Your crested gecko looks straight at you as if it can’t get its eyes from you! Could this be a cause for concern?
Don’t worry; there’s usually nothing to be concerned about if your gecko is eyeballing you. Your pet could be on the lookout, hungry, curious, or even afraid.
Not sure what to do when your gecko is looking right at you? Read on to explore some options!
Why is your crested gecko staring at you? (3 reasons)
On the lookout
Your crested gecko could be on lookout mode. Geckos have excellent eyesight, and being prey animals by nature, they will constantly be observant of their surroundings. Your gecko may either be hiding or out and about while doing so.
If your gecko is anxious or afraid of you, it may see you as a large predator looking for its next meal. Your gecko is probably frightened if it is peeking out of its hiding spot.
Don’t feel bad; crested geckos are skittish by nature and naturally scared of larger, unfamiliar things.
Another reason your gecko is staring at you could be because it is hungry. Some pets will look or even approach their owners when anticipating food; in this case, the staring could be a form of begging.
Even if already fed, some owners may find their geckos begging for more! Be sure to note that even well-fed animals may beg even though they’re not starving at all.
Crested geckos are very curious animals by nature, and staring at you could be it looking at its surroundings, both inside and outside of the tank.
If your gecko is looking around and isn’t hiding anywhere, it is either examining you or something else nearby.
This curiosity could also be accompanied by climbing and exploring around its enclosure. You may even find your gecko licking on surfaces, picking up different scents as it moves around.
Do crested geckos recognize their owners?
Crested geckos may have a great sense of vision, but most recognize their owners through smell with their tongues.
Though licking is usually linked to taste (which is done to their surroundings along with scent), it also serves as an important organ to pick up scents.
Like most other lizards and snakes, crested geckos sport a grooved area on the roofs of their mouths called the vomeronasal organ, also known as Jacobson’s organ.
When geckos flick and lick with their tongues, they pick up scent particles in the air, and after they retract them right back, the particles are registered through this organ.
Over time, your crested gecko will pick up the scent particles you emit and recognize you this way. Your pet familiarizing itself with your unique smell is the most profound recognition method.
As time goes by, your crested gecko will trust you more through handling and time. Though crested geckos are prey animals, it is natural that many pets will lose their fear if they live in a safe, loving environment.
Your gecko can also see you as a food source and will therefore develop a sense of trust in you.
Provided you don’t constantly scare it off, your pet learns that you are the primary provider of its meals. Therefore there should be no reason for it to be afraid of you.
Some pets, though, typically rescued animals from abusive situations, may never trust anyone. Take special note of this when you’re adopting a rescue pet, since untrusting individuals can be very difficult to care for.
Don’t let this discourage you from adopting a rescue since many unwanted geckos need loving homes!
Crested geckos, over time, may lose their fear and become much more tolerant around their owners, having gained a sense of trust.
Becoming familiarized with their senses, your pet will accompany you as a source of food, and, therefore, will tolerate your presence.
Sadly, your gecko most likely will not seek you with love and affection, being solitary animals in the wild.
However, that doesn’t mean your pet has no feelings; after all, curiosity, fear, and aggression are all considered complex emotions.
What to do when my crested gecko stares at me?
Observe your pet
Visually examine your gecko to ensure no signs of injury, stress, or illness. Take note of any odd behaviors, such as lunging or tail waving. If your gecko is simply staring at you, it’s usually nothing to be worried about.
Sometimes, a sleeping crested gecko can be confused for a staring one, as, after all, like most other geckos, they have no eyelids.
A sleeping gecko’s eyes will be partially sunken into its sockets, and the characteristic “eyelashes” will be pointed slightly downwards. If your pet turns out to be sleeping, leave it alone.
Feed your gecko
As mentioned earlier, your gecko may be very hungry. Relying on you as a food source, it is probably begging for its next meal. In this case, the solution is simple: offer it food if your gecko hasn’t been fed yet.
Baby crested geckos should be given food daily, and adults should be fed around 3-5 times a week.
A consistent feeding schedule ensures your gecko is well-fed and could curb the staring problem if the behavior becomes concerning. Be sure not to overfeed your pet.
Gently handling your gecko can help you gain its trust and could also motivate its curiosity. This also allows your crested gecko to exercise and use your hands or arms as a climbing branch.
Take care not to grab and forcefully restrain your gecko while doing so, as this will only terrify your pet. Gently scoop your hands below your gecko and allow it to climb on.
Support its body carefully and be prepared, as crested geckos can be unexpectedly faster and more agile than expected! Take note of its body language if it prepares to leap off.
One popular method of choice is the “hand-walk” method. Simply place your gecko on your hand and constantly place your other hand in front, then repeat as it walks on to create a “treadmill” effect.
Keep your hands close to the ground when doing this in case your pet decides to jump.
Handling should only be done for around 1-2 minutes, as any longer could stress out your gecko. It may poop on you as well; don’t worry, just wash it off with soap and water afterward.
If your gecko flees at the sight of your hand, leave it alone for a few weeks and try again.
Leave it alone
If your gecko is visibly frightened or stressed, leave your gecko alone. Try to maintain a distance, so your pet’s anxiety isn’t prolonged.
Your gecko could just be having a bad day, or something else (or your presence alone) may have frightened it. A crested gecko shedding its skin may also be under stress.
Whatever the case may be, avoid handling for a few days and only attend to the tank for feeding and maintenance during this period.
Some crested geckos take longer to adjust to their environments than others but are sure to also observe your pet for signs of chronic stress or illness.
When should you be concerned?
Signs of fear
It is very important to know signs of fear in your crested gecko. Since crested geckos cannot speak to us, they will display to you if they’re stressed or frightened.
Aggression is typically the easiest sign of fear in your pet. Unfortunately, some people confuse aggressive behavior with a “mean” pet, but it is most likely scared and is reacting in defense. Biting, hissing, and lunging are typical signs of aggression from your pet.
An aggressive gecko usually displays a warning by widely gaping its mouth, but it is important to note that, like you, your pet could just be yawning.
Some individuals may wave their tails. This can be a sign of wanting to mate if other geckos are around, but if not, it is another sign of fear.
A stressed gecko may flee without warning, hastily scrambling off in search of either an escape route or a hiding spot. Heavy breathing is also a sign your pet is stressed out, but this could also mean it has a serious respiratory infection.
Signs of illness can be alarming and could be the reasons for abnormal behavior if they coincide with signs of fear.
Heavy breathing accompanied by mucus around the nostrils or mouth can indicate an upper respiratory infection. If your gecko is constantly gaping its mouth and its gums appear to be crusty, it likely has mouth rot.
Rapid weight loss is also another red flag to look out for. If you find your gecko is very thin and refuses to eat, it could potentially have an impaction or a parasitic infection.
Vomiting and diarrhea are also signs of disease.
Whatever the case, it is important to seek veterinary attention immediately as all these signs are serious, and, if left untreated, could mean death to your beloved pet.
Your vet will examine your gecko and determine the proper diagnosis and treatment plan.