It's important to be aware that your gecko will go through several phases when you first bring them home. These changes can occur at different paces, depending on your gecko's age, sex, how long they spent in transit, and the time of year. Understanding what to expect during these initial phases can help you provide the best care for your new reptilian friend. In this blog post, we will explore the different phases your leopard gecko may go through and what you can do to ensure they stay healthy and happy throughout the transition period.
We have split your geckos first few weeks with you into phases. Each phase lasts around two weeks.
During the first few days, your Leopard Gecko is likely to be shy, preferring to stay hidden while people are around. They may seem stressed if handled and are unlikely to accept food. We recommend offering your gecko food using tongs once per day. If they don't seem interested after 2 minutes of feeding attempts, leave them alone for another 24 hours.
Do: Leave them alone, ensure they have access to water, spot clean when necessary, and offer food via tongs once per day.
Don't: Try to handle them, offer food too frequently, or rearrange their enclosure.
Worry if: Your gecko shows signs of aggression, starts visibly losing weight, doesn't eat by the three week mark.
Don't Worry If: Your gecko isn't interested in exploring, stays in the same place all day, isn't interested in food for a week or two.
Phase 1 ends when your gecko eats.
Your gecko is now eating fairly well, but they are still adapting to their new routine and enclosure. It's normal for them to stay in one hide for most of the time and not be openly exploring. Some geckos are more outgoing than others, and some take longer to feel comfortable in their new home. If your gecko is responding well to tong feeding, you can start the bonding process. For more information on taming and bonding, see here.
Your gecko may still not openly bask under their heat lamp or UVB, but don't worry. It's likely your Leopard Gecko is cryptic basking, which provides them with all the Vitamin D they need.
Do: Start offering food less frequently (depending on your gecko's age) and think about handling your gecko.
Don't: Grab your Leopard Gecko immediately or try to force them to bask.
Worry if: Your gecko is not eating after three weeks, or if they are showing signs of aggression.
Don't worry if: Your Leopard Gecko isn't directly basking, needs some encouragement to eat, or isn't openly exploring.
*Cryptic Basking is when an animal absorbs vitamin D indirectly. Leopard Geckos do not bask constantly like Bearded Dragons but instead often lie by the entrance of a hide and stick a leg or tail out to absorb vitamin D. They can even get what they need from the lamp through diffused light that bounces into the hide they are in.
By around two months into owning your Leopard Gecko, your gecko should be eating well and should have started to associate you with food. However, a lot of this comes down to temperament. We temperament-test every gecko that leaves us and can tell you how confident they are with handling, tong feeding, and more.
Some geckos will never be super confident, but most will begin to openly explore and interact with the enrichment in their enclosure within 2-3 months of being with you. Working on taming and bonding with your gecko can improve their confidence, and always ensuring you have their consent to handle them (e.g., they walk onto your hand rather than you grabbing them mid-nap) will drastically improve the chances of your gecko choosing to interact with you and their environment.
It's important to take not only your gecko's temperament but also their sex and the time of year into account. Male geckos are likely to go off food almost completely in spring, as this is the time of year when they breed. Female geckos are likely to ovulate throughout spring and summer, so their weight may fluctuate, and they will have periods of time where they go off food.
Do: Keep working on taming your gecko, add extra enrichment to their enclosures and vary their diets to keep them interested!
Don't: Worry too much if your gecko isn't super extroverted
In conclusion, owning a Leopard Gecko can be a rewarding experience, but it's important to understand that they go through different phases and adapt to their new environments at their own pace. Giving them time to settle in and offering them proper care can improve their confidence and overall well-being. Temperament, sex, and time of year can also play a role in their behavior and eating habits, so it's essential to be aware of these factors.
So, follow the do's and don'ts mentioned earlier, work on taming and bonding with your gecko, and you'll soon have a new best friend that will never judge you for binge-watching Netflix on a Friday night.