Are leopard geckos kid friendly pets? A Guide for Parents

Child with leopard gecko on his head

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Nearly every child wants a pet at some point, and  they may ask for a reptile or a lizard.  You may find yourself asking, “Are leopard geckos kid friendly?”

The short answer is: Yes, a leopard gecko is a great choice to keep as a pet, and has something to offer for beginner level to advanced reptile enthusiasts.  Leopard geckos are generally docile well-tempered lizards and make great starter pets, especially if you are considering a reptile.  This makes leopard geckos a kid friendly choice.

If you’re a parent wondering, “Are leopard geckos good pets for kids?” there are several things to consider.

How old is the leopard gecko?

Young leopard geckos will have more energy and may not be used to handling.  Due to their smaller size, they are also more fragile and will not do well with rough handling.  Though we recommend getting your pet gecko as young as possible, juvenile geckos may present more of a challenge for young children.

How old is your kid?

Young children should not handle pets unsupervised.  Too much excitement (or enthusiasm) could stress or scare your gecko, which may lash out in defense if cornered or threatened.  Young children may not recognize the signs your gecko gives to indicate stress or fear.  Leopard geckos are not aggressive by nature and will usually flee, choosing flight over fight.  Leopard geckos will drop their tail as a defense mechanism, and should not be picked up or grabbed by the tail. 

If your child is a little older and more responsible, they may be able to care for a leopard gecko on their own. 

Is your Child Ready for the Commitment of Caring for a Pet?

Consider that a leopard gecko may live a decade or longer, and make sure your child is committed to providing long term care for a pet.  If your child is fickle or quickly moves from one interest to another, please have plans to provide your lizard with the proper care.

Kids and Leopard Geckos

In general, a leopard gecko is a low maintenance pet that is quiet and undemanding.  Since they usually choose one spot in the tank to consistently use as a bathroom, they are easy to clean up after. Once their habitat is set up with with the right accessories and temperature, they don’t require much overhead.

Young Child Petting Leopard Gecko

My sons enjoy watching our leopard gecko eat, finding where he is hiding in his enclosure, and watching him move.  I know that when they are watching our gecko, they’re imagining him as a small dinosaur, a living example of their picture books that they can touch and interact with.  It makes them feel like our little lizard is their very own prehistoric pal.

Owning a gecko helps me teach them about the responsibility of feeding and caring for an animal.  Kids are inquisitive, and our gecko has served as a teaching tool about diverse topics like anatomy (Where are his ears, Daddy?) or the food chain (Why does he eat bugs, Daddy?)

Not only does our leopard gecko make a cool pet, but he sparks my son’s imagination.  Our leopard gecko is like a springboard for interesting discussions. It give us something to connect over as we spend time together caring for our gecko.

Wrap Up – Leopard Geckos as Pets for Kids

With adult supervision, leopard geckos can be a great introduction to teach your child responsibility and how to care for others. You can bond with not only your pet, but also find another level of understanding with your child through shared mutual interest.

About the author

About the Author: H. Evan Miller & Leopard Gecko

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