Crested geckos are among the most chatty and noisy types of reptiles.
If you’ve ever heard your gecko scream or squeak, it’s pretty alarming at first.
At some point, you’ve probably wondered: what do these vocalizations mean, and should I be worried?
Crested geckos have a wide range of vocalizations when mating, interacting with other geckos or warding off predators. Typically, screaming or loud squeaking noises mean the gecko feels scared or threatened.
To learn more about your gecko’s shrill screams, squeaks, and all the other unique and fascinating noises they are capable of making, keep reading.
We’ll also cover what to do if your pet gecko screams at you every time you get close to them and how to make them feel more comfortable around you.
Do Crested Geckos Vocalize?
Of all the unique and diverse species of reptiles, crested geckos are among the most vocal by far.
Despite being very small in size, they can have a diverse range of powerful vocalizations, all of which have unique meanings.
Crested gecko noises and vocalizations aren’t inherently negative, though many do indicate fear or possible aggression.
Sometimes crested geckos will chirp or squeak when they are surprised.
Other sounds, like whistling, are used to indicate interest in a potential mate.
Additionally, vocalizations like very quiet chirps and low vibrating or buzzing noises are common amongst groups of crested geckos, as they use these sounds to communicate with each other.
Geckos usually make these softer sounds amongst each other at night, as they are crepuscular reptiles who tend to sleep during the day and are more active in the evening.
Sometimes, these noises are so quiet many gecko owners tend not to even notice them at first.
Listen closely if you have two or more geckos housed together or near each other!
While we cannot directly translate exactly what geckos mean by these vocalizations, we have a general idea of what most of them are meant to indicate.
Essentially, your gecko’s many adorable and strange sounds are their way of interacting with the world around them and signaling a variety of emotions, from distress to surprise or even interest in a mate.
Let’s take a closer look at each of the sounds you’ve likely heard coming from your crestie at some point, what they typically mean, and if any of them are a cause of concern.
What Does It Mean When A Crested Gecko Screams?
Screaming is one of the loudest and most well-documented vocalizations crested geckos use to interact with their surroundings.
If you’ve never heard it before, you might think referring to these vocalizations as “screaming” is a bit excessive, but you’d be surprised at what large sounds will come out of such tiny geckos!
Unfortunately, while it seems like adorable behavior at first, screaming or screeching usually indicates a gecko in severe stress, pain, or alarm.
In the wild, crested geckos use this type of vocalization primarily to distract or ward off predators.
Most predators aren’t expecting a loud, shrill noise to come from such a small animal.
This means screaming is a fairly successful and reliable way to, at the very least, catch an animal like a bird or a snake off-guard for long enough for the gecko to escape.
In captivity, crested geckos will use this vocalization for the same reason, though usually it will be directed at whoever is handling them rather than an actual predator.
Even if you don’t mean any harm, crested geckos are rather skittish, fearful lizards, and they tend to interpret handling in general as a threat, at least at first.
Preventing Your Gecko From Screaming
If your gecko lets out screaming or screeching sound when you come near them or pick them up, they are signaling they are afraid and don’t trust you.
This is usually because they haven’t become comfortable enough with your presence yet and still view you as a potential predator.
Screaming is especially common with baby geckos or geckos who have recently been adopted into a new home, as they are overwhelmed by their new surroundings.
As a result, they will interpret a lot of harmless interaction as a threat to them.
Over time, through careful, repeated handling in small doses at a time, your gecko will eventually come to realize you aren’t going to hurt them, and the screaming will subside.
Here are a few tips to ensure your socialization sessions don’t provoke your gecko’s mighty screams.
- Avoid approaching your gecko from above, as they will see this as a predator swooping in to eat them.
- Keep handling sessions short, or around 5-10 minutes at a time.
- Never squeeze your gecko or otherwise restrict their movement or breathing.
- Handle your gecko with care over a soft, cushioned surface to break their fall if they panic and jump from your hands.
- Offer a tasty treat like Repashy Grubs’ N’ Fruit to your crestie after each handling session to get them to see you as a positive, nonthreatening presence.
- Avoid making any loud noise or sudden movements when handling your gecko.
- Provide your gecko with hides for them to seek shelter after a stressful handling experience.
What Does It Mean When A Crested Gecko Squeaks?
Another common vocalization used by crested geckos is a short, shrill squeaking sound, almost like a squeezed stuffed toy.
While these little squeaks are also cute and seemingly harmless at first, they are usually indicative of stress, fear, or, at the very least, surprise.
Think of squeaking as a less intense version of screaming.
You’ll probably notice this noise any time you pick up your gecko when they aren’t expecting it.
This is just your gecko’s way of signaling they have been caught off-guard and don’t appreciate you frightening them.
Despite how adorable these squeaking sounds are, it’s best to handle your gecko as carefully as possible to avoid provoking them.
For our full guide, check out how to pick up and handle a crested gecko.
Next, we’ll go over some more in-depth tips to make interacting with your beloved crestie go as smoothly as possible and prevent them from squeaking at you in surprise every time you approach them.
Preventing Your Gecko From Squeaking
Similar to screaming, squeaking is a sign of either mild distress or surprise.
Your crested gecko uses this vocalization to signal you’ve done something to catch them off-guard, and they don’t appreciate it, even if they aren’t quite upset enough to outright scream at you.
While it’s not as serious as screaming, squeaking should still be regarded with a bit of concern, as it usually means you’re not handling your crestie gently or carefully enough.
