While we primarily deal with dog and cat owners in southeast Michigan, we are also reptilian advocates and have been known to dish out a few pieces of advice concerning leopard geckos, iguanas, bearded dragons, and even snakes! We are unreserved animal lovers of all kinds. Lately we’ve run into a few people that were hoping to get their leopard gecko to trust them, socialize with them, or generally how to get their leopard gecko to like them.
It can be difficult, because like dogs and cats, reptiles have their own personalities, on top of being more independent than your normal house pets. Nonetheless, our team at Wags to Wiskers has put together 6 tips to get your leopard gecko to trust you more!
It may seem weird or that this is an unimportant tip, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Okay, it may be a little weird. Regardless, it’s important that your leopard gecko hears you and can learn to recognize your voice. For instance, when you first enter the room your terrarium is in, get down to your gecko’s level and say hello. Chances are, they’ve woken up and noticed that somebody has entered the room, especially if the lights are on, and they will come to recognize the way you sound. This is particularly true if you are speaking to them and feeding them at the same time - like other house pets, they can be naturally conditioned in the same way. Remember that leopard geckos and other reptiles have a keen sense of hearing, as they are often desert creatures and are used to quiet environments.
Keep in mind that your leopard gecko is nocturnal, and being around them in the middle of the day is the equivalent of somebody hanging out with you in the middle of the night! (Consider using a dimmer lamp in your room than the overhead light) It’s okay if they don’t want to come out of their caves, but doing quiet activities near them will give your gecko a chance to watch you, grow comfortable with your presence, and probably scope you out some more while you’re not watching. Our southeast Michigan reptile owners can also build on the upcoming winter (shorter days, longer and darker nights) to increase this time.
Most reptiles utilize their sense of smell for survival, and leopard geckos are no different. Foreign smells register as foreign to them, and recognizable smells are, you got it, recognizable. Allow your leopard gecko to get used to your smell. There are a few ways to go about this. You can handle your leopard gecko more, and while this may seem like an obvious piece of “getting your leopard gecko to trust you,” keep in mind that you (should) wash your hands before and after handling, so your scent is subject to your soap. An alternative way to getting your leopard gecko to know your scent better is to put something that has your scent in the terrarium. Consider an old rag or wash cloth, a piece of clothing, or even just mashed paper towels. Be careful that you don’t take it out of the terrarium with crickets in it - they like the dark!
Yes, we know that you know that you have to feed your leopard gecko. That’s not what we mean! Consider personalizing the feeding process more and making the most of this time with your gecko by building trust. By this, we mean that your leopard gecko should see, hear, and possibly smell you when you are feeding them! Utilize tongs to minimize your fingers being bitten, but make sure you are present while they are hunting!
Put your Hand in the Cage
Another tip for getting your leopard gecko to trust you more is to get them more used to your hand being in the cage. If you don’t have a lot of trust built up between your gecko and you, then this may agitate and scare them, so be cautious. Our southeast Michigan reptile owners have had some success with being patient, putting their hand on the other side of the terrarium, and letting the gecko come inspect you on their own time. Do not rush or force this as that would be counterproductive to building a trusting relationship! Also consider letting them climb on you, touch you, or sniff you without picking them up for the first few times - trust the process!
Picking up your Leopard Gecko
This is probably the most obvious and optimistic behavior we are building towards - if you can pick up your leopard gecko comfortably, it’s a good sign that they trust you! Again, remember to respect their timing and their sense of trust, and to pick them up properly! At Wags to Wiskers, we always advise our southeast Michigan gecko owners to utilize the “scooping” method. By that, we mean cupping your hand and gently sliding it under their chin and forelegs, thus using a combination of you picking them up and them going into your hand. Never pick them up from above, as it triggers a naturally defensive response in them - they will think a bird is attacking them! Make sure they can see you coming, and things will be better.
Well that’s it, six tips to get your leopard gecko to trust you more! For reptile products, visit a Wags to Wiskers store and speak with a sales associate! We have long tongs, heaters, crickets, and much more! Hope you enjoyed, see you next week!