Do Crested Geckos Like to Be Held?

Crested Geckos are exotic pets with unique behaviors. They aren’t pro-social creatures and they don’t act in the same way as domesticated animals.

That being said, many long-time Gecko owners have fun interacting with their reptile pets.

Like most other pets, Crested Geckos enjoy entertaining activities. They can also be trained and handled. However, their temperament makes petting a bit more difficult.

But with the right information on hand, you can make holding and petting your Gecko a whole lot easier and more relaxing.

That’s exactly what I’m going to cover in this article. Stick around to find out more about the right (and wrong) way to interact with your Crested Gecko!

Do Crested Geckos Like Being Petted?

Crested Geckos don’t like being petted or cuddled like other pets. Reptiles, including Geckos, are naturally solitary creatures.

They don’t need that much affection to be happy. In fact, Cresties need plenty of alone time to feel comfortable and at ease.

Too much physical contact, such as in petting or handling, will stress out your Gecko. This doesn’t mean that you can never pet your Crested Gecko.

But remember that Geckos need a different approach compared to other animals like cats or dogs.

Here’s what you need to know when petting your Gecko:

  • Trust is very important.

Naturally, Geckos don’t like being handled because the experience is stress-inducing for them. Your Crested Gecko might not understand what’s going on at first. Sometimes, Geckos might mistake petting for a physical threat.

Your pet Gecko won’t enjoy pets and cuddles until you’ve earned its trust. The biggest mistake of new Gecko owners is rushing things and trying to get close to their pet too soon. Your Gecko needs to first understand that it isn’t in danger.

Take it slowly. If you notice signs of stress or fear in your Crestie, give it some more time. Let your pet settle in. Let it approach you first. Avoid quick and rough movements that might scare the Gecko.

As time passes and your pet gets used to your presence, it might begin to tolerate physical touch and handling.

  • Geckos have sensitive skin.

Geckos have thin, velvety skin. If you’ve ever observed a young Gecko, you might have even noticed that the skin can be a bit see-through around the belly area.

You can see some darker bluish splotches that look like bruises. But these are actually the lizard’s internal organs!

This see-through effect is less pronounced in adult Geckos. You can imagine that having such thin skin makes handling potentially painful.

You don’t want to be rough, because you could injure your Gecko. Be gentle during petting sessions!

  • Geckos can get stressed easily.

Geckos are vulnerable to stress. And a lot of factors can contribute to rising stress levels. Things like low humidity, too high temperatures, poor diet, excessive light exposure, and yes, even petting and handling can play a role.

If you don’t handle your Crested Gecko correctly, petting becomes a negative and stressful experience. Prolonged stress exposure has many deleterious effects, including poor appetite, weight loss, lethargy, and increased aggression.

Stress also puts your Gecko into fight or flight mode. If you keep trying to handle your Crestie against its will, two things can happen.

First, your pet might decide to fight back by biting your hand. Secondly, the Gecko might get so frightened that it drops its tail.

Tail dropping is a common behavior in stressed Geckos. This is their natural defense mechanism in threatening situations. The problem is that Crested Geckos can’t regrow their tails.

Not only that, but the wound that’s left behind can easily get infected and cause life-threatening problems. Luckily, you can avoid these outcomes with the right approach.

How to Hold a Crested Gecko?

Ok, so Crested Geckos don’t naturally like physical contact. But that doesn’t mean you can never hold your Gecko. If you know what you’re doing, your pet will feel safe enough to tolerate handling.

Here’s how to do it properly:

  1. Take it slowly.

If you’re a new Gecko owner, you must first earn your pet’s trust. Let your Crested Gecko accommodate to its new environment for the first two weeks. You can begin slowly approaching your Gecko after it seems comfortable with its surroundings.

You can earn your Crestie’s trust with food. Hand-feeding is a good way to let your Gecko approach you. It also makes interaction a rewarding experience for your pet because they get food in return.

  1. Have a non-threatening approach.

Try to look as unintimidating as possible. You don’t want to approach your Gecko from behind or from above. This will startle your pet and make it feel like prey. Instead, approach from the front. Let your Gecko see you coming towards it.

