Whether you are buying from a trusted seller or adopting from a nearby rescue and rehabilitation center, the process of choosing and owning a family pet for the first time is a highly anticipated event. As a reptile hobbyist, I always recommend leopard and crested geckos as a new member of the family. But I always get asked a lot in return, “Why would you suggest geckos as a pet? Do they not just sit around, uninterested with their owners and their environment?”
There are 14 reasons why leopard and crested geckos make great exotic pets:
- Hundreds of Color Varieties
- Curious Features
- Diverse Personalities
- Minimal Space
- No Smelly Odor
- No Loud Noises
- Interesting Critter
- Fantastic Decor
- Handling Tolerance
- Long Life
- Low Maintenance
- Ease of Care
It is highly recommended for a child to own and take care of a gecko. In particular, geckos, as well other pets, can dramatically improve child development by:
- Making them more responsible
- Teaching them empathy
- Increasing their confidence
- Providing them companion
- Promoting their learning
- Making their personality stronger
- Promoting social interaction
Tag along as we elaborate our reasons for you!
When your family is actively searching for child-friendly pets, dogs and cats usually enter your mind as first options. However, kid-friendly reptiles like leopard and crested geckos are as affectionate and loving as their mammalian counterparts.
Whether owning mammal pets or reptile ones, both are a lot of fun that comes with a significant commitment as an owner. Since you are adding a new member to your family, it is just as important to choose a pet that you are willing and able to commit to.
If you are still internally debating whether to get the exotic geckos or not, you might want to consider reading these 14 insights as to why you should pick leopard and crested geckos instead.
Leopard and Crested geckos come in hundreds of different color varieties. Whether you want the typical bright orange leo or a rare black night, your color and pattern options are as many as you can think. Such color varieties are very famous among pet owners and breeders, and they are called morph.
Just like how you can customize the tank to suit your liking, you can opt to choose a leo or a crestie that fits your pattern and color preferences as well! The gecko and the tank do become a pride to display to friends and the community.
Leopard and crested geckos have many attractive physical traits that set them apart from other pets and reptiles. For one, those big round eyes on the sides of their head would surely make you and your teen fall for their captivating eye contact.
Leos have clawed feet preventing them from sticking on walls. Furthermore, leos can have solid red eyes. Amusingly, they also do have eyelids that close. You would catch it dozing off like how your teen does—closed eyes.
Meanwhile, cresties have the usual sticky toe pads present on most geckos. they lack eyelids, but they have eyelashes instead. If you want my opinion, no matter how good you think you are, you will surely lose to a crestie in a staring contest.
Just like how cats and dogs show unique personalities, a leopard or a crested gecko does not behave the way you might expect them. Although a leo typically tends to be docile while a crestie generally favors the flighty nature, you would be surprised to discover that they may show differences in how they interact with you.
After all, they have different personalities, and it would definitely be enjoyable to explore more about your gecko’s temperament. Is it calm or daring? Does it like to stay inside a hide or stay outside and climb around the decoration?
Before I started handling geckos, I was one of the several people who are afraid of large and intimidating reptiles. But, when I first came across leos and cresties, I got attracted by how they stay small, at most ten inches long!
This means that when you get your child a leo or a crestie, the gecko can stay in at least the same 20-gallon tank for its whole life from hatchling to mature adult. Unlike owning other reptiles like an iguana, which can grow up to 70 inches long, everybody in your household will surely love your gecko without frightening the kids.
Just have a space for the enclosure, and you will definitely have room for this pet. This handy trait is also beneficial if your teen wants to take it when heading off to college.
You may be well aware of the typical scent of a dog’s coat or the overpowering smell of a cat’s poop that sometimes puts you off or your child having them as pets. Even small creatures such as hamsters and rabbits can easily stink.
Fortunately, leopard or crested geckos do not smell bad at all, if not on rare occasions! Unlike dogs or hamsters that need occasional bathing, going for a month without taking your gecko to a bath is not mainly a problem. Even maintaining the enclosure’s cleanliness is not even a weekly chore as it can stay odor-free for two to three weeks.
Whether you are a laid-back mom with an energetic husband and a curious child, your family would undoubtedly prefer a quiet pet that does not mindlessly woof-woof at strangers or angrily meow at guests when cuddled.
A docile leo with a placid nature or a jumpy crestie with an active temperament would definitely fit your preference. While either a leo or a crestie would produce cute little noises like sneezes and clicking sounds, these relatively softer sounds would surely not be as disturbing as a cat’s or a dog’s.
You might grow worried that your teen would lose interest in the gecko. However, there is more to a leo or a crestie than just sitting around the corner.
