Do Leopard Geckos Bite?


Leopard Gecko with Open Mouth while shedding skin

Any pet can bite under the right conditions, which can be concerning.  If you’re wondering if leopard geckos bite, take comfort in the fact that leopard geckos are not aggressive, not venomous, and generally not dangerous. 

Your risk of a leopard gecko bite is fairly low.  They would most likely choose to scurry off to safety and hide rather than bite a person. Though Leopard geckos are one of the easiest reptiles to keep as a pet, they will still defend themselves if threatened.

Note if you are hand feeding a gecko, it may miss the food and catch your finger instead.  Leopard geckos are not the most accurate of hunters, and will sometimes miss their target.  Their teeth are small and a leopard gecko bite is usually not hard enough to break your skin.  Chances are it may hurt your feelings to be bitten by a pet more than it hurts your finger.

Do Leopard Gecko Bites Hurt?

Do you wonder if you’ll get bitten every time you stick your hand in your gecko’s tank?  How much damage can a leopard gecko bite do, and how much would it hurt?

Leopard gecko bites shouldn’t hurt much at all.  Baby geckos don’t have teeth strong enough to break the skin.  Even if an adult leopard gecko bites you, it’ll feel more like a pinch than anything else.  Their small teeth scratch human skin more than puncture.

Usually, the surprise is more intense than the pain.

What to do if you get bit by a leopard gecko

Check the spot where you were bit.   Leopard gecko bites rarely break the skin, so there shouldn’t be much to do in the way of first aid.  To be safe, wash the bite with antibacterial soap.  Regain your composure, and make sure your gecko is okay as well.

Understand that it was just a primitive lizard brain response, and your gecko was just doing what its survival instincts told it to do.

What not to do if you get bit

It may be a surprise if you leopard gecko lunges at your hand or turns to bite you.  You may be surprised to feel the pinch of a unexpected leopard gecko bite.  Don’t panic, and don’t drop your gecko. 

If the gecko clamps on, resist the instinct to just pull it off.  This will tear at your skin and may injure the gecko.  Let the gecko release the bite.

Common Reasons for Leopard Gecko Bites

Leopard geckos are generally gentle creatures, but sometimes they do bite. There are a few common reasons for this behavior. One reason could be that the gecko perceives you as a threat. If you try to handle them too quickly or invade their space, they may bite as a way of defending themselves. Another reason could be their natural territorial behavior. Some geckos may get aggressive when humans invade their habitat.

How can I avoid getting bitten?

It helps to know your leopard gecko’s body language.  Sometimes leopard geckos, especially males, can be territorial.  They may get defensive is startled or cornered.  If your gecko raises its tail and waves it in a back and forth motion, this is a defensive stance and it’s best to allow it some time to calm down before handling your gecko.

Avoid making sudden movements when handling your gecko.  Keep in mind that most natural predators hunt the leopard gecko from above.  If you suddenly try to grab it from above, it may mistake you for a predator and think it needs to fight for its life. 

Leopard geckos do have vocal chords, and may make hiss or make a squeaking or barking sound when threatened to ward off predators (I am leopard gecko, hear me roar!)   It’s not the most terrifying or ferocious sound, but consider yourself warned. You can read more in our post about leopard gecko sounds.

In general to minimize the risk of a bite, you want to approach your gecko slowly, calmly, and try to let your lizard see your hand before handling it. Check out our tips on handling your gecko.

Are leopard geckos poisonous?

No, leopard geckos are not poisonous, or more appropriately; leopard geckos are not venomous.

Leopard geckos don’t have any venom glands, and their teeth don’t produce poison. So, if your pet bites you, you don’t have to worry about any toxic effects.

While leopard geckos aren’t venomous, leopard geckos can carry bacteria in their mouth that could cause an infection if their bite penetrates your skin. It’s still essential to take care of any bites they might give you.

How to Treat a Leopard Gecko Bite

If you’re a leopard gecko owner, it’s possible that you may experience a bite from your pet from time to time. Don’t fret – it happens to the best of us! The good news is that leopard geckos aren’t venomous, but you still need to take care of any bites they might give you.

The first step in treating a leopard gecko bite is to wash the affected area with warm, soapy water. This will help prevent any chance of infection. If the bite is particularly deep or severe, you can apply some hydrogen peroxide and cover it with a small bandage.

Like any wound, watch for signs of infection, such as redness, swelling, or discharge. If you notice any of these symptoms, seek medical attention immediately.

To prevent future bites from your pet leopard gecko, make sure they have a comfortable habitat with plenty of hiding spots and fresh water in their dish. Avoid sudden movements around them and be mindful during breeding seasons when female geckos can exhibit more aggressive behavior.

Remember that most bites from leopard geckos are harmless and won’t require much treatment beyond washing the area with soap and water.

What about leopard gecko claws?

Leopard Gecko Claw

Leopard geckos have pointed claws instead of toe pads like  many other geckos species.   Leopard gecko claws are hardly a danger and, while they may feel a little prickly as a gecko walks across your skin, should generally not be enough to break or scratch the skin.

hevanmiller

H. Evan Miller is the founder of the Leopard Gecko Habitat. Like many young boys, he developed an early fascination with dinosaurs, and by extension, reptiles. He’s been keeping reptiles as pets since he was a kid (we won’t count the decades) and enjoys sharing his enthusiasm, experience, and knowledge on the topic. You can read more about his ongoing adventures with science, technology, and a couple of curious kids over at https://STEMtropolis.com.

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