How to Bond With Your Leopard Gecko (7 Helpful Tips)

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Is bonding with your Leopard Gecko realistic or feasible? Can your approach affect the rate and degree they trust or adapt to your presence?  Find all your answers here. 

Leopard Geckos bond with their owners physically rather than affectionately. With patience, correct handling, and environment monitoring, one can earn the trust of these reserved reptilians. Before handling Leo, it is crucial to consider age, enclosure setup, behavior, and temperament. 

How to bond with your Leopard Gecko

Although taming your Leopard Gecko can be simple, it does take time and patience. Discover how best to bond with your gecko and learn how environmental and behavioral factors influence the process. 

Consider age

It is safest to avoid handling your Leopard Gecko before the age of three or four months or before they are at least five or six inches in length (12.5 to 15 centimeters). 

Not only are Leopard Geckos more docile as they mature, but their bodies are also less delicate and prone to injury or accidental tail loss. Baby Leopard Geckos are more energetic and prone to being aggressive or territorial, making taming them more challenging. 

Postpone handling your Leopard Gecko until after this period to avoid them associating you as a threat and subsequently delaying the bonding process. Contrary to this, try to start the handling process as early as possible

Taming a juvenile Leopard Gecko instead of an adult is less demanding and will ensure they remain calm as they advance in years. 

Environmental influences

It is imperative to ensure that your Leopard Geckos terrarium size, temperature, and setup are suitable to avoid any unnecessary stress. A stressed Leopard Gecko will be harder to tame than one that is comfortable in its surroundings. 

Newly homed geckos

This is especially true for newly homed geckos. It is best to only handle your recently housed gecko after three to four weeks of bringing them home. 

Providing your gecko with at least two or three hideouts will give them a feeling of safety. Moreover, avoid changing the initial enclosure setup during their first month to allow them time to settle in and grow secure. 

Provide food close to a hide to start with when they are still familiarizing themselves with their environment.  This will allow them to feel less threatened during feeding times.  

Other environmental considerations

Continuously monitor your Leopard Geckos behavior to spot and eliminate any sources of stress. 

Maintaining good housekeeping and ensuring that the enclosure temperature is kept at optimal levels will ensure that your Leopard Geckos are stress-free. Enclosure size should also be appropriate for the number of geckos housed to avoid excess stress or aggression, making the taming process harder. 

Loud music and pets should be kept away from your gecko’s enclosure. Leopard Geckos are sensitive to noise and sudden movements, and this stress will influence any taming success. 

Leopard Geckos are nocturnal

A reminder that Leopard Geckos are nocturnal, indicating that they sleep in the day and are most active in the evenings and early hours of the morning. 

Leopard Geckos need their rest to remain healthy. Disturbing their rest will make them stressed and affect their long-term health. 

Refrain from handling your geckos in the daytime. Leopard Geckos are mostly active between dusk and dawn and should be primarily handled during this time. Any enclosure work that needs to be done in the day should be done quietly and with as little disruption as possible. 

Handling your geckos during the day will instigate moody, uncooperative behavior. Improve your bonding success by handling them when they are most receptive. 

Food as an incentive

Feeding time is excellent for handling your Leopard Gecko or getting them used to you. This creates a positive association between you and their food.  

Even when taming your Leopard Gecko, please stick to your usual feeding schedule to avoid overfeeding them. Smelling, hearing, and seeing you during their feeds will help them trust you as their provider. 

Remember always to make your presence known before starting to feed your geckos. You do not want to upset the bonding process by spooking them. 

A good way of telling whether your gecko views you as a threat would be if they continue to eat with your hand in the enclosure or when you are standing watching them. 

Remain present, but never disturb your Leopard Gecko when they are hunting. It is also always best to handle them before a feed, as they will need time to digest after feeding. Holding them after feeding may lead them to regurgitate their food or relieve themselves. 

Some owners like to feed their geckos by hand or with small tongs or tweezers to help develop a closer bond. This is, however, not necessary and merely a preference. 

Make your presence known

It may sound surprising, but talking to your Leopard Gecko or calling it by name can help them associate a sound with your presence. 

Try to use the same tone, sound, or word when you go to the enclosure for feedings or handling sessions. 

Give your gecko a name and call its name or make a sound when greeting it. Clicking your tongue or fingers are good examples. Only call your geckos by name three weeks after owning them or longer if they are still babies. 

Leopard Geckos have a good sense of hearing. In a while, geckos may hear you and automatically come out for feeding. 

Some owners like to add a piece of clothing to the enclosure for their geckos to grow accustomed to their scent. If you get in the habit of washing your hands before and after handling your Leopard Gecko, they will also grow used to the smell of the hand wash. 

Four of the five senses – sight, smell, hearing, and touch, are essential when bonding with your geckos and making them more content in your presence. 

Encourage familiarity

If you have a new Leopard Gecko, avoid standing around their enclosure for at least a week. After this, you can sit and watch them while active but avoid handling them until at least three weeks have passed

Placing your hand in the enclosure

You may want to start the familiarization process by placing your hand gently inside the enclosure. Try not to move your hand and be patient. Your Leopard Gecko needs time to gain the courage to explore, sniff, lick, and climb your hand. 

To start, Leo may ignore your hand. Continue to persist, and they will soon view you as a non-threatening. At this stage, you can try to work your fingers under its belly and cup them in your hand. Never attempt to pick your geckos up from above, or they will perceive you as a threat. 

If Leo scares or runs away, don’t attempt to grab them; instead, leave them and try again the next day. 

Session length

If your Leopard Gecko is new, a five-minute handling every three days is a good starting point. Every week following that, add on one minute of handling time. Once tame, try not to handle them for more than 20 minutes every second day. 

Before feeding or as soon as they wake is an excellent time to handle them. 

Handling tips

Always be gentle when handling your geckos; slower movements are always best. Do not lift them by the tail, as they can easily lose their tails this way. Similarly, if they run away or look threatened, stop handling them. 

Although Leopard Geckos learn to enjoy being held, it is usually because of the heat we emit. They do not find being stoked pleasurable, so rather refrain from doing so. 

If they are running away from you or hissing, stop trying to handle them. If they look curious, this is a good sign that they are feeling confident and starting to tame.  

Final thoughts

Taming your Leopard Gecko is undoubtedly possible. Start early but provide enough time for them to adjust to their surroundings. Ensure enclosure setup and other internal or external factors are not creating unnecessary stress.

Stay mindful that all Leopard Gecko’s temperaments differ and keep an eye on any unusual behavioral signals. It can take time to earn their trust, but these naturally explorative creatures will bond quickly if you remain patient and persistent. 

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