Like with any pet, you’ve probably wondered how to bond with your crested gecko at some point.
Although reptiles like crested geckos show affection in very different ways than most common pets, it’s certainly possible to bond with them.
Many tolerate and even enjoy spending time with their owners!
There are five main ways to bond with your crested gecko, including:
- Hand-feeding them at mealtimes
- Placing your hand in their enclosure for a few minutes at a time
- Creating a safe, comfortable habitat for them
- Getting your gecko used to your voice
- Handling them very gently if they tolerate it
To learn more about bonding with your crested gecko, keep reading.
We’ll cover everything you need to know about properly handling your gecko, getting them used to be near you, and forming a loving bond with them.
Do Crested Geckos Bond With Their Owners?
Crested geckos, also known simply as “cresties” or “eyelash geckos” for their signature eyelash-like crests above their eyes, are one of the most popular pet reptiles today for many good reasons.
They’re fairly small and simple to care for, adorable, surprisingly docile, and, yes, even friendly!
However, crested geckos are also rather skittish, shy animals at first.
This means it takes time to gain their trust and form a real bond with them.
Additionally, since they are so small, they are very fragile, so you’ll need to be particularly careful and tender with them to avoid causing them any undue stress.
You’ll need to keep these factors in mind moving forward if you intend to bring a crested gecko home.
While many reptile owners note their crested geckos have come to enjoy their presence, it also takes time, persistence, and care to fully win them over.
In short, yes, crested geckos are capable of bonding with their owners!
Just don’t expect them to warm up to you overnight or even after a week of you offering them their favorite treats.
Thankfully, there are plenty of ways to slowly win over your beloved crestie’s favor over time.
First, though, it helps to understand when it is safe to handle your pet directly and what sort of safety measures to take beforehand.
When Should You Handle A Crested Gecko?
If you’ve just brought your crested gecko home, you’re probably a bit anxious to start playing and interacting with them.
However, as we touched on earlier, crested geckos are small and fragile lizards that require patience and very gentle handling.
Most reptile owners tend to adopt baby or juvenile geckos, so they can bond with them from a young age.
Generally, it’s best to wait until your gecko weighs at least 10+ grams or is at least four to six months old before you begin handling them directly, i.e., picking them up and hand-feeding them.
This is because most crested geckos are very shy, skittish, and fragile as babies.
Additionally, if you’ve just brought your gecko home, it’s best to wait at least two to three weeks before handling them, regardless of their age.
This allows your pet to “settle in” to their new habitat and become comfortable with their new surroundings.
Imagine you’ve just been brought home by a giant creature who, for reasons you don’t understand yet, insists on touching you and picking you up!
You’d be pretty stressed out, too.
This is what your crested gecko is likely feeling in the first days or weeks of living in their new enclosure.
Once your gecko has reached a size of at least 10 grams and has had a few weeks to get settled into its new enclosure, it’s safe to begin handling them.
Safety Precautions For Bonding With Your Gecko
Initially, you might not think there are many safety precautions to keep in mind when handling and bonding with your gecko.
In reality, though, your crested gecko’s safety during handling sessions depends entirely on you being very gentle, patient, and understanding with them.
Remember, crested geckos are small, fragile, and quite shy at first, so you’ll need to be extra careful when approaching and handling them.
Another thing to keep in mind is these little arboreal lizards are skilled at leaping long distances, but they aren’t so skilled at sticking their landings.
Your gecko will attempt to leap from your hands the moment they start to feel uncomfortable or scared! Be sure to always handle them just above a cushioned surface to catch them if they fall.
You will also need to be aware of how you handle your gecko’s tail.
Crested geckos are one of many gecko species with the unique defense mechanism of being able to sever their tails!
Unfortunately, unlike most gecko species, cresties cannot regrow their tails once they’ve “dropped” them.
While it won’t significantly physically harm your gecko if they happen to drop their tail, it will cause them quite a bit of unnecessary stress.
Be sure to never pull on, poke, or otherwise roughly handle the area around your gecko’s tail to prevent tail dropping.
