Wondering if Crested Geckos Really Like To Be Held? This guide is for you!
Generally, reptiles don’t like to be handled. So you shouldn’t expect them to show affection and love the way cats or dogs do.
Crested geckos are considered some of the easiest geckos to handle. But, even they have their limits and won’t tolerate being mishandled. Your crested gecko will become upset and stressed if you don’t handle it softly and safely.
The good news is that it is quite easy to handle a crested gecko if you understand its needs. Handling your gecko will be an enjoyable pastime for both of you if you know how to go about it.
Signs Your Crested Gecko Likes to Be Handled
Since your crested gecko does not speak your language, it communicates through body language. Therefore, a keen observation of your pet’s behavior will tell you whether this animal wants to be handled.
For example, if your crested gecko comes towards you as you approach the tank, it clearly wants you to handle it.
Conversely, a crestie that keeps hidden even when you’re around clearly wants nothing to do with you at that moment.
You’ll know your crestie has learned to trust you if it is comfortable around you. It will walk up your arms to your shoulder or try to wrap itself around your neck.
Be careful as you handle crested geckos as they tend to be skittish. Also, these reptiles like jumping a lot, and your pet may get hurt if it jumps from your arm or shoulder.
This is your cue to have soft landing spots around you whenever you play with your pet. Remember, a healthy crested gecko can be pretty active.
Expect anything from this reptile when you’re handling it.
Signs Your Crested Gecko Doesn’t Want to Be Handled
Your crested gecko will tell you if it doesn’t want to be handled. For example, this reptile will run to its hiding place upon spotting you.
A crested gecko may attempt to jump away when you try to pick it up to signify this is not a good time to handle it.
In some cases, your pet may bite you as a way of telling you to keep away. When this happens, don’t panic.
Likely, your crestie is going through a phase but will soon come around. Also, a crested gecko’s bite is not worth worrying about.
Unlike some other reptiles, crested gecko bites are not serious – they are unlikely to cause injuries.
What Can Go Wrong in Handling a Crested Gecko?
Falling to the Ground
Crested geckos have evolved to be jumpy creatures. In their natural setup, these animals live in forests where they jump from one piece of foliage to another.
Your crested gecko may have a serious accident when it jumps from your hands to the tank or ground. Unfortunately, a good number of cresties without tails have lost them this way.
A crested gecko may jump from your hands to the floor, causing an ugly splat. This is the reason you should be very careful when handling this reptile.
As noted above, a crested gecko can lose its tail when it jumps from your hands and hits the ground. This animal could also lose its tail when it wants to run away from you.
Generally, cresties twitch and wiggle their tails when they want to run away from a predator. However, your crested gecko may perceive you as a threat if you mishandle it.
This reptile will drop its tail and run away to escape from your clutches, leaving you to agonize over this loss.
Your crested gecko may poop on you as you rock him in your arms. Be wise enough to keep some paper towels handy as you hold your pet.
You never know when this little reptile will get the urge to go to the toilet.
If your crested gecko squeaks when you’re handling him, it means he wants to be put down. Research has shown these reptiles squeak when they are stressed.
Upon letting him down, your gecko will likely go straight to hiding.
How to Handle Your Crested Gecko Responsibly
If you handle your crested gecko responsibly and respectfully, you’ll have a fulfilling relationship for both of you.
Here are a few things you can do to make your gecko feel at home in your arms.
Give Him Time to Adjust to the Enclosure
The new surroundings will likely stress a crested gecko that has just arrived at your home. Just like most humans, crested geckos dislike having to be moved around.
As such, keep away from your pet and allow him the time to adjust to your home’s new sights and sounds.
If you insist on handling your crestie immediately, it may act defensively and even lose its tail. Furthermore, you jeopardize your chances of bonding with your crestie if you scare him from the very beginning.
The good news is that within 3 or 4 weeks, the crestie will be comfortable enough to make overtures toward you.
