If you have a leopard gecko as a pet, you probably know that they’re typically happiest when left alone in their cozy little homes.
They require such minimal maintenance that they can even handle being left alone for a few days at a time. If you’re planning to go away for a weekend, 2-3 days to itself won’t do your leopard gecko any harm.
But, life happens, and sometimes you’ve got to take your little spotted friend with you, whether it’s simply a visit to the vet or a big move across the country. So, if you find yourself needing to take your leopard gecko along for a ride, you might ask:
How do I travel with a leopard gecko?
Traveling with a leopard gecko involves researching your travel method and planning ahead, allowing your gecko to become familiar with their travel carrier, and paying close attention to their well-being during and after arrival. You’ll want to make sure their travel carrier is safe and secure, and pack essentials like food, water, and heat sources.
In this article, we’ll explore all there is to know about how to travel with a leopard gecko, covering the main modes of transportation. Let’s get started!
How To Transport A Leopard Gecko
Leopard geckos aren’t fond of changes to their environment, and the process of moving them around can be quite stressful for them. Unless there’s no other alternative, it’s best to avoid traveling with your gecko.
However, sometimes traveling with your little buddy is unavoidable, so thankfully, there are a few different ways you can take them along with you.
No matter how you choose to travel – by plane, car, or train – the requirements for taking your leopard gecko along remain the same. It’s all about research, planning, and ensuring that your gecko has a safe and comfortable travel experience.
Here are some things you can do to help transport your leopard gecko successfully:
Step 1: Choose A Travel Carrier
The first and most important thing you’ll need is a sturdy and secure travel carrier that allows for proper ventilation.
Should you choose to use your gecko’s regular enclosure, you’ll want to make a few changes to it first to make it safer for travel.
Remove any loose substrate so it doesn’t slide around and smother your Leo, causing them to accidentally inhale or ingest any of it.
Also, be sure to take out any objects (décor pieces) inside that could move around or fall over. This will help to prevent any accidents or injuries to your gecko while you’re on the move.
However, if you’re able to securely attach a hide, or have a hide that is heavy enough that it will not fall over, it’s good to leave one of those in there for your leo to hide in if they feel stressed.
Alternatively, you can opt for a small travel carrier or container, like the ones you can purchase online for transporting small pets, or even use a large Tupperware container.
Ideally, you want a space small enough that they can move and stretch out a bit but not have enough space that they can tumble around if you make a sharp turn or hit a bump.
It’s also important to make sure that there are enough ventilation holes in the container for your gecko to get air, but you don’t want them to be big enough for your lizard to escape.
For a visual idea of how to pack up and move a leopard gecko, check out this video of someone moving 3 leopard geckos and a crested gecko to their new home!
Step 2: Familiarize Your Gecko With Their Travel Carrier
If using a newly purchased travel carrier or a container your gecko isn’t familiar with, allow them some time to become familiar with the space they’ll be traveling in. You can do this by gradually introducing them to it in the days before your adventure.
Start by placing your gecko inside the carrier for short periods, like a few minutes at a time. As the days go by, gradually increase the time to about 30 minutes or so.
This approach will help your leopard gecko become more comfortable in their new travel setup, minimizing their stress levels during the journey ahead.
Step 3: Secure The Carrier
If traveling by car, you’ll want to make sure you can secure the carrier in your vehicle so it doesn’t move or slide around. If you’re able to, buckle it in using one of your seatbelts.
It’s also a good idea to make sure there are no items above or around the carrier that could fall into or on top of it causing damage to your gecko or its carrier.
Step 4: Line The Bottom
To help stabilize your gecko itself and keep them from sliding around, it’s a good idea to line the bottom of the container with something that provides a good grip.
One option is using a non-toxic shelf liner, which works really well. Another option is to use paper towels or something else that has a textured surface for your gecko’s little feet.
Step 5: Monitor Temps
Depending on the weather and the distance of your trip, you might need to take some measures to control the temperature. It’s important to avoid extreme temperatures below 65 degrees or above 90 degrees Fahrenheit.
If it’s hot outside, you can keep your space cool by running the air conditioning. Make sure not to place the carrier directly under the air conditioning vent, though, because this could quickly cause your gecko to become too cold.
If it’s cold outside, you can keep the temperature comfortable in your car by turning on the heat.
Also, you can use a heating source like a heating pack or hand warmers to provide warmth for your gecko’s carrier, or you can place a towel or blanket over the carrier to keep it insulated and cozy. (Additional tip: this is also a great way to keep flashing lights or outside stimuli from bothering your gecko, helping to keep their stress levels low.)
Step 6: Pack All Of The Essentials
When getting ready to transport your leopard gecko, it’s a good idea to gather all of the necessary items you might need to ensure their well-being along the way.
