Do Leopard Geckos Sleep With Their Eyes Open (and Why)?

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Just like humans, leopard geckos get tired and need to sleep. But do they close their eyes when they sleep? Well, that’s what we’re going to talk about today.

Leopard geckos sleep with their eyes closed. This is because they have eyelids, unlike most gecko species. Don’t worry if you see your leopard gecko sleep with one eye open, though. They sometimes do this.  

Head from side of common leopard gecko with eye open

Related: Why leopard geckos keep one eye closed.

Why does my leopard gecko sleep with one eye open?

Leopard geckos sleep with one eye open as an instinctual reaction to noise or disturbance. It isn’t anything to worry about. It just indicates that you should keep things quiet when your leopard gecko is asleep. 

Since leopard geckos usually sleep during the day, we understand that this can be difficult, especially if you have kids. However, you have a few options that can help you out. 

For instance, you can get soundproof panels and install them in the room where your leopard gecko sleeps. You can even cut some of them into convenient shapes and then attach them to the sides of your gecko’s tank. While they may not eliminate all outside sounds, they will greatly soften them.

Why do leopard geckos sleep with their eyes closed?

Of the 1500 species of geckos out there, only 18 have eyelids, and leopard geckos are one of them. Interestingly, all 18 species of geckos with lids are in the same subfamily – Eublepharidae. 

Their eyelids help them keep dirt out of their eyes, keep them moist, and remove any foreign body quickly. This helps to prevent eye infections. They also keep light out when your leopard gecko is sleeping. However, leopard geckos will still opt to hide in a dark place when they want to go to bed.

Another thing that leopard geckos have in common with other members of their subfamily is the fact that they don’t have adhesive lamellae on their feet. This makes it difficult for them to climb. 

Accordingly, they usually dwell on the ground – even those that climb a little spend most of their time on the ground. Apart from leopard geckos, popular members of the Eublepharidae subfamily include fat-tailed geckos and banded geckos. 

How do other geckos sleep without eyelids?

When lidless geckos sleep, their pupils constrict as much as possible. If there’s one thing you should know about geckos, though, it’s that they have a clear scale covering their eyes. 

This scale usually sheds and is similar to that of snakes. To ensure proper vision, this scale needs to be cleaned from time to time. As such, lidless geckos have been known to use their tongues to lick dirt out of their eyes. 

Another thing you have to keep in mind is that some of these geckos have eyes with cryptic colors. These help them camouflage when predators in the wild threaten them. Some popular lidless gecko species include house geckos, day geckos, and tokay geckos. 

How do leopard geckos sleep?

When leopard geckos want to sleep, they go to hiding spots that make them feel safe. After settling in, their metabolism will slow, and their temperatures will drop before they completely fall asleep. 

During this time of inactivity, they will look relaxed and close their eyes. Even if you touch them at this time, they probably won’t respond. While leopard geckos can sleep on either their side or their stomach, their limbs will always be close to their body regardless. 

What will happen if your leopard gecko doesn’t get enough sleep?

If your leopard gecko constantly doesn’t get enough sleep, it can become sick and/or exhibit some negative behavior changes. Some of the behaviors that signal sleep deprivation include:

  • Irritability
  • Sluggish movement
  • Distant behavior
  • Loss of interest 
  • Loss of appetite
  • Increased aggression

On a more serious note, sleep deprivation can also lower your leopard gecko’s immunity and increase their risk of getting diseases like Crypto. 

Commonly known as stick tail disease, Crypto is caused by a protozoan parasite and usually affects your leopard gecko’s gastrointestinal system. It causes diarrhea, lack of appetite, and weight loss, particularly in your gecko’s tail. 

Interestingly, it’s commonly mistaken for Salmonella and requires a special fecal tool test for diagnosis. Once diagnosed, though, it can easily be treated by prescribing medication. 

Leopard geckos can also sleep too much. Read our article to find out common causes for this.

Why is your leopard gecko awake during the day?

There are several reasons why your leopard gecko could be out and about during the day instead of sleeping. These include:

New environment

When leopard geckos are placed in new environments, they are usually anxious and uncomfortable. And this doesn’t only apply when they are placed in a new tank – they feel the same way when they are introduced to a new handler or tank mate. 

To deal with their feelings, they may either hide or try to explore their tank a little bit during the day. 

Don’t worry, though – these reptiles mostly only explore for a short time during the day before going back to sleep. And as more time passes, they get used to the change and return to their normal sleeping patterns. 

Too much light

This can interfere with both your leopard gecko’s health and sleep-wake cycle, making them restlessly walk around during the day. 

So don’t overexpose your reptile to light as they sleep. Don’t keep the lights on for more than 12 hours, and always ensure optimal tank temperatures. 

Sound disturbance

Leopard geckos have a heightened hearing ability that helps them quickly notice that predators are around and run away from them. As such, sound disturbances can easily wake them from their sleep and keep them awake for hours. 

This can increase their stress levels and prompt them to walk around the tank to investigate the source of the noise. 

Final thoughts

While leopard geckos can leave one eye open as they sleep from time to time, they ordinarily have both eyes closed. That is one of the advantages of having eyelids – they keep your reptile’s eyes clean and lubricated as they sleep. 

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