Geckos are unique exotic pets, with a range of behaviors and traits that owners need to accommodate for. But what about sleeping? How do these lizards acquire there rest and where do they go to do so? I decided to research the topic to find answers to these kind of questions. I would like to share my findings with you here today.
So, where do geckos sleep? Geckos are nocturnal lizards with preference to sleep under cover, protected from potential predators. Wild geckos will sleep under leaves, beneath the barks of tree trunks, under rock shades and anywhere else they can remain concealed while they sleep. Pet geckos equally require such an environment. Therefore owners must provided access to several hideouts and hideaways to ensure their gecko can obtain the 12 hours of sleep that they need.
Geckos are small, without venom and are relatively defenseless. While they can bite and nip, they are vulnerable to many potential predators. As such, they have become accustomed to hiding. While sleeping they are most vulnerable, so it naturally follows that they conceal themselves during this time.
For this reason, owners should not be surprised if their gecko routinely hides from them in the beginning. With time, and through building trust, you can begin to share a more open relationship.
Let us now take a closer look at the sleeping habits and patterns of geckos; across the most commonly kept pet species (Leopard and Crested), before answering some of the most commonly asked questions related to this topic.
Sleeping Habits of Geckos
Just like most reptiles, geckos are nocturnal. They sleep during the day and are active during the night. More specifically, they are also crepuscular. This means that they are typically most active during the twilight hours – dawn and dusk.
Therefore, do not be surprised to hear noises from your gecko at times during the night. This may also explain why owners report complete silence from their pets during the day. Do not be concerned; this is completely normal.
Geckos are not predatory in nature. In fact, they are most likely to be prey. Their main predators in the wild include: snakes, larger reptiles and birds of prey. However, as a pet this list can also extend to cats and rats.
It comes as no surprise to learn that the sleeping patterns of predators and prey are closely aligned. For predators, they will be awake and active at times they can seek out prey. For prey, they are seeking safer times to arise and also to find food of their own.
Being primarily prey in the wild, a geckos sleeping habits are therefore a response to this constant and real threat. They have in many ways developed a sleep/wake schedule to minimize the danger and risk of predators, in which they face many.
Even when kept as a pet, your gecko will instinctively believe that they are in their natural habitat. If a gecko owner has done a good job replicating the environment and ensuring they have everything they need, that is.
So for a pet gecko, the fear of being preyed on always remains. This is why the sleeping schedule does not alter; asleep during the day and active during the night.
So, it is actually during the night time that your gecko will feed, roam around and explore under the safe cover of darkness.
This habit can still favor you if your schedule matches accordingly. I mean, if you go to work the whole day, there will be a time just before bed for you to be able to bond and spend some time with your gecko.
Nevertheless, you still want to sleep. For this reason, you should make sure that your geckos terrarium is far enough away from your bedroom. This should ensure that you get the sleep in which you need – without any distractions.
How Do Geckos Sleep?
Geckos sleep undercover, concealed and away from open space. They do so during the day, but how do they actually go about sleeping?
Firstly, geckos can sleep alone, or among others.
Geckos are solitary reptiles that can live alone without any issues. However, it is possible to keep several geckos within the same enclosure with a little bit of consideration. For one, you should not keep: 2 males (fighting), sub-adult males and females (mating) or geckos of significant size differences together (dominance).
If you’re keeping multiple geckos together you will also need to consider the size of the enclosure; ensuring it is sufficiently large enough to house them.
Baby geckos can generally be kept together without an issue.
But why are we discussing these things? Well – depending on how many geckos you have in your enclosure will make a difference on how they sleep.
Some groups of geckos will sleep next to one another; snuggling up alongside and keeping each other warm and comfortable.
Other groups of geckos will go their own way – finding their own hiding places to obtain their rest.
Either way, as an owner you should ensure you have enough hideaways and hideouts in relation to the number of geckos you have. This cave on Amazon is an excellent choice, and many owners report how their geckos sleep well inside them each day.
This will ensure that you can identify what is best for your gecko(s) and meet their needs depending on whether they live in isolation, like to socialize or keep themselves distant from others in their enclosure.
Secondly, different species of geckos will appear to sleep differently.
This is because not all species of gecko have eyelids!
Leopard and fat-tailed geckos for example have eyelids. When sleeping, you will observe that their eyelids are closed. They will be open if the gecko is awake.
For a Crested, Tokay or House gecko, you may need to investigate further to find out whether they’re asleep or not. These species sleep with their eyes wide open!
Thankfully, there are usually ways in which you can tell.
