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Why Do Leopard Geckos Dig? Everything You Need To Know.

A close up photo of a leopard gecko digging

Leopard Geckos are incredible pets to own as they are docile and easy to tame. In captivity they can live to over 20 years old, so they make great companions. They shake their tails when they’re excited or when they have mating on their mind which is a cute trait. They are entertaining pets to own, and they can be very vocal. They are known to look like they are constantly smiling.

They also have a habit of digging, and this can worry some owners. So, here’s everything you need to know about leopard geckos and their digging!

These are the reasons your leopard gecko is digging

There are a number of reasons why Leopard Geckos dig. If their enclosure is big enough, and they are healthy it is perfectly normal. Female geckos may naturally dig as they reach a reproductive age and it may be a sign that they are looking for a safe place to lay eggs.

Both male and female geckos will dig to create holes they can fit and hide in if they’d like to. They will also only dig if there is loose material such as soil in their enclosure. It is a perfectly natural instinct they have. In the wild leopard gecko’s are known to dig for their food.

However there are some reasons that your gecko may be digging for that are not good – for example their enclosure could be too hot or humid for them.

They may also be digging if they are stressed, there may not be enough hideaways within their enclosure for them or the sand within their enclosure could be irritating them. They may also be bored as leopard geckos do like to be stimulated.

Leopard geckos are known to become dormant if their environment is too hot or humid. They are nocturnal creatures and like to stay within a cool spot during the day and will be more active at night.

If they cannot find a cool enough spot or they are too hot they will try to cool down by digging a hiding spot. They need to have access to enough hide outs within their enclosure to avoid this.

If they are stressed, they could be digging to look for a safe spot to hide in. They could still be adjusting to their new environment, but if you are worried its normally best to consult a vet about their digging.

They naturally want to stay in a hideaway during the day so if they don’t have enough in their enclosure they will dig to create one. They use their hide outs to keep cool during the day.

They may also dig if their enclosure is too small and there is not enough for them to explore.

Below is a video of a leopard gecko that is digging so you can see the behaviour that I am talking about.

Reasons why a digging leopard gecko could signal problems

If your leopard gecko is digging due to an issue there are some signs you need to look out for. Firstly, they may becomeduller in colour, they may become scared or freak out if you try to handle them, they may be eating less than usual, they may be ‘glass surfing’ (a common term that refers to when leopard geckos scratch at the glass in their enclosure) or they are breathing too fast.

If your leopard gecko is stressed, they will display other symptoms such as their colours will be duller than normal and they may be glass surfing their tank. This normally indicates that their enclosure is too small or they have not adjusted yet to their environment.

Digging could also signal a problem if they freak out when you try to handle them or if they are hiding out in their hideouts for too long. They are known to stay in their hideouts for extended periods of time but it shouldn’t be longer than a day at a time. Other signs to look out for is if they aren’t eating or defecating properly. If you would like to read our ultimate leopard gecko feeding guide then please use this link.

If you have just brought them home, or changed their environment they may need some time to adjust to it and that is why they are digging. It is best to monitor them to see if they begin to display any other symptoms of distress.

Digging and  glass surfing indicate that their enclosure is too small, and this will need to be addressed. They could also be trying to escape if they are unhappy within their environment

How to help a leopard gecko that is digging for the wrong reasons

One of the easiest things to check is whether the temperature and humidity in their enclosure is okay first. If it is too hot or humid, you should adjust this and check on a regular basis to ensure that it is kept regular. Their enclosure should be around 80-83 degrees Fahrenheit or 26-28 degrees Celsius.

If their tank is too small, which you would be able to tell if they are glass surfing as well as digging, then it is best to purchase a bigger tank. They may also need a more stimulating environment, so perhaps invest in some more foliage and hideouts to their enclosure for them to explore.

They do also need enough hideouts so your next solution could be to purchase some more hideouts for them such as hollow logs or you can even create them yourself. You should also invest in humid boxes to help your leopard gecko in case they struggle to shed.

If they are digging because they haven’t yet settled into their new environment then you should give them some more time to settle in. if the problem persists and they are displaying signs that it is a bigger issue – such as they aren’t eating properly than it is best to consult your vet.

If they are trying to escape, their environment may not be stimulating enough or they may not be happy within it. You should first try to get a bigger enclosure, and create a more stimulating environment for them so they do not get bored. 

In conclusion

Leopard geckos are incredible pets to own and have amazing personalities. They are known to dig naturally so if your leopard gecko is healthy and isn’t showing any other signs of distress then there is nothing to worry about. It is a natural instinct they have to dig to find food, a safe space to cool down in or lay their eggs. Female geckos at a reproductive age will dig to look for a safe place to create their nest.

If you are concerned, do consult a vet. If your gecko is healthy, and their tank is big enough and stimulating enough their digging is nothing to worry about. Make sure to keep an eye out for any other signs of distress, and create a healthy and happy environment for them to live in. Every creature deserves to have a happy life and to live in a great environment. They like to have lots of places to hide out in during the day as they are nocturnal and be sure to keep their temperature regulated.

An extra thing to note is that you shouldn’t use sand within their enclosure as it can cause digestive issues if it is eaten.

For more of my helpful guides for leopard geckos have a look at these articles.

 

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