Reach your hand out lower than your Gecko so it doesn’t seem like you’re trying to grab it. Try gently nudging your Crestie towards your open palm. It’s okay to encourage your Gecko to climb on your hand, but never force handling if your pet isn’t ready.

  1. Be gentle!

Once your Gecko is in your palm, you need to pay close attention to how you’re holding and handling it. Don’t close your palm and don’t squeeze on it. Avoid quick or jerky movements.

Your Gecko might still be nervous at first. It might bite you out of fear. Despite this, you should keep your hands relaxed.

  1. Don’t handle your Gecko for too long.

You can begin with short handling sessions, maybe a couple of minutes at a time. Slowly work your way up over time.

Never hold your Gecko outside its terrarium for more than 30 minutes. The temperature and humidity levels outside the enclosure aren’t optimal for your pet.

How Often Can You Hold Your Crested Gecko?

Once your Crested Gecko gets used to you and it feels comfortable being held, you can handle your pet daily.

It just depends on your Crestie’s mood. You want to tailor the petting schedule to its preferences.

Forcing your pet to socialize with you against its will can only lead to stress otherwise. Hold your pet only for as long as it can tolerate.

Also, don’t keep your Crestie out of its enclosure for longer than 30 minutes at a time.

The changes in humidity and temperature will eventually become uncomfortable for your pet. Speaking of uncomfortable, avoid holding or touching your Crested Gecko while it sheds.

Your Gecko’s skin is particularly sensitive at this time. Also, avoid holding a female Gecko that’s going to lay eggs.

Why Does My Crested Gecko Not Like to Be Held?

Sometimes, despite all your efforts, your Gecko just refuses to be held. Don’t be discouraged. You’re probably not doing anything wrong.

It just happens that Geckos don’t like being handled. Some might learn to tolerate it, but not all. Some Crested Geckos will never feel completely comfortable being held.

Remember, Geckos are still not domesticated creatures like cats and dogs. We might keep them comfortable in captivity, but they haven’t yet learned to form social bonds with humans. But you can still enjoy your pet even without petting or holding it.

You can still bond with your Crested Gecko during feeding time. Admiring your Crestie from a distance is certainly better than forcing it to interact in ways it might not enjoy.

After all, if your Gecko isn’t happy, that defeats the whole purpose of petting.

Things You Should Avoid When Holding a Crested Gecko

Handling a skittish Gecko can go wrong in so many ways. You don’t want to make the situation more stressful for your pet.

Here’s what you should avoid:

  • Don’t force your Gecko to interact against its will.
  • Don’t startle it; don’t reach for the Gecko from above or from behind.
  • Don’t make any sudden movements or sounds.
  • Never grab the Gecko to pick it up.
  • Don’t squeeze the Gecko with your hand.
  • Don’t touch or hold the Gecko by its tail.
  • Don’t keep the Gecko out of its enclosure for too long.
  • Don’t let the Gecko jump or fall from a great height.

Always back off when your Gecko displays signs of stress or fear. Your Crested Gecko might express its dissatisfaction in many different ways.

If you aren’t sure whether your pet is unhappy or not, look for the following signs of stress:

  • Gecko runs and hides when approached.
  • Gecko is firing up (its colors appear more intense).
  • Gecko is breathing heavily.
  • Gecko is waving its tail.
  • Gecko acts aggressively; it lunges at you or tries to bite you.
  • Gecko is glass surfing.
  • Gecko is vocalizing (screaming, barking, clicking).

Conclusion

Crested Geckos aren’t domesticated nor naturally social animals. Thus, they behave in ways different from other animals like cats and dogs.

Crested Geckos don’t naturally seek physical contact and they don’t like being held or petted.

However, with the right approach, your Gecko can learn to tolerate it. The trick is to earn and maintain your Crestie’s trust.

If you make holding and petting a safe and relaxing experience, your Crested Gecko is less likely to run away.

If all else fails, don’t try to force your Gecko to socialize. This will only stress your pet even further.

It’s time to back off if you notice signs of distress like tail waving, heavy breathing, glass surfing, barking, screaming, biting, or hiding.

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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