How Fast Is A Leopard Gecko?

leopard gecko about to run fast after a cricket

Leopard Geckos are tiny lizards that make great pets for beginner reptile keepers.  For the most part, these animals are sedentary and relaxed.  They like to bask in the sun and eat bugs.  Sometimes though, these animals get spooked and dart away.

Leopard geckos are fast, but just how fast is a leopard gecko?

Although there haven’t been official studies on the running speed of these leopard geckos, it’s estimated that they can run between 3- 5 miles per hour (mph).  For such a small animal, that’s not bad!  Leopard geckos run fast when they’re scared or when they’re chasing prey.

In this article, we’ll discuss everything you need to know about a leopard gecko’s speed!  Let’s start with how fast these little animals can run.

How Fast Can A Leopard Gecko Run?

It’s estimated that a leopard gecko can run at a speed of anywhere from 3 – 5 mph.  For such a small animal that’s actually pretty fast when you consider that it’s about the average walking speed for most humans!

Even though a leopard gecko is fast for its size, there’s no way that it can outrun you or most other lizards.  Actually, some lizards are four times as fast as the leopard gecko!  It’s normal for animals from different species to have wide ranges of speeds because of the different habitats they occupy.  Snakes for example have a very wide range of speeds with some barely being able to move while others can zoom across hot sandy deserts in no time!

How Fast Is The Fastest Lizard?

According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the fastest-recorded lizard in the world is the Ctenosaurus, or the spiny-tailed iguana.  These South American lizards have been recorded running at speeds of up to 21.7 mph.  They’re great climbers and just impressive animals overall!

But, these lizards look very different from leopard geckos and it makes sense that they’re faster.  to give you an idea, here’s a video of some spiny-tailed iguanas in the wild fighting.

Why Do Leopard Geckos Run?

So, what are some of the reasons why leopard geckos run?

There are a few main reasons why a leopard gecko might run either in the wild or in captivity.  Actually, all of the reasons listed below are applicable to both situations!

They’ve Detected Danger

One of the biggest reasons that leopard gecko runs quickly is because they feel threatened.

A threat doesn’t necessarily mean a predator.  Maybe your gecko just got spooked.  Leopard geckos can be frightened by a hand or by something moving or falling in their enclosure. If they do get surprised, they’ll run quickly in the opposite direction.  While these lizards aren’t at the bottom of the food chain, they’re still prey animals and have flighty instincts.

They’re Running For Their Lives (Literally)

Beyond just a threat, leopard geckos will run the fastest when they’re escaping from a predator.

Leopard geckos aren’t great fighters.  They’re pretty defenseless actually!  Two of their greatest strategies for survival are their camouflaged skin and the ability to run away.  If a predator notices a leopard gecko, that gecko will immediately run away as fast as it can.  Even though you might not think about predators for your pet, there are plenty.

If you have cats and dogs at home, expect your leopard gecko to run in the opposite direction away from them.  Though your furry friends might not make a snack out of your gecko, they still look like predators to it.

They’re Very Hungry

The last reason a leopard gecko might run fast is that they’re hungry.

If a gecko sees a food source, it’s not a surprise that they jet over to it.  Whether that’s a large insect in the desert or a fresh plate of mealworms your gecko is going to act fast if they’re starving.  A hungry animal is almost always going to move quickly toward food!

The interesting thing about geckos is that they can move in all sorts of ways.  Geckos can not only run but sometimes are amazing climbers.

How Fast Can A Leopard Gecko Climb?

Have you heard of house geckos?  These little reptiles live in tropical areas and can often be found inside people’s houses.  The funny thing about them is that you can see these geckos hanging out anywhere from the floor to the ceiling, they’re amazing climbers!

While leopard geckos aren’t the world’s best climbers, they still do a great job.  Leopard geckos have tiny toes with small claws.  These animals have evolved to be able to climb the rocky areas that they’re found in.  While leos can’t climb trees, they can scale impressive rocky faces.  In a life-or-death scenario, it’s safe to assume that a gecko can climb up a rock almost as fast as it can run across the ground.  And, because of their small size, leopard geckos can actually handle big falls of heights of around 6 feet!

For more information about how well your leopard gecko can climb read our in-depth article here!

How Fast Can A Leopard Gecko Swim?

Instead of asking how fast a leopard gecko can swim, we should really ask if they can swim at all.

Sadly leopard geckos are not natural swimmers.   These animals are endemic to deserts that have little to no water.  They are not built to swim and lack any of the adaptations you might see in animals that can swim.  Leopard geckos can wade in knee-deep water.  But if you submerge a gecko, expect them to struggle frantically to get out as fast as possible.

Since leopard geckos can’t swim, you should keep the water dishes in their enclosures small and shallow.  These desert lizards are a drowning risk even in small bodies of water.

Are Leopard Geckos Easy To Handle?

Since leopard geckos aren’t the fastest lizards, does that make them easy to handle?

Leopard geckos are actually in the number 1 spot on our list of 10 reptiles that are easy to handle.  Leopard geckos are great for beginners to reptile handling.  Leopard geckos are gentle and tend to like to stay in one spot.  They don’t usually bite and even in the rare case that they do, it’s pretty much harmless.  They can climb a little on you but won’t run away unless they’re spooked.

How To Avoid A Runaway Gecko

If you’re handling a reptile, there’s always a small chance that it might run away or escape.  Luckily, if your leo does run away, they’re not fast enough to outrun you!

To avoid spooking your gecko keep noise and stimulation to a minimum while handling.  Try to keep other pets and people out of the room.  Don’t grab your gecko from above or behind as they might feel threatened and try to run.  Make sure your gecko isn’t struggling or trying to get away and if they are put them back into its enclosure.

One thing about geckos is that they can drop their tails in a pinch.  This means that they will literally lose their tails rather than be caught by predators.  If you chase your gecko and grab them by the tail, you might end up causing its entire tail to fall off.  Try to refrain from grabbing them by the tail whenever possible.

Final Thoughts

Leopard geckos aren’t the fastest runners in the lizard world but for small animals, they can get moving.  Leopard geckos are also pretty good climbers on rocky surfaces.  One thing leopard geckos can’t do is swim!

If you’re worried about not being able to catch your escaped gecko, make sure you do some work on your handling.  Your gecko shouldn’t run away from you unless they feel threatened.  Move slowly, do your research and hopefully, you’ll never have to chase down your pet again!