If you are looking to get a pet gecko, then one of your primary concerns will be whether they are, or can be, dangerous. Are they a highly defensive reptile, likely to attack at any opportune moment? I decided to conduct some research into the topic. I would like to share this information with you here today. By the end, you’ll have a better understanding, be able to set your expectations and be aware of any considerations worth remembering.
So, are geckos dangerous? Generally speaking, geckos are harmless to humans. They are gentle in nature and unlikely to attack. However, it is not unheard of for these lizards to bite if they feel threatened or in danger; merely acting out of self-defense and life preservation. Gecko bites are usually painless and not deep, but they can potentially transfer harmful bacteria, including Salmonella, which can cause an infection if left untreated.
Geckos are considered small lizards; with domesticated species (including the Leopard and Crested) reaching on average between 10-24 inches in length. They’re light too, with an estimated weight of around 100 grams when fully grown.
Just because they are small and slight, does not mean that they are completely harmless. Geckos, being reptiles, can transmit salmonella to humans. Generally, while a healthy adult is not usually at risk, young children and individuals with weak immune systems can be affected.
Let us now explore the topic further covering all the things that you will need to know and consider if you did decide to bring one, or several home!
Do Geckos Attack?
There are around 1,500 gecko species in the world today, with many sharing similar personality traits and behaviors.
These lizards usually have gentle natures, and it is unlikely that a captive-bred gecko would attack their owner.
The circumstances that might cause these reptiles to attack are if two males are housed together in the same habitat; it causes them to become territorial, stressed and on edge. For this reason, it is best to keep male geckos separate.
A gecko may also bite if they feels scared or agitated. Adjusting to an unfamiliar environment takes time for these reptiles, so you want to wait a few days before you begin to handle them.
It is also not a good idea to attempt to pick them up when they are eating or sleeping. Of course, geckos have needs and if you are in the way of them being able to obtain and satisfy them, you can be told so!
While a gecko may attempt to bite you, its good to learn that they are mostly non-venomous. However, their bite can pierce the skin which can lead to some mild pain and discomfort.
If your gecko was to bite, and pierce the skin, it is imperative that you clean out the wound immediately. Geckos are likely to transmit bacteria into the wound during biting and this can quickly lead to an infection. It is always good to stock up on an anti-biotic ointment like Neospirin just in case.
Its important to consider that most geckos are nocturnal. During the day you can expect them to hide and sleep a lot. It is during the night they will look to feast on the insects in which you provide.
While most geckos are harmless, one common pet gecko is a notorious biter, and that is the Tokay gecko.
You might be surprised to learn that Tokay geckos are very aggressive by nature, and even captive breeds have a nasty habit of biting. You don’t want to get bitten by this lizard, because their bites hurt a lot!
Geckos are mainly silent; you might only hear vocalizations like barking, clicking or chirping that may sound aggressive to human ears.
Geckos only make these sounds if they are attracting a mate or defending their territory. It is rare to hear any of these sounds from a pet gecko.
Do Geckos Carry Any Diseases?
There is some discrepancy as to whether captive-bred geckos can transmit diseases to humans or not.
Keeping a reptile doesn’t pose a health risk to most people, so long as the owner practices proper sanitation and is very careful.
As an owner, it is also imperative that you clean out their tanks and habitats often with a good disinfectant ; being aware of the fact that geckos will have crawled and climbed across everything within the enclosure.
You need to wash your hands with hot water and soap after handling your gecko, touching their tank, their food, feces, and equipment.
It is always best to err on the side of caution when handling a gecko or any reptile. Pregnant women, children under 5, the elderly, and anyone with a compromised immune system can fall victim to an infectious disease carried by these reptiles, so handling them is best avoided.
In fact, it is advised that geckos should not be kept as pets in a home where there are children under five years of age; this is true of all reptiles.
Regardless of the handler, geckos, like most reptiles, can transfer salmonella to humans. Getting Salmonella can cause a host of nasty symptoms including fever, stomach cramping and vomiting. It can be even more of a problem with individuals with weak immune systems. Therefore maintaining excellent hygiene when handling your gecko is crucial for everyone.
Besides having good sanitary practices, you must check your gecko isn’t carrying any disease before giving them a permanent residence in your home.
Be sure to keep a gecko away from your kitchen or any other area where food is prepared or consumed.
Wash your gecko in a basin designated for them and never in a sink or bath that is commonly shared with humans.
It is also a good idea to wear disposable gloves every time you clean your lizards tank or equipment. This is an excellent deal for gloves on Amazon.
Is It Safe To Touch Geckos?
Before even thinking of touching or handling a gecko, you must gain their trust. This is both hard and time-consuming.
Believe it or not, how you house your gecko goes a long way in achieving your lizard’s trust. Avoid enclosures that open from the top; from a geckos perspective, your hand reaching for them looks like a predator trying to grab them.
Purchase an enclosure that opens from the front, they will see you coming to feed them and care for them, and they won’t be so nervous. This is a tank with hundreds of positive reviews from gecko owners on Amazon.
The last thing you want to do as a gecko owner is make your pet stressed or nervous; you may never gain their trust.
Stress is harmful to a gecko’s immune system as it will cause him to lose his appetite, in turn leading to other health complications.
Geckos like repetition, something as insignificant as smelling differently to how you usually smell, will cause your gecko to lose trust in you and perhaps even attack you.
Try to use the same brand of hand soap, laundry detergent, and avoid wearing perfume and cologne as they can mask your scent.
Once you have earned your gecko’s trust, it is generally safe for humans to touch geckos, just make sure that you wash your hands thoroughly afterward.
Most geckos are fragile creatures, and when you handle one, you must be very gentle.
It would be best if you never put pressure on their tail; they are known to drop their tails as a way of distracting and confusing predators.
Most geckos can’t bite hard enough to puncture human skin as they have tiny teeth; their bites are also non-venomous.
If you were wondering whether geckos were dangerous, hopefully by now you will have learned that they are generally harmless to humans and rarely bite.
These lizards can transmit bacteria to humans, but as long as you practice excellent hygiene when and following handling of your gecko and all of their equipment, the risks are greatly reduced and are minimal.
Any prospective owners, who are on the fence, can be confident knowing that geckos are perfectly safe to own as pets.
If you do decide to get one, be gentle and not do anything that might make your gecko nervous or stressed. It is never easy for these reptiles to adjust to a new home, so don’t expect to have a confident pet and close bond with them straight away.
Once you gain the trust of your gecko, the bond you can share can be strong. Always remember that these were once wild species, and confidence can break down quickly with ineffective care. A strong relationship is crucial because, in reality, a gecko is trusting you with his life.
Most gecko species are small and docile, making them excellent pets.
With that said, you should plan on only getting a captive-bred gecko, because they are used to living with humans and other animals.
It is imperative to conduct some research on the particular species you plan to purchase before bringing it home to live with you. Their needs, requirements and things to consider can change quite dramatically. Like we learnt with the Tockay gecko.
I am a practiced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site I created to share everything I’ve learned about pet ownership over the years and my extensive research along the way.