Leopard Geckos are fast and nimble on the ground, but what about vertically? Can they climb, or would they be better off on the ground?
Leopard geckos are one of the few gecko species that cannot climb walls or glass. Unlike other geckos that have soft, pad-like toes that create suction on the surface they’re climbing, leopard geckos have short claws instead.
To understand why they can’t climb flat surfaces, you first must understand the way they find food in the wild. When foraging for food, Leos slowly move their heads up and down, looking for worms, roaches, crickets and whatever else they’re able to overpower.
They also have specialized sensory organs on their snout to keep them from bumping into objects while moving from place to place.
Why can’t leopard geckos climb walls and glass?
Short answer: To Leos, climbing walls has more disadvantages than advantages and they didn’t evolve to be climbing walls, glass and polished rocks.
Leopard geckos have special toe pads with tiny scales and hairs to help them cling to surfaces such as rocks and trees to help them climb down from high places in the wild.
These pads allow them to do things like cling to the side of a cliff, or they can use these toe pads like hooks when they are climbing up a tree trunk or a rock face. However, these toe pads are not designed to stick well on smooth surfaces such as glass or polished rocks; this lack of adhesive ability keeps them from climbing vertically smooth surfaces in the wild.
You might think that because leopard geckos have claws, they can climb, but that’s not correct. The claws are just like our fingernails or nails and are designed to help them grasp prey. The claw is also covered with what looks like a scratch pad in order to help them grip slippery prey items like crickets and moths tightly without squeezing too hard.
To climb smooth vertical surfaces, they need a type of glue, which is secreted by glands in the skin of certain geckos. Leopard geckos lack this adhesive on their claws so they cannot scale smooth vertical surfaces such as glass or solid walls.
Leopard geckos are agile; they can move their heads as fast as a human can blink. Instead of climbing surfaces to get to their prey, they rely on their speed and their ability to accurately measure distances.
They can judge distance by the way different parts of its body are positioned with respect to nearby objects. This ability allows them to become efficient predators.
Leos have a fantastic sense of smell that allows them to locate their prey quickly and efficiently, so climbing vertically doesn’t help them find that much more food—they’ll just end up leaving themselves prey for predators such as birds and cats.
Can leopard geckos climb on branches and rocks?
Leopard geckos can climb on branches and rocks, but they don’t have to do so. Leopard geckos move very quickly using their tail and spine to keep their feet balanced. They move a lot like lizards when they are running around and climbing is just an extension of that behavior.
Their claws are designed for traction, but since there is no need for them to evade predators while climbing vertically, their claws are relatively smaller as large claws would slow them down when climbing rocks or trees in the wild. However, the smaller claws also appear to be designed to help leopard geckos grip objects better.
Their claws are less curved than other lizard species, which helps them keep their balance on branches.
Can leopard gecko climb trees?
Leopard geckos can climb trees. They are not fast climbers on trees, but they do have adaptations that allow them to keep their balance while climbing. Their tail is strong and helps them hold their balance on branches while they move quickly from branch to branch. They have small claws that are perfect for climbing smooth bark without slipping or getting hung up.
Should you have tank furniture for your leopard gecko to climb on?
While it might look like your leopard gecko would enjoy having a tank full of rocks, branches and vines to explore and climb on, you shouldn’t go overboard with these decorations.
Leopard geckos like to hang out on edges such as on tree trunks, rocks or glass walls. If you want your leopard to climb on a branch or hanging furniture, make sure to fasten it securely to the branch and that it doesn’t dangle over the edge.
In the wild, these items provide cover from predators by allowing them to hide below and slide down when they are being hunted. They love hiding in coconut shells, under rocks and other bizarre places, so putting that kind of decoration in their tank can help them hide and feel more secure.
If you are looking at decorations that have holes in them, full branches can work just as well if they are not too thick and have no sharp edges for your pet’s toe pads on its feet and tail to accidentally get caught in.
The reasons why your leopard gecko is trying to climb its tank walls.
Leos are naturally curious and will try climbing glass tank wall once in a while. When they’re constantly trying to get out, it’s a sign that the tank is uncomfortable for them. The tank could be too warm/cold, they could be seeking food or the tank may be too small for your pet. Try changing the setup in the tank, adding some branches with holes to help them feel more comfortable.
Why isn’t my leopard gecko climbing branches?
Some leopard geckos won’t try to climb a branch that is stuck directly in the middle of the tank, so you might want to consider moving it off center a bit if your gecko likes climbing in its tank.
Not all leopard geckos like climbing tank furniture; some of them just enjoy exploring their environment by walking around on it and others prefer staying close to the ground so you may not get any climbing behavior even if you add some items for them to explore.
If your Leo doesn’t seem bothered by climbing up smooth vertical surfaces, then they aren’t stressed about being able to do so and there is nothing for you to worry about.
Your leopard gecko might not climb onto vertical decor, but it is not a health issue! Leopard geckos can climb on anything smooth and wooden. They’ll get curious and will try to climb glass and this is normal.
My name is Andy Baines and I am the owner and writer here at Super Crazy Pets.
For the last 20 years I have been the carer/parent of many exotic pets, from reptiles to amphibians I have cared for and looked after them all.
I created this website to share my knowledge of looking after pets with other fellow owners.
My works and articles have been shared on many online publications including The Spruce Pets.
You can read more about my story by visiting the about me page.