Handling Nervous Geckos

Anyone who has owned a young leopard gecko will know that they can be EXTREMELY skittish, and these little lizards can move pretty quickly!

Before buying them, I was terrified that they’d run away and get lost down the side of the sofa, or jump out of my hands and hide under some difficult-to-move furniture.

However even my most anxious leopard gecko is fairly easy to handle for extended periods of time using some of the below hacks, and using these tips should give you, as an owner, more peace of mind when you want to play with them.

Hack #1 – smooth sided tub – for the most nervous geckos

This is absolutely the best thing I can recommend for very young and very flighty leopard geckos.

As leopard geckos can’t climb smooth surfaces, this is perfect to have on your lap while holding your gecko, because if they try to jump or start moving too quickly, they will fall into the tub and be easy to catch again.

Even now, I have the tub beside me almost all the time, just in case. I also hold the tub under them as I’m carrying them around, because I don’t want any sudden movements to spook my leos and make them fall from a big height onto the floor.

They are so cheap too, I picked up 2 for £1 from a local store, and a quick search on Amazon brings up plenty of good options.

Hack 2 – blanket den – for geckos you kind of trust

Nearly every time I handle my geckos, I make a blanket den for them. I make sure that I cover any crevices so my geckos won’t try and bury themselves down behind my sofa seat cushions, and I also put cushions under the blankets so that it’s steep around the edges, as crawling uphill is most likely to slow them down.

I think you have to be fairly trusting of your gecko to use this method on it’s own, which is why I always have a tub next to me, just in case I need to rapidly catch them. However I do think it’s good to let my leos have a little wander around to explore, and this gives me extra confidence that I won’t lose them.

It’s also nice for the geckos to have little loose folds in the fabric which they can hide in, as this clearly makes them feel nice and safe. This leads me onto my third and final hack which has made the entire handling experience much less stressful for both myself and my geckos…

Hack #3 – fabric hide – for geckos you can usually trust 

leopard gecko care

As leopard geckos are prey in the wild, they will instinctively seek places to hide under, but it’s not convenient to have a hard hide out when you just want to relax and watch TV with your scaled companion.

This is why my fabric hide has absolutely revolutionized my gecko play time. I can provide them with a safe space to sit while they are out of their vivariums, and this has resulted in much calmer geckos, and a much calmer owner.

I came across this idea on an Instagram account I follow @custom.reptile.homes, and she sells these fantastic pyramid-shaped hides (and also many other cool reptile things!) on Etsy.

How do you handle your skittish geckos? Leave any other hacks in the comments section!

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The lazy way to spot-clean your leopard gecko’s vivarium

Vivarium set up

Leopard geckos are super easy to clean, as the only regular cleaning you need to do is a spot clean of their droppings, and then do a full clean every few weeks. But I’m never going to pass up the chance to make the tiny task of spot cleaning even easier…

This is by far the best tip I have come across when it comes to caring for my geckos, and I’d like to give full credit to the YouTube page of LeopardGecko for sharing this amazing hack.

As leopard geckos tend to do their business in the same place every time, it’s easy to anticipate where all the mess will be (mine love to do it in their cold hide).

You simply lay a piece of kitchen roll there, and when it’s time to clean, you remove the kitchen paper and replace it with a new one!

I keep some dog poo bags by my vivarium, put the litter in bag, and then dispose. It’s so quick and hygienic!

Here’s my step-by-step guide in photos…

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1. Locate old piece

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2. Replace with new one (I make sure it reaches up the walls so it catches everything!)

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3. Place hide back on top

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4. Dispose of poop!

Which substrate for leopard geckos? Pros and cons.

One of the most confusing and stressful parts of planning your leopard gecko’s enclosure is knowing which substrate to buy. I have used several of these, so I am going to list the pros and cons of each type below.

It is quite well known that loose substrate (such as sand) can cause impaction when ingested, which is fatal to leopard geckos, yet it is so commonly used because pet stores push the product due to its high profit margins, and also because it will ensure return customers every time the sand needs to be replaced.

Even though I knew the risks, I’m ashamed to say I was pushed into buying sand initially by a reptile pet supply owner, and I felt too uninformed to push back. After all, who was I to argue with a ‘reptile expert’?

I am going to start with my favourite substrate which I currently use – vinyl (yes – just the type you’d put in your kitchen)!


Linoleum, tiles, slate and vinyl
RECOMMENDED

lino

Pros

  • Doesn’t cause impaction
  • Very easy to wipe clean
  • Mimics natural habitat of leopard geckos
  • Conducts heat well
  • Easy to source
  • Easy to cut to size
  • Geckos won’t get toes caught
  • Looks good, lots of styles to choose from
  • Doesn’t wear out
  • Doesn’t harbour germs
  • Geckos won’t get toes and teeth caught

Cons

  • Usually have to buy a minimum quantity therefore…
  • …slightly more expensive than other substrates
  • Doesn’t absorb smell of gecko droppings

* I will sell the remainder of my Vinyl flooring to anyone who needs it! Please visit my Etsy listing here


Reptile Carpet

carpet

Pros:

  • Doesn’t cause impaction
  • Cheap
  • Easy to source online
  • Easy to cut to size
  • Conducts heat well
  • Looks natural

Cons:

  • Geckos can get toes and teeth caught
  • Doesn’t absorb the smell of droppings
  • More difficult to wipe clean
  • Can harbour germs
  • Needs to be replaced frequently

Paper towels/ kitchen roll

kitchen

Pros:

  • Doesn’t cause impaction
  • Very cheap
  • Readily available almost anywhere
  • Easy to replace
  • Geckos won’t get toes and teeth caught
  • Great for housing babies on

Cons:

  • Doesn’t look particularly nice
  • Can go soggy quickly in a humid vivarium
  • Doesn’t absorb the smell of droppings

Sand (and other loose substrates)
NOT RECOMMENDED 

sand

Pros:

  • Cheap
  • Readily available in most pet stores
  • Easy to sieve droppings out
  • Absorbs smell of droppings
  • Geckos won’t get teeth and toes caught
  • Various colours

Cons:

  • The leading cause of impaction in leopard geckos – this can cause them to die
  • Messy – sand can get everywhere if you’re not careful
  • Uneaten insects can bury in it
  • Has to be replaced quite frequently

 

Meet my leopard geckos!

It seems logical that my first post should be about my two pet geckos, so let me introduce you to Charizard and Nim. 

I have wanted some leopard geckos since childhood, and since I bought my own apartment at the beginning of the year, there is nobody stopping me from keeping reptiles and their live food in my home!

At the end of July I decided I was ready to buy them, so I did all my research (or so I thought – there was still so much to learn!) bought my vivarium and equipment, and found a great breeder on Gumtree, who was happy to talk to me on the phone, answer any questions etc. We then arranged for me to go and meet her the next day to see the geckos. I initially only wanted one, but fell in love with two of them, so I left her house with two baby leos.

Here’s Charizard (yes, I named him after a Pokemon). He was born on May 13th 2017. I’m not an expert on Leopard Gecko morphs, but after reading online I am quite confident that he’s a tremper albino, or something similar. He looks a little more pale than usual here as he was about to shed his skin.

Baby leopard gecko

This one is called Nim, she was born on June 13th 2017, so is exactly a month younger than Charizard, and I think she could possibly be a mack snow morph. If anybody knows about morphs, I’d really love to know what they both are.

leopard gecko care