So, you just got a new leopard gecko and want to tame them down? Here's my process for doing this!
1. Let them settle
I generally give adult leopard geckos until they've eaten a few meals and are exploring before starting this process. Some can take months but most will be eating and exploring within about 5 days.
2. Get them used to your hand
This bit takes the longest. Here you're teaching them human hands are safe to walk on and be near. This involves laying your hand flat on the ground and letting them walk on it. It's best to do this when your leopard gecko is exploring otherwise they'll either just stay in their hide or even sleep through the whole thing!
If you're lucky, your gecko will be willing to walk on your hand after a few goes.
There are a few rules you should follow during this part:
a) I know it's tempting, but don't reach out to touch or grab the gecko. Your hand just needs to be another object in the terrarium, not something that's trying to poke them.
b) When the gecko goes into a hide, the session is over. You don't want to outstay your welcome!
c) Don't do this too often. If your gecko learns that every time they leave their hide a well meaning but still intrusive owner will run over and shove their hand in their tank the gecko will probably either stop exploring when you're around or stop exploring all together.
3. Begin to scoop
This is the stage where you can start to gently lift your leopard gecko when they walk on you. Don't lift them too far up and be prepared for them to be a bit uncomfortable at first. Be prepared to take a step back here - if they're not ready, they're not ready.
Here are some general rules for this step:
a) At first, keep sessions less than 5 minutes long.
b) If you notice your gecko is getting stressed (running very fast, chirping, tail wagging) put them back
c) At first, only handle on the floor or over a bed - if they run off your hands you don't want them hurting themselves.
However, some Leo's never tame down well and that's also something you have to live with - I have had an albino female since 2015 and she still is VERY unhappy when I try and handle her, so she is an 'admire from afar' sort of pet.