Why is Crested Gecko Hissing at Me?

If you’ve never owned a gecko before, you will be surprised to find out that they’re quite vocal creatures. Geckos will perform a variety of vocalizations, each with its own meaning.

In this article, we will discuss the specific high-pitch hiss that geckos will often produce, especially when being held.

So, it’s only expected to assume that their hissing is directed at you because it is. But why do geckos do it, and what does it say about you or your gecko?

Crested geckos are known to be skittish and may hiss when they feel threatened. If your gecko is hissing at you, it’s likely because it’s scared. Try to make yourself seem less threatening by moving slowly and speaking quietly. You may also want to try offering your gecko a treat, like a piece of fruit, to see if that calms it down.

The hissing itself is a sign of fear, distress, or discomfort, hinting at your gecko experiencing some level of stress.

But stress isn’t a cause in this context but a symptom. So, which could the underlying triggers be?

From my experience there are 5 primary reasons why geckos tend to hiss at their handlers:

1. Shedding

Geckos shed their skin regularly to renew themselves, get rid of skin parasites, and allow themselves to grow. It’s a natural physiological process that’s more frequent in younger geckos.

In short, hatchlings and juveniles will shed pretty much weekly, with a few exceptions, and the timeframe will expand as the gecko matures. Adult geckos only shed once a month or even once every 6-8 weeks as the gecko gets older.

The reptile won’t eat during shedding and will display a more irritable and reclusive behavior. All geckos will look for a secure and hidden area where they can shed in peace since they will be more vulnerable during this time.

I wouldn’t advise holding them or attempting to help them shed.

The gecko will become aggressive, and that’s when the threatening hiss can be heard. Give your gecko the time and space necessary to shed in peace, and you won’t have to deal with that.

You can help your gecko in case of incomplete shedding, but that’s a topic for another article.

2. Hormones

All creatures on Earth function, in part, based on hormones. These regulate our emotions and even thinking to a certain degree, and geckos are no different.

If you have a pair of geckos, expect them to be rather unpredictable and volatile at times. After all, they will experience rather high sexual tensions during the breeding season.

During this time, the gecko male can be more fidgety, while the female can get stressed, especially if the male is pushy.

Which gecko males always are. If you notice your gecko female showcasing signs of stress, consider separating the pair to prevent any stress-related problems.

And try not to handle the geckos too often, at least until they cool off a bit.

3. Health Issue

Geckos can’t speak about their problems, so they will use non-verbal cues to communicate their distress. Just because your gecko hisses or even bites you doesn’t mean it’s simply in a bad mood.

It may also mean that it’s experiencing physical discomfort, which often relates to parasites, bacteria or fungal infections, digestive issues, etc.

Geckos are relatively hardy animals, so they will remain healthy in the ideal environmental conditions. However, they may sometimes struggle with various health issues. These will cause them to act more erratically and unpredictable, even triggering them to bite.

They won’t hurt you since geckos aren’t designed to inflict biting damages, but their behavior will inform you of their current state of mind.

Give it some space if your gecko seems unusually fidgety, apathetic, or stressed. That may be precisely what the gecko needs to calm down.

And, naturally, check for any signs of disease or infection to make sure your gecko is fine.

4. Wrong Handling

Geckos are sensitive animals that you should handle with care and consideration. They will let you know if you’re being too careless when holding them.

Squeezing your gecko or holding it inappropriately will cause the lizard to react. It will try to wiggle its way out of your hold, hiss, squirm, bite, and even detach its tail.

The latter is a reptile-specific behavior that most lizards resort to when stressed or in danger.

The tail loss won’t bother the gecko too much, but it will cause some deficiencies over its lifetime.

For instance, geckos use their tails to balance themselves when moving around their suspended habitat. Not having their tail may impact their ability to traverse the environment.

Not to mention, geckos don’t grow their tails back, which is rather unusual, seeing how most lizards do. This is an even more incentive to prevent the problem.

5. Territorial Behavior

This may seem like the wrong entry since geckos are only territorial against other geckos, right?

After all, you’re not threatening their territorial dominance in any way. Well, not quite. Geckos will display a territorial behavior against anyone they deem as intruders, including yourself.

Fortunately, only gecko newcomers will exhibit this behavior. If your gecko is already accustomed to your presence, it’s unlikely that it will ever display aggressive or territorial behavior against you.

Give it some room if you notice your gecko growing aggressive or restless in your presence. It will come around eventually once it gets used to your presence.

What to Do When Your Crested Gecko is Mad?

If your crested gecko is unusually mad, consider the following:

  • Assess your gecko’s overall health – Maybe your gecko is experiencing digestive problems, in which case you should see signs of constipation or diarrhea. You should also look for signs of fungal or bacterial infections around the mouth, nose, head, tail, or toes. Identifying these signs early is key to helping your gecko recover fast and with minimal complications. Fortunately, the gecko will also display a variety of other signs when sick, like discolored skin patches, lack of appetite, mouth growths, etc.
  • Assess its habitat – Make sure that the gecko’s habitat operates within the ideal living parameters. The temperature should remain between 72 and 76 F, humidity is optimal at around 70%, and lighting levels should be adjusted according to your reptile’s needs. Although some fluctuations are acceptable, geckos will become fidgety, lethargic, or even aggressive when environmental parameters drop below the ideal values too frequently.
  • Assess your geckos’ dynamics – If you have multiple geckos sharing the same space, assess their dynamics regularly. Gecko females are usually acceptant of one another but, keep in mind, that geckos are not social creatures. So, it’s only natural for them to often engage in territorial fights and simply showcase aversion when stumbling upon one another. This aggression can sometimes target you as well since geckos aren’t too good at making species-based distinctions.
  • Assess the gecko’s eating habits – Geckos will sometimes get mad when hungry. The average adult gecko will eat once every 2-3 days, but this can vary between specimens. If your gecko displays a higher appetite, it may need more frequent feeding. Unfortunately, the gecko can’t convey that information to you clearly, so it will use aggression to make its needs known. Tweak the gecko’s eating schedule accordingly and see if the lizard’s temperament cools off as a result.

These methods should do the job of keeping your gecko calm and happy in the long run. Also, consider that geckos need time to adapt to a new environment.

So, if you’ve just purchased your gecko recently, the lizard may display some antagonistic behavior until it gets used to its new habitat. It may also refuse food for several days for the same reasons.

Even so, you should always provide the gecko with its regular meals and necessary water for when the lizard’s physiological needs outweigh its hormone-fueled temperament.

Conclusion

Geckos aren’t typically aggressive, but they aren’t quite docile either. They will allow you to handle them occasionally, but you shouldn’t push it too far.

They’re not fond of cuddling and like to be left alone and watched from a distance.

It’s also worth noting that not all geckos are alike. They also have different personalities.

So, if your gecko seems grumpy and fidgety when being held and there’s no underlying reason for that, that may be who your gecko is.

Crested Geckos   Reptiles   Updated: July 7, 2022
avatar I’m Noah, chief editor at VIVO Pets and the proud owner of a playful, energetic husky (Max). I’ve been a volunteer at Rex Animal Rescue for over 2 years. I love learning and writing about different animals that can be kept as pets.
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