Taming a crested gecko enough to be able to handle it regularly is the best way to bond with your reptile pet.
Knowing when you are allowed to begin taming your crestie is important because if the animal is too young, it may learn to be afraid of you.
A crested gecko needs to be at least six months old before you attempt to handle it. Start slowly and safely by getting them used to your presence before touching and picking them up. Pay attention to their stress level and don’t overhandle them if possible.
Once you start handling your crestie more often and you begin to bond, your pet will learn to recognize you by smell.
We will provide information on proper handling, how often to handle your gecko, and a few things to avoid if you want your reptile to bond with you.
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How To Properly Handle Crested Geckos
Handling your crested gecko needs to be a slow and gentle process.
Always handle your crestie in a quiet room.
Too much noise will cause your gecko to become stressed.
The room also needs to be at a moderate temperature to keep the reptile from getting too cold.
The ambient room temperature should range from 72-78° degrees Fahrenheit (26° C).
Handle the crestie while sitting on the floor to avoid any risk of the animal falling and getting injured.
Wash your hands before you handle your crestie.
Slowly open the door to the enclosure and gauge your crestie’s reaction.
Vertical terrariums usually have doors on the front, and they allow you to reach into the enclosure with ease.
If the reptile seems frightened by you, it is best to make another attempt later.
Once the crestie is calm and comfortable with you opening the enclosure, slowly ease your hand inside and place it near the lizard.
If your crested gecko is not receptive to you, stop and make another attempt the next day.
With some patience, your crestie will come to you and climb onto your hand.
Remember to move slowly at all times during the handling process to avoid startling your crestie.
Do not entice your lizard to come to you by offering it drops of fruit puree, crickets, or other insects.
The animal will become accustomed to being hand-fed, and it will expect food from you every time you attempt to handle it.
Handling a Gravid Female
Special care needs to be taken when handling a gravid female crestie.
Being gravid is very taxing on a female gecko’s body, and you want to avoid stressing her out as much as possible.
Only handle a gravid female when cleaning the enclosure, and be very gentle.
Avoid touching the gravid crestie’s stomach, and do not hold her tightly. Doing so may cause harm to her developing eggs.
How Often To Handle A Crested Gecko
It is best to handle a crestie during the day when they are calmer and less active.
Start slowly and only handle the gecko for a minute or two when you need to clean the habitat.
After a few days of this, increase the handling time to 3-5 minutes.
If your crestie seems uncomfortable at any point, place the animal back in its enclosure and make another attempt the next day.
Eventually, your crestie will start to become more at ease with you.
During the next 2-3 weeks, gradually increased the length of your handling sessions to 15 minutes.
After about a month of repeated handling for 15-20 minutes at a time, your crestie will begin to form a bond with you and will become tamer as a result.
Once you and your crestie have bonded, you will be able to handle your gecko more often.
Keep the handling sessions to no more than 30 minutes to avoid causing stress to your reptile.
In some severe cases, stress can even cause seizures.
Learn more about crested gecko seizures and how to avoid them.
When the air is cooler and drier in the winter months, avoid having your reptile out of the cage for an extended period.
Your pet needs the warmth and humidity in its enclosure to stay healthy.
With proper care, your lizard will live from 15-20 years, which gives you plenty of time to bond with it.
These lizards are very docile creatures, and their ease of care makes them excellent choices for pets.
And check out our article on how to bond with crested geckos for tips to get your crested to enjoy your presence.
The Biggest Concerns About Handling Crested Geckos
There are three main concerns when it comes to handling crested geckos.
These concerns include falling, tail loss, and having your gecko poop or pee on you.
We address these three concerns below and provide details on how each one may be prevented.
The first and arguably most important concern is your crestie becoming injured from a fall.
Do not handle your crestie over hard flooring surfaces such as tile, hardwood, linoleum, or concrete.
In the wild, the impact of a fall will usually be softened by leaf litter and small plants.
Even carpeting is dangerous because the small fibers may become embedded into a crestie’s thin skin upon impact.
It is best to handle your crested gecko from a sitting position.
Handling a crestie on a soft surface like a bed or couch is generally safe, but there is a risk of injury to the animal if it falls off.
Never leave your crestie unattended on an elevated surface.
Your gecko could jump off at any time, and it might become seriously injured if you are not there to catch it.