For more information, check out our article on crested geckos and tail dropping.
Finally, remember it will take time for your gecko to warm up to you enough to tolerate being directly handled for long periods.
Don’t be surprised if, at first, your crestie is completely unwilling to be picked up!
This is normal.
You will likely have to approach them using other, less direct methods before they allow you to pick them up and hold them.
Check out our detailed guide on how to tame crested geckos for more tips on how to get them used to being held.
For example, placing your hand in their enclosure for a few minutes at a time or hand-feeding them a treat will help you to gain their trust.
Thankfully, we’ve compiled a list of ways you’ll be able to slowly approach your gecko and, eventually, bond with them little by little over time.
Soon, your crestie will even allow you to hold and pet them for extended periods!
5 Methods For Bonding With Crested Geckos
Create A Comfortable, Safe Habitat
The very first thing you should do to bond with your crested gecko is to provide them with a comfortable, safe enclosure.
As a general rule of thumb, remember, if your pet isn’t happy with their habitat, they won’t be happy being handled by you, either.
A crested gecko tank should be at least 20 gallons in size and tall enough for them to have plenty of room to climb vertically.
We recommend an enclosure shaped like this one from Exo-Terra.
The tank, ideally, should be taller than it is wide.
Crested geckos are arboreal lizards typically live high up in trees in warm, humid rainforests, so it’s important to recreate their natural habitat as closely as possible.
Proper temperature, humidity, lighting are the other main factors in their enclosure you’ll need to control for and regularly monitor to keep your gecko happy and healthy.
In addition, having plenty of plant cover and spots for your gecko to hide will make them feel safe and happy in their new habitat.
Some artificial plants, like the ones from SLSON, even have suction cups to make them easier to adhere to the walls of the enclosure.
To bond with your gecko, it helps to show them you’re willing to give them a proper habitat to thrive in for years to come.
You’re probably very anxious and excited to start handling your crestie, but remember that patience is key as we touched on earlier.
Get Your Gecko Used To Your Voice
Once you’ve established a proper enclosure setup for your crested gecko, you’ll be ready to start approaching them and getting them comfortable with your actual presence.
As we mentioned earlier, allow your gecko to first get comfortable with their new habitat for at least a couple of weeks before you begin touching them directly.
In the meantime, don’t worry!
You’ll still be able to bond with your crestie, albeit in more indirect ways.
One of the best ways to get your gecko used to be near you is to get them used to the sound of your voice.
Before you ever put your hand in the enclosure to pet or hold your gecko, sit beside the enclosure and talk to them first.
You don’t even necessarily need to be talking directly to them!
Even if you’re just having a phone conversation with a friend or family member, it helps to be near your crested gecko’s enclosure.
Sit near the enclosure for 10 to 15 minutes at a time and either talk to your gecko or just talk, in general.
Some reptile owners will understandably feel a bit silly speaking to a lizard, but rest assured, it actually will help your gecko feel more comfortable around you!
Make sure you don’t yell around your crested gecko or otherwise expose them to loud, sudden noises.
It helps to keep their enclosure in a quiet room away from any high traffic, commotion, or chaos in your home.
A calm environment is key.
Over time, your gecko will become used to hearing your voice.
In turn, they will learn to associate your voice with you and get more used to seeing and being around you.
This will make them more willing to bond with you and tolerate being handled later.
Don’t worry; soon, you’ll be able to start handling your pet!
While these preventive measures seem unnecessary at first, your gecko will appreciate you not overwhelming them.
Bonding with any pet, especially a crested gecko, is a slow, gradual process.
Place Your Hand In The Enclosure
Once you’ve set up your crested gecko’s enclosure properly and gotten them used to hearing your voice, you’re one step closer to forming a real, meaningful bond with them.
Now it’s time to get them used to your touch!
Before you rush to pick up your crestie and pet them, though, you’ll need to get them familiar with being near your hands first.
Ideally, it’s best to do this one hand at a time to avoid overwhelming them.
