Can Dogs Live with Geckos?

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Introduction

Geckos are a type of small lizard that can be found as a native species in various tropical regions of the world. Geckos are often found in the Southern hemisphere and can live in a very diverse number of habitats. They have also become very popular as pets, and there’s been a surge in gecko pet owners lately and as a pet gecko can live up to 20 years, there’s quite a bit of dedication behind the decision of becoming an owner of one, much in the same way as dogs.

Having a pet gecko and a dog usually works without any issues, if you take all the necessary precautions. Every dog owner in warmer climates knows that dogs have a habit of munching up smaller lizards when they are out and about, so it’s important to make sure that your dog knows that the gecko living in your apartment is a friend, not food.

Signs Your Dog is Interested in Your Pet Gecko

If you get a pet gecko, your dog will give very noticeable cues if they are interested, and if your dog is interested in ways you might deem unfavorable, you will have to discourage such behavior.

If you notice any of the following behaviors, you will have to work with your dog diligently:

  • Staring – your dog may stare at your gecko intensely, following their every movement in the vivarium. Although you might find this behavior cute, it’s important to distinguish between your dog being curious and being interested in eating your pet gecko. As a precaution, it’s best to keep your gecko somewhere where your dog can’t see or reach it.
  • Alert – your dog might be very alert whenever they look at your gecko. If your dog sees the gecko as a threat, they will start barking at it, too. Some dogs might even become aggressive and growl.  
  • Scratching – if you ever see that your dog is scratching around the vivarium or trying to break into it, find a safe spot for your gecko that will be completely out of reach.
  • Pacing – if your dog is pacing whenever you are around your gecko or holding your gecko, they might be just super excited to see and smell it from close, but they might also try nipping it.
  • Sniffing – if your dog doesn’t have any behavioral cues that might indicate they wish to harm your gecko, you might find the idea of introducing them interesting. Do not bring your gecko to your dog to sniff them directly. Your dog’s nose is sensitive enough. Let your dog sniff your hands after you have held the gecko. Introduce them very slowly, and always keep the situation under control.

In order to keep your gecko safe, it’s best to assess your dog first. Their temper and nature play a very important role. Hunting breeds will have a more prominent instinct to see the gecko as prey, for instance.

If your dog is easy going, however, you might just be able to introduce them, but be very cautious about it. Generally, this is discouraged. 

Body Language

Below are some signs that your pooch is a bit too interested in your gecko:
  • Growling
  • Staring
  • Alert
  • Scratching
  • Pacing
  • Sniffing

Other Signs

More signs to watch for include:
  • Crouching
  • Hyperactivity
  • Aggressive play

History of Dogs and Geckos

Geckos are a relatively new pet, and there’s been a surge in their popularity in the last few decades. Leopard geckos are the most popular species that are present in homes around the globe. Geckos are not a typical pet, and you can’t interact with them like you interact with your dog or cat, they require specific conditions that can only be met in a vivarium, where they will spend most of their time.  

Generally, people who have both reptiles and dogs advise against’ any meet-and-greets between the species. Over the years, it has become evident that because they are so different a species, dogs and geckos can’t interact in a meaningful way. In the wild, it is highly uncommon for dogs and Geckos to meet, purely because of their different native habitats. 

The Science Behind Gecko and Dog Interaction

Thankfully, geckos are not poisonous to dogs. Although some lizards can be poisonous, if your dog ingests a gecko they will not be harmed. But, this is not the ideal outcome! 

As with any new situation, dogs are attracted to find out more about geckos because of the speed they move and their size. Dogs will often feel natural chasing instincts as your gecko runs away that they want to act upon and it's important to quell these. Scientifically, there are very few studies that have been done on the integration of geckos and dogs because they come from such different climates. It's only with the increasing trend of gecko pets that this question has really popped up. 

Training Your Dog to Accept a New Pet Gecko

Dogs share their common ancestors with wolves, and as such, still have their hunting instincts. Geckos are a species that requires a vivarium that mimics their natural habitat closely in order to survive outside of their native climate. 

So, in an ideal situation, dogs and geckos shouldn’t really interact. There have been cases where they can get along, but most commonly, they don’t. Because of the ancestry instincts of dogs, if your gecko is scared and decides to run, it can provoke your dog and lead to fatal consequences.

That being said, proper training can lead to better integration between the two and play a role in how well they get on. Training your dog to listen to proper commands such as "sit" and "stay" will go a long way in the event they are getting too “playful” with your gecko. Also, introducing the two slowly and in calm, supervised environments ensures that no accidents happen!

Keeping Your Dog and Gecko Safe:

  • Discourage your dog from jumping up at or chomping the glass of your gecko's vivarium or they may behave in this way when your gecko is out.
  • Discourage your dog from trying to play with any other lizards out in the wild, this will create a respect for your gecko that lizards are not playthings.
  • Never leave the two unsupervised.