Unlike leopard geckos, crested geckos are not able to regenerate their tails.
Once a crestie’s tail has been dropped, you will be left with what is known as a “frog butt” from then on.
There is nothing wrong with having a tailless crestie, and it will still have a happy life.
Tail loss does not shorten the reptile’s life span or cause any other long-term harm.
Since cresties use their tails to help them climb, you may need to make some adjustments to the climbing areas within the enclosure.
Tail dropping usually occurs when a crested gecko is suddenly scared, stressed or if it feels threatened, and it is a very common behavior.
Check out our dedicated article on crested gecko tail dropping for more details.
If a crestie’s tail is twitching or rapidly waving back and forth, accompanied by heavy breathing, these are signs the animal will drop its tail.
The best thing to do in this situation is to back away from the reptile and allow it to calm down.
A crestie will also drop its tail if you grab or handle it too roughly.
Never attempt to pick a crestie up by grabbing its tail.
When the tail loss first happens, there will be a small wound where the tail has broken off.
It is crucial to keep this wound clean until it has fully healed.
Cleaning the wound will avoid any dangerous infections from harmful bacteria.
If you have difficulty keeping the wound clean, you may have to move the crestie to a small hospital enclosure.
A hospital enclosure is a very simple setup with a moist hide and a paper towel substrate.
Always have a small backup enclosure ready to use as a hospital tank.
If you are concerned about the wound becoming infected, consult with a veterinarian to see if a visit is recommended.
A vet will also be able to prescribe an antibiotic ointment to facilitate healing.
The Risk of Your Crested Gecko Relieving Itself On You
The longer you handle your crestie, the more likely it is to poop or pee on you.
This situation is unavoidable, and it is advisable to keep a few paper towels nearby for quick cleanup whenever you are handling your gecko.
If the idea of your reptile relieving itself on you is a huge concern, you may use a small cup with a damp paper towel inside as a portable toilet for your pet.
If you are worried about getting stains on your clothes, drape a soft towel over your shoulder or lap to catch any accidents.
Beware of thick towels, as your crestie may get its toenails stuck in the loops of the fabric.
To prevent any chance of your crestie’s toes becoming stuck, keep a thin fleece blanket around to use instead.
These lizards have “sticky” toes that can seem fragile so we want to pay extra attention to them.
We have a post on crested gecko toes that goes into detail on things like toes turning black, losing one, and being curled if you want to learn more.
Always wash your hands with soap and water before and after handling your reptile to avoid the transfer of harmful bacteria.
What To Avoid When Handling A Crested Gecko
Several things will make handling and bonding with your crested gecko more difficult.
- Loud noises
- Sudden movements
- Grabbing the animal’s tail
- Forcing the gecko to be handled
Avoid any loud noises from radios, televisions, or other sources while handling your crested gecko.
These unfamiliar noises may cause your crestie to become very stressed, and handling will not be a positive experience for the animal.
The room needs to be as quiet as possible for your gecko to focus on you during handling.
If the crestie recognizes being handled is a positive thing, it will bond with you more quickly.
Since crested geckos do not see well in the bright light of daytime, avoid making any sudden movements during handling time.
Always move slowly and within the reptile’s line of sight so the animal will not be startled or scared.
Moving slower than usual will help to put your crestie’s mind at ease, and it will soon learn you are not a threat.
Grabbing, Holding, or Pulling the Tail
Never grab, hold, or pull your crested gecko’s tail.
Doing so will cause the gecko to drop its tail completely.
While this will not cause the crestie to suffer any long-term harm, it is unknown painful a tail drop is for the reptile.
Crested geckos do not grow their tails back as leopard geckos do.
Once a crestie loses its tail, it will stay this way for the rest of its life.
Forcing the Crested Gecko to Enjoy Being Held
A small number of crested geckos will not enjoy being held, no matter what you do or how much time you spend with them.
It is uncommon for a crestie to feel this way, but nothing you will be able to do about it.
While it may be upsetting to know your lizard will never be able to truly bond with you, it is not the animal’s fault.
Never force a crestie to enjoy being held.
This will only cause your lizard to become very stressed, eventually forming a mistrust of you.
Enticing a crestie with insects or other fruit will only result in the animal becoming dependent on hand-feeding.