Do Leopard Geckos Play Dead? (Answered)

The leopard gecko, sometimes known as the common leopard gecko, is a ground-dwelling lizard that is indigenous to the desert and rocky grasslands of Asia. Due to significant captive breeding, the leopard gecko has gained popularity as a pet and is occasionally referred to as the first domesticated species of lizard.

The extent to which leopard geckos communicate with their conspecifics in the environment is likewise up for contention. According to academic sources, leopard geckos in the wild are found in loose colonies. These geckos are said to be solitary and do not typically coexist with other animals, according to pet care manuals.

That being said, it is safe to assume that leopard geckos are solitary creatures that might not just like to interact with other beings. Keep reading to find out if leopard geckos play dead.


Do Geckos Pretend To Be Dead?

When threatened, leopard geckos may pretend to be dead. This is a protection mechanism that they have that can shield them from attacks or being devoured by predators. Their skin will occasionally darken and the dark patches on their neck may enlarge or become more obvious when they are at risk of attack.

This gives them a snake-like appearance that deters prospective predators. The leopard gecko may turn over and play dead if the predator approaches too closely.

A leopard gecko will become motionless when it pretends to be dead. It might push out its tongue and expand its mouth, and it might develop watery eyes. To further frighten away potential predators, the gecko may also expel a foul-smelling substance from its anal glands. 

The gecko may lie on its back with its jaws open if the predator is not scared away by this. It may also bite the predator if it attacks even after it has pretended to be dead. Since it has thick skin, the gecko will not suffer any harm if it attacks a prospective predator. 

For defense, it may also expel the vile liquid from its anal glands, or it may squirt blood from its lips.

How To Know If My Gecko is Sleeping or Dead?

Occasionally, when they are in danger of being attacked, their skin will darken, and the dark patches on their neck may become larger or stand out more. They take on a snake-like look as a result, scaring away potential predators. In the event of a predator approaching too close, the leopard gecko may roll over and pretend to be dead.

If you want to check whether your lizard is just playing dead or actually sleeping just check under its neck to see if it is heaving or not, they also sleep with their eyes open.

To get your leopard gecko to stop playing dead you should try and stop touching your pet gecko harshly or putting it in danger. Pay attention to the body language of your leopard gecko. You should back off and avoid handling your leopard gecko if it appears to be acting lifeless.

What Other Animals Play Dead?

Some animals and other lizards may play dead in order to protect themselves. When attacked or in peril, the Virginia opossum is renowned for acting dead. Ground squirrels, woodchucks, and skunks are a few other animals that will pretend to be dead to defend themselves as well. 

Leopard geckos are not the only animals that use pretending to be dead as a protection tactic. It is, in fact, a common instinct in animals, and even bigger mammals like goats have it as a defense mechanism – but only for a few seconds.

Although higher species can display this behavior, it is more frequently found among creatures at the bottom of the food chain. An animal may seem dead in the face of danger and even release scents that resemble the stench of rotting flesh. 

Playing dead, often referred to as thanatosis, is frequently employed as a defensive strategy, a catch-all tactic, or a technique of sexual reproduction. As most predators stay away from dead or rotting animals, creating bad scents while exhibiting thanatosis is sufficient to deter predators.


What Kills a Leopard Gecko?

Leopard geckos can live good and long lives and it is only the external forces that cause harm to these lizards, like wild and domesticated animals. Moreover, habitat loss and humans can also affect their lives. In the wild, all geckos have a risk of being eaten and hunted by a wide range of predators.

Their predators include stoats, ferrets, and other small, agile meat eaters. Geckos will also be eaten by unlikely predators such as possums, rats, and hedgehogs, as well as mice and hedgehogs. The larger geckos are at risk because the bulk of these carnivores hunt on the ground and are active at night.

In domestic settings, domestic cats and dogs, and other pet animals will not hesitate to kill geckos. Domestic cats may play with or hunt geckos they find in or around the house on their own. Geckos that have been pierced by a cat’s teeth or claws may eventually perish from their wounds or infection

Even though they are not as skilled as cats in this area, many dogs may try to play with, pursue, or hunt geckos and are capable of catching and killing these small lizards.

How Long Do Leopard Geckos Live?

A natural leopard gecko’s normal lifespan is often only 3 to 8 years, despite their strong, sturdy character. Compared to males, females often have slightly shorter lifespans. This is a result of the physical and psychological strain that comes with constant breeding and egg-laying.