A leopard or a crested gecko is not a boring pet. It becomes what and how you raised it to be. If you allow it to jump from one decoration to another or climb up your arms and clothes, it will grow that way. If you give it more space in the tank to run or stay inside the hides, it will grow in that manner as well.
Interested to see a gecko jump? Watch the video below.
While your whole house is basically your dog’s or cat’s home as well, this would not be the case when owning a leo or a crestie.
Although you are not buying it to decorate your house, a gecko’s vivarium could actually make fantastic decor for your home. Especially when you customize the tank to give a desert vibe or a tropical rainforest look, even your guests who do not fancy lizards will admire your setup, like how they would feel relaxed looking at fishes inside an aquarium.
Your child may be one of those teens who happen to fancy holding and touching their pets. Fortunately, leopard and crested geckos can tolerate handling and treat being handled for affection. Although their behavior varies, they generally tend to have a mild temperament once they get to know you and your child. However, be mindful: a gecko is an animal, and your child should know how to handle it properly to avoid harming the gecko.
Moreover, if the gecko feels scared, it might drop its tail. Although this does not hurt the leo, you would have to provide extraordinary care for about two months while the tail is growing back. Unfortunately, in cresties, the lost tail will never grow back.
When you think of reptiles, what comes to your mind most often is the snakes in the Anaconda film series—vicious and violent.
While all animals follow their animal instincts, leos and cresties are not known to be aggressive by nature. They even rarely attack us if not in case of perceived danger—such as bad handling and disturb their environment—when not used to our presence. Even when they do bite us, it would barely make you cringe at all. Hence, like all animals, they should be treated with respect!
While having cats or dogs can live in your family for about 15 years, you will be surprised to know that owning a leo or a crestie can easily last for almost 20 years with proper care and nutrition. Its lifespan can effortlessly outlive other smaller and comparable creatures like hamsters and mice, which often do not last a long time.
If you give the gecko as a childhood pet to your kid, it would possibly live with them through young adulthood!
When you have taught your teen what to do, and they perform the duties thoroughly, there is really not much for your family to worry about.
If you feed your leo or crestie when required, place clean water in the bowl as demanded, mist the tank as frequently as needed, clean the enclosure occasionally, and maybe change the bulbs if you have any that are all that your gecko asks of you.
Also, handling once in a while is just as important. However, anyone who has grown to love your gecko would never find this a bothersome chore but more of an anticipated task.
Look at how a leo devours its food for the day in the video below.
Although there is a need to initially shell out a handful of money to purchase necessary equipment—like the vivarium, light and heat sources, hides, thermostat, hygrometer, and a mister—to set up the tank, a leo or a crestie becomes inexpensive to maintain and care for in the long run.
Once you have your gecko’s tank up and running with all the necessary equipment, there is pretty much nothing else you need to buy aside from food. What is more to this is that a leo or a crestie would be satisfied with minimal feeding. Thus, you have nothing to worry about buying food regularly!
For instance, you could get a box of 100 crickets or a carton of 50 mealworms for your leopard gecko at your local pet store for a few dollars. These insects could even last a long time if you feed them and provide them a critter keeper to thrive.
Also, if you have a crested gecko, a crested gecko diet (CGD) is inexpensive! You can get a few months’ food stocks for a few bucks. This price is much lower than the most high-quality dog and cat foods in the market that only last for a few weeks.
Another thing is that leos and cresties are hardy in nature. So, they rarely get sick as long as you provide them with their proper needs. You would not have to worry about abrupt veterinary appointments most times.
When owning a pet, whether it be a dog, a cat, or a fish, you are obligated to provide exceptional care and give all the attention you gotta keep your pet and its health in the best condition possible. But, you do not have to be a professional to do so, right?
Similarly, you need not be an expert reptile enthusiast to own a leopard or a crested gecko pet. Although they apparently have specific needs that you must provide, making leos or cresties satisfied and stress-free is not as demanding as you think.
Recreating a perfect home for your geckos could be fun! You can use this time to bond with your teen as you mimic and customize it to suit your taste to the fullest. Also, feeding them their appropriate diet is as easy as providing your cat or fish though you might have to deal with various live insects for leos. Their water demands can also be satisfied by simply leaving a bowl filled with clean water.
Once you get the tank landscape and conditions ready, leos or cresties do not require that much care from you or your teen anymore, aside from the occasional cleaning and feeding. These traits make them appealing if your child does not prefer walking a puppy outside the house, cleaning up after kitten poop daily, or staring blankly in front of a swimming fish inside an aquarium.
As long as the tank’s temperatures, humidity, and lighting are at bay, you and your teen should have no problems with caring for leopard or crested geckos.
One of my friends has a fish, and she always stresses how much easier geckos are to care for. With less cleaning and less feeding, yet still adorns the house, she recommends a leo or a crestie as a pet.
