How To Tell If A Leopard Gecko Is Stressed

Have you noticed your leopard gecko isn’t interested in eating?

Are you worried because your leopard gecko isn’t acting normally?

If you feel your gecko isn’t acting normally, they could be stressed, but this could lead you to ask:

How To Tell If A Leopard Gecko Is Stressed?

There will be several clues to indicate your leopard gecko is stressed, including:

  • Not Eating
  • Being Skittish or Aggressive When You Attempt To Handle It
  • Hiding in Their Hides For Extended Periods
  • Tail Wagging
  • Not Having Regular Bowel Movements
  • Digging
  • Glass Surfing
  • Vocalizations

These are just a few of the indicators of stress you might notice in your leopard gecko.

Keep reading as we break down what you need to know about telling if your leopard gecko is stressed.

how to tell if a leopard gecko is stressed

How To Tell If A Leopard Gecko Is Stressed

Just like people, leopard geckos become stressed at certain times.

Once you understand how your leopard gecko acts when stressed, you will be better able to change the circumstances and help the animal.

There are many signs of stress you might see your leopard gecko display.

Typically, a happy and healthy leopard gecko will be docile and calm and a very easy to care for hardy pet.

This isn’t always the case, and on occasion, your leopard gecko might become stressed or scared.

Keep in mind each leopard gecko will be a little different and how your gecko acts when stressed might be different than another animal.

Some of the most common displays you might see include:

  • Not Eating
  • Being Skittish or Aggressive When You Attempt To Handle It
  • Hiding in Their Hides For Extended Periods
  • Tail Wagging
  • Not Having Regular Bowel Movements
  • Digging
  • Glass Surfing
  • Vocalizations

These animals are mostly quiet and very calm, so many of these signs will be obvious.

It is essential to watch for and immediately react to these signs, as prolonged stress is unhealthy for your pet.

The longer they are stressed, the harder it will be on your animal, and it will lower their immune system meaning they will be more likely to become sick.

Why Is My Leopard Gecko Stressed?

Understanding what actions are signals of stress is just half of the equation.

To help your animal, you will need to identify what exactly is causing the stress in your gecko’s life.

Here are a few things to look at to change if you notice your leopard gecko is acting stressed.

Bringing Your Leo Into Your Home

It is not uncommon for your leopard gecko to exhibit signs of stress when new to your home.

The new surroundings, sounds, sights, and smells, not to mention the new people around them, are all just a little too much for these animals for a little while.

While this is an exciting time for you to bring this new pet home, it will be overwhelming for the leopard gecko.

They will need a bit of time to acclimate to their new home.

It usually takes about three to six weeks for your new Leo to become used to their home and new owner.

As long as you provide a few hides in their enclosure and be patient, your Leo will become comfortable in their new home.

Other Leopard Geckos

Housing two or more geckos in one tank is something you can consider, and it often works out just fine, but sometimes, this will lead to one or more geckos being bullied.

Males should never be placed in the same enclosure as they are very territorial.

Putting them in the same enclosure will only lead to conflicts over territory.

Male leopard geckos aren’t the only ones who will bully each other.

Females will bully others, especially if one is bigger or older than another.

If you do have multiple geckos in one cage, make sure they are about the same size and age and provide ample space, so each gecko has a territory of their own to escape to.

Also, set up the tank with multiple hides to give them their own space.

Illness

Sickness is another cause of stress in leopard geckos.

If you aren’t feeling at your best, you might become stressed too.

Whether they have an infection or parasites, the animal’s physical and emotional strain will be great.

To keep your animal healthy, offer them a varied diet of dusted and gut-loaded insects.

Also, be sure to provide clean, fresh water at all times and check on the temperature and hydration levels in their tank.

If you believe your leopard gecko is sick, do not be afraid to contact your veterinarian for help.

Environmental Issues

If you notice your leopard gecko is stressed, one of the easiest things to check is their environment.

The environment plays a massive part in how your gecko is feeling, both physically and mentally.

The size of the tank is vital.

Don’t make the mistake of getting too small of a tank.

The tank should be at least 20 gallons for an adult leopard gecko, and if you decide to house more than one leopard gecko per container, you will need to increase the size.

In addition to the size of the tank, you will need to watch the tank’s temperature and humidity levels.

These animals are cold-blooded and rely on external temperatures to perform regular bodily functions and regulate their body.

Ensure the temperatures are not too cold but don’t let them get too warm either.

The ideal temperatures on the hot side of the tank should be about 80° to 83° degrees Fahrenheit (27° – 28° C) with the cooler side falling between 73° and 76° degrees Fahrenheit (23° – 24° C).

