A change in your pet’s normal behavior is often distressing for pet owners.
Leopard geckos are normally pretty calm, but it’s normal to be concerned when they start showing aggressive behaviors like hissing.
Like cats, Leopard Geckos tend to exhibit defensive behaviors like hissing when they’re nervous or feel threatened. They may also hiss more when they’re in new environments or around strangers. Leopard Geckos may hiss at one another to establish dominance too.
If you notice this aggressive behavior in Leopard Geckos, don’t worry!
We’ll look at exactly what it means and what to do about it.
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Do Leopard Geckos Make Noise?
Not only is hissing one sound Leopard Geckos can make, but it’s probably not the first one Leopard Gecko owners hear.
These animals make various sounds, from chirps and squeak to hisses and screams.
Yet, even with this list of common Leopard Gecko sounds in mind, they aren’t the most vocal lizard.
So, if you hear them start hissing, they’re communicating something with you.
Other Signs of Stress in Leopard Geckos
While hissing is a clear sign of stress in your Leopard Gecko, there are a few other signs to watch out for.
These animals will display their discomfort in their body language as well with behaviors such as;
- Upset vocalizations (like hissing),
- Charging, especially with an open mouth,
- Their tail is low,
- They’re postured low, but their tail is straight up, or;
- Hiding in their tank.
Why is My Gecko Hissing at Me?
There are a few reasons you might notice your gecko hissing at you, someone else, at another gecko, or in general.
The common factor behind these different reasons includes higher-than-average levels of stress, which put a Leopard Gecko on alert.
Getting Used to Home
If you just got your baby Leopard Gecko and brought them home, you might notice aggressive behavior like hissing immediately.
This is a natural side effect of moving to a new place.
As they get used to their new enclosure and the people around them, you’ll see a drop in the defensiveness of Leopard Geckos.
It can take them up to two weeks to fully settle in a calm, safe environment.
Make sure to spend some time around your Gecko enclosure to get your new pet used to you.
Don’t handle them before you get them used to you through methods like enclosure cleaning, feeding them, and training them to get used to your presence.
Even when you feel bonded enough to handle them more personally, start slow and not overwhelm them.
Similarly, you may need to give your gecko time to readjust if you change their enclosure.
You Surprised Your Gecko
Even if your gecko lizard is a huge fan of yours, it’s still possible to startle them.
Make sure to handle your gecko carefully and not sneak up behind them.
Other things can surprise your gecko as well. If there’s a loud sound outside or a sudden sound like a shout or sneeze, it might startle the little lizard in the tank next to you.
Enclosure Outside of Optimum Temperatures
An adult Leopard Gecko needs an enclosure between 77 and 90° degrees Fahrenheit (25-32° C), according to Colchester Vets.
If the enclosure is outside this range, it’s uncomfortable and increases Leopard Gecko stress.
As a result, you’ll likely increase aggressive and defensive behaviors.
Further Reading: Do leopard geckos need heat lamps or are there better options?
Fighting for Dominance
Leopard Geckos are often kept as solitary animals because they’re often quite territorial.
Generally, it’s not recommended to keep two male adult geckos in a tank together to avoid fighting.
Aside from hissing, this dominant behavior may include aggressive body language like swinging tails and, if left unchecked, fighting.
Separate tanks are often the best choice for animals who struggle to settle in together.
Further Reading: Leopard gecko cohabitation guide
Mating Season is Starting
During mating season, your geckos may also change their behavior, especially if they live with other geckos in the same tank.
Both sexes in the species can become quite territorial during this time.
This can include aggressive behaviors like hissing, swinging tails, or even fighting directed at other geckos and their owners.
If you don’t want your geckos to mate or fight during this time, it’s best to give them some time in separate tanks.
It’s possible to reintroduce them once the stress has passed.
Watch Out for Illness
Many animals show increased aggression or defensiveness when they aren’t feeling well.
If you assess your Leopard Gecko’s environment and don’t see any problems, you may want to schedule a trip to the vet.
Your gecko might just be attempting to communicate they don’t feel too well and need some help.
How Do You Calm a Leopard Gecko?
When you notice your Leopard Gecko is nervous or aggressive, there are a few measures to help calm them down.
To start, make sure to remain calm.
If your Leopard Gecko is nervous and you’re loud around their tank, it’ll increase their stress levels.
It might be nerve-wracking to suddenly hear your gecko making noises you aren’t familiar with, but staying calm will go a long way.
Then, make a familiar sound to comfort your gecko.
Maybe you have a “tsk” sound you make at your pet when you’re giving them affection or simply call them by their name in a soft voice.
Once you’re ready to approach, do so calmly and quietly.
Wait until you see your gecko starting to calm before moving toward them.
If they stay just as alert, they may need a few more moments to destress before you handle them.
Finally, look around and resolve the issue.
Your gecko will relax with time if the cause is a sudden movement or loud sound.
Yet, if you notice a problem like one we discussed above, you’ll likely need to resolve it before your gecko will relax.