Do Leopard Geckos Close Their Eyes?

Leopard Gecko Eyes Closed

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Many pet lizards can be unnerving with their unblinking reptilian gaze.  It looks like they are always alert, always watching.  People often wonder if leopard geckos can close their eyes.

Leopard geckos can and do close their eyes.  Leopard geckos can blink.  Leopard geckos sleep with their eyes closed.  The ability to close their eyes sets leopard geckos apart from most reptiles.

Leopard Geckos Have Eyelids

Leopard geckos have eyelids! In fact, having eyelids is rare enough among reptiles that leopard gecko’s scientific name comes from their ability to close their eyes.  The scientific name for leopard geckos is “Eublepharis Macularius.”

Translated from Latin, Eublepharis means “good eyelids” and “macular” means spotted.  So a leopard gecko is a spotted lizard with “good,” or functional, eyelids.

Geckos are split into two different families:  Eublepharidae and Gekkonidae.  The main difference is in the eyes and feet.  Eublepharidae have moveable eyelids and clawed feet, while Gekkonidae have no eyelids and toe pads for climbing.

Leopard geckos belong to the Eublepharidae family, and have the ability to blink and close their eyes. 

Let’s take a closer look, and compare a leopard gecko (Eublepharidae) to another common pet, the crested gecko (Gekkonidae.)

See how the crested gecko’s eyes are large and round, with no eyelids.  They can’t close their eyes. You do not want to enter a staring contest with one of these guys.

Crested Gecko Eye
Crested Geckos cannot close their eyes or blink

Now take a look at our friend the leopard gecko.  See how the eyelids surround the eyeball?  It almost gives the eyes a more expressive, human look.  This is part of what makes leopard geckos appealing and expressive.

Leopard Gecko Eye
Leopard Geckos have eyelids and can close their eyes and blink

Why does my leopard gecko lick its eyes?

You may commonly observe your leopard gecko licking its eyeballs.  Your leopard gecko is simply cleaning its eyes, just as we would rub our eyes.  It’s perfectly normal and natural behavior.

Do Leopard Geckos Have Good Vision?

Like many reptiles, leopard geckos key primarily off of movement within their visual field.  Our leopard gecko may stare into the mealworm bowl like he’s daydreaming, but as soon as one of those worms wiggles, it’s lunch!

Leopard geckos can see color in the dark

Being more active at night, leopard geckos have adapted to see in the dark. The odd thing is that they see in color. Leopard geckos (as well as other species of geckos) evolved from diurnal lizards, meaning active during the daytime.

Related Post: Read more about leopard gecko night vision.

Needing to see primarily during daylight, these diurnal lizards lost the rods in their eyes over time. The rods allow the eye to see in the dark, but in black and white. Having only cones (the color sensing part of the eye), nocturnal lizards developed a greater sensitivity to light, and can see colors in the dark. Check out this study for more details.

Summary: Can Leopard Geckos Close Their Eyes?

Yes! Leopard geckos are one of the few species of reptiles that have eyelids and can close their eyes and blink.

Sometimes it looks like they’re winking at us. Just be polite and return the gesture.

About the author

About the Author: H. Evan Miller & Leopard Gecko

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