Do Crested Geckos Play Dead? (Defense Mechanisms)


One of the terrifying moments in a crested gecko owner’s life is their crested gecko’s death. Although crested geckos are very hardy pets, they will eventually die. But you’ll often notice that your crested gecko doesn’t move and seems dead. So, do crested geckos play dead?

Crested geckos never play dead. They won’t do tricks and have very different defense mechanisms than playing dead. It can sometimes seem that your crested gecko is dead because they sleep with their eyes open, and they might not move for several hours. 

You might think that your crested gecko plays dead because it’s stressed or afraid. But crested geckos don’t use this mechanism to defend themselves from predators. They have a wide range of ways to keep safe, but playing dead is not one.

In this article, you’ll learn about crested geckos’ defense mechanisms and how to tell if your crested gecko is dead. Rest assured, most crested geckos live a long life of one or two decades.

How Do Crested Geckos Defend Themselves?

Crested geckos don’t have a lot of ways to defend themselves from predators. They will sleep during most of the day under the safe cover of leaves. At dusk, they will come out of their hiding and will look for food and water.

During the day and night, they use their ability to change colors (firing up and down) to camouflage themselves. But it isn’t an active way to defend themselves.

When a predator attacks a crested gecko, it will either:

  • run away
  • lose its tail (when grabbed by the tail) 
  • try to scare the predator by opening the mouth and possibly biting (although this won’t hurt the predator)

Crested geckos don’t have many ways to defend themselves, and they will usually just flee from the scene towards a safe hide. A crested gecko can run fast when it wants too and will use this to escape predators.

One of the things that a crested gecko won’t do is play dead. Some animals use this trick when they’re in danger but it hasn’t been noticed as a defense mechanism in crested geckos. They can stay still and stare at you (to determine the threat) but this isn’t the same as playing dead.

Do Crested Geckos Play Dead?

As I already mentioned, a crested gecko isn’t a dog and won’t do tricks like playing dead. They also use other defense mechanisms to hide from their predators. But crested geckos are experts in making you take an extra look to make sure they’re dead.

My Crested Gecko Newsletter
Subscribe to our newsletter and get early access to the best resources.
Invalid email address

When a crested gecko is asleep, it will have its eyes open (because it can’t close them) and won’t move. It can look like your crested gecko is dead, mostly when it sleeps for a few hours in a strange position.

Don’t worry; when your crested gecko is eating and drinking and the humidity is ok, there’s almost zero chance that your crested gecko dies (unless from old age). 

If you want to make sure that your crested gecko isn’t dead, you should:

  • look carefully at your crested gecko (is it still breathing?)
  • look at the reaction of the pupils on light (don’t shine directly in the pupils with bright light)
  • watch if your crested gecko has its mouth wide open (this isn’t normal)
  • pick it up or gently touch it to provoke a reaction

If you’ve picked your crested gecko up and notice that there is a bluish spot on your crested gecko’s belly, this is a sign that it is death. 

Related Questions

What is the average lifespan of a crested gecko?

The average lifespan of a crested gecko is 15 to 20 years. The lifespan of a crested gecko depends on different factors (genetics, care, and diet). If you take care of your crested gecko, it will be a long term commitment for at least a decade and possibly even two decades.

Can a crested gecko die from stress?

Crested geckos can die from stress. If a crested gecko is exposed to prolonged stress, it’s health will deteriorate and your crested gecko will eat less to nothing. Eventually, if you do nothing, your crested gecko will die. If your crested gecko shows signs of stress, find the causes.

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!

Recent Posts