Wondering what it means when a leopard gecko licks you? This guide is for you!
Leopard geckos are quite the lickers. They lick their owners, items in their enclosure, and pretty much everything else they come across.
A leopard gecko licks you as a way of trying to figure you out. These reptiles use licking as their way of feeling and understanding the environment. As such, you don’t have to panic if your leopard gecko has recently licked you. This animal wants to get to know you better!
All the same, you need to look for other signs that indicate distress. Sometimes, a leopard gecko licks because it’s unhappy with what’s happening in its life.
Before you conclude that this is the case, look for supporting evidence.
What It Means When Your Leopard Gecko Keeps Licking You
Your leopard gecko licks to smell and taste you. These reptiles associate their environment with smells and tastes.
In this aspect, leopard geckos are pretty much like chameleons. However, unlike chameleons, leopard geckos don’t have the long tongue to catch prey.
Chameleon’s tongue is long and muscular, and propels forward at an incredible speed to catch food.
The leopard gecko gets a better sense of who you are by licking you. As such, don’t be surprised when this animal licks your hands or fingers as you attempt to feed it.
Licking reptiles lick by repeatedly flicking their tongues into the air and returning them to the mouth.
This enables these reptiles to figure out the kind of environment they are in. The information collected by the flicking tongue is fed to a unique organ in the mouth for interpretation.
How Does a Leopard Gecko Licking Work?
At the roof of your leopard gecko’s mouth is a special organ called the Jacobson’s Organ. This organ is also known as the vomeronasal organ.
Jacobson’s Organ receives and interprets all the information gathered by the tongue. The tongue brings into the mouth small nanoscopic particles from the environment.
These particles are fed into Jacobson’s Organ by the tongue for interpretation. This organ is highly sensitive as it is loaded with thousands of neurons that connect it to the leopard gecko’s brain.
The information gleaned from the nanoscopic particles is passed on to the brain through these neurons. This happens very fast – we are talking microseconds here.
Within no time, the leopard gecko understands what’s happening in the environment and takes appropriate action.
If your leopard gecko licks you, he wants to understand whether you’re friend or foe. This will inform the reptile whether he sticks around, fights, or flees.
Additionally, the leopard gecko uses Jacobson’s Organ to detect a potential mate. This organ can detect pheromones in the air, indicating that another leopard gecko is ready for breeding.
The ability to smell or taste the environment for information is not confined to leopard geckos. Many other reptiles and a good number of different animals use their tongues for the same purpose.
Although you may think your leopard gecko licking you is a sign of affection, it goes deeper than that.
Why Do Leopard Geckos Lick After Shedding?
It’s common to see a leopard gecko licking various parts of its body during and after shedding. This happens because this lizard is trying to get rid of all the old skin.
Old skin sometimes gets stuck on the body, especially the tail, feet, and toes. If this skin is not removed, it can restrict blood flow, starving tissues in the reptile’s appendages.
This is a dangerous scenario as it can cause the leopard gecko to lose some limbs.
You can help your little reptile friend by assisting in the shedding process. However, never pull the stuck skin with your finger directly; this will likely do more harm than good.
Instead, put the leopard gecko in a shallow trough or basin of warm water. Let him soak for some time – about 10 to 15 minutes.
Then, gently try to rub the skin off with your fingers. You could also use a Q—tip to access the hidden parts of this animal’s body, such as the armpits and under the thighs of the hind legs.
Also, you could use tweezers to gently pull off loose skin. If the skin is still tight, don’t force it. Instead, ask your vet to assist with the removal.
Create the right conditions in the leopard gecko enclosure to give your pet hassle-free shedding. This entails maintaining a humidity level of 30% to 40% at all times.
Also, ensure you have created a moist hide in the tank. Your leopard gecko will likely stay here for an extended period during the shedding, making the process easier.
Why Does Your Leopard Gecko Lick Its Vent?
Leopard geckos are some of the cleanest reptiles you can bring to your home. They enjoy living in clean environments, so they are adversely affected when the tank is kept dirty.
In the same way, leopard geckos are fond of taking care of their personal hygiene. So it’s common to see your leo licking his vent after pooping or marking his territory.
He marks territory by spreading a wax-like secretion that alerts potential rivals he’s around and owns the place.
Also, leopard geckos lick their bodies a lot – even when they have not defecated. This goes to show how clean these lizards are.
