Something I wondered before getting a leopard gecko is how friendly and sociable are they? After all, I wanted a pet that I could love, look after and handle, so this was an important question to consider.
I already knew that reptiles are solitary animals, and they have different needs and behaviours to mammals who live together with others of their own kind; seeking comfort and protection from others.
After owning leopard geckos, and interacting with them almost on a daily basis, I have come to a few conclusions about their level of sociability.
Overall, they are happy to be left alone.
They are happy hunting for their own food, sleeping alone and doing their own thing, and even though my leopard geckos are tame, you can still tell that they have some instinctual anxiety if you startle them by going into their vivariums too quickly, making a sudden noise etc.
Even though it looks like they are smiling at you, leopard geckos do not show emotion and I believe they usually only tolerate being handled. Even though they will come out with no problems, I am certain that they prefer being left undisturbed in their homes.
They also do not need to be co-habited with other leopard geckos, and in fact I would actively discourage this under any circumstances. Males will become aggressive if housed together, causing serious injury, males will also repeatedly mate with females causing lots of potential stress and sometimes physical harm, and even females can bully each other, compete for food and fight.
Having said that, they are also very curious creatures…
If new decorations or hides are put into their vivariums, they will always come out and explore. They love coming up against the glass and watch as we are walking around in the evening, watching TV, or turning lights on and off.
They are happy to use your hands as a means to explore more.
I can sometimes tell when the geckos are ready to come out, because they will be peering out of the glass or scratching at the door, and as soon as a hand is placed into the vivarium they will climb on it to get a better look of the outside world.
They will see you as a food provider…
Leopard geckos can come to associate you with food, so if you approach their vivarium they are likely to come to see you, expecting to be fed.
Humans are big and warm, which is perfect shelter for leopard geckos.
My leopard geckos will curl up on my neck, get comfortable in my hair, or climb up sleeves and into pockets, because they all provide warmth and protection. This almost feels like affection from the geckos, and I know that this is the closest I will get to genuine love from them.
If you want an affectionate, loyal pet, then I’m sorry to tell you that you are probably better off buying a mammal.
However leopard geckos are lovely pets, which can easily be tamed and handled, all while being super low-maintenance in terms of the minimal levels of interaction they require from you, which is something you would never get from a mammal.