Do Crested Geckos Hear and Are They Sensitive to Sound?

A lot of us have indoor hobbies or interests that create a loud or high-frequency sound. You can think of playing guitar or drums or just watching television in the vicinity of your crested gecko. You might not have problems with these sounds but your gecko might have. First, it’s important to know if crested geckos can hear. Next, you’ll need to learn what sounds they’re sensitive to.

Can crested geckos hear and are they sensitive to sounds? Crested geckos don’t have externals ears but are capable of hearing. They’re also sensitive to sudden and loud sounds. However, crested geckos won’t have any problem with everyday and normal sounds. A stressed crested gecko can have health issues and even lose its tail. It’s best to stay away or limit sudden and loud sounds in the vicinity of your crestie.

Lizards and geckos are sensitive to sound but there’s more to it. To know what this means you need to know what sound is, what crested geckos can hear and what sounds can be dangerous for your gecko.

A little heads up, there are some crested geckos that will get used to loud noises but this will vary for each individual crested gecko. If you want to have a healthy crestie, you’ll need to be compassionate and not play loud sounds all the time near your little lizard.

In this article, I’ll be exploring the crested gecko ear and its hearing capabilities. You’ll learn the different parts of the sound, the frequencies that your crested gecko can hear and what a crestie can hear and what not. You’ll also learn what sounds can lead to stress and health issues and should be avoided.

Introduction to Sound

To give you a basic understanding of what sound is, you’ll need some information on the consisting parts of sounds. These parts are:

  • the frequency (pitch): sound frequency determines if a sound is high or low and is measured in hertz (Hz). A high-frequency sound is a sound of 2000 Hz (or 2kHz). A low-frequency sound is a sound of 500 Hz or lower.
  • the intensity (loudness): sound intensity determines if a sound is loud or soft and is measured in decibels (dB). A high-intensity sound is a loud sound while a low-intensity sound is considered a soft sound.

Crested Gecko Hearing

The crested gecko ear

Unlike humans and a lot of mammals, crested geckos don’t have external ears. This doesn’t mean they don’t have ears. It just means that the ears are inside their body, so-called inner ears. Although crested geckos don’t have external ears you can easily notice the inner ear in the little holes that you see on their head.

The inner ears have a normal structure and include:

  • cochlea: this part of the inner ear is involved in the actual hearing.
  • stapes: the stapes or stirrup is a bone in the middle ear that’s involved in the conduction of sound vibrations to the inner ear.
  • tympanic membrane: this membrane is also called the eardrum and is a thin layer of tissue that receives the sound vibrations from outside and transmits them to the auditory ossicles.

So, although crested geckos don’t have an external ear they are capable of hearing.

Does temperature change sound sensitivity?

The ears of crested geckos are responsive to changes in temperature. It’s being noticed that the ears are more sensitive at higher temperatures. This means that a sound in a certain frequency will need to be louder to be noticed by a crested gecko if the temperature is higher.

What sounds do crested geckos hear?

Hearing range

There is research showing that geckos have great sound sensitivity, compared to other reptiles. Lizards are thought to be capable of hearing sounds between 500 Hz and 5kHz, with some geckos even hearing up to 10kHz. So, crested geckos don’t hear low-frequency sounds (or only barely) but are capable of hearing high-frequency sounds like the chirping of birds. In comparison, humans have a hearing range between 20 Hz and 20kHz.

Some sound examples (500Hz, 1000Hz and 5kHz):

500 Hz
1000 Hz

Can crested geckos hear the human speech?

Now, let’s explore this a little bit further for us as crested gecko owners.

Human speech is usually in the low-frequency range:

  • a typical male voice has a range between 85 and 180 Hz
  • a typical female voice has a range between 165 and 255 Hz

When compared with the hearing range of geckos, this would suggest that a crested gecko won’t hear you speak in a normal voice. There are however people that have noticed that their gecko does respond when spoken to. It might be caused by vibrations being detected but this is a little bit of unexplored territory.

How Do Crested Geckos Use Sounds?

Sound plays a big role in the life of humans because we’re a communicative species. Crested geckos are a more solitary species that will live most of their lives alone and will come together to breed. They don’t need sound that much for communication but they do need to be aware of the danger and will need to be able to locate insects.

Your crested gecko will use sounds to:

  • communicate with other crested geckos
  • fend of predators
  • locate insects and other prey in their vicinity
  • be aware of dangerous situations, like the sounds of a bird of prey

It’s important to understand that crested geckos will use their hearing skills in combination with their vision.

Sounds or Vibrations?

It’s been suggested that geckos are, just as snakes, very good at detecting vibrations in the air or on surfaces. Since sound is a vibration this can be the cause that crested geckos can “hear” certain sounds.

For example, opening the cage doors will cause vibrations that can be picked up through the air. It would also be possible that the vibrations can be detected through the branches where a crested gecko sits on. More research is needed to determine how geckos pick up these vibrations.

Sensitivity to Everyday Sounds

Safe sounds

Your crested gecko will spend a lot of time in its vivarium which is a barrier against certain sounds. I already mentioned that crested geckos have a different hearing range and are not capable of hearing low-frequency sounds. Most crested geckos won’t have a problem with everyday sounds that aren’t too loud or happen all of a sudden.

To give you an idea of safe sounds in your home, here’s a non-exhaustive list:

  • dishwasher
  • vacuum cleaner
  • washing machine
  • television
  • music
  • door closing

It’s possible that your crested gecko won’t be happy with these sounds in the beginning. They are, however, sounds that a gecko can get used to. When your crestie is comfortable in its vivarium they might sleep through all these sounds and won’t even come and take a look.

Sounds to avoid

As I already mentioned, crested geckos can tolerate everyday and normal sounds well. There are however some noises you want to avoid because they can cause your gecko to be stressed:

  • sudden noises: just like humans, crested geckos can get startled when a sudden noise is made in the vicinity of their vivarium.
  • (very) loud noises: loud noises, like a thunderstorm, can also startle and stress your crestie.

Possible consequences of stressful sounds

When your crested gecko is stressed this can lead to health issues, like lack of eating or in severe cases tail loss. When you’re keeping multiple crested geckos near each other a single stressed gecko can cause a domino effect, causing stress for geckos in their vicinity.

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.

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