Crested Gecko Bonding/Taming Question

Note: At the moment, I do not have any crested geckos, but hope to within the next few years.

I had a late night idea for increasing handling response for these guys, and wanted to ask if it was already common practice, if there was a flaw in my reasoning, or if it would be unsafe for any reason.

I know cresties can be a bit jumpy, and their size and speed might make taming them down via handling tricky.

What if you used a mix of classical conditioning and reward training to make it easier?
My thought was honey, since this seems to be basically liquid gold for these dudes.

Allow your new/jumpy crestie the needed 2 week acclimation period, or longer quarentine with minimal contact and stress on the animal.
Begin to show yourself around the tank with no contact (1 week?).
Begin holding hand in the tank for a few moments at a time to gauge animal reaction. (2x a day/one week?)

If animal does not seem curious, or seems reluctant to be near your hand:
Add one small drop (SMALL) of honey or watered down honey to your (very clean and sanitary) hand, allow the animal to see/smell you add the honey.
If that animal is unfamiliar with honey, maybe add a drop to a plant leaf before adding to your hand?
Allow animal to approach and climb onto your hand for the honey, then leave your hand at their will.

Repeat until the animal seems more likely to approach your hand or show lessened stress around you, then begin alternating honey with a drop of water/pangea. Then eventually just a bare hand, the interaction is no longer stressful.

My reasoning is:
Create a positive reinforcement between the hand and the gecko (hand is safe, and even means honey)
Eventually wean off the honey, perhaps with honey as a rare handling reward (inconsistent reward increases behavior reinforcement more strongly than constant reward)
Honey seems like a safe (if raw, organic, and in VERY small amounts) reward that these geckos seem to enjoy

I would love to hear thoughts from more experienced crestie keepers like @ghoulishcresties and others.

Thank You!

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So I myself handle basically daily.
As soon as Cresties hatch here I’m on the handling from day 1, so they go to new homes more tame for people :relaxed:
Also when I get a new one in, from day 1 I handle. I know a lot of people don’t, but I do! And I have never had any issues doing this either. I like all mine to be tame, If I need to go into the vivs they won’t freak out etc and try bolt out, which I’ve had before from not tamed down ones :sweat_smile:

I wouldn’t use honey as a positive reinforcement. Too much isn’t ideal for them.
So I mix in with food once a week.

Cresties are small brained, so really they wouldn’t understand the treat thing like dogs… :joy:
I adore them so it’s ok to call them ‘dumb’. Because they are also smart in their own ways :smiling_face_with_three_hearts:

Just when you get one, keep handling. If you want to leave him/her to settle in, then do so, that’s entirely your choice to make :relaxed:
Make sure you get from a breeder who does handle regularly too, so you don’t end up with a Skittish one :grin:

Beast Boy here til this day is still a nightmare at times, BUT I still handle and he eventually chills out. He wasn’t handled much growing up which is why :blush:


Thank you so much!
I can’t wait to have a little sticky friend of my own!
Thank you for being such a good gecko role model


It’s really preference.

I agree that honey shouldn’t be used as a treat.

But also it promotes hand feeding which leads to more issues further down the line.

When I first get a gecko, I will handle it to check it’s okay and leave in the enclosure for a few days with me looking into the enclosure, but only opening when it’s food change.

I use to start with handling in the enclosure, but that was for my confidence, I go straight to handling outside of enclosure now. Geckos pick up on things like anxiety so best thing is to remain calm.
I usually use insects (as they are loved by most) to help a Crestie understand I mean no harm. When gecko is new, I give them an insect (or a few) for their dinner after handling.

It doesn’t work for every Crestie, I have a few that will run from me in the enclosure but great when handled, while others are super chill. I have 1 gecko that jumps on me because he thinks my hand is food.

I also call them by name as I’m getting the out of their enclosure.

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Thank you!

I never likened it to picking up a snake, but I suppose its relatable!

For snakes you want to pick up confidently to teach them hissing or bluffing won’t result in being left alone, for cresties you want to pick up confidently to teach them that there is no danger or hesitation?

Also I didn’t consider them associating hand with food and potentially nipping, thank you for drawing my attention to that!

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Yeah Snakes are different for sure, when I first got my first boy I did worry a bit and would get the other half to get him out for me, now I’m confident and we have a few!

Also they don’t know their names, as much as we all would love them too :joy:
Reptiles hear more frequencies, high pitched noises etc.

Though all my Cresties still have names :laughing:


I mean I’ve never had a nipping issue with hand feeding, I’ve had wax worms in my hand to ‘hand feed’ Cresties multiple times, theyve jumped on my hands to get them etc, they’ve never then gone to bite me when I go back in at any other time, and I still do this now at times. :blush:
Even with the best eaters who dive at any movement :sweat_smile:


Gaahhh I want one right now so bad!

I didn’t mean biting would be the problem.

I meant more that the Crestie would get use to you hand feeding and then won’t eat by themselves. I don’t care what people have said about a crestie will eat if they are hungry, I’ve had 2 geckos here that proved they wouldn’t and nothing wrong with them, other then new environment. One would only eat if hand fed (this was done by the previous owner) and took me approximately 6 months to get her fully independent.

I have been bit by a few Cresties as they either missed the food or thought my finger was food :woman_shrugging: it tickled :rofl: but I’ve never had a nipping issue.

The Cresties don’t recognise their name, but they do associate the tone of my voice to when I’m attempting to get them out. Some hear my voice and hide lol

Important thing is to know your gecko, sometimes they don’t want to be handled and will make it an unpleasant experience if you persist, other times they might jump on you for a snuggle.

Remaining calm & regular handling is key

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