stressed-out gecko will hide every time you come near or they might even make vocal noises.

Make sure you keep an eye out for signs that they are not stressed out by your trying to handle them. As long as they are eating and having normal bowel movements, you should be fine.

How to Correctly Handle a Leopard Gecko

Leopard gecko climbing on womans hand exploring
Leopard gecko climbing on womans hand exploring

When you know your gecko is healthy and has grown used to you, you can start attempting to handle your leopard gecko. In order to avoid them dropping their tail, start by slowly introducing your hand to them by letting it in the tank now and then.

It is recommended that you start by trying to gently introduce them to the idea of getting on your hand. Allow them to have full control of the situation while you remain calm and set your hand out in front of them like a step they can get onto.

You must never pick them up by the tail! This will definitely make them feel uncomfortable and might scare them enough to make them lose it.

If your gecko seems comfortable enough to get onto your hand in their cage, you can start trying to pick it up by its mid-body, which is the safest place to handle them.

You should move on taking them out of their cage by removing their hide from the cage with them in it and getting them out onto a large open space. Make sure there isn’t anywhere they could run and fall as you attempt to practice handling them comfortably.

Do not continue to try to handle them if they act stressed out. This is important as you want your pet to be comfortable around you.

Always give them breaks and take it steady. Be gentle and patient with the process.

Check out GoHerping’s YouTube video on handling your leopard gecko here:

When Not to Handle Your Gecko

If your leopard gecko is showing obvious signs of discomfort while you try to handle them, this is when you stop until they are more used to you. Give them another week of non-handling and being in their presence.

In younger geckos, you might hear them hiss or screech at you. They will act skittishly and try to remove themselves from you. 

In most cases, they also might just stop eating completely or might show irregular bowel movements. They will also try to hide from you for longer periods of time than usual.

If you are not handling them or even attempting to and they are showing signs of stress, make sure you rule out any environmental, diet, or health issues that might be stressing them out before you do attempt to handle them at all.

How to Avoid Getting Bitten

Holding a Leopard Gecko (Eublepharis macularius)
Holding a Leopard Gecko (Eublepharis macularius)

As we mentioned many times before, be gentle. Go slow and take it step by step. 

Leopard geckos are prone to getting stressed out and we want them to be comfortable at a young age. It will be a process, so do not rush your leopard gecko.

Happy and healthy leopard geckos will be calm and easy-going since that is their nature. They aren’t usually ones to bite, which is why they are great pets for beginner reptile-owners.

If your leopard gecko is showing signs of stress or are biting and you’re not sure why, check out our article on how to tame your leopard gecko here:

Leopard Gecko Taming Guide

Can I Handle My Leopard Gecko Often?

Woman holding a leopard gecko in her hand
Woman holding a leopard gecko

Once your cute little lizard friend is finally used to you and is allowing you to handle them, you might be tempted to have them in your hands all day, every day.

As cute as it would be, there is also such thing as too much handling, which can also stress your leopard gecko out.

These creatures are timid and independent, making them calm beings that are easily stressed out. 

We recommend that you limit handling to only every other day, giving them a break in between and only for about 20 minutes a day. They are still trying to get used to their environment and their new life with you.

With some time, it is possible to increase the amount of handling in order to bond with your leopard gecko, but it is still recommended to keep it under 30 minutes.

Conclusion

We understand that you love your leopard gecko and want to carry them with you everywhere, but these independent lizards need their space and don’t enjoy handling for too long.

Make sure that you are not stressing your leopard gecko out with too much handling, while also allowing the two of you to bond with the handling you do end up doing.

Now that you know how to safely start getting your leopard gecko accustomed to handling, time to put it into practice. Remember to take it day by day and don’t expect progress right away or instant gratification.

Educating yourself on the safest way to do it possibly will save your relationship with your pet and possibly their whole tail!

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