8 Reasons Why Your Crested Gecko is Hiding
If you’ve had your gecko for a while, you’ve probably grown pretty accustomed to its overall behavior. But what if your gecko showcases an unexplained behavior that you haven’t noticed before?
I’m talking specifically about the gecko’s tendency to hide under leaves or branches or even dig burrows into the substrate for the same purpose.
8 Reasons Your Crested Gecko is Hiding
Geckos won’t hide constantly, as they generally prefer to rest on various branches, preferably elevated, for a better vantage point. This behavior relates to the gecko’s hunting behavior, allowing it to spot potential meals easier. It also keeps the gecko safe from any ground predators.
So, it’s not exactly normal for your gecko to hide too often or stay in hiding for too long. When that happens, consider the following:
– Normal Behavior
Crested geckos will sometimes hide when rattled by loud noises or movement near their terrarium. They also like to explore their habitat and hide to rest or even have fun. If your gecko is eating well and looks fine, you have no reason for concern.
It’s only a problem if your gecko also doesn’t eat and tends to spend more time in hiding than normal.
Gecko stress is a dangerous affair, especially when prolonged. Geckos can get stressed for many reasons, including changing their environment, changing the terrarium’s layout, when paired with overactive tankmates, etc. Even experiencing digestive problems or various parasitic or bacterial infections will stress the gecko and trigger the hiding behavior.
The first sign that the gecko is stressed is prolonged hiding behavior, paired with a lack of appetite and visible irritability. The gecko will react defensively when you try to hold it and prefer to remain tucked in its hiding place for long periods. When that happens, your goal should be to identify your gecko’s stress triggers.
– Injury or Illness
Geckos can get injured at times or fall sick, both of which will cause the reptile to experience pain and discomfort. Your gecko has no way of informing you of its suffering, so it will resort to the natural response to stress the only way it knows best – by hiding. This is a common instinctual behavior in all animals that experience some form of physical or mental distress; they attempt to flee or hide from the perceived threat or source of pain, hoping it will all go away.
If your gecko is dedicated to remaining in hiding, inspect it visually for any signs of injury or infection. Geckos can get injured for a variety of reasons, primarily when moving through their habitat. This is typical of arboreal geckos who need to squeeze through branches and other potentially hazardous decorations.
Infections are bound to occur as a result due to the humid environment promoting bacteria. There’s one incentive always to keep your gecko’s habitat clean and healthy.
– Bullied by Mates
The one thing to remember is that crested geckos are solitary animals, so they don’t need company. They don’t need it, and they don’t like it. Some gecko keepers go for a gecko pair which is unfortunate because these animals can get highly territorial. Fights are bound to happen between the 2, no matter how much space they have.
Keeping geckos with frogs or other reptiles isn’t that much better either since reptiles, in general, are solitary animals with few-to-no social instincts. A gecko with tankmates is prone to bullying and stress over time since its first instinct is to flee the area. So, your gecko will go into hiding, trying to avoid interacting with its tank mates.
It doesn’t even matter whether your gecko’s tankmate is aggressive or not, as its mere presence will disturb your gecko enough as it is. And we’ve already discussed the effects of prolonged stress on geckos. One of them is the lower immune system, making the gecko prone to parasites and infections, especially respiratory, which can turn deadly with time.
– Low Humidity
Few parameters are more important for a gecko than environmental humidity. Reptiles like geckos need humidity to function normally as their very physiology is molded by high-humidity environments. Crested geckos require a humidity value between 60 and 80%, depending on the gecko’s size, type, and preferences.
If the humidity drops too low, your gecko may experience respiratory infections and even skin infections. The low-humidity environment can become deadly if the gecko is close to shedding. The gecko will react visibly to the drier environment and seek to increase its skin moisture by burying itself in the substrate.
You should always have a humidity checker available to prevent situations like these. Spraying your gecko’s habitat at least twice per day and placing a water bowl in the reptile’s habitat should solve the problem and keep your gecko safe. Geckos also like to drink water off of their surrounding vegetation, which is why water spraying their enclosure is so important.
– High Temperature
Geckos like warm environments, with temperatures around 73-78 °F. The ideal daytime temperature for geckos should stay close to 75 F, while nighttime temperature should get lower than 55 F. A steady temperature variation is absolutely necessary because geckos are reptiles, so they can’t control their own body temperature, unlike mammals.
The problem is that a humid environment also tends to get hotter than a dry one. So, it’s not uncommon for the gecko’s enclosure to exhibit temperatures in excess of 80-82 F. This can spell disaster in the long run since high temperatures maintained for long periods can lead to dehydration and organ failure.
The gecko will attempt to mitigate the stress by finding cover under leaves, plants, or even inside the substrate where it’s cooler. You should always have a thermometer in place to monitor your gecko’s environmental temperature and prevent problems like these.
Make sure you get a reliable piece, as cheaper thermometers may be inaccurate and cause false readings.
– They’re Still Adapting to Their New Home
Crested geckos need time to adapt to their surroundings. If your gecko appears timid and withdrawn during the first several days to a week after buying it, give it some time. The reptile is still getting accustomed to its new home, so it may be shier at first.
Your gecko should come around pretty fast once it understands there’s no danger. I advise refraining from petting or holding your gecko during this time. Give the lizard the space it needs to adapt to its new home.
Crested geckos may stay into hiding for a variety of other reasons, including:
- During shedding
- The tank is too small, so the gecko feels claustrophobic
- The lights are too bright
- The gecko is a female getting ready to lay its eggs, etc.
Your goal should always be to identify your gecko’s source of stress and address it immediately. The sooner you handle it, the calmer and comfier the gecko will get.
How to Get a Crested Gecko Out of Hiding?
There’s no better way of luring a gecko out of hiding than throwing several feeder insects in its enclosure. The live insects will immediately move around and activate the gecko’s hunting instincts. Soon, the gecko will realize that its new home is safe and start to get out more. The reptile will soon take its place in the ecosystem and begin to climb for a better vantage point.
This can take at least several days, so patience is a must. As you can tell, this method is generally useful if your gecko source of stress is that its home is still new.
If your gecko is hiding out of fear or sickness-related stress, tackle those issues accordingly, and your gecko will leave its hiding eventually.
Geckos are timid animals, so it’s normal for them to hide occasionally, especially when stressed or rattled. As general rules:
- Keep the gecko’s environmental temperature and humidity stable
- Feed it a good and diverse diet that includes plenty of live insects
- House the gecko alone to prevent stress or bullying
- Don’t handle or pet it too often
- Give it space and ensure optimal conditions during shedding
- Always monitor your gecko’s habitat to keep environmental parameters stable
- Always monitor the gecko for injuries or signs of infection