Why Is My Leopard Gecko Trying To Escape?

leopard gecko considering escaping

Leopard geckos make great pets.  These reptiles are small, active, and relatively easy to care for.  But, leopard geckos can be tricky in some ways.  These tiny lizards are great climbers and have been known to scale glass aquarium tank sides.  While it can be fun to watch your pet do this, you might start to ask;

Why is my leopard gecko trying to escape?

If your leopard gecko keeps climbing to the top of its enclosure, they might be bored or hungry.  They could be trying to get away from other animals in the enclosure or trying to get closer to a heat source. Your gecko might try to escape to explore or to avoid unwanted handling as well.

Even though these small lizards are some of the most common pets, they’re not the easiest to care for.  If your gecko keeps climbing to the top of its enclosure, something is wrong!  Keep reading to find out why your scaly friend is making escape attempts.

Is Your Gecko Really Trying To Escape?

For the purpose of this article, we’ll call any wall climbing an escape attempt.  But, when your gecko climbs to the top of its tank, it might not always be trying to escape.

While some animals are clearly looking for a way out when they climb up high, others may not be.  So, when your leo goes “glass surfing” it might not necessarily mean that they’re trying to get out of their enclosure.

Either way though, most of the reasons for geckos climbing up high aren’t good.  Leopard geckos are a terrestrial lizard species.  They’re great at navigating low rocky terrains and seem to enjoy climbing small rocks.  Even though these reptiles are good at climbing over small rocks on the ground, they really aren’t made to climb vertically.  If your pet is climbing up the walls to escape or for some other reason, it’s not a great sign.

Let’s go into just what might make your gecko try to escape from their home!

6 Reasons Why Your Leopard Gecko Might Be Trying To Escape

If your gecko is climbing to the top of its enclosure, something’s off.  Luckily, most of the things that will make your pet act this way are pretty easy to fix once you notice them. Here are 6 things that could make your gecko scale a wall.

1. They’re Exploring

If you just got your gecko, expect them to do some exploring.

Just like any other animal, when a reptile gets to a new place, they want to check it out.  Dogs do this too.  They’ll run the perimeter of a yard, check out all of the rooms in a house, and do a general sweep of a new place.  If your gecko is new or is in a new enclosure, it’s natural for them to want to explore.

Although geckos have decent eyesight, they do a lot of exploring with their tongues!  They’ll lick things to get a sense of their environment.  It’s one of the reasons why you might notice your gecko licking you, their tankmates, or themselves!  If a gecko is curious about the roof of its home, it’s not crazy to think that it would climb up there just to get a good lick!

While the need to explore might not technically be an escape attempt, it’s definitely something that will make your gecko climb everywhere that it possibly can!

2. They’re Hungry

Have you been neglecting your gecko’s diet?

If so, they might be taking matters into their own hands!  In the wild, when a gecko is hungry, it won’t just sit and be idle.  They’ll start to branch out further and further away from their home base until they find something that resembles food.  The same is true for reptiles in captivity.

Did you know that leopard geckos store fat in their tails?  The larger their tail is, the plumper they are.  If your gecko has a thin tail, you may not be giving them enough food.

If your pet is actually hungry, it might start trying to escape just to find some food.  But, don’t worry.  It might not be your fault that your gecko isn’t a great eater.  These lizards aren’t the most efficient hunters and might miss food even when it’s right under their noses!

3. They’re Bored

Even though it may not seem like it, pet reptiles need stimulation and enrichment to thrive in captivity.

In the will, a gecko would experience a never ended splay of new habitats and experiences.  They’re mentally stimulated by their environment and the fight for survival.  While life in captivity isn’t stressful, it can also be pretty boring.  Pets without stimulation might end up becoming bored and acquire destructive habits.

Bored geckos may make attempts to explore and escape out of their enclosures.  If their environment isn’t stimulating, they may feel the need to find something exciting.  Plus, if they feel like they don’t have enough space, they might try to wander up and out of their enclosures.

If you’re not sure how to spice things up for your pet reptile, check out the video below for a few ideas.

Hopefully, something as simple as switching around the things in their enclosure will keep your gecko from making escape attempts.

4. They’re Too Hot Or Too Cold

Leopard geckos like it hot.

