When you first keep a leopard gecko, you may be shocked by the many odd things these reptiles do. For instance, you may notice that they keep staring at you. So, what causes this behavior?
Your leopard gecko could be staring at you for several reasons. For instance, they could be hungry, curious, uncomfortable or scared. Alternatively, this could just be your gecko’s normal behavior.
In this article we will explore the different reasons so you can better diagnose why your leopard gecko stares at you.
7 reasons your leopard gecko is staring at you
1. Normal behavior
While many pet owners may not know this, staring can be a normal behavior among leopard geckos. These reptiles have been known to stare for hours.
They could stare at you, the TV, or even your phone. Sometimes, you may notice their eyes follow you as you move around.
Interestingly, this behavior is even common among leopard geckos in the wild. They use it as a survival tactic – they stare at anything that moves to ascertain that it’s not a predator.
So if you notice that your leopard gecko stares at you for a few minutes or more, you probably have nothing to worry about.
Leopard geckos may stare at you when they are hungry. This happens when your leopard gecko has formed a strong bond with you and has gotten used to you giving them food.
Your gecko can even do this to signal you to feed them.
You may even notice that they stare at you when you walk toward them after a long day of work. They may look at your hands to see if you’re carrying any food.
Interestingly, this behavior is common among dogs and other pets as well. In fact, a Russian psychologist called Pavlov discovered that both people and animals can be conditioned to relate certain stimuli to each other and create a new response.
For instance, giving your leopard gecko food every time you come home from work can condition them to expect food whenever they see you at this time.
If there’s one thing you need to know about leopard geckos, it’s that they are very curious. They will stare not only at anything that moves but also at new objects and people.
So if you just got a leopard gecko and notice that they keep staring at you whenever you walk in, understand that they’re just curious about you.
4. Sharp eyes
Sometimes leopard geckos look like they’re staring at you because they have sharp eyes.
These eyes help them see both predators and prey well, especially in the wild. In captivity, these eyes help your leopard gecko when hunting.
5. Pleading for attention
If you don’t spend a lot of time with your leopard gecko, they may stare at you to get your attention. They may even look like they’re pleading with you using their eyes.
6. Staring at reflection
While it may seem like your leopard gecko keeps staring at you, they may be staring at their reflection in their glass enclosure or a nearby mirror.
Even a glimpse of their reflection could confuse these lizards – they could think they’re seeing another leopard gecko. While leopard geckos may look smart, they are not usually smart enough to recognize themselves.
7. Lack of trust
Another reason why your leopard gecko would be staring at you would be that they don’t trust you. Even if you’ve had them for a while, they may still not be used to you.
This process isn’t usually fast, especially since leopard geckos aren’t naturally social animals. Fortunately, there are some things you can do to help build trust with your leopard gecko. These include:
- Handling your gecko regularly so that they get used to it. Don’t overdo this, though – do it at intervals your leopard gecko is comfortable with.
- Spend time around your gecko so that they get used to your presence. You can even choose to work in the same room that they’re in.
- Staying calm when you’re around your reptile so that they don’t get nervous whenever you’re around.
Why does your leopard gecko stare at other objects and animals?
While your leopard gecko can stare at other animals and objects for the same reasons it would stare at you, there could be other reasons. These include:
If you introduce another animal to your leopard gecko’s tank, they can stare at them to protect their territory. If the staring isn’t effective, your gecko may even decide to fight with the new animal.
Enigma Syndrome (ES) is a neurological disorder common in leopard geckos. It negatively affects their balance and cognitive functions, causing symptoms like:
- Staring, particularly stargazing – staring up at the ceiling for long periods
- Constant circling
- Head tilting
- Not eating
- Problems catching prey
- Engaging in a death roll
So if you notice more than one of these symptoms, get your gecko to the vet. They are the only ones who can diagnose this disease.
Keep in mind that there’s no cure for this disease – it can only be managed. This is usually done by removing stressors from your leopard gecko’s life.
These could be excessive handling or even tankmates. If things don’t change and your leopard gecko gets severely affected by the disease, you may have to hand feed it for the rest of its life.
Should you be worried if your leopard gecko doesn’t stare?
While many leopard geckos stare frequently, some don’t – and that’s okay.
After all, each leopard gecko is different. So don’t worry if your gecko doesn’t stare. Instead, ensure they have enough food, water, lighting, and heating.
Do other reptiles stare?
Leopard geckos aren’t the only reptiles that stare – almost all the others do so too.
In fact, even some non-reptile pets like cats and dogs have also been known to stare. Some other reptiles that have been known to stare include crested geckos, bearded dragons, and iguanas.
What are other behaviors common among leopard geckos?
Apart from staring, there are also a lot of other odd behaviors that are common in leopard geckos. These include:
- Tongue flicking – this behavior allows leopard geckos to explore their environment and even familiarize themselves with it. These reptiles even have a Jacobson’s organ at the tip of their tongues that provides a sense of smell.
- Strange sounds – these include chirps, squeaks and screams. They can indicate that your gecko is in pain or is feeling threatened.
- Tail wagging – leopard geckos do this to communicate to other geckos. They vary the speed of the motion to indicate different situations.
- Hiding – it’s common for leopard geckos to hide for short periods during the day. However, you should be concerned if your gecko hides 24/7
Ultimately, you shouldn’t be worried when your leopard gecko is staring at you or anything else unless they exhibit other more serious symptoms.
Otherwise, this is usually a common behavior that can persist, go away on its own, or reduce as your pet gets used to you.