Do Leopard Geckos Hiss? (What Does That Tell You?)

Do Leopard Geckos Hiss?

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 Leopard geckos are known for being fairly quiet, solitary creatures. Though it doesn’t happen all the time, leopard geckos actually can make noises, including hissing.

Leopard geckos can hiss. If you hear your leopard gecko hissing or making noise it could indicate fear, discomfort, or stress. Hissing is typically a sign that something is wrong with your pet.

Can Leopard Geckos Vocalize? Do Leopard Geckos Make Sounds?

Leopard geckos are capable of vocalizing and making noises.  That said, just because leopard geckos can vocalize, does not mean that they will.  

Dr. Robert Espinoza, a biologist at California State University, noted in an interview with National Geographic“While it is true that most lizards are mute, many make sounds of various kinds”   In particular, geckos make “a variety of chirps, clicks, and squeaks, some inaudible to humans.” 

Here is a clip of juvenile geckos hissing.  You’ll hear the sound several times in the video.

Why Does a Leopard Gecko Hiss? 

There are several reasons why a leopard gecko may hiss. It could be trying to tell you that it wants some attention or needs help. More probably it’s feeling threatened or angry. In either case, don’t panic. Just give it some space and try to figure out what’s going on.

If you notice your leopard gecko hissing, there could be several reasons why. Some common causes include:

  • Feeling threatened
  • Being startled
  • Being stressed

When being brought into a new environment, especially with other tank mates, a gecko will be uneasy.  Sudden movements, something brushing up against it, loud noises may all be cause for alarm.  If the gecko has not been socialized or has experienced rough handling, it may be skittish when being picked up or handled.  (If this is the case with your gecko, check our handling tips or our article on bonding.)

What Does Leopard Gecko Hissing Mean?

Though hissing is not a common behavior for all leopard geckos, it’s perfectly normal. Hissing is a defense mechanism when animals feel threatened or uncomfortable; this is also normal behavior in leopard geckos. When they hiss, it serves as a warning sign.

A hissing leopard gecko is telling you that it doesn’t feel comfortable.  

Your pet is trying to tell you something. Watch your gecko’s body language, especially its tail patterns of movement. Check out our post on leopard gecko tails for more on tail wagging.

Here is another great example of a leopard gecko hissing.  This leopard gecko owner is cleaning the tank exterior by spraying it down with water.  The second sound you hear in this clip is the gecko reacting by hissing.  It’s an unknown and possibly threatening situation, and it is expressing discomfort.

Other Leopard Gecko Sounds (and What They Mean)

The sounds that leopard geckos make are a method of communication. In addition to hissing, there are several different types of calls, including clicking, barking, and screaming/screeching.  

Though the sounds may be different, they all mean pretty much the same thing – your pet was startled or perceives a threat.  Hissing and vocalizations are natural defensive behaviors, especially in a juvenile or baby leopard gecko.  

Here’s an example of some screaming or screeching. This little guy got spooked and let his handler know about it.

If your reptile pal is making noise, look for obvious signs of stress (our post on leopard gecko stress can help you spot them and avoid them.)  Tank mates, other animals, tank temperatures, breeding season can all factor into levels of stress in your pet reptile.

Wrap Up – Do Leopard Geckos Hiss?

Leopard geckos are capable of vocalizations, including hissing.  Even though they can, not all leopard geckos will make noise.  

We’ve had our favorite leopard gecko for about 15 years and have never heard him so much as peep. We take that as a good sign, that he’s settled in, comfortable, and has what he needs to be happy.  

About the author

About the Author: H. Evan Miller & Leopard Gecko

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