House the Crestie in an Enclosed Room
Don’t put your crested gecko in a noisy environment when he comes into your home. Keep in a closed room away from all the noises and flashy lights.
Clear this room of all pets, toys, and other objects. Create an environment conducive for your gecko to relax and feel at home.
Avoid Abrupt Movements
Your crested gecko may be scared of sudden movements, especially when he is new. So make him at ease by being deliberate and predictable.
Open the cage slowly as you deliver food and water; don’t close it with a bang. Sudden movements make your pet scared and flighty.
Allow Your Gecko to See Your Hand as You Pick Him Up
Your crested gecko will react better to you if you allow him to read your intentions. So, instead of picking your pet from above, lower your hand in front of you.
Let him get used to seeing your hand before you gradually start moving it toward him. With time, the gecko will learn that your hand portends no threat.
It won’t be long before the gecko starts associating your hand with warmth and walking toward it.
Pick Up the Gecko Carefully
You don’t want to grab and snap your crested gecko, as this would scare him. Instead, you want to slide your hand gently under his chin and allow him to crawl into your hand.
With time, the curious gecko will explore your fingers, palm, hand, and upper arm. Then, it won’t be long before he starts climbing on your shoulders.
You’ll know your crestie trusts you when he starts gripping onto you every time you hold him. This signifies that it is okay to lift him out of the cage.
Hold him tenderly and close the tank when you get him out.
Put Him Back Into the Tank
The tank is your crested gecko’s home; you should ensure he is aware of this. Let him get used to this by putting him back into his enclosure whenever you’re done playing with him.
As you do so, place him into the tank gentle. Lower him as low as possible, so he doesn’t have to jump off your hand.
What Happens When You Force Handle Your Crested Gecko?
As noted earlier, your crested gecko will always alert you if it doesn’t want to be handled. If you are a new owner, you must be very keen on reading your pet’s body language.
Your crested gecko will behave aggressively if you force-handle it. For example, it may bite you, squeak, or try to flee away from you.
Stressed geckos may drop their tails in a bid to extricate themselves from a potentially threatening situation.
Although a crested gecko losing its tail is not a big deal, you should be ready for it and know what to do if it happens.
What to Do When Your Crested Gecko Drops Its Tail
It’s not a big deal when a crestie loses its tail. This is because cresties live healthy everyday lives even after this appendage’s loss.
The best you can do is to ensure that your crested gecko’s living conditions are well taken care of. Ensure that cleanliness is of the highest standard, so your pet is not infected by parasites.
Also, you’ll have to remove your gecko from the situation that has made it drop its tail. If the tail was lost through poor handling, you have a lot of learning to do.
Handling your crestie right should be among the very first things you learn before bringing this pet into your home.
Also, you may want to consult with your vet about the wound. This animal specialist will tell when there’s a need to medicate the reptile.
How Should I Pick Up Juvenile and Adult Crested Geckos?
To avoid injuries, pick your crested geckos carefully and gently. Never snap-grab your pet, as this may cause untold stress on the animal.
If you don’t handle the crestie gently, it may assume you are a threat and act accordingly. Geckos react to threats by fighting, fleeing, or freezing.
The first two reactions will likely cause harm to your pet.
Allow juvenile and adult geckos to walk slowly into your hand. At first, you may have to encourage it to take steps toward you by nudging or enticing it.
How Should I Pick Up Gravid Female Crested Geckos?
You can pick up a barely gravid crested gecko as you would any other adult – gently and tenderly. However, if the female is too heavy with eggs, it’s best that you avoid picking her up.
This is because heavily expectant gravid geckos can easily be injured.
If it becomes necessary that you handle a heavily gravid female, do it with lots of care. Support her well so that not part of her body hangs loose.
Remember, this female is in a precarious situation and needs all the love and care you can muster.
Getting Your Crested Gecko from Their Tank
You should regularly get your pet from the tank to have bonding sessions together. However, don’t expect this reptile to respond enthusiastically to this at first.