However, your leopard gecko may lick the vent because he is impacted. By licking this area of his body, he hopes to get rid of the object lodged in his stomach or intestines.
This is a sign of distress and needs to be attended to urgently.
Meaning of Leopard Gecko Eye Licking
This is a sign of cleanliness. Your leopard gecko constantly produces tears that remove any dust and dirt that might have gotten into the eye.
By licking the eye, your leopard gecko clears this dirt.
Meaning of Leopard Gecko Lip Licking
This is an area of concern because it could be that your pet is suffering from mouth rot. Carefully inspect your leopard gecko’s mouth for signs of abscess, sores, or redness.
If you spot any of these signs, don’t hesitate to take your little friend to the vet.
Meaning of Leopard Gecko Mouth Licking
The leopard gecko licks its mouth by opening it and making the tongue dart repeatedly inside. This reptile may also lick its food, and show difficulty grasping food with the mouth or swallowing.
If you notice anything like this, closely examine your pet’s mouth. It could be that the jaw has been weakened by metabolic bone disease brought about by calcium deficiency.
It could also be that your little reptile friend suffers from mouth rot and needs urgent medical care.
Delicately touch the jaws with your fingers. Are they firm, or do they feel soft and spongy? If they are soft and spongy, this is confirmation of MBD.
Meaning of Leopard Gecko Licking After Pooping
This indicates that your leopard gecko wants to sanitize himself after passing stool. This goes to show how clean this reptile is.
Therefore, making him live in deplorable tank conditions would be an injustice. Seeing your pet lick himself after a bowel movement proves he needs to live in excellent conditions.
This should also alert you to thoroughly clean your hands after handling your pet. Your leopard gecko’s poop is laden with salmonella.
Although leo’s are not affected by salmonella, this parasite can wreak havoc if it gets into your gut. This pathogen is particularly tough on the weak, children, and elderly citizens.
Leopard Gecko Licking to Mark Territory
Leopard geckos, especially the males, are highly territorial lizards. They secrete a wax-like substance to alert potential rivals of their presence.
Also, they use this secretion to court female leopard geckos. After secreting the wax-like chemical, these reptiles lick their vents so that the wax does not block this passage.
Leopard Gecko Licking to Stay Clean
Leopard geckos are naturally clean. So if you see them licking their vents or bodies and not passing any secretions, they are just cleaning themselves.
They move their tongues around the body part they want to clean, removing any dirt they may have come into contact with.
Again, this is nothing to worry about; it shows you got yourself a clean pet.
Leopard Gecko Licking During Impaction
When waste becomes too hard and cannot pass out, it clogs the vent. It may cause the vent to be inflamed, causing the leopard gecko pain and discomfort.
You’ll see your leopard gecko trying to clear the vent by licking it. You can help him by soaking him in warm water and massaging his stomach to soften the waste.
Also, give him lots of water to keep him well-hydrated.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What’s the Right Humidity Level for My Leopard Gecko Enclosure?
The right humidity level for your leopard gecko is 30% to 40 %. You can install a hygrometer in the enclosure to monitor the humidity and ensure it always remains at this level.
Is Licking from My Leopard Gecko a Sign of Affection?
If your leopard gecko licks you and does not run away from you, it’s comfortable in your presence.
But, more than this, your leopard gecko licks you to know and understand you better. Lizards use licking to study and understand their environment.
How Can I Tell My Leopard Gecko is Impacted?
The easiest way to tell your leopard gecko is impacted is by studying his food intake and bowel movement.
If your pet won’t eat or poop, something is wrong. Feel the stomach for any signs of impaction. If you notice anything suspicious, soak him in warm water and gently massage his belly.
If this doesn’t work, take him to see the vet.
Why Does My Female Leopard Gecko Lick Her Vent?
Apart from the apparent reasons that affect leopard geckos of both genders, your pet has become egg-bound.
She’s licking her vent in a bid to release the eggs trapped inside. But, unfortunately, egg binding is a serious matter that requires immediate medical intervention.
There’s no need to worry when your leopard gecko licks you. Your little lizard friend is just trying to establish a connection with you.
Leopard geckos – and many other lizards – lick the air around them to gather information and pass it on to Jacobson’s Organ for interpretation.
This organ, located inside the mouth, tells your leopard gecko the kind of environment he’s dealing with.