Looking for a tank design inspiration? Check the short clip below.
Regardless you are buying one for yourself or for your child, deciding to own a gecko can have plenty of benefits for them and even as a grownup yourself. Let us explore these five benefits your teenager will gain from regularly interacting with the pet.
If you have trouble teaching your teen to be responsible, giving them a gecko could be your chance to do so. Providing care for another creature can even teach responsibility to a young child who simply fills a bowl with water or food.
Simple tasks such as checking the digital thermostat and hygrometer or turning off the lights when you have one in the tank give them a sense of achievement as well. As a matter of fact, pet-related chores are an excellent way to impart a lesson of responsibility to your child .
You may often observe your child with their “me”-centered behavior. However, you will not have to deal with this any longer as taking care of geckos teaches them about empathy. In the process of adequately taking care of their new reptile, they can learn how it feels for the gecko when specific changes in the tank occur.
This is a great start to teach your child to see things from a different point of view. You may be surprised that, one day, they will be able to tell you how a friend or a stranger might be feeling.
If you have experienced it as a child, you may relate to the feeling that your first “job” was to take care of your family’s pet. And whenever you do your duties well, you are praised by your parents for an excellent job! Slowly, this has increased your confidence without you knowing.
Similarly, giving your teen simple tasks and duties and praising them for a job well done would definitely boost their self-confidence. They would be able to look up to themselves and see how capable they are of providing care for another living creature.
Especially when you have an only child, he or she may not have someone to talk to when you are not around. Geckos and other pets can help ward off the feeling of loneliness and keep depression at bay. They can provide company and comfort since they are nonjudgmental listeners who will gladly pay attention to the same old story over and over again.
According to the study conducted by Dr. Gail F. Melson, children with pets seem to be more chill, as Scientific American reported. By turning to pets—in general—for emotional and mental support, children were less worried and more outgoing. Accordingly, the research team also found that those who did not were more nervous and withdrawn .
Prior to buying and owning one for your family, I am pretty confident you have done a deal and a fair share of research. In this manner, geckos can help your child learn more about their anatomy and biology. When a gecko could be sick, your teenager can learn even more about how different its body works from humans.
On another note, you may have heard of therapy dogs in school that have dramatically helped developmentally challenged children to learn. Due to their nonjudgmental disposition, research has shown that pets give more confidence to students who are reluctant to read aloud at school .
Besides, a study in 1990 by Dr. Kayoko Inagaki has found that children who had pet goldfish have more understanding of the animal’s anatomy than those who did not have any pets. Moreover, these kids could also apply the same logic to other animals entirely different from goldfish .
Even though more research is required to confidently conclude whether a human-animal interaction does shape happier and healthier children, you will never know what you might find until you own a gecko!
As innocent and naïve as they are, children quickly develop a strong emotional attachment to their pet geckos after years of caring. And like most kids, your child may relate to your family pet as a sibling or a best friend when no one is there to comfort and give them company.
While owning a gecko would surely bring joy to your child, this also comes with the inevitable heartbreak of losing it from an accident, illness, or old age. When the time comes that it passes away, this first death situation can teach your child the existence of the grieving process: death, grief, and acceptance.
Even though you cannot safeguard your kid from the loss, having experienced this phenomenon can make them emotionally stronger. Also, they can develop and learn, on a small scale, how to cope with future losses as better adults.
Having a pet gecko is not only providing a great companion for your child. A new study shows that exotic pets such as reptiles and amphibians have assisted in creating more human-to-human support and social interaction. Both have been found to have positive long-term health effects .
Although this might be old news to families with dogs who walk their pets around the neighborhood, this is new to gecko owners. Nowadays, your child can join plenty of Facebook groups that passionately gather and discuss information on a daily basis.
Besides learning more about their pet gecko on this platform, your child can learn how to politely engage in conversations. Eventually, this improves your child’s skills in interacting with people of different ages. You will never know; maybe your kids might use their pet gecko as an excuse to invite friends at home—showing and taking pride in how cool it is!
Leopard and crested geckos come in various physical appearances and behaviors that make either ideal pets for kids.
What makes leopard and crested geckos advantageous is that they do not take up much space while creating a fantastic décor in your home.
Aside from their handling tolerance and tamed disposition, leopard and crested geckos are perfect pets since they do not tend to smell.
With their long average lifespan, leopard and crested geckos make good pets that see a child through their young adulthood.
Seeing a pet as a bother and a chore makes its life miserable. The good thing is that leopard and crested geckos may be exotic pets, but they are low-maintenance, inexpensive, and easy to care for.
While having geckos does provide companionship, owning one can make your child responsible, empathetic, confident, curious, stronger, and interactive.