Even one of your hands is likely far larger than your gecko’s entire body, so they’ll likely be a bit fearful of you at first.
The best way to do this is to sit near your gecko’s enclosure and just place one hand inside the tank at a time.
Put your hand near your gecko, but not too close!
You’ll be able to see how they react to your hands being near them and respond accordingly.
All geckos’ personalities are different!
If your gecko allows you to pet them, approach them slowly with your hand from the side, not above.
This will give them plenty of time to see you as you get closer to them and adjust to your presence.
Gently stroke their head and back with a finger or two.
Don’t be surprised if they suddenly leap or dart away from you.
If they aren’t comfortable with you petting them just yet, don’t fret.
This is normal, and it will likely take your gecko a few days or even weeks before they allow you to pet them.
It helps to talk to your gecko quietly and softly while you have your hands in their enclosure.
This, as we mentioned earlier, will get them used to the sound of your voice.
Additionally, they’ll learn to associate your voice with your hands and, in turn, trust you and form a bond with you over time.
Hand-Feed Your Crested Gecko
After your crested gecko is a bit more comfortable with your voice and seeing your hands in and around their enclosure, they will likely allow you to hand-feed them!
This is a key step in getting your gecko to bond with you and not just tolerate but enjoy being near you.
Crested geckos are omnivorous, so they have a wide variety of foods they enjoy eating.
This means you’ll have plenty of treats at your disposal to offer them to slowly win them over!
If you feel comfortable with hand-feeding them insects, great!
Hold the insect in your palm and approach your gecko so they will be able to eat it out of your hand.
Alternatively, hold the insect between your index finger and thumb and allow them to grab it.
Another option you have is to offer them a spoonful of a powdered food designed especially for crested geckos.
These powdered formulations are simple to prepare; just add water until it forms a thick, smoothie-like slurry.
Some geckos will even happily lick it off your fingers!
As far as powdered foods go, we highly recommend Repashy’s Grubs ‘N’ Fruit.
It’s highly nutritious and packed with all the things crested geckos love, like black soldier fly larvae and dried mango.
If you offer this directly to your gecko by hand, they will warm up to you and bond with you very quickly.
Finally, you are also welcome to offer your gecko fresh pieces of safe fruits.
For example, peel a banana, hold it in front of them, and allow them to take bites off of it as they please.
If you offer them sliced pieces of fruit, be sure the pieces are no wider than the space between the gecko’s eyes to prevent choking or impaction.
Over time, your gecko will begin to associate you with treats and affection!
This is good, as it will encourage them to trust you and form a genuine bond with you.
Hand-feeding is one of the most effective tools you have at your disposal, and your crestie will greatly appreciate you coming around to feed and pet them.
Handle Your Gecko Gently
Has your crested gecko spent at least a few weeks in its new habitat?
Are they at least somewhat accustomed to your voice and hands?
Have you successfully hand-fed them more than once?
If you answered “yes” to all of the above questions, you’re most likely ready to start holding and directly handling your gecko!
Thankfully, this part is quite straightforward, provided you’re keeping the aforementioned safety precautions in mind.
To pick up your gecko, put your hand in their enclosure and slowly approach them from the side.
If they seem receptive and don’t immediately run or leap away from you, scoop them up very carefully with one hand.
Place your other hand on top of their body gently (but not over their head!).
Remove them carefully from the enclosure and hold them over a soft, cushioned surface.
Be sure you’re not holding them too high up; if they fall, you don’t want them falling a long distance.
The best way to do this is simply to sit down and hold the lizard over a blanket or pillow in your lap.
Many crested geckos will climb on you as if you were a branch or log in their enclosure!
Encourage them to explore and get used to your scent and how your hands feel.
Redirect them as needed if they attempt to wander too far, but avoid making any fast or sudden movements.
Over time, your gecko will become more comfortable with you holding them.
It helps to offer them a treat from your hand while handling them; this way, they will associate you with food, too.
Remember, a full, healthy gecko is a happy, friendly gecko!