The dry, scorching, hilly deserts of the Middle East are home to leopard geckos. They live in distinct regions of Iran, India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. The fact that these lizards have evolved to thrive in severe environments in their native habitats contributes to why they are so durable and simple to care for in captivity. 

The short lifespans of wild geckos are caused by a multitude of factors, including the numerous predators they must avoid and the several diseases they are much more prone to when not carefully monitored in captivity. 

Caudal autotomy, often known as tail dropping, is the only effective defense technique used by leopard geckos in the wild. Although it may work well as a one-time escape, it takes a few weeks for the tail to grow back.

When compared to wild leopard geckos, pet leopard geckos do far better. They have a lifespan of between 10 to 20 years. Due to the fact that captive females frequently lay (infertile) eggs even if they haven’t been in contact with a man, they also frequently have slightly shorter lifespans than captive males. 

This shortens their lifespans by repeatedly stressing their bodies. Astonishingly, a lot of captive geckos have lived well into their twenties; one male leopard gecko is said to have lived in captivity for a stunning 28 years! Even a few reports of someone in Germany living for up to 40 years exist.

How Can You Tell If a Leopard Gecko is Dying?

Lethargy, sunken eyes, irregular droppings, significant weight loss, and lack of hunger are all symptoms of a dying leopard gecko. Lack of appetite is frequently the most devastating symptom because it indicates that your leopard gecko is suffering from an illness, has been injured, or is simply dying.

A leopard gecko’s extremely slender tail is especially harmful since it indicates that there aren’t enough fat deposits in which it can store food. There are various causes of extreme weight loss. The irregularity or lack of droppings is a certain indicator that your leopard gecko has impaction. 

The bad news is that this symptom typically appears in your leopard gecko’s dying days. As a result, you virtually always need to inspect your leopard gecko’s droppings to make sure they aren’t ill or impaction-free. 

Losing your favorite leopard geckos is a very frightening experience. Nevertheless, we have to be aware of the symptoms to spot to figure out whether something is wrong with our leopard geckos. Maintaining the temperature and cleanliness of their enclosure is essential for averting such dire circumstances.

What To Do With a Dead Leopard Gecko?

Saying goodbye to your reptile friend can be emotionally overwhelming. Although there is no specific method you should do to say goodbye, you can either cremate it, bury it, or simply give it to your vet to dispose of it safely. 

Most owners are frequently overwhelmed when their pet leopard gecko passes away, which is unavoidable. Planning and providing a good send-off is made more challenging by the pain and confusion that come with losing a canine buddy. 

Since there is no established method for sending dead Leopard geckos on their way, many owners are unsure of what to do. Here are a few things you could possibly do:

1. Cremate The Gecko

Pet cremation is a common method of pet disposal. Here, you can choose whether you want to spread the ashes at a certain location or save them for future use.

Only your pet will be cremated, and the ashes will be collected, thanks to a private cremation. On the other hand, if numerous pets are burned collectively, you won’t get your pets’ ashes back.

2. Burying The Gecko

If you want to offer your departed gecko a permanent home in your backyard or a public pet cemetery, burying them will be excellent. If you would like, you can come back at a later time to pay your respects.

3. Help From The Vet

To handle your dead gecko, you might be too traumatized. You could ask your neighborhood veterinarian to dispose of the gecko’s body on your behalf. If you come across a dead gecko or other reptiles on the road, this is also the best solution. The owners can be hard to find, or the gecko might have been a wild animal.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, it is safe to assume that leopard geckos do play dead when they are exposed to predators or are in harm’s zone. If you are planning to own a gecko, you should handle it carefully and not force it into situations that might compel him to play dead. 

Geckos can live long and good lives, only they barely get to do so because of external forces that harm them. We hope that this article has helped you gain information about leopard geckos and their behaviors and also broadened your knowledge of these reptiles.

Disclaimer: This blog should not be considered as being professional pet medical advice. The content published on this blog is for informational purposes only. Please always consult with a licensed and local veterinarian for medical advice.

About Shaun Clarke

Shaun is passionate about pets and animals, especially dogs, cats, and rabbits. He owns a dog and a couple of cats too. He loves visiting wildlife sanctuaries and shares a strong bond with animals. When he is not writing, he loves to do a barbecue in the backyard with his family and friends.