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Reptiles/Leopard geckos handling



2 weeks ago I purchased my first leopard gecko, I bought her in particular as she handled so well in the pet shop and had an amazing temperament. She was put on my hand and just chilled there, gave it a lick. The pet shop said she was around 9 months, shes a big healthy girl and maybe even 10-11 months I reckon. Since getting her home I left her to settle first week just feeding changing water, poop etc. second week I've been putting my hand in and basically what happens is she waits 10-20 mins then comes and has a lick and walk over then goes back in. She may do this over and over 3 times but each time she goes back in for a good 10 mins. She has braved coming out onto me twice and been fine when out for about 20-30 mins. Since then she's not wanted to again.

Could you give me any advice on the process I'm going through, I there's anything I need to do or not do. She must associate me with food although I do not hand feed I tong feed and she pops out to snap each one up.
Also I know everyone is different just like people but averagely is this good progression. Just feel if I knew this may take a few months then at least I wouldn't worry about her. Just wondering if she's not interested in being out with a human. Many people on the reptile forum have said how there's come out when they open door and rush over to see them. Not sure if she's still getting her bearings after two weeks as she's prob still learning, just confused as she was hapy being out in the shop and the two times she's braved climbing me.

Just to clarify I haven't kept my hand in there if she's shown any distress and I'm happy to be patient just want to know if I'm doing it right and how till potentially she may come and chill outside the viv with me.

Thank you for your time.

ANSWER: Hello Tegan,

Leopard geckos take a little bit of time to calm down & get accustomed to their surroundings.
As far as the handling you are doing, it sounds just fine.  
At least so far she is eating for you, that is a great sign she is adjusting very well.
Keep placing your hand in the tank daily, maybe a couple of times per day.  Eventually she will get used to it & will likely climb on your hand for attention.
They love to climb too.  Do you have some branches in there for her?

I think that she comes out at all to eat is wonderful.  Just take slow steps daily & before you know it she will be wanting to come out all of the time & wont mind being handled anytime.
What are the temperatures in the tank?

It is also ok to try to pick her up also.  You can try hand feeding also if you want.  She might like that too.

Post some pictures if you get a chance.
Let me know how things progress.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

New viv set up
New viv set up  
QUESTION: Thank you, wasn't expecting such a lovely response, her temps are between 30.4 - 33.4 these are regulated by an on off mat stat which is why I think there's a little difference between top and bottom temp. This is her daytime temps and night it naturally goes down to about 27 as the lowest.

Glad it's not her taking a dislike to me, seems silly to take it personally esecially at 25 but I was just worried, All the people on the forum have been helpful but seeing all theres out and about and in day time had me worrying about her.

No branches in her current viv I actually ordered her a bigger one and I'm in the process of buiding a second level with shelving and to allow her more room, I'll add the picture of the sketch.

I hadn't tried picking her up yet as when I move my hand she scampers off, (unless she's on my arm, then she's not bothered) and I didn't want to take her hide off her to grab her as thought this might be too startling.

She has a room to herself so only sees me moving around if I go in on purpose, I could start going in twice, whats the earliest time you would reccommend. Few people on the forum say there's are up in the day time but I have never seen her out.

Thank you for your time Tracie, is nice to have someone to discuss with so I can make sure she's getting all her needs met.

ANSWER: Hello Tegan,

You are welcome!  :)
The tank set up is awesome!  Am I reading that right, it is almost 3 feet long?  Did you make the tank?  That is neat a 2nd floor!  
I know, taking her out of her hide might be too much at first, but once she is used to you she wont mind at all.  
She is a lucky girl to have such a great home like that, impressive!
She will eventually get used to you.  Sometimes they are incredibly shy but will overcome it in time.  It shouldn't take long for her to get used to you.
She has her own room too?  I would go in there several times a day.  We had one who was out part of the day sitting under his log.  He loved to look around at what was going on.  They really are very observant & will notice if one thing is out of place, too.  They are very interesting souls.
The temperatures are fine, at the 30-34 range on the warm side with the heat mat.  Do you use a basking light also, or just the leds?  I am sure she has an area which is cooler for her too, so she can thermoregulate when needed.  The moist hide will be great for her too, so her shedding will be easier.  That is a great sketch, too, by the way.

She is definitely a hypo, maybe a tangerine?  She is definitely good sized & appears healthy, too.
Keep me posted on your progress with her.  I know you are going to have a lot of fun with her.


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------


QUESTION: I didn't make the viv but the rest I've been making, sanding down etc with my partner. Yea you read right almost 3 foot, considering doing same to the smaller one and rescuing another Leo. So many people can't be bothered with there's after a few years, I think it's dreadful. I haven't bothered with a basking light as she seems to dislike any artificial lighting, she hates my phone making photos very hard lol.

Thanks for compliments, love sketching and really helped. Hoping the rest of my bits come through post today and I will sen you a picture of the final thing. Spent two hours with her last night, almost 1 of which she was out so good progress again. This time I kept her on me to get her used to me, I put her down for a walk straight away other night and she forgot who we were and seemed a bit territorial. Last night she was fine. I put her in every 20mins to take it slow and then she'd come back over the front to ask to come out. Think as long as I don't expect her to do this every night at the moment we will be good. I do get a bit dishesrtened with her hiding but only cause she's so much fun when she's out.

Yea I think hypo tangerine. She has at least a third of orange speckling in her tail. She has a cool areas and all three hiss so she can thermo regulate. Seems to stay in hot most of day and occasionally will pop in the moist.

Think I will start popping in say after lunch just to get her aware of a presence but obv not try get her out. Then do what I normally do each evening.

Added some pics although quality poor as still no flash lol. Hope to get a good one soon.

Any other advice is always welcome. If I was to rescue another I guess just do the same with them yea?

Hello Tegan,

Those are great pictures of her. :-)
That is a large tank for her then, I bet she likes it!  She may prefer a lower light in her tank.  As long as she can regulate a day & night cycle she will be fine on her lighting.  
You are using a heat mat which should help also with belly heat.  I am sure she will thermoregulate well with so much room to run around.  
Most people lose interest in reptiles as they are a long term responsibility.

That is cool you let her run around for a couple of hours.  So she got territorial when she had been out awhile?  She was probably liking her free roam on the floor!  She may really start coming out a lot wanting to get out for attention.  I think the pace you are working at is fine!
No worries it sounds like she is having a lot of fun as well as you too.  I am glad you are enjoying her.  
Don't get discouraged if she doesn't want out as much as other days/nights.  They can go through phases plus, when she is going to shed she may hide a little more also in her humid hide until she sheds.
I do think she is a hypo tangerine or at least a tangerine.  The colors are beautiful with the speckling patterns.  
Let me know how things are going!



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Tracie Kretzschmar


I can answer questions pertaining to health, UVB specifics, overall husbandry care & supplementation, analysis of blood test results, and behavioral problems & handling. I can answer questions pertaining to bearded dragons, leopard geckos, iguanas, uromastyx & ball pythons. I can answer adeno virus related questions in bearded dragons, & then specifically about the testing methods as well. I am beginning an Pogona Adeno Testing Society in 2008 which will help to begin to start some standardization within the bearded dragon colonies of the breeders who choose to test.


I have been working with bearded dragons for over 5 years now, as well as leopard geckos, too. I am currently doing rescues, as well. I hope to be able to educate people prior to them purchasing an exotic pet in order to avoid any health crisis with them.

I have a master's degree in sports medicine & physiology, & 1 year of vet tech schooling, & am currently working on a reptile certification through the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council.

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