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  1. #1
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    Exclamation New Owner, Leo Still Super Shy, Want Input+Advice


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    Hey all, new guy here. First time posting but I've been on this forum and some others, reading and researching for quite some time. I've always wanted one of these little guys and was waiting for the right time. A couple of months back I got some extra funds and decided if I could find the right situation, I'd love to have one.

    Anyhow, I was in a local smart pet store getting a new aquarium and during my time there (I take my time and just look around forever), I got to talking to the lady taking care of the herps. She mentioned that their adult Leo was up for adoption for free because he was older than they usually sell and nobody wanted a full-grown Leo. She carried him over to show me and I was able to hold him for awhile.. and that was pretty much it for me, I was done in.

    I got his new home mostly setup and let him in there. A few days later, I was able to finish everything in its final arrangement. I've had him for over a month now and he's still pretty shy. I know they take awhile to acclimate sometimes and I do what I can to let him know I'm friendly, I put my hand in there and hold it steady, I talk to him sometimes, a few times I was able to get him to eat from my hand.

    Still, as soon as any form of light comes on in the room (or hallway even), or if I walk in the room normally without tip-toeing, he runs into his favorite hide and stays there.

    During the 'night' portion of his lighting, he will come out almost right as soon as it goes 'night', but if there's any human stuff going on within eyesight of him, he will go hide and not come out until we're asleep.

    Now, I want the best for him and would never force him to be friendly or come out with the light on, but I would like to at least weigh him and make sure all is well. I can't even do that I realized that by adopting this guy he didn't "grow up" with me handling him, but I wanted him to go to a loving home at least.

    His tail-size has shrunk a little bit, not a lot, and it's maintained its current size. I've been feeding him what the smart pet store has (variety of worms), but am going to start doing crickets. He looks healthy by all means, and he's shed twice since I've had him and each shed he took care of by himself with no issue.

    I have no history on this guy, no idea if he was mistreated, or if he's just tired of humans always poking at his glass. I presumed that he had a lot of kids always tapping on the glass while he was trying to sleep during the day, so now he's on a more natural schedule.

    I know all about the debate between mealworms and crickets, and sand vs other substrates. I've listened to breeders swear by one method or the next (none of them said use sand except with adults). My next setup I will probably use tiles and/or a mix of sand in one far corner, and tiles throughout (I have a large 55gal doing nothing and want to expand to house a couple of Leos.. in the future)

    Pics are below. Here's the tank specs:

    • 10 gallon
    • Supposedly safe sand
    • 30-40% Humidity at all times
    • 85* "air" temperature, gathered @ middle-center of tank (pics)
    • 76* Cool side (hide) with moss
    • 92* Warm side (surface of sand)
    • 85* Other hide (suspended log)
    • UTH providing warmth for the sand
    • 75-watt blacklight "moonlight" bulb for Night light
    • 25-watt soft-white bulb for Day
    • Two digital thermometers keep track of the Hot/Cold sides


    I went with the 25-watt soft-white bulb for "day" because the 50-watt the lamp holder came with seemed harsh, he was always trying to hide his head from the thing no matter what, and I know that they don't usually like bright light. The hot/cold sides are on opposing sides of the tank. I had a "hot hide" but he never went into it, ever since I put the log in there, that's the only place he goes.

    Daily I clean the water dish out & replenish, I clean the poop, and feeding time is always around the same hour (I drop the food in while he's still in his hide) and keep the moss moist. I've been shifting the feeding time up until "night" when he's out and can see that I'm the one feeding him.

    My wife and I will sometimes sit in front of his tank when he's out and talk softly to him and put our hands inside and hold them there while we do so. Once, lastnight, he walked on top of her hand and sniffed it and then walked calmly off. A couple of times so far he's walked partially onto mine (2 feet on it) and looked up at me while I was talking to him (so darn cute), and then he would walk calmly away.

    I've never tried picking him up these few times he's walked on my hand, I didn't want to startle him.

    I remember when I got him home the first time, he was easy to handle and pick up. I just let him see my hand, then slowly draped it over him like everyone says to handle a Leo, and gently picked him up and laid him back in his tank. Honestly he seemed more open to handling when I got him than now, but nothing has changed.

    I want to weigh him and such and just would like it if he didn't freak out and run away just from walking near the tank. I know some folks have the lucky Leo's who love coming out with the lights on and run up to them, which is cool. I'd love to just be able to weigh mine and have 'em not run away

    I need to do a tank cleaning (once a month) this weekend I was hoping, but I don't want to freak him out by doing so. I am thinking of using just the reptile-carpet stuff after I change the tank, so I can feed crickets and not worry about any sand.. so no need to remind me of that.

    I've only been able to take one daytime picture of him, and that's from when he was new to the tank. Since then I can only get night pics of him.

    He always sleeps in the log hide no matter what; he also uses it as his "escape" hide. He will go to the cold/moist hide just prior to shedding, but no other times. During the "night" he will come out, and usually lounges beneath the log hide. Sometimes he will crawl out and lounge on top of the log hide. He always poops on the hot side (warm sand) in the same spot (give or take an inch). He loves it when the worms move around and sometimes I will touch their tails prior to his arrival and they'll be squiggling around, he loves that. I do dust his food with calcium every other feeding or so, or will let the worms squiggle in the calcium dish and he eats from there.

    In case this helps any, the pet store always keeps their Leo caging with these specs:

    For daytime: 105-110* air temperature (no surface heating), 30-50% humidity
    For night: A red light which drops the temps a bit, same humidity

    Is there anything I'm doing wrong? What positive/constructive advice can you folks lend? His appetite is fine and he's otherwise healthy in appearance, and happy.

    BTW at first I named him Leo, but these days I just call him ShyGuy
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  2. #2
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    It sounds as if your husbandry is good, though if the "safe" sand is calci sand it's probably not safe (play sand is better, most likely no sand is best). There really is variation in leopard gecko temperaments. As a leopard gecko breeder I can see that coming into play from the time they hatch. I have babies that hide all the time, some that are out whenever they see me and some that I call my "ADHD" babies that speed around, don't poop in the same place and have a hard time locating the mealworm dish. Now that your gecko has had time to settle in and seems comfortable enough to walk on your hand, I don't think there's anything wrong with gently lifting him out of the cage and putting him somewher to walk around. My geckos enjoy walking around behind the couch cushions (I pull them forward to make a place for them). There's a recent article in Gecko Time features a kids' wading pool that the author made into a play area for her geckos (check out the photo in the article: The Spiritual Side of Keeping Geckos | Gecko Time).

    Aliza
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  3. #3
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    That's a really great article! I'm still reading it, thank you. I love the idea with the wading pool! The gecko's looked happy.

    No it's not calci-sand, I saw all the horrible comments on that, and I wouldn't want to encourage them to eat the stuff. It' the Zoo-Med Repti-Sand which I'm using.

    He came out tonight and looked at us for awhile and walked around the tank a little bit and looked at my hand, but then he decided to walk back into his log hide. I'm still hopeful. If he walks on my hand again I'll see how he feels if I pull my hand up a little bit.

    Thanks for the input. I'll update if anything changes.

  4. #4
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    Hi,

    Regardless of what sand you use, some leo's still lick it up. I just use paper towels, it doesn't look "natural" but leo's don't even live on sand anyway. Their natural habitat is the clay like desert in pakistan.

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