It is a learning process for this reptile, and you must be patient enough to teach him how to go about it.
You should not remove your crestie from the gecko when he is new. Actually, avoid handling him until he acclimates to his new enclosure and its conditions.
Getting the gecko from the tank should be done after the reptile has adapted to the sights and sounds in his surroundings.
After about a month with you, the crested gecko will be used to its enclosure. As such, removing him from the tank will likely cause him some level of stress.
Don’t elevate his stress levels by keeping him away from the tank for too long.
How to Hand-Walk Your Crested Gecko
Before you become best of buddies with your crestie, you should get him used to your hand. Here’s how to go about it:
Sit Close to Your Crested Gecko
Sit comfortably near your crested gecko. Ensure adequate padding on the floor around you to cushion your pet just in case he falls accidentally.
Slide your hand under the reptile’s chin and allow him to walk over your hand. Allow him to explore your fingers and other parts of your arm.
Encourage the Gecko to Climb Your Arm
Allow your pet to climb from one hand to the other. Encourage him by moving the hand you want him to move to in front of the other.
Since your gecko is a natural climber, he will attempt to climb the hand more elevated than the other. So keep encouraging him to do this.
If the gecko seems tied of climbing, gently put him back into his tank and allow him to rest. This little game of climbing hands should be repeated regularly to make your pet feel at home in your presence.
For How Long Should You Handle Your Crestie?
Your crested gecko should not stay outside the tank for too long at any one moment. During the initial days, don’t take your crestie out of the tank for more than 10 minutes a day.
With time, however, your gecko gets used to your ways and will be comfortable spending longer with you outside the tank.
Take care to ensure that this reptile is comfortable at all times. If this animal shows any signs of stress outside the tank, quickly return him to his enclosure.
You shouldn’t keep your gecko outside the enclosure for too long because of his special needs.
Removing your crestie from the tank exposes this reptile to such problems as unfavorable temperature and humidity levels and stressors.
Your crested gecko cannot survive without the favorable living conditions you have created in the tank.
Avoid handling your crested gecko at night because your crestie is likely to be most active at this time. Like most geckos, cresties prefer to hunt, mate, and stay active at night.
As such, this animal may feel stressed if you insist on handling it at night. So instead, create the right conditions for the crested gecko to peacefully go about its nocturnal activities.
If you stay for some time before handling your crestie, don’t assume you can just pick it up from where you left it.
You must re-acquaint yourself with your reptile friend and rebuild your bonds. This is why it’s necessary to carry out bonding sessions as often as possible.
Although your handling sessions should not be extended, they should be regular enough – for at least 10-20 minutes a session.
As your crested gecko gets used to you, it will naturally want to stay with you longer. However, take care not to stretch this time too much.
Remember to protect your pet from the adverse environmental conditions mentioned earlier – high temperatures and humidity.
An excellent way to bond with your crestie is to practice feeding it by hand. This will condition this reptile to associate your hand with nourishment, drawing him closer to you.
Handling Your Crested Gecko: the Dos and Don’ts
- Handle this reptile with care, respect, and love
- Handle him during the day when he’s less hyper
- Keep him in a calm, quiet room away from noise and sudden lights
- Teach him to hand-walk from a tender age
- Handle him when he’s agitated or is in hiding
- Use handle-time to gauge his health and weight
- Cushion him from falls and fights with other pets
- Force handle him
- Approach him from above
- Let him jump from a great height
- Squeeze or grab him roughly
- Hold him by the tail
- Make loud noises or use flashy lights
- Be afraid to interact with him. Crested gecko’s bite is not dangerous.
You can train your gecko to enjoy interacting with you because crested geckos are more friendly and docile than most other reptiles.
However, don’t expect the crestie to take to you from the word go. Instead, you need to carefully and patiently cultivate the bond between you two.
With the right effort, you’ll get your gecko to get used to being handled.