As pet owners, we want to build bonds with our little friends. It’s clear with dogs and cats that they recognize their owners, but can leopard geckos also recognize you?
Yes! In fact, building a strong relationship with your leopard gecko is key to helping it feel safe and confident in its environment. They might remember your scent over time, though this means they might get skittish or spooked if you wear a new scent or use a new hand or laundry soap.
Choose to be present and stick around after you’ve given your gecko any meal. This will help them associate your scent with the scent of their food, creating a positive correlation between you and their food.
You can also tell your gecko that your hand is safe by offering food directly from your palm or through tong feeding.
There are some exceptions. Not all geckos are the same, and so they might be more hesitant or take more time to become used to your presence.
Can Leopard Geckos Recognize Their Names?
Leopard geckos recognize their names in the same way they recognize other familiar sounds in their environment. The key is to teach your gecko to associate its name with food or with other positive interactions with you.
Repeat your gecko’s name as a way to get them used to you and your voice. Say their name as you place their food in the tank or while you sit and watch them without handling them.
By repeating your gecko’s name during calm and enjoyable activities, they could eventually learn to come when you call their name!
Why Does My Leopard Gecko Stare At Me?
Though our leopard friends cannot speak to us, they are communicating all the time with their body language! It is helpful to try to understand this language and see what our geckos are trying to say to us.
Staring is totally normal behavior for leopard geckos, and there are a few things your gecko could be trying to communicate by staring you down.
At first, your gecko might be watching you closely to see if you are a threat or a predator. With time, your gecko might be watching your presence with anticipation – they know that food or treats are coming!
If you don’t have food and they continue to stare, they may be trying to tell you that they are hungry and would like you to bring food. This is especially true if you have a great bond with your gecko, so you might consider giving your gecko a treat to let them know you understand and want to help them meet their needs.
Don’t be worried if your gecko never stares, or if they stare all the time!
As long as your gecko is well cared for with a clean environment, accurate temperatures, and good food, it is highly unlikely your gecko is unwell. Leopard geckos have unique personalities and mannerisms just like all living creatures.
The key is to know your gecko well, pick up on their individual body cues, and know what is normal for them.
How Do You Know If Your Leopard Gecko Loves You?
Though it is uncertain if a gecko can truly “love” their owners, you can definitely create a mutually enjoyable relationship with your gecko that contributes to their overall happiness and wellness. Creating trust with your gecko will help them feel safe and reduce their overall stress.
If you are able to handle your gecko comfortably, that is a good sign that they trust you. If you are having trouble handling them, if they dash away or wag their tails at you, you might need to work on creating a stronger bond with your leopard gecko.
Spend time with them without attempting to handle them, linger during meal times, and keep their environment stress-free.
If you see your gecko coming out to you when you get close, this is a great indication that they are building a relationship with you and are happy in your presence. This type of reaction usually would take a couple of weeks to trigger, but it could happen sooner depending on the gecko. Over time, a confident and happy gecko might jump right to you when you put your hand in their enclosure!
If you bought your gecko as a juvenile, normally from a pet store or breeder, they might be particularly averse to being handled.
Juveniles tend to be shy or finicky the first few weeks in a new home, but this does not mean they hate you! It is natural for a young gecko in a new environment to adjust to all the new smells, sights, and sounds.
Adult geckos might be easier to handle early on unless they’ve been mistreated or neglected. Even in that unfortunate situation, you can work to let adult geckos know they are safe in your home.
Though leopard geckos are generally very friendly, some geckos may not be comfortable being handled very often. Don’t take it personally!
Respect their boundaries, just because they do not like being held doesn’t mean they don’t like you. It truly depends on your individual gecko, and it never hurts to continue to build trust with your gecko in other ways beyond handling.