Why Is My Leopard Gecko Always Hiding?

Why Is My Leopard Gecko Always Hiding?

It’s common for leopard geckos to spend some of their time tucked away in hides, but excessive hiding can signal problems. If your leopard gecko is constantly hiding and rarely coming out, it likely indicates husbandry issues or illness needing attention. This article explores the potential reasons for persistent hiding and how to encourage normal emergence.

Common Reasons for Gecko Hiding

There are several harmless and concerning reasons leopard geckos hide extensively:

Healthy Daytime Resting

Leopard geckos are crepuscular, meaning most active at dawn and dusk. Daytime hiding provides a nice calming retreat for natural restedness. This is totally normal!

Shedding Cycle

Approaching a shed, leopard geckos tend to hide more while waiting for the actual skin sloughing process. Their coloring also appears dull just before a shed.

Security and Safety

Hides provide comfort and insulation. Geckos hide when alarmed by loud noises, motion, or perceived threats. It helps them feel sheltered.

Overhandling Stress

Excessive handling can be quite stressful. Geckos will hide continuously to retreat from repeated disruption. Limit interactions to socialize gradually.

Habitat Change Anxiety

Modifications like new décor or substrate changes can seem scary. More hiding serves as an adjustment period before eventually accepting the change.

Lighting Discomfort

Excessively bright or warm lighting prompts hiding. Ensure the wattage, gradient, and photoperiod meet your gecko’s needs.


Illness, metabolic disease, parasites, impaction, or injury leads to extensive hiding. Always see a vet if paired with appetite loss or lethargy.

Hot or Cold Temperatures

Hides provide warmer or cooler refuge when the ambient temperature gradient is off. Stabilize the warm and cool ends within proper limits.

Tank Too Exposed

If the enclosure feels dangerously exposed with minimal sight barriers, increased hiding occurs. Add more hides, plants, and decor for security.

Evaluating the Cause of Hiding

Differentiate normal vs problematic hiding by:

Normal Hiding:

  • At night or other routine resting times
  • Briefly when startled but resuming activity
  • During the blue phase prior to shedding
  • Inside warm moist hide specifically for shedding
  • With consistent appetite and energy

Problematic Hiding Requiring Evaluation:

  • Continuously hiding over 24+ hours
  • Paired with lethargy and appetite decrease
  • Combined with physical symptoms like weight loss
  • Unwilling to emerge when gently coaxed
  • Not just limited to shedding or nighttime

If your leopard gecko hides extensively beyond their usual routine, begin evaluating why.

Medical Causes of Excessive Hiding

  • Metabolic Bone Disease – Hides to avoid pain from skeletal weakness and deformity
  • Gastrointestinal Impaction – Discomfort from obstructed digestive tract
  • Parasites – General unwellness from high parasite load
  • Respiratory Infection – Difficulty breathing prompts hiding
  • Burns or Injuries – Hiding to protect wounds and promote healing

Schedule an urgent vet visit if hiding is paired with other symptoms of illness. Hiding can be an early indicator of health problems.

Habitat Causes of Hiding & Solutions

Problem: Tank too exposed and bright

Solution: Provide more hides and sight barriers for security

Problem: Substrate change anxiety

Solution: Revert to original substrate to reestablish normalcy

Problem: Overheating from hot spot

Solution: Adjust heat gradient and thermostat to ensure proper temperature range

Problem: External noise disturbances

Solution: Move tank away from loud areas and cover sides

Problem: Humidity too low

Solution: Increase hydration and misting schedule

Problem: Tank vibrations from filter, highway, etc.

Solution: Place tank on riser and use vibration absorbing mat

Problem: New housing after move

Solution: Gradually transition gecko back to handling to relieve stress

Evaluate aspects of the habitat that may be prompting hiding. Make adjustments to see if it helps reduce time spent out of sight.

Coaxing a Leopard Gecko from Hiding

  • Check that temperature, lighting, and humidity meet guidelines.
  • Ensure the enclosure layout makes your gecko feel secure when emerging.
  • Place a tasty feeder insect like a mealworm just outside the hide opening.
  • Once eating normally, offer food by hand at hide entrance.
  • Avoid grabbing or forcing your gecko out, which causes stress.
  • Sit quietly and allow them to venture out voluntarily.
  • When emerging, handle slowly and for short periods to rebuild confidence.

With a stable environment and positive reinforcement, persistent hiding often resolves over time.

When to Seek Veterinary Assistance

Schedule a veterinary visit if excessive hiding is accompanied by:

  • Loss of appetite or decreased eating
  • Significant weight loss or lethargy
  • Strange posturing, tilting, or limb issues
  • Swollen or watery eyes
  • Wheezing, congestion, or mouth gaping
  • Continued hiding after habitat adjustments
  • Signs of impaction like straining or rectal prolapse

Only a qualified exotic veterinarian can diagnose and treat any underlying medical issue. Hiding with other symptoms requires prompt professional care.

Can Hiding Cause Health Problems?

Yes, extended hiding can indirectly lead to issues like:

  • Dehydration – Reduced access to the water dish
  • Malnutrition – Lack of appetite and missed meals
  • Constipation – Infrequent bowel movements
  • Respiratory infection – Stagnant air and humidity in hide
  • Pressure sores – Staying too long on one substrate type
  • Abrasions – Scraping against hide walls excessively

To avoid these secondary problems, address the initial cause of continual hiding right away.

Preventing Excessive Hiding

You can proactively prevent problematic hiding by:

  • Handling gradually to avoid stress
  • Providing multiple snug, enclosed hides throughout
  • Maintaining proper heat and humidity
  • Keeping the tank in a peaceful location
  • Instituting consistent lighting and feeding schedules
  • Limiting loud noises, music, knocking near enclosure
  • Using substrates and decor gecko feels secure on
  • Monitoring for any signs of illness requiring treatment

With attentive husbandry and gradual acclimation, hiding should stay within normal levels.

FAQ About Leopard Geckos Hiding Too Much

1. Is it normal for my leopard gecko to hide all day?

No, hiding all day is not normal. Leopard geckos should emerge periodically to bask, explore, drink, and eat. Hiding for more than 24 hours requires evaluation.

2. Can a leopard gecko get stressed from hiding too much?

Yes, perpetual hiding indicates chronic stress. Lack of mental stