Leopard geckos are calm and resilient animals. However, certain factors can cause them to become stressed and anxious.
Stress can be caused by a variety of things, and your foster can become afraid of you or freaked out for any reason. Stress can be caused by environmental factors as well as health issues.
In this post, we’ll discuss how to tell if a leopard gecko is scared and stressed.
SIGNS OF STRESS:
-Shy, tense and aggressive when you try to communicate with him.
-Hides in a hiding place for a long time
-Frises less than usual
-Scratches on the glass, also called glass surfing
-Runs away from you
-Does not defecate
-Digging too much
CAUSES OF STRESS:
Your leopard gecko may show the above signs of stress for a variety of reasons. Let’s discuss these causes of stress and ways to eliminate them.
CAUSE 1: INCORRECT TEMPERATURES IN THE TERRARIUM.
Your gecko may be stressed if the temperature in the terrarium is too low or too high. If the temperature is too high, he will tend to avoid a warm place and always sit in a cool corner.
However, if the temperature in the terrarium is too low, he will likely spend more time on the warm side.
Overheating can lead to dehydration and organ failure, while low temperatures (especially when combined with high humidity) can lead to respiratory infections and digestive problems.
The ideal temperature at the hot spot on the floor where the animal is lying should be 31.3-33.3° Celsius. The temperature 10-12 cm above the floor at the hot spot should be 26.6-28.3° Celsius.
The temperature in the cold corner should be 22.7-24.4° Celsius.
Keep the heater under the terrarium 24 hours a day, but you can turn it off at night if the temperature in the room does not fall below 20° Celsius.
CAUSE 2: SEXUAL BEHAVIOR
Your leopard gecko may become anxious and aggressive during sexual maturity. This is especially likely if the male can see or is cohabitating with a female – he will try to approach and mate with her.
Female geckos may also lay infertile eggs without the male mating. During this time, the female may become skittish, dig in, and may stop feeding before laying eggs. Leopard geckos become mature at about 8-10 months of age.
Some breeders let their leopard geckos go into hibernation to prepare them for the breeding season. This is not something new, inexperienced keepers should do. Instead, do your best to keep the temperature, light cycles, and humidity constant throughout the year.
Any fluctuations will tell your foster that it is winter and possibly hibernation is coming. Also, do not place the “wet box” on the cooler side.
CAUSE 3: FEEDING PROBLEMS.
You need to be careful with some of the insects you offer your leopard gecko. First of all, insects should not be larger than the width between your gecko’s eyes.
Very large insects can cause choking and paralysis, your leo may refuse to eat them at all. This can also cause stress.
It should also be noted that some insects may bite your foster, causing them stress and pain. If you allow your gecko to hunt by itself by releasing the food animals in the terrarium, some crickets or house crickets may hide in/under the substrate and bite the gecko when they get hungry. This way, it might also throw off its tail in fear.
Also, zophobes are capable of biting the gecko. If you offer a zophobe, cut off its head to avoid bites.
It is better to put the insects in for 15 minutes and remove the ones that were not eaten later. This will help establish a feeding schedule and avoid overfeeding, which can lead to loss of appetite and picky eating.
REASON 4: YOUR NEW LEOPARD GECKO IS NOT USED TO YOU AND IS AFRAID.
When you bring home a new gecko (whether small or adult), it needs time to acclimate. It can take about 3-6 weeks for the leo to get used to you and its new home.
It can actually take much longer, and if you make mistakes or break trust, you will have to start all over again.
You need to use proper communication techniques to make your Leopard Gecko feel comfortable. If you are too rude or push him too hard, he will become extremely tense. He may hide constantly and refuse to eat for the first few days after you bring him home, but this is perfectly fine.
As a rule of thumb, if your gecko becomes aggressive or afraid of you, do not try to touch him. Slowly approach his terrarium and place your hand in the terrarium to re-establish contact. You can then start hand-feeding/feeding with tweezers, a few times a week.
CAUSE 5: ILLNESS
When the leopard gecko is sick or infested with parasites, it means a lot of stress for him. You can tell he’s sick when he becomes lethargic, hides a lot, defecates irregularly, doesn’t shed his skin or eat regularly, loses weight, limps, wheezes, vomits food and more.
Don’t forget hydration and a steady supply of fresh water, as well as foods with high moisture content, such as worms.
CAUSE 6: INCORRECT TERRARIUM SIZE AND/OR VERY FREQUENT ENVIRONMENTAL CHANGES.
Your gecko could become very stressed if you place it in a terrarium that is too small for it. You can put the baby gecko in a small 10-liter terrarium, but you will eventually need to replace the terrarium with a larger one (at least 40 liters).
Leopard geckos need space to explore, and each adult leo ideally needs a terrarium to itself.
Also, don’t move the decorative items around too often. This does not apply to adding one or two new accessories to the terrarium – bad changes include moving the terrarium to another room, completely rearranging items, etc.
Your fosterling needs to get used to a new environment, so a big change more often than every 2 months will cause stress.
REASON 7: LOUD NOISES IN THE TERRARIUM
Very loud noises in the terrarium will frighten your Leo. These include: Loud television, music, yelling near the animal’s habitat.
Be sure to place the terrarium in a quieter location. Also, do not yell when approaching or interacting with your leo. These animals are very sensitive to loud noises.
REASON 8: Molting.
Molting is not a stressful event for your leo, but it can cause discomfort. During the molting phase, your leopard gecko may stop eating for a few days before, during and after molting.
It may also spend more time in a damp hiding place, but this is normal. Some animals hate any contact during molting – they don’t like being touched or approached in the terrarium. Do not interfere, just help remove any remaining pieces of skin.
REASON 9: CONFLICT.
Two or more geckos housed together can be intimidating to each other. As we have said before, never house two males together as they will fight over territory. Never keep geckos of different sizes and ages together. But conflict can also occur between females and even between babies.
The smaller gecko will be stressed and skip meals. Therefore, it is recommended to house each young animal (up to 3-4 months) separately.
If you have no choice but to put two geckos together (as long as they are not male or different sizes), make sure each has its own wet chamber and that the terrarium is the right size. Two geckos will do well in a terrarium at least 80 inches long.
REASON 10: VERY BRIGHT LIGHT
Leopard geckos are known to hide from bright light during the day and come out in the evening (twilight species). This means they do not need bright light in the room or terrarium.
A heating mat under the terrarium is often enough to have a warm corner. In larger terrariums, you can use a halogen light, which also heats but does not emit bright light. Do not use fluorescent lighting, and UVB lighting is not necessary either.
Contact us as soon as you have any questions about care.