One of the most important questions when acquiring any pet is can they be dangerous at all? This may be especially true if you are buying a pet for a child, or if it is a family pet and will be handled by people of different ages and levels of knowledge. But can geckos be dangerous.
Geckos are not dangerous and are a very low risk pet. They carry no diseases that are harmful to humans, and they are very rarely aggressive. They may occasionally bite, but this is quite gentle, and can usually be avoided if you take positive steps to prevent it.
Geckos are a great family pet because they pose such a low risk, but there are some important things that it is good to know either before getting one, or to build your knowledge when you have one.
Geckos Are Not Dangerous
Geckos are an extremely safe pet, and are a good choice as a family animal. The worst case scenario is that you may occasionally experience a small bite from one, but this is not dangerous. There are actions you can take that make this much less likely to happen, and I will talk about these later in this post.
They Are Small
Although there do exist larger species of geckos, most geckos that are kept as pets are somewhere between about 4 and 12 inches long. They are therefore on the smaller side compared to many other reptiles.
This is good for safety. If small animals are not venomous, then their capacity for violent assaults is usually very minimal.
Geckos do have very tiny teeth, but these could never do much damage to a human. Also their claws are far too small and weak to exert enough force to injure someone.
They Usually Flee Not Fight
When faced with danger, there is the classic choice for all animals – fight or flight. Many breeds of animal usually take the fight option.
Luckily geckos normally take the flight option. When faced with anything a bit out of the ordinary, threatening, or potentially dangerous, they are good at getting out of the situation and trying to hide somewhere.
This instinct is great for safety and means they are good for children who have to learn how to interact and handle animals from scratch.
Do They Carry Diseases?
There is always a very slight chance that a reptile can carry salmonella, but the risk is lower with geckos than some other reptiles. Geckos are from a dry environment, and this greatly reduces the risk of carrying salmonella.
Also, if your gecko has been bred in captivity, they are highly unlikely to carry any diseases that they can pass on to humans.
Geckos of course can occasionally get sick, but it is unlikely that they will pass their illness on to humans. Sickness can often be related to diet, and a lack of vital vitamins or nutrients.
Are They Venomous?
There are no venomous geckos. Their bites are in no way poisonous, and they have no other venomous weapons in their armery.
Some may be slightly poisonous if eaten, but of course as a pet owner I am sure you would never dream of eating your gecko!
Geckos Can Make Your Environment Safer
Many geckos of course live wild around humans, and these can in many ways make the environment safer.
Geckos main source of food is insects, and geckos hunt flies, crickets, beetles, and all other types of bugs. In ridding these from your house, the geckos are in effect providing humans with less exposure to these insects that could carry disease and pass it on.
Of course geckos living in a terrarium will not usually be having free reign to roam the house and eat the insects they find, but this is perhaps just something to bear in mind.
Signs Of Aggression
The main sign of aggression that you may see in your gecko is that they hiss.
This is common when you first get a gecko. When your pet is not used to their new surroundings, they may often hiss as a sign they are nervous or uncertain. Sometimes gecko owners are alarmed when they first get a gecko, that seems placid for a week or more, and then starts to hiss at them! Don’t be perturbed. Sometimes it just takes them a while to assess their new environment before they start to feel a bit territorial towards anyone invading their space.
Most geckos will simply stop hissing when they have grown used to you. Treat them gently, and with love and respect. When they understand that you are not going to eat them, they usually come round.
Can They Bite?
It is pretty much a fact that any animal that has a mouth is able to bite.
It is of course possible that a gecko can bite it owners, but this is quite unusual. They only bite if they are significantly distressed, or by mistake, and there are clear steps you can take if you want to avoid this from happening.
How Bad Is A Gecko Bite?
A gecko bite is quite gentle and will usually not break the skin. A geckos bite is normally just used for eating insects, so it does not have much force behind it.
It is more like a little nip, and not normally much to worry about.
Why Do They Bite?
Geckos normally only bite when they are threatened or are nervous. There are two main reasons:
- Geckos are territorial. They do not like others invading their space! This is often common when you first get a gecko, though they usually come round to the fact that you are not a threat with a bit of time
- They are hungry. A hungry gecko is on the lookout for food, and when a juicy pink finger comes along they might just want to give it a nibble. Understanding how and when geckos eat, and the diet they both like and need, should help you to avoid this from happening.
- Some bad practices could potentially end in a bite. For example, wiggling your fingers in front of a gecko’s mouth. Of course if you treat your gecko with sensible love and respect this is unlikely to happen.
What Should You Do If You Are Bitten?
The biggest mistake you can make if you are actually bitten is to pull away from the bite. Although this is of course a very natural response, this is when the skin can actually be broken and torn, and this can make the bite look far worse than it was.
The best way to react to a gecko bite is be patient. Just leave the gecko on your finger or hand, and just wait for it to let go.
This is perhaps easier said than done, especially if you have children handling the gecko. Please just remember than gecko bites are quite rare, particularly if you have kept the gecko for a while.
Also there are some warning signs to look out for that tell you the gecko might be nervous of you, and that a bite may be possible in the future.
What Signs Should I Look Out For That A Gecko Might Bite?
There are several things to look out for, and most of these are quite obvious and are in no ways subtle. Some signs are:
- Hissing – As discussed, geckos will hiss when they feel threatened. This is a defence mechanism used by many animals, and so is easily understood even by quite young children.
- Tail swaying – A gecko may start to sway it’s tail in an ‘S’ shape. Watch out if it does!
- Posturing – A gecko may start to stare at you, press its stomach closer to the ground and stick its tail vertically up in the air. If it does, then just give it some space, and hopefully it will calm down
- Hiding from you – You may get the impression that your gecko is sneaking away whenever you approach it. This is a sure sign of nervousness, and a danger signal that you may get bitten if you get too close.
Such a list as this may make you feel nervous about getting a gecko, but usually these are very amiable and relaxed pets, and the threat of bites is very minimal.
All in all a gecko is an extremely safe family pet. They are small and so cannot exert enough force either through biting or clawing to damage humans.
They are normally placid and not aggressive. A geckos instinct is to flee rather than fight the majority of the time.
Geckos carry no diseases that are harmful to humans, and they are not venomous. They may even make your environment more safe by eating bugs and insects that may otherwise be exposing people who live in the house to a range of diseases.