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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Shedding problems with Leopard Geckos

Making sure your leopard geckos have the right conditions to shed is extremely important for keeping your leopard gecko happy and healthy, however the majority of owners will face situations where their gecko struggles to shed properly on their own.

For example, even though my male and female leopard geckos are kept in the same conditions, for some reason my male gecko has had a succession of problematic sheds recently.

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Leopard geckos should always have at least one moist hide in their vivarium – personally I make sure mine always have a moist hide in the cool side of their enclosure, and around the time they shed I will also add one to the hot side as well which creates a more sauna-like level of humidity for them.

You can see in the two photos that my male, Charizard, has shed stuck under his eye, and a little bit of rough skin on the top of his nose.

There are several signals which tell me they’re about to shed:

  • They turn very pale
  • They hide away in their moist hide and don’t walk around much
  • They don’t want to be handled
  • They stop eating their food
  • They start rubbing their faces against things to loosen the skin

However, even though I provide two moist hides, and monitor the humidity levels, my male still struggles getting his face completely clear of old skin. I have spoken to other more experienced leopard gecko owners, and here are some of their pieces of advice.

Tips to help with problem sheds:

  • Create a temporary gecko “sauna.” Get a tupperware box, poke air holes in it, add damp moss/ paper towels and put your gecko in it with the lid on so it can’t get out. Place the sauna over the top of a warm (but not hot) heat source – their heat mat would be perfect. Leave for 30 minutes and check on them and see if the skin is looser. Sometimes it will just come off on its own without your extra help. Sometimes you’ll need to leave longer than 30 minutes.
  • Put your gecko in a shallow warm bath. This is good for geckos struggling with belly or foot shedding. Make sure the water isn’t too hot or too cold, and make sure it is no deeper than belly-level. This should help loosen skin along with some gentle rubbing.
  • Shedding aid by Zoo Med – this had excellent reviews on Amazon so I gave it a try. This worked really well for the rough skin on top of my gecko’s head, but it was very difficult to put on the skin under his eye because he just won’t let me touch there without turning away. Other people rub this on their geckos prior to shedding (when the gecko turns white) and have had great results.

Always remember to check your humidity levels in your vivarium, and please PLEASE make sure you always have a moist hide for your leopard gecko! If skin stays trapped on them, it can cause a restriction of blood flow, causing to loss of toes, infection and sometimes death.

Do you have any more tips and advice for helping with problem sheds? I would love to hear them! Comment below.

How to spy on your leopard gecko

When I first got my leopard geckos I had so much anxiety… Why weren’t they eating? Was one gecko hogging all the food? Do they ever leave their hot hide? Are they shedding easily? Do they bully each other?

So many questions I couldn’t answer because of them being diurnal/ nocturnal, and also because they were very shy and tended to hide when I was around.

So my solution? Buy a camera to spy on them, of course!

As you’ll know if you follow my Instagram (@leopardgeckocare) I post a lot of my leopard geckos’ night time activity which comes directly from my “GeckoCam.”

Here’s a bit about the camera I use…

Zmodo True HD Mini WiFi Wireless Wide Angle Indoor Home Video Security Camera Two-Way Audio, Cloud Service Available

It’s by Zmodo and called the Mini Wifi Cam. I bought mine from Amazon (link above) for £34.99.

IMG_1224It connects to an app on your phone which is called MeShare (iOS and Android), and you can watch a live stream from wherever you are once it’s connected to your wifi network.

My favourite thing about it is that it has a day AND a night mode, so you can see your reptiles even in darkness. It will automatically switch between the different modes based on the lighting conditions.

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My second favourite thing is that it has a motion and sound sensor, so if there is motion or sound, you can instruct the app to alert you whenever there is movement or sound. It will also save a couple of screenshots showing the event that caused the sound/ movement. I switch the sound sensor off, as my leos don’t make any noise, and it just picks up background noise which serves me no purpose.

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Another great feature which isn’t needed for my leos but would be great if you had a dog, for example, is that you can speak into the app and your voice will come out of a speaker in the camera.

I had loads of trouble getting the app and camera connected to my wifi network, but the Zmodo pages were really good at helping me troubleshoot and eventually get it up and running.

The app itself is really easy to use, with a nice interface. You can watch a live stream, it will automatically store all motion-triggered screen shots for 36 hours, you can share the camera footage with other people who have the app, etc.

Getting one of these cameras would be great if:

  • you’re worried that your leopard gecko’s aren’t eating
  • you’re worried that there’s bullying happening
  • you go away for a few nights and need to make sure they’re ok
  • if they have shedding issues

My one reservation about these cameras is I don’t know if Infared light can be seen by leopard geckos, and there’s also a small blue light on the front, so I only use this camera occasionally, and I try to avoid shining it into their favourite hide.

Have you tried using cameras to spy on your pets? Comment below 🙂

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!