Bright lighting is also said to cause stress in your leopard gecko.

These animals are most active in the evening, meaning a bright light is not required in their tank or the room.

Be careful when it comes to making too many changes in the tank too often.

Constant changes cause stress to your animal.

Think of it like bringing your leopard gecko home for the first time over and over again.

They will need time to adjust to each significant change in their environment.

Besides the environment inside of their tank, take into consideration the environment outside of the tank.

Loud noises and a lot of movement outside of the tank are a cause of stress for many leopard geckos.

These animals are always on alert to make sure they don’t become someone’s next meal.

Loud noises and movement will only make them more worried about potential predators.

Puberty & Breeding Cycle

As the male and female leopard geckos reach sexual maturity, they will go through many hormonal changes.

This will also occur during breeding cycles.

These hormonal changes will put stress on the bodies of the leopard geckos.

For example, females will eat and eat, gorging themselves, only to then suddenly stop eating for some time.

Males will have a singular focus: breeding.

They will stop feeding to focus on finding a female and mating.

You might notice many of the signs of stress we described above during puberty, but as they mature, the behaviors are likely to lessen.

Feeder Issues

You might be inclined to toss crickets or other feeder insects into your leopard gecko’s tank and allow them to roam, giving the gecko the chance to hunt and naturally catch their food.

While it is perfectly fine to put the live crickets in the cage, it is not good to leave them there for a prolonged time.

These insects can bother your leopard gecko by biting, scratching, or otherwise harming them, and if they don’t, there is a chance they could die in and contaminate the water source.

Leopard geckos are territorial, and even small insects can cause stress because they are in Leo’s space.

To combat this issue, remove all feeder insects from the tank after they have been in there for 15 minutes.

This will help keep your animals safe, reduce overeating, and create a feeding schedule.

An exception to this would be, for example, mealworms, who don’t escape when placed in a small dish.

Leave mealworms in the tank for more extended periods if you choose, but it is best to remove most insects after the 15-minute feeding window.

Can Leopard Geckos Die From Stress?

Leopard geckos don’t directly die from stress.

Instead, the underlying issues causing the stress often lead to the death of the animal.

Whether this is a disease, parasite, or inadequate care, the stress is just a symptom of a more significant issue.

Stress will also contribute to a weakened immune system, making it easier for your pet to catch a disease.

If they do catch a disease or get a parasite, they will also be less able to fight if off and could succumb much quicker.

It is vital to identify what is causing the stress in your Leo quickly, to fix it before any harm comes to the animal.

Know what is normal for your animal, so you have a baseline and quickly identify when something changes.

How To Avoid Stress In Leopard Geckos

Stress is not something owners will be able to eliminate completely, but there are things to do to help reduce stress in your leopard gecko.

Before taking a leopard gecko into your home, it is great to do as much research from reputable sources as possible.

This will help you understand how to care for your new pet properly and set up their habitat and what to expect as an owner.

There will still be a learning curve once you bring the leopard gecko home, but understanding what it takes to care for a leopard gecko beforehand will help you decide whether to own one or not.

Once you do decide you are ready for the commitment, find a healthy Leo with good genetics from a reputable breeder.

This ensures you do not get a pet who was not well cared for before coming to you.

As you bring the animal home, arrange the enclosure properly, maintaining the right temperature and humidity.

Add plenty of hides and give them plenty of space.

Handling your leopard gecko too often or for long periods will be stressful for the animal.

We recommend limiting handling sessions and taking your cues from the animal.

They will let you know if they are not in the mood to be handled by trying to get away from you or even making squeaking noises.

When you do handle them, try not to squeeze or pull on the animal.

Instead, allow natural movements, but maintain control, so the animal does not become harmed.

Our final recommendation for reducing stress is to feed the leopard gecko properly.

This means a varied diet of insects and only insects.

Leopard geckos can’t digest fruits and veggies or other leafy greens.

To give your leopard gecko all the proper nutrients they need, make sure the insects are gut loaded and dusted with supplements.

Gut loading involves feeding foods like vegetables to the insects just before they are fed to your leopard gecko.

Once the leopard gecko eats the insects, they absorb all the vitamins and minerals indirectly.

Stress is common and a natural part of life for all animals, but if you work to reduce some of the causes, you will be helping your pet.

Conclusion

Stress is not something to ignore and hope it goes away for your leopard gecko.

So many things trigger it, and there are a variety of signals you will need to watch for to know if your leopard gecko is stressed.

We hope you now have a better understanding of how to know when your leopard gecko is stressed so you can quickly fix it and get your pet back to top shape.