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Eublepharis macularius, popularly known as leopard geckos, are ground-dwelling lizards with unique leopard-like spots covering a large percentage of their bodies.
Leos are interesting in that they do things that we often don’t understand. Thus, the question arises – why do leopard geckos lick everything?
Leopard geckos lick to inspect the things that are around them. This enables them to collect and bring scents to the Jacobson’s organ, a specialized chemoreception organ in the roof of their mouths that can decode scent information. As a result, Leopard geckos can smell and detect the true nature of everything that may be in their environment.
The Jacobson’s organ is also called the vomeronasal organ and is very effective when it comes to interpreting moisture-borne particles.
Once the scent information has been interpreted, the gecko can understand what it is dealing with.
However, this is not the only thing that makes Leopard geckos special. Most people like them because of their gentle disposition.
As such, a Leopard gecko can make a good pet and can as well be your companion. If you are a gecko parent, then you must have noticed that they like licking stuff.
This should, however, not be a cause for concern since it is normal. In fact, your pet gecko needs to lick the things in their surrounding for their wellbeing.
When Do Leopard Geckos Engage In Licking Behavior?
The licking behavior in Leopard geckos is attributed to a wide range of things. By nature, Leopard geckos are curious creatures, so they will always inspect their environment.
This not only gives them closure but also keeps them safe, especially when they are in a new environment.
By licking the things that are around them, Leopard geckos can differentiate living organisms from inanimate objects.
Through this, they will be able to know whether the item before them is food or a source of danger.
Below are some of the scenarios that may prompt your Leopard gecko to engage in licking behavior;
#1. Licking to Clean Their Eyes
Unlike other gecko species, Leopard geckos have eyelids and this makes them unique. Nonetheless, debris and other substrates can still get into their eyes.
And since Leopard geckos don’t produce tears, they have no option but to lick their eyes to remove the cause of discomfort.
Additionally, leopard geckos will lick their eyes to avoid getting cloudy eyes. Cloudy eyes commonly happen to leopard geckos due to stuck shed around their eyelids. Licking the eyelids allows them to remove the stuck shed without any issue.
#2. Licking after Shedding
Leopard geckos shed their old skin on a regular basis throughout their stages of development. In most cases, they tend to lick their bodies immediately after shedding.
Through this, they can remove stuck shed, and at the same time, clean their new skin. Besides, this will make them feel more comfortable in their environment.
#3. Licking after Marking Territory
Leopard geckos are territorial animals, meaning they will guard and defend all areas that they think belong to them.
Like most organisms in the animal kingdom, Leopard geckos use secretions to keep other geckos away from their territory. The secretions are used for scent marking and are produced by the pre-anal pores.
After producing the secretions, your Leopard gecko will lick the pores such that the gecko can only mark the areas that it wants.
In addition to this, licking will prevent the pores from clogging, thus preventing possible infections.
#4. Licking to Prevent Impaction
In Leopard geckos, impaction can occur when waste hardens in the vent. This may cause the affected area to swell and can also result in other serious health complications.
To prevent this from happening, Leopard geckos tend to lick their vents to soften the waste, allowing for easy defecation.
Your pet gecko may do this several times until the pressure in its digestive system reduces.
If you notice that your Leopard gecko is being affected by impaction, you can help out the little guy by soaking them in tepid water.
By doing so, you will not only be softening the waste but will also keep your pet clean.
#5. Licking after Defecation
Now that the gecko has softened the waste and released it out of the body. Your Leopard gecko may lick its vent to clean up any residue that may have been left behind.
This will help the gecko to stay clean at all times. However, this does not mean that your pet is germ-free, so you should take necessary precautions by thoroughly washing your hands after handling Leopard geckos.
Why Is My Leopard Gecko Licking Its Mouth?
You shouldn’t be worried if you notice that your Leopard gecko is licking its mouth more than usual.
Nonetheless, there may be a problem if your pet licks its mouth and at the same time cannot hold food. This could mean that your Leopard gecko has a weak jaw or other mouth complications.
Additionally, Leopard geckos may lick their mouths when they have abscesses. This can be an indication of a bacterial infection.
To be sure, you can inspect your pet’s mouth for any discoloration. If you are not sure of what to do, you should consider taking your pet to the vet.
Additionally, you can treat bacterial infections yourself with REPTAID Immune Support. It directly targets bacteria and parasites and treats a number of illnesses. Furthermore, it helps strengthen your Leopard geckos’ immune system to prevent illnesses and ensures they live a long and healthy live. I’ve personally been using this product on my leopard geckos for years and can’t recommend it enough!
Why Is My Leopard Gecko Licking My Hand?
It is quite normal for a Leopard gecko to lick your hand when you are holding it. As stated earlier, it just shows they are curious about their environment.
Furthermore, it is speculated that Leopard geckos will lick their owners hand as a sign of affection. However, this is simply speculation and there’s little research to support this theory!
For the most part, leopard geckos are driven by instinct to inspect their surroundings, so you have nothing to worry about.
Just ensure that you clean your hands properly to avoid exposing yourself to parasites and diseases. You should also wash your hands prior to handling your leopard gecko.
Can Leopard Geckos Hurt Their Tongues When Licking Surfaces?
Leopard geckos apply just the right amount of pressure when licking surfaces, so the chances of them hurting their tongues are minimal.
As such, you should not be worried if your Leopard gecko licks the walls of the enclosure.
The tongue is an essential organ in Leopard geckos because it helps them to learn more about their environment.
Leopard geckos can smell, detect, and do other things by simply licking the item that they are curious about.
With the help of the Jacobson’s organ, Leopard geckos can interpret different scents from their surroundings.
They may also lick certain parts of their bodies when they are experiencing discomfort.