Geckos are quite mild and calm when you handle them regularly. But after bringing home a new gecko will be nervous and restless. You will need to learn few tricks and become patient to tame your gecko. Most babies and juveniles are timid and stay like this unless you tame them.
Are Geckos aggressive
Geckos are not usually aggressive unless two males are housed together. Because of this, it’s best to separate male geckos, as they may attack each other. It’s rare for a gecko to bite a person but there are some species that are more likely to do so, for instance, the tokay gecko.
Taming an aggressive Gecko:
The taming process will be different for each gecko, and it will take 3-6 weeks for your gecko to become fully tame. However, some geckos become tame during the first week, and some may take a year or never become fully tame.
If you make any serious mistakes during a taming process, such as scaring your gecko or pushing it away, you will need to start over again.
Can you tame an old Gecko
Taming a baby or juvenile gecko is easier than adults or older geckos. This is especially true if you have adopted an older gecko who had a rough past, it might never trust anyone fully for the years to come. But Do not lose hope, keep trying. Some geckos generally don’t like to be handled, and you will get to know your gecko with time.
Do’s and Dont’s in the taming process
Start handling your Gecko early
If you have the opportunity, buy your gecko when it is young. Young geckos are fragile and require a delicate touch. Geckos that become used to handling at an early age usually are more humble and calm as they grow.
Not only will form an early bond with your gecko, but you’ll also have a better understanding of your pet’s history, and you can ensure it gets great care from an early age.
You’ll need to give your gecko some time to adjust to its new habitat when you bring it home. Don’t be surprised if your new pet likes to hide at first. Don’t force the gecko if it is a bit reserved for a few days. This will intensify the issue by making your gecko fearful and stressed.
It just needs time to adapt. Geckos are more active at night, so it’s best not to disturb them during the day. If your gecko becomes stressed or hides, it may take some time to adjust to its new home. Respect this and give it some time to adapt.
It is normal for a gecko to refuse food while it is adjusting to new situations. Don’t be alarmed if your gecko skips a few meals or does not eat for a few days. If a few days becomes a few weeks, you may consider consulting a vet.
Let the Gecko get used to you
You are much bigger than your gecko and, initially, it may see you as a predator, especially if you move towards it faster. Most gecko predators will attack from above, so you may find success getting your hand in low and approaching from a position your gecko can see your hand.
Put your hand on the floor of the enclosure and let your gecko explore. A warm hand will be a great plus point. Rest your hand in the tank like this on a daily basis for a few minutes at a time. After your gecko learns your hand is not a threat or danger, it will become more relaxed.
Don’t be alarmed if your gecko licks you, and don’t pull away. This is the way they sense and measure their world. After your gecko is comfortable enough to climb on your hand, you can easily lift your hand up and hold your gecko.
If you are nervous and tense about handling your gecko, it will sense your unease. If you rush in quickly and try to pick it up, it will feel threatened. If you are harsh and catch it, it will be fearful and defensive. Instead, if you are calm and confident, your gecko can sense this and follow your lead.
Provide enough hides
Your gecko is very likely to hide a lot for the first week or two. Make sure you have 2 hideouts for your gecko, one on the warm side and one on the cool side. You will also need to place a shedding box that you will fill with a moisture-holding substrate, for instance, vermiculite.
If you don’t provide your gecko with hides, it will feel vulnerable and the taming process will be delayed. If your gecko feels safe, taming it will be easier.
Let your Gecko be comfortable
Straight after bringing your gecko home, give it time for adapting. Adjusting to new surroundings is very important because your gecko will be scared and will be trying to protect itself. It is the best idea not to handle your gecko for 3 weeks after bringing it home.
Let it be free and don’t touch or handle your gecko at this stage. And don’t stand around the cage for the first week. After a week, sit and watch your gecko in the evenings, when it’s active and when it can see you. But it doesn’t mean that you should not have any contact with your gecko, make sure to come close to the tank a few times a day.
During these times, don’t handle your gecko or touch it, only place food in a bowl, change its water, etc. You can place the food bowl close to its hide box, so it feels comfortable. Start moving the food bowl further away slowly with each day.
Hand feed your Gecko
For the first two weeks, you should offer the food in the bowl for your gecko. Make sure that your gecko can see you bringing the food, as it builds trust. Your gecko is likely to refuse any food for few days to a week after you bring it home. After around 3 weeks of acclimatization, your can start hand feeding.
This will greatly help with taming your gecko. Place few insects on your hand and provide them to your gecko. Don’t make any sudden moves if your gecko bites or grabs the insects from your hand. Any sudden moves will scare your gecko and the trust will be lost again.
Food is associated with positive things, so your gecko will know you are not a threat. Don’t start hand feeding for the first two weeks, your gecko might become scared instead of starting to bond with you. Waiting longer means that your gecko will be more comfortable.
Insert your hand slowly in the tank, from the side and never from the top. If your gecko is aggressive even after 2 weeks, place its food in a bowl and keep your hand close to the bowl while it’s eating. If your gecko is eating with your hand near to the bowl, this is a positive sign.
Speak, not shout
Speaking in a soft voice around your gecko will help with taming. Your gecko will start recognizing your voice. But never scream or shout around the tank, geckos hate it. The same happens with having very loud music or TV around the tank.
So, after 2 weeks of acclimatization, your gecko must start trusting you. Start feeding your gecko in the 3rd week. If your gecko is very comfortable during the third week, you can straightly start the handling sessions. But make them short, start with 5 minutes and add a minute every day. Handle every other day.
Make sure to handle your gecko only when it’s awake, which will be around the evening. Never wake your gecko up, it will be very stressful and annoying. And most importantly, don’t pick up your gecko during the first week of handling let it climb on your hand.
During the first week of handling, don’t blow your gecko yet. After the first week and when your gecko is comfortable start stroking it gently, but not extremely. Start with only a few touches, to avoid scaring your gecko.
Avoid changing the setup
A very important rule is not to change anything in your gecko’s set up for at least a month to let it get used to everything. Don’t move its accessories or change the location of the enclosure. This is why it’s important to prepare everything before your gecko arrives. If you just brought your gecko home, then you can change the setup quickly.
Avoid sudden movements
If you make any sudden or jerky movements, you will scare your gecko. This applies not only to new geckos but even to those that you have had for a long time.
Avoid messing the tail
Never pick up or grab your gecko by the tail. When threatened, geckos can choose to drop their tails to help them escape danger. The tail will grow back but it may take several months. A regrown tail is not the same, and usually not as long or straight as the original tail.
Do Geckos like to be handled
Generally, geckos are not excited about handling. But if you tame your gecko and it starts trusting you, it will permit handling sessions well. You will always need to be slow and gentle when handling your gecko, otherwise, it may stop trusting you. Some geckos never become fully tolerant of handling, especially those with a bad past.