Depending on the age of your children, you have probably been bothered about getting a pet. But is a Leopard Gecko a good idea for your child, that is the question. Let me explain right now.
Are Leopard Gecko’s Kid-Friendly? No, not if they are unsupervised. They can be if they are well supervised. Children unsupervised are at the risk of consuming salmonella from the skin of the Leo and the Leo is at risk of being harmed from an overexcited child.
Now you know some of the potential issues with this. Let’s go deeper and see what other issues there are if it is a good idea for older children, how you can gradually involve your child if you want to pursue Leos as a pet and more.
What are some of the problems with Mixing children with Leopard Geckos?
No, really and truly leopard geckos are not 100% percent kid friendly, let Me Explain.
Tendency To Put Things in Their Mouth
Young children have a habit of putting things in their mouth and the problem with this is lizards are known, in some cases, to have salmonella. This can be transferred from their skin at the point of touch, then over to the mouth of your child.
Lack of Responsibility
Also, young children cannot handle the responsibility of looking after a pet lizard. For example, feeding them live insects such as crickets or other live insects can make them want to question why you doing this, are you with me?
They may not understand why we are giving them another living creature to eat.
However, you can consider giving them limited responsibilities. Such as checking or replenishing their water supply, anything basic like that.
With supervision, they will make a good pet for a child. But, they are more suited for older children. They are responsible and at the stage where they are not willing to put just about anything in their mouth.
Why you should consider getting an older leopard gecko
Children can get over excited by movement. A younger leopard gecko is likely to have high energy, be on the move all the time, darting around and exciting your child.
In addition to this, a younger leopard gecko hasn’t been conditioned to be handled by humans yet. Therefore, it is likely to object to being touched, especially if you have an aggressive Leopard Gecko (click for my article on how to deal with aggressive Leopard Geckos).
An older Leo, on the other hand, would have more experience. Especially if it’s been raised in captivity. It will be more susceptible to being held or touched by a human.
However, regardless if you have a supervised child, older or younger gecko you need to make sure that your child is not going to grab and hold them too aggressively. Because they are quite small and are easily damaged.
Is a Leopard Gecko temperament ideal for a family?
Yes, they are very docile well-behaved lizards in general. I know I spoke earlier of the older leopard geckos being favorable over a younger one, but in either case, their general temperament is very good.
This is the reason why they are such a popular choice when it comes to pet lizards.
Even still, with this in mind, you still need to treat them with some respect. This is because they are living things and are gentle. They can easily be harmed with heavy hands.
Considerations when living with other pets
If you are a pet owner and have other animals such as birds, cats or dogs. You need to seriously consider if a leopard gecko is a good idea to add to your family.
The reason for this is, no matter how tame or well behaved your pet is, there is a very good chance it will see the leopard gecko as it’s prey. Your Leo would be seen as an easy target for these animals. Therefore these pets are not an ideal mix.
Even if you have the leopard gecko in its own enclosure, which you must have any way in captivity, there will still be attempts to get into this enclosure. And there will always be an opportunity when your Leo is vulnerable and at risk of being attacked.
Starting them off slowly
If you are considering getting a leopard gecko for your family and you have children, as briefly discussed earlier, it is a good idea to gradually ease in some responsibility for them, let me explain:
If you have a young child that is adamant that they want to help out with some of the lizard caring duties, you may have simple daily tasks. Such as clearing up their enclosure or tidying things up.
In the beginning, offer them simple duties like getting the substrate packet so that you can then help you replenish it in the enclosure. Or letting them gather the water that you’re going to use to replenish in the enclosure.
The idea is to make sure that they are supervised but still feel that they’re involved in caring for the pet.
As They Get Older – Increase Their Responsibility
As they get older and prove themselves with responsibility, you can increase their duties.
Once they are old enough and they have proven themselves they can start to play a bigger role in the care for your Leo. Ultimately the end goal is for them to take sole responsibility. If not, take on the majority of the tasks that you need to look after them.
Considering the personality of your child with a leopard gecko
Before committing to owning a leopard gecko with a child you should first analyze your child’s personality. This is to understand if a Leo is a good match for the characteristics of a leopard gecko. Let me explain:
Not Ideal for this Type of Child
If you have a child that is very high energy. For example, likes the jump around, wrestle, fight with her sibling, run around, you know, kind of “the rough and tumble” type of child. Then the chances are a leopard gecko is not ideal for them.
Simply because leopard geckos do not do much apart from staying in their enclosure and walking around occasionally. Also, from time to time allowing you an opportunity to hold them. These lizards cannot take this kind of rough play, are you with me?
If that is the temperament of your child, they are probably better to have a dog or maybe a cat in some cases.
They May Get Bored Because of this….
Also, you may find that your child will get bored of having a leopard gecko after the novelty wears off in the first week. Simply because they may desire more of an interactive pet. You know, wanting to stroke and play with it.
……If this is the case, again, a leopard gecko is not a good choice!
Hygiene considerations for leopard geckos
As briefly discussed earlier, Leopard Geckos, along with other lizards, can carry salmonella. For this reason, they may not be the ideal choice for a child that doesn’t understand the danger. Worse case, they will need to be supervised.
These lizards carry this on the surface of their skin, so all a child has to do is just come into contact with them. This harmful bacteria can then get transferred into their body by simply holding them and then putting their hands in their mouth.
As a father of two with young children, I understand that everything usually ends up in their mouth. Especially when they’re very young toddlers.
Therefore if that is the case then it is not a good idea. In the worst case, if you’re adamant that you want to proceed, you need to at least make sure they’re well supervised.