But, like many reptiles, geckos need a very specific temperature range to thrive.  Ideally, your gecko’s enclosure should fall anywhere between 77F and 90F.  The way that you heat your gecko’s enclosure is up to you!  You can use a heat source beneath the tank or you can use heat lamps.

If you use beneath that tank heat and your gecko is trying to escape, it probably means that they’re too hot.  The heating pad might have overheated a surface and made it uncomfortable for your gecko.  On the other hand, if your heat lamps are above the enclosure, your gecko might just be climbing to get closer to them.  In that case, you can assume that your gecko is cold.

The best way o make sure you don’t have any temperature imbalances in your enclosure is simply to get a thermometer.  A thermometer is the only sure way to know if an area is too hot or too cold for your scaly friend.  Placing multiple thermometers throughout an enclosure is even better!

5. They’re Trying To Escape From Tankmates

Do you have more than one leopard gecko?

If so, an escape attempt might be a sign of conflict.  One reason why your pet might be trying to get out is that they’re not getting along with their tankmate.  Your less dominant gecko might climb to the roof and try to get away from your more territorial and aggressive gecko.

Leopard geckos are naturally solitary creatures.  This is one of the reasons why they don’t often live well together.   However, if you have two leopard geckos that were hatched and raised together, they might get along fine for their entire lives, with no issues.  Usually, this isn’t the case.

Leopard geckos can be violent and territorial toward other geckos.  Make sure to observe your pets and look out for signs of biting and conflict.  If you see any bullying or wounds, it’s best to separate them.

6. They Don’t Want To Be Handled

The last thing that might make a gecko try to escape is a fear of handling.

Is your gecko trying to escape whenever you come around?  Maybe they see your hand and dart for the top of their enclosure?  Well, that’s not a great sign!  Your gecko might be trying to escape from you.

In theory, leopard geckos are one of the most handleable reptiles.  In reality, some of them can be flighty and it all depends on the personality of your lizard.  If you’re just starting to handle your new pet, take it slowly.  Don’t force them to do anything and don’t keep them out for too long, it can be stressful.  Make sure you make handling enjoyable for them as well by rewarding them with a favorite treat afterward.

Your pet shouldn’t run away when they see your hand, so if the sight of you makes them try to escape, you’ve got some work to do!

What Do You Do If Your Leopard Gecko Escapes?

So, what can you do if your leopard gecko actually escapes?

Escapes do happen and when they do, the best thing that you can do is stay calm.

Make sure to close all entry and exit points to the room where your gecko escaped.  Doors, windows, and vents should all be shut tightly. Ideally, you cant start searching areas of the room and clearing them out as you go.  To find your gecko, you have to think like a gecko.  Look in spaces where it’s dark and warm.  If you have pets, try and get them out of the room, but pay attention to where your pets are watching, they might already know where your escapee is!

If you still can’t find your pet you can try setting up a little trap for them.  Make a nice warm dark area and put some of their favorite treats there.  Try leaving the room and giving them time to settle.  Hopefully, they’ll turn up right in the spot you made for them and you can get them back into their tank!

Can You Prevent Your Leopard Gecko From Escaping?

Luckily, there are great ways to prevent your leopard gecko from escaping.

Your gecko’s enclosure is the best way to prevent escapes.  Make sure your gecko’s enclosure is set up correctly.  They need to have the right temperature, humidity, and environment to want to stay.  Part of a good setup is also a good latching mechanism.  Make sure that the top of your leopard gecko’s enclosure is always secured tightly.  Always make sure your gecko has food and water so that they don’t feel the need to try and go looking for it themselves.

Another way to prevent escapes is to be extra careful during handling.  When you reach in to grab your pet, don’t startle them.  As you hold them, make sure that you don’t let go of them.  Your gecko shouldn’t want to run away from you and if they’re trying to, just put them back.  It’s always a good idea to do handling in a smaller room with less furniture.  That way if your gecko does get away, they’re still easy to find.

Final Thoughts

We can’t read our pets’ minds.  But, we can make educated guesses!  Geckos seem to make escape attempts for a variety of reasons.  If your gecko is glass surfing, it may just be exploring.  They might be too hot or cold, or they could be running away from a tank mate!  The best way to prevent a lost gecko is to figure out why they’re trying to escape and how you can improve that situation for them.  Good luck and we hope your leopard gecko becomes content to stay at the bottom of its enclosure.

About The Author