For shorter trips, you can stick to the basics, but for longer journeys, it’s wise to be prepared for any unexpected situations. Here’s a checklist of what you should bring:
Food and water – Make sure to pack enough of your gecko’s regular food, any needed supplements, and a small dish for water.
Heating sources – Depending on the weather and travel conditions, you might need to pack heating sources such as heating pads or hand warmers to keep your gecko warm.
Thermometer – This will help you to monitor the temperature inside your leopard gecko’s travel carrier and ensure it stays within a comfortable range for your gecko.
Blankets and towels – These items will come in handy when creating a cozy and safe environment for your leo (if you’re covering their carrier to minimize stimulus, keeping them warm, etc.)
Cleaning supplies – It’s always a good idea to have some cleaning supplies and paper towels on hand to maintain cleanliness in your leopard gecko’s travel carrier.
Emergency vet contact – Have the contact information for an emergency reptile veterinarian on hand in case of emergencies or if you have any concerns along the way.
Overnight equipment – If you’ll be staying somewhere overnight, you’ll want to bring additional equipment like a UVB source, a basking lamp, and a hideout to provide a comfortable overnight setup for your gecko.
You may even want to consider using a USB port or cigarette lighter with an adapter to power any necessary electronics while in your car.
By packing these essential items, you’ll be well-prepared for a long trek to keep your leopard gecko as happy and healthy as possible. It’s always better to be over-prepared than under-prepared when it comes to situations like this.
Step 7: Be Mindful Of Stimulus
Think about how certain things like blasting loud music or having the windows down can create unnecessary noise and stimuli that might stress your gecko out even more.
To prevent this, try to keep a calm and peaceful environment by listening to tunes at a reasonable volume and having the windows rolled up.
You can also cover your gecko’s carrier with a blanket or towel to block out flashing lights and any other distractions that could bother your gecko (as mentioned above).
Step 8: Minimize Stops
If you’re able to, it’s best to keep stops to a minimum. The sooner you can reach your destination and get your gecko back into its usual habitat, the happier it will be.
So, try to plan your trip in a way that allows for a smooth journey with as few interruptions as possible. Your gecko will thank you for it!
Step 9: Monitor Your Leo
Don’t forget to check in on your leo from time to time. Keep an eye out for any unusual behavior that might indicate they’re feeling uncomfortable or stressed.
The longer the journey, the more attention you should give to your gecko to make sure they’re still doing ok.
Step 10: Return Your Gecko To Their Habitat Quickly Upon Arrival
Once you arrive at your destination, make it a priority to return your leopard gecko to its familiar habitat as soon as possible. This will help them to settle back into their normal routine and feel more at ease.
Keep a close eye on your leo and watch for any signs of stress or illness in the days that follow. This could look like a dramatic change in behavior, appetite, appearance, or even abnormal urate and feces.
If you notice that something seems to be wrong with your leopard gecko after a few days of arriving, it would be wise to reach out to your nearest reptile veterinarian.
Can You Bring A Leopard Gecko On A Plane?
Unfortunately, when it comes to traveling by air, bringing your leopard gecko on the plane alongside you is not an option as all airlines prohibit reptiles from traveling in the cabin.
However, there are some “lizard-friendly” airlines that do allow nonvenomous reptiles to be shipped as cargo, as long as they meet specific guidelines. This means your pet gecko might be able to fly with you in the belly of the plane if you coordinate your travel that way.
When transporting your leopard gecko via airline cargo, many of the safety requirements are the same as they would be if traveling by car.
In fact, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) has put together a set of rules for all airlines that ensures pets have a comfortable and safe journey on any flight. These guidelines address important aspects like food and water, carrier size, temperature requirements, and more.
Ultimately, if the airline believes your pet could be at risk, they won’t allow them to fly.
It’s also important to note that different airlines have different rules based on their routes, aircraft type, and number of pets allowed in their cargo space. That’s why it’s always a good idea to give your airline of choice a call and check the rules before attempting to fly with your leo.
To help get you started, some airlines that currently allow nonvenomous lizards in cargo are: American Airlines, Air Canada, Aegean Air, Air Europa, Alaska Air, Finnair (uses third party), and WestJet.
You can find more information about each airline’s rules and regulations around transporting pets in cargo by clicking on the links provided.
Can You Bring A Leopard Gecko On A Train?
Like airlines, most train companies don’t allow live reptiles to travel onboard with their owners.
However, since there are so many different train services in various parts of the world, there may be some that do. It would be a good idea to contact your local train company in advance of your trip to inquire about traveling with your leopard gecko.
With a little preparation, traveling with your leopard gecko can be a smooth and relatively stress-free experience.
Just take the time to do some research, prepare the necessary supplies, and pack essential items for the journey ahead. Once you arrive at your destination, monitor your gecko for a few days to make sure they’re settling back in ok.
With these simple steps, and by following the recommendations given in this article, you should be all set for a safe and successful adventure with your scaly friend.