For a Crested gecko, you can observe the crests. If they are standing, then your gecko is awake. If they are fallen, then they’re asleep.
You can also check the size of the pupils. Heavily constricted pupils show that your gecko is sleeping while dilated ones indicate that your gecko is awake and alert.
More often than not, you’ll spot your gecko curled up on the leaves and branches of the plants you provide in their enclosure. On occasion, you may even find them sleeping upside down against the glass. This trait is more familiar with the crested geckos.
However your gecko sleeps, you need to ensure they remain safe and healthy. For example, sleeping upside down can cause a condition known as ‘floppy tail syndrome’. This is where the backbone becomes unable to support the weight of the tail. The tail then hangs over their back or to the side. This can cause issues defecating or laying eggs so must be addressed.
How Long Do Geckos Sleep?
If you’re looking for some playtime, you may want to know just how much sleep your pet gecko will have each day.
They are not only particular with when and where they sleep, but they are also known to sleep for quite a long time.
Most geckos will sleep for up to 12 hours straight.
However, some geckos will sleep less than this. It is an average, but it is commonly observed by gecko owners.
Regardless of how much your gecko sleeps, they will always sleep between dawn and dusk before waking up and marveling at the darkness around them.
These creatures have a unique sense of sight.
Their eyes are susceptible to light, and this makes them capable of seeing even in low light conditions.
So in case you thought they didn’t notice you sneak into the room at night, you may be in for a surprise.
Geckos have very unique and particular sleeping habits. But, as a small lizard that is the potential prey of many much larger predators, it is soon evident as to why and comes as no real suprise.
As a gecko owner, you must respect their nocturnal sleeping patterns – and be aware that you will most likely hear them making noise around dusk and dawn. Your gecko will need to sleep in the day. You should not look to regularly or routinely distract and attempt to pick them up whilst they are doing so.
Lastly, to make sure your gecko feels safe and to keep them healthy, you must try to create a environment within the enclosure that replicates their natural setting.
Get multiple hideaways, as many twigs, leaves, rocks as you can and also some plants if and where possible.
Never forget to add a water bowl designed for reptiles, like this Exo Terra from Amazon. Geckos need to drink water, and sometimes enjoy even swimming a little.
Tips to Support your Geckos Sleep
A healthy gecko needs to get their sleep during the day. So, if you or a family member is around and at home during the day – you need to be careful not to wake and disturb them as much as you can.
To help ensure your gecko gets sufficient sleep, here are some tips and tricks:
- Provide plenty of hideaways and hideouts,
- Make sure that the enclosure is in a room that experiences the natural day/night cycle of light/darkness.
- Do not be around the enclosure for too long during the day,
- Do not shine bright lights on the enclosure during the day,
- Feed your gecko in the evening,
- Refrain from placing the enclosure next to a window.
Being prey animals, geckos prefer sleeping under cover to feel secure and protected and also to retain heat. In the wild, a gecko may sleep in a variety of enclosed locations (such as underneath leaves and rocks). Pet geckos will need to be provided with hideaways and hideouts to replicate the natural environment and to make them feel safe.
Geckos will always be nocturnal. However, it is possible to alter their sleeping pattern and sleep/wake cycle. To do so, you would need to manipulate their access to light. You would need to expose them to light during the night, and also alter the temperature inside the enclosure. While it is possible to alter the sleeping pattern of a gecko – there is some controversy as to whether this is ethical and it is unlikely to be beneficial to their health. In fact, it is likely to lead to a disturbance of their natural circadian rhythm and lead to excessive stress. It is not advised for the most part.
Some species of gecko appear to sleep with their eyes open. These species actually do not have any eye lids (so it gives the impression that they are sleeping with their eyes open). Instead, the pupils in the eyes of these geckos will constrict as they are not actively seeking out the light. Crested, Tokay, Day, and House Geckos are examples of such ‘open-eyed sleepers’. Other species of geckos with eyelids, however, will shut them to sleep (so it appears they are sleeping with their eyes closed). Leopard, banded and fat-tailed geckos are such examples of geckos who do this.
Geckos are nocturnal and should spend the majority of the day sleeping. For this reason, it is best not to disturb them during this time. It is better to handle them after sunset, giving them a chance to naturally wake. Typically, a gecko that has been awake for over an hour will be easier to hold and less energetic.
I am an experienced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets, from traditional pets like dogs and cats, to the more exotic like reptiles and rodents. I currently own a Cockapoo (pictured) called Bailey. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site dedicated to sharing evidence-based insights and guidance, based on my vast pet ownership knowledge, experience, and extensive research.