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Listening to good music is a great way to pass time, and as a pet owner, it’s natural to wonder whether your pet feels the same. Who doesn’t want to have a pet that bobs its head to the tune of your favorite music?
And while most pet species don’t seem to mind music (although it’s also quite hard to tell whether they appreciate it), things become a little bit more complicated when dealing with pet reptiles- specifically leopard geckos.
When discussing whether leopard geckos like music, it’s never really about the genre but rather sound sensitivity- a pretty fundamental characteristic of these adorable pets. So don’t feel particularly great about your taste in music if your reptile seems okay with your playlist; it means you’re getting something just right.
Here is everything you need to know about your leopard gecko and music.
Leopard Geckos and Music Sensitivity
In the wild, sound sensitivity is often the difference between death and survival, especially for small mammals and reptiles. On one hand, hunters need to listen to their prey during hunting, while on the other, the hunted must hear predators if they are to survive. Well, leopard geckos fall in both categories.
In addition to their perfectly camouflaged skin, thousands of years of evolution have given these reptiles highly sensitive hearing to protect them from snakes, foxes, and other large reptiles that prey on them in the wild. Leopard geckos are also nocturnal creatures and tend to hunt at night. Therefore, their sensitive hearing comes in handy when hunting their prey in the dark of night.
Unfortunately, or fortunately (depending on how you look at it), they don’t lose this hearing in captivity. Millenia of adapting to the harsh conditions of their natural habitat won’t go away after a couple of months in the safety of a terrarium- a leopard gecko retains their sensitivity to sound throughout their lifetime.
Therefore, captivity essentially puts an animal that is very sensitive to sound in an environment that can get too loud and chaotic with the dial of a button. The average volume of music blasting out of a sound system is way louder than the sounds a leopard gecko’s ears are adapted to.
And while this initially makes their incredible hearing a liability, it can also be used to the pet owner’s advantage. Wondering how? Well, here are the good and the bad that come with leopard geckos and music.
Let’s start with why playing loud music at home may not be the best of ideas.
It makes it hard for your gecko to adapt to its new environment
When getting a new pet, the most important thing is to make them feel comfortable in their surroundings as much as possible, as fast as possible. So, we attempt to create an enabling environment using good lighting and a near-natural terrarium for our pet reptiles. Some even try to use soothing music and tunes to create a peaceful atmosphere for their leopard geckos- I mean, it works for humans, so it should work for reptiles. But does it?
First, reptiles are not as sophisticated as humans, and they probably don’t appreciate good tunes as we do. And even if they do, many people forget about the all-important noise level when trying to use music to relax their new pet and help them adapt. A leopard gecko’s sensitive ears are used/adapted to hearing quiet noises in the wild, and anything above that is just noise and chaos to them. It might be the calmest and most soothing of songs, but if it’s louder than what your pet is used to, they won’t like it. So, your attempt to make them feel comfortable in their home may just be doing the exact opposite to your new leopard gecko.
If moving to a new habitat is already hard on your leopard gecko, imagine what an unhealthy environment will do to them. Therefore, you will need to implement some changes to your lifestyle, especially if you love listening to loud music. It may be hard at first, but eventually, you’ll get used to it. Plus, you will have a happy and healthy leopard gecko for a companion, something every reptile owner strives for.
Your leopard gecko will lose trust in you
Like most animals, leopard geckos associate their owners with certain experiences- whether good or bad- based on stimuli. Due to these experiences, your reptile will either trust you or fear you. And given that loud music can be incredibly uncomfortable to these gentle reptiles, you may want to keep it down on that end.
For instance, if you constantly blast loud music while trying to handle your gecko, they will probably attach you to the loud noise. Leopard geckos dislike noise, and once they identify you as the “noise person,” your relationship with them is in a bad place.
At this point, they lose trust and will often feel scared and try to escape whenever they sense your presence. This will make it hard to feed or hold them during your bonding sessions, further deteriorating your relationship and making it harder to take care of them. As a pet owner, you don’t want that, so it’s a good idea to avoid anything that is overly loud.
Fortunately, it is not all bad when it comes to a leopard gecko’s noise sensitivity. You don’t have to walk on eggshells the entire time; if you play your cards right, you can use their hearing ability to your advantage. Here is how;
It can be a great bonding tool
When it comes to bonding, a leopard gecko’s sensitive hearing goes both ways. On one hand, it can be a hindrance to bonding with your pet reptile, while on the other, it is a good tool for building a good relationship with a leopard gecko.