Remember, this is a tiny animal who instinctively sees larger animals as an inherent threat.
It’ll take them some time to come around and understand you aren’t going to hurt them.
To prevent your gecko from squeaking at you angrily every time you scoop them up, follow these tips:
- Always approach your gecko from the sides, not from above. Crested geckos interpret large shadows overhead as predators, even if they don’t mean any harm.
- Never squeeze your gecko or restrict their movement or breathing.
- Always approach your gecko very slowly to give them time to prepare themselves to interact with you and avoid surprising them.
- Keep handling sessions short, or around 5 to 10 minutes at a time at most.
- Offer a treat after every handling session, like a piece of fruit or the Repashy formula mentioned earlier.
Eventually, your gecko will learn to not be as startled every time you pick them up or interact with them, but be patient!
It will take many weeks or even months of careful, respectful interaction with your pet to teach them they don’t need to be afraid of your touch.
What Does It Mean When A Crested Gecko Chirps?
Chirping, sometimes also known as barking, is an interesting and nuanced vocalization, as it has a few different meanings.
It has a distinct sound, somewhere between a creaky door hinge and a tiny dog’s bark.
Crested geckos tend to chirp at each other in the wild and captivity simply as a means of communicating.
They primarily chirp to signal their presence to each other, indicate potential threats nearby, or even show interest in a possible mate.
It is also common for males to emit a chirping sound while mating with a female crested gecko.
Male geckos will typically approach a potential mate by chirping at her to signal their interest.
From there, the female will either allow him to approach or squeak or chirp at him as a warning if she isn’t interested in his advances.
During the actual process of mating, it is common for both male and female geckos to emit low vocalizations like chirping or whistling (which we’ll cover in more detail next).
It is crucial to monitor all mating attempts carefully for signs of struggle or distress from either gecko, particularly the female, as things sometimes turn sour very quickly.
If either gecko screams or struggles to escape, you’ll need to separate them fast.
Overall, chirping generally isn’t a cause for any alarm, provided it doesn’t escalate to squeaking or screaming.
Geckos are a very social, vocal group of animals by nature, and crested geckos especially tend to vocalize with each other or at other animals.
What Does It Mean When A Crested Gecko Whistles?
Whistling is an interesting yet lesser-known type of crested gecko vocalization.
Most commonly, whistling is used by female geckos to signal they are receptive to a male’s advances.
It is a very quiet sound unless you’re paying attention and know what to listen for, so many reptile keepers never notice it at all.
Generally, the whistling is very low and quiet, as it is intended to only be audible to an approaching mate.
Usually, once a male has signaled his intentions to a willing female gecko, she will “freeze up” and emit a low whistle.
This gives the male the go-ahead to continue approaching her for a successful mating session.
Overall, whistling isn’t a cause for alarm, as it is a normal gecko breeding behavior.
However, not all female geckos whistle when mating, so it’s completely normal for your gecko to simply not emit the sound, too.
Other Crested Gecko Stress Signs
As you’ve probably noticed by now, many (but thankfully not all) crested gecko vocalizations are meant to signal fear, distress, or pain.
To help you determine if your gecko is upset or merely communicating as normal, here are a few other key signs of distress to look out for.
If you’re worried your reptile is stressed, be sure to also check out our full guide to crested gecko stress signs.
One of the key signs of a stressed-out crested gecko is mouth gaping at you or other geckos.
If your crestie is vocalizing and has a wide-open mouth, they are doing this to make themselves look more threatening to ward off a predator, you, or even another gecko they see as a threat.
If you notice your gecko exhibiting this behavior, it’s best to back off entirely and separate them from any other geckos nearby.
Give them time and space to themselves to cool down, and don’t attempt another handling session for at least another day or two.
If your pet does manage to bite you, don’t panic!
Thankfully, a crested gecko bite is almost entirely painless since these geckos have very small teeth and cannot exert much force with their jaws.
Squirming or Jumping
Additionally, a squirming gecko is usually an uncomfortable gecko.
If your crestie tends to wiggle out of your grasp, they likely either aren’t ready for you to hold them yet, or you’re holding them in a way that is uncomfortable or painful for them.
As you would probably imagine, it is also common for cresties to vocalize if they are uncomfortable with the way you’re holding or touching them.
Usually, these vocalizations will either be angry screams or frustrated, alarmed squeaks.
Like with the previous behavior, simply back off and place your gecko back in their enclosure as safely as possible if you notice them becoming increasingly upset within your grasp.
Also, always handle them directly over a soft, cushioned surface! It is very common for an upset crested gecko to jump, and these little lizards can leaping surprisingly long distances.
One of the most obvious signs of distress in crested geckos is tail dropping.
Many species of geckos are capable of this incredible behavior, which is a clever defense mechanism.
In the wild, crested geckos will drop their tails if a predator comes near or happens to grab ahold of their tail.
This is meant to distract and bewilder the predator and give the gecko a few crucial seconds to escape!
While cresties mostly use tail dropping in the wild, they can also resort to it in captivity if they are especially upset or stressed out.
Many will also vocalize screams, squeaks, or barks as an additional warning to make themselves sound more intimidating to a predator (and, as a result, not worth the predator’s trouble).
Unfortunately, while many geckos can regenerate their tails, crested geckos are only able to drop their tails once.
In most cases, the lost tail will never grow back to its former size or shape and remain a tiny nub once dropped.
This is why it’s important to prevent tail dropping from occurring in captivity by handling your gecko carefully and calmly, taking great care to avoid startling them.