Though they have reputations for being well-tempered and docile pets, Leopard geckos are aggressively territorial and will fight with other leopard geckos. These lizards are solitary animals and do not do well if kept with conspecifics especially of the same sex. Typical fighting behavior usually involves tail biting which can result in the complete loss of one or both party’s tails.
In this article, we’ll cover the conditions under which leopard geckos, what physical attributes may contribute to fighting, and what you can do to prevent your leopard geckos from fighting.
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Under What Conditions Do Leopard Geckos Fight?
Leopard geckos will fight each other when they feel their territory is being encroached upon, in competition for mates, or if their environmental conditions are not optimal. Leopard geckos need to have both a cool and a warm hiding place so one animal’s territory may span both warm and cool sides of the enclosure. Having two geckos essentially doubles the number of hides leopard gecko owners should provide.
With this combination of required large living area and aggressive nature, leopard geckos will fight each other to maintain control of their space. This is especially true of adult males.
During mating season, males may fight with each other in order to secure the privilege of mating with viable females. Females though have also been known to fight during mating season especially if there is a large difference in size between females.
Leopard geckos are used to a range of temperatures throughout the day and night varying from 75 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit. If they do not have access to a cool and a warm hiding place to experience these temperature fluctuations, they can become lethargic and extremely aggressive.
What Physical Attributes May Influence Leopard Geckos to Fight?
Size, sex, and health condition all play an important role in the determination of dominance for leopard geckos. Any one of these attributes can influence leopard geckos to fight each other especially if combined with the environmental influences mentioned above.
Size differences can factor into a leopard gecko’s likelihood to fight. If there is an obviously larger lizard, whether male or female, this one will dominate and be more likely to attack smaller lizards especially over food, water, mates, or territory.
Male leopard geckos are more likely to fight other male leopard geckos than females, especially during mating season. Though less common, females will also fight other females although usually size difference factors heavily into female on female aggression.
Leopard geckos are attuned to the health condition of other leopard geckos. If there is a sickly individual, it will quickly become outcompeted for food and may even be attacked by healthy leopard geckos in order to completely remove the weaker one from the territory.
Leopard Gecko Tail Waving
Take note if you notice your gecko raising its tail and slowly waving it from side to side. This kind of tail wagging is a defensive posture and a warning. If you see this in a multi gecko enclosure, it’s time to separate them (carefully) as this stance is often a precursor to a strike.
Find out more in our post about leopard gecko tails.
Will Leopard Geckos Kill Each Other?
Leopard geckos can kill each other if fighting over territory or to establish dominance. Male on male fighting between leopard geckos can result in major injury or death on the part of the loser.
Females can sustain heavy injury and possibly death if they are the sole recipients of a mating male. When breeding, it is best to house one male and multiple female leopard geckos to alleviate the stress and potential fatality of any one female. Housing the male in a separate tank and only introducing him into the enclosure with the females only for breeding is a safer approach.
Weaker and sickly leopard geckos are also easy targets for healthier, more dominant lizards. There have also been cases of cannibalism of smaller individuals and juveniles by larger geckos if too many leopard geckos are confined to the same space.
How Do You Prevent Leopard Geckos from Fighting?
In order to prevent fighting between your leopard geckos, be sure to have a large enough tank to house multiple lizards and keep size differences and sex in mind.
A minimum tank size of twenty gallons is necessary for housing two leopard geckos and ensuring enough space to prevent them from fighting. Giving them more space by obtaining a larger tank will further decrease the possibility of fighting. Of course, putting them in separate tanks altogether will guarantee no fighting.
Pro tip – get a tank make specifically for leopard geckos, or if considering an aquarium, get a long one. These tanks are longer instead of taller, and leopard geckos will appreciate more floor space than height since they are not avid climbers. For a 20-Gallon tank, this one with the front opening, or this 20 Gallon Long aquarium would make good choices.
Another way to prevent fighting is to make sure your leopard geckos are of comparable size before housing them together. Without a major size difference, the leopard geckos are less likely to exhibit dominant behaviors and fight for food or territory.
A smaller gecko deprived of food will have stunted growth and grow progressively weaker, making it more of a target. It’s a vicious cycle.
The best combination of leopard geckos to house together to prevent fighting are two females. While females will fight, they are far less likely if they are the same size, they have enough space, and it is not during mating season. Males will fight each other anytime but especially during mating season and are not recommended to house together.
Wrap Up – Leopard Gecko Fighting
Leopard geckos generally easy going temperament is part of what makes them a great pet, especially for those who never kept a reptile as a pet. And, I get it – leopard geckos are so awesome you may want more than one! Your leopard gecko, however, probably doesn’t want a friend crashing in on its territory.
They are territorial animals and will exhibit aggressive behavior when their space or food supply is challenged.
If you’re planning on more than one gecko, or already have a leopard gecko and want some more, know the circumstances of cohabitating. Read more in our post on leopard gecko tanks mates.