As mentioned earlier, leopard geckos tend to associate their owners with experiences, and a common trigger is sound. So, if you create an identifiable sound, they will learn to associate it with you, which is an important step in building trust. How do you do this?
Every time you have a good interaction with your pet, like feeding or stroking them, make a soft sound. It could be calling their name repeatedly, chattering noise, or something as simple as a whistle. You do this long enough; your leopard gecko will associate that particular sound with you and the positive experiences that come with it. Eventually, they will grow accustomed to your presence and even look forward to it.
In such situations, their acute hearing will make for a good communication tool. A good example is when you need to reassure your pet; you won’t have to be next to them. Their ability to hear the faintest of sound means you can be across the room minding your business, and they’ll still pick up on your voice. That way, you can bring your pet joy and make them feel less lonely without the need to constantly handle them. Overall, this is an excellent strategy to eliminate whatever tension they may be experiencing, contributing positively to their overall health and wellbeing.
Creating an identifiable sound also makes it easier to take care of your pet reptile. As they grow more accustomed to your voice, they develop some interesting reactions to you calling their name or making an identifiable sound. You may notice them peeping out of their hide and looking in your direction every time they hear you.
And while this behavior is interesting to observe, it also makes it easier to lure your leopard gecko during feeding. So, no more hide and seek or running games when it’s time to eat- just make the identifiable noise, and out they come.
Come in handy when cricket hunting
Crickets can be jumpy, but feeding them to a leopard gecko is usually an easy experience; these reptiles have no problem chasing the hyperactive insects and catching them. Sometimes, however, crickets find secure hiding places behind the rocks, sticks, and bowls in the enclosure. Anyone who has handled live crickets long enough will tell you how risky this can be; crickets tend to bite when threatened, putting your pet at risk of getting an infection.
Luckily, a leopard gecko is well equipped for such situations. Naturally, they are built to find prey they can’t see- a trait their ancestors perfected throughout thousands of years of hunting in the dark. Thanks to their acute hearing, the geckos can detect the faintest of sounds and pinpoint the exact location of their prey without necessarily seeing them.
This ability can be as valuable in captivity as it is in the wild. When crickets hide behind equipment in the terrarium, a gecko’s hearing is their best bet to locating the insects. Therefore, they get all the nutrition they need and also destroy the crickets before they have an opportunity to bite them.
However, don’t put too many crickets in the enclosure, as they may team up and terrorize your lizard. Hunting crickets may be crucial to the growth and development of a leopard gecko and a fun thing to watch, but things can get ugly when the tables turn. You will also need to supervise the tank just in case your gecko is a little slow with crickets. Too many bites may cause some severe damage to your gecko’s skin.
Another essential thing to remember is that only male crickets chirp, making it a little harder for a leopard gecko to locate still female crickets. Therefore, make sure to check on the enclosure at intervals just in case a few decide to pop out of their hiding places when you’re not around. Your leopard gecko may possess impressive hearing abilities, but no predators have a 100% hunting success rate, even when the conditions are enabling.
Can help with sleep
Human music may not be as great for leopard geckos as we would want it to be, but what about nature’s music? Even we will admit that notes of soft rain, swaying trees, chirping birds, and soft winds hit places that human instruments can only dream about. That’s why listening to nature’s noises is one of the most therapeutic experiences you can hope to have.
Fortunately, the same principles apply to leopard geckos. I mean, after all, their DNA was coded in the wild, by the wild, with the music of nature’s exploits playing all around them. So, playing nature’s noises at home is a great way to take advantage of their sensitive hearing. Keep the volume low, and the sounds will awaken a soothing primal feeling in your leopard gecko that will relieve stress and help put them to sleep.
So, it’s a win-win situation for you and your pet. You both get to appreciate the magic that is nature’s sound as its delicate notes send the both of you to sleep.
Although we don’t know if leopard geckos like music, we can tell for a fact that they don’t enjoy loud music; they have developed sensitive hearing to survive, and turning up your radio, TV, or sound system too high overwhelms their senses. Ultimately, a noisy environment makes it harder for them to adapt to a new habitat and fosters distrust toward their owners, making it harder to care for them.
This doesn’t mean that you stick to using headphones or stop listening to music entirely once you get a leopard gecko. You can still use your TV and sound system, but keep it at a reasonable level; not too loud that it shakes everything in the house, but also not too low that you can’t enjoy it.
If you know you will occasionally have to play loud music, try using some soundproof foam blocks. When you cut these and stick them to the sides of the enclosure, they absorb loud noises from your music and stop it from penetrating the enclosure and stressing out your leopard gecko.