How to Handle a Crested Gecko: Helpful Tips for Owners

Petting and holding a crested gecko (and, OK yes, booping his snoot) rank among the most irresistible things ever. After all, who wouldn’t want a super-squee miniature dragon in their hands? But crested gecko handling requires a certain approach to ensure you both enjoy it. With that in mind, here are some top tips on how to handle a crested gecko!

Before You Go Grabbing…

…there are a few things to consider regarding your gecko’s safety and wellbeing. Most (but not all) crested geckos are laid-back, non-aggressive, and easy to handle. Just remember:

A new arrival will need at least 2 weeks to adjust to his new home, human, and routine. After this period, only handle him once a week when cleaning his tank. Never handle a baby crestie as they’re super jumpy and will get hurt if they fall. Once your gecko hits 8-15 grams in weight, it’s usually safe to handle him. Be extra cautious if handling a gravid female, to avoid stressing her or injuring her.

The Dos and Don’ts of Handling a Crested Gecko

  • Do handle your crestie during the day when he’s less alert and skittish
  • X Don’t force your gecko to be handled
  • Do ensure the room is quiet to keep him calm – and is enclosed so he can’t vanish!
  • X Don’t make any sudden noises or movements
  • Do open the tank slowly and offer him your hand or a branch to climb on
  • X Don’t ever grab him, squeeze him, or hold him by his tail!
  • Do sit on the floor or hold him over your bed in case he leaps away
  • X Don’t let him fall from a great height or onto a hard surface
  • Do use handling time to monitor his health and weight
  • X Don’t be afraid to handle him! Cresties rarely bite

Top Handling Tip!

Heard of the “hand-walking” technique? Put simply, it’s like playing with a live slinky! You let your gecko move from one hand to the other as though he’s walking on a treadmill. Geckos love it!

How Long Should Playtime Last?

Handle a new crestie for just 1-2 minutes every other day – pop him back in his tank when he starts to seem uncomfortable. Be consistent with your handling but only work in short sessions to minimize stress. Once he’s fully settled in, you can increase the time to 15 minutes or so. After about 1 month, you should have a tame lil’ gecko who enjoys interacting with his human!

Things to Watch Out for During Handling

Handling a crested gecko is not all fun, games, and schnuggles – you have to treat him with care and respect while watching out for the following:

– Falls to the Ground. Cresties are naturally forest-dwelling creatures so they instinctively leap into the air when they’re scared. Of course, in the wild, they’d land on a tree branch; in captivity when being grappled by a human, that ain’t an option. If your crestie does jump away, hold out your hand to catch him – don’t let him hit the floor.

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– Tail Loss. This generally happens when your gecko is stressed – look out for heavy breathing and twitching or waving of his tail. Dropped tails are actually more distressing for the human than the gecko himself; “frog butts” with no tails generally get through life just fine.

– Poop! Yes, your gecko will likely use you as a potty. You have been warned. Keep some paper towels handy or just rock the litter-tray-look like a boss.

– Squeaks! Geckos sometimes make a kind of rubber duckie sound, which, by the way, does NOT mean oh hi, friend! but rather back the heck off, buddy!

Careful, respectful handling of your crestie is fun and rewarding for both you and your critter. By following these crested gecko handling tips, your pet should start to feel more at ease in your company so crestie cuddles can become a regular thing!

Want to Learn More?

If you want to learn more about crested geckos as pets, please read the following articles.

If you’re interested in getting crested geckos as pets you should also definitely read our article about baby and juvenile crested gecko care or (adult) crested gecko care.

Kevin N.

Kevin is the owner of My Crested Gecko. He wrote this blog for many years and has been a geckos enthusiast his entire life, but only became an official "geckophile" five years ago when he acquired one as a pet! Kevin knows how to care for hamsters, guinea pigs, rabbits, and degus in addition to crested geckos which are more than happy with him every day!

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