Do you want to make sure you handle your leopard gecko safely?
Are you afraid you’ll make your new pet drop its tail in fear?
Handling a leopard gecko isn’t hard, but you need to take care in doing it safely and the right way.
Dropping a tail isn’t a huge deal, but it’s a sign of stress and fear which you want to avoid with these little guys.
This is why we made this guide on how to pick up a leopard gecko.
When you pick up a leopard gecko, always watch for signs of stress and fear, such as chirping or running away. Move one hand slowly under the gecko’s body, support and protect with the other hand, and move slowly.
Check out the rest of the post for more details.
Table of Contents
Step By Step On How To Pick Up A Leopard Gecko
This section covers the way most experts use when handling their leopard geckos.
Most people describe it the scoop technique.
Whatever you call it, follow these directions carefully to avoid undue stress and injuring your pet.
#1 Put Your Hand In The Tank And Watch The Pet
Step 1, with any reptile, including the leopard gecko, is to put your hand in the tank away from the gecko where they can see it.
Watch the pet as it notices your hand.
If the leopard gecko shows extreme stress, pick it up at a different time or spend more time getting the gecko used to your presence.
Signs of stress include:
- Eyes locked on your hand
- Running away
- Open mouth
- Dropping tail
Note: You should wash your hands with warm water and antibacterial soap for 20 seconds to prevent germs from spreading to your pet.
#2 Move Your Hand To The Pet Slowly
When the pet accepts your presence in the tank, move your hand slowly but smoothly towards the gecko from the front.
Don’t sneak up from behind, or you may startle the leopard gecko.
Reaching for the reptile from above may cause its hiding instincts to kick in as well.
Smooth motions protect your hand as jerky movements may convince the gecko your fingers are worms.
#3 Scoop Your Hand Underneath
Once your hand is near the pet, it’s time for the scoop method.
Flatten your hand to the ground and smoothly scoop the leopard gecko’s body into the palm of your hand.
Do this in one smooth and moderately fast motion.
Avoid pushing or bumping into the leopard gecko’s legs or body, if at all possible.
#4 Lift And Support The Whole Body
With the bulk of the leopard gecko’s body in the palm of your hand, lift the leopard gecko off the ground.
Keep the bulk of the reptile secure in your hand, or it will begin to panic.
#5 Keep Your Other Hand At The Ready
As you lift the gecko, keep your other hand nearby.
At most, gently keep the hand over the body (not the head) of the gecko.
Don’t press or the gecko may panic.
This hand is here to trap the gecko if it starts to run away.
Even geckos who have been with their owners and picked up for years will still struggle on occasion when initially picked up.
Hold onto them until the struggling stops, and then keep the hand nearby anyway.
Warning! Never grab onto the leopard gecko’s tail. This is its first cue to drop the tail.
#6 Put The Leopard Gecko Down
After moving the leopard gecko where you need to or interacting with it for 10-15 minutes at the most, it’s time to put it down.
Reverse the steps by lowering your hand.
Flatten your hand against the ground of the tank and raise your wrist to slide the leopard gecko off.
Now go and wash your hands with warm water and soap for 20 seconds.
This prevents you from getting any reptile diseases, specifically salmonella.
Congrats! Now you know how to pick up a leopard gecko.
We don’t recommend picking up the leopard gecko a lot, but it’s an essential part of taming a leopard gecko.
What Can Go Wrong When Picking Up A Leopard Gecko
You may wonder: What’s the big deal? Just pick up the gecko!
Well, leopard geckos are skittish creatures who hide as their main line of defense.
Picking them up in the wrong way can run into some severe problems.
Added stress – Leopard geckos don’t have a natural situation where they enjoy being lifted.
Too much picking up or doing it before they’re ready will add stress on their bodies even if they still allow you to pick them up.
Over time, stress causes illness and shortens lifespan.
Learn more about a leopard gecko’s lifespan.
Dropping tails – One of the most interesting aspects of the gecko is how they can drop their tails off when threatened and then regenerate them later.
This is a natural defense mechanism to escape predators.
They drop their tails, which continue to wiggle until they getaway.
This isn’t good to have happen regularly when kept as a pet.
The tails store good nutrients and fats, which they lose when they drop them.
If your pet does drop its tail we have a post on what to do when a leopard gecko drops its tail you’ll feel better after reading.
Jumping off hands – Leopard geckos move surprisingly fast when they want to, and when you’re holding them off the ground, and they’re stressed, they’ll want to.
You may think they’re entirely calm when all of a sudden, they make a leap and hurt themselves.
Negative feelings towards you – If they are stressed, and you keep handling them the wrong way, they’ll begin to associate a negative experience with you.
Over time, this will lead to a fear of you, which raises stress levels and may make them attempt to bite you out of fear.
Now you know how to pick up a leopard gecko safely.
Just watch for signs of stress and support the gecko’s body and slowly.
Leopard geckos can move quickly and sporadically, so always be prepared.
Follow these tips, and your gecko won’t drop its tail or get upset.
If you enjoyed this article check out 297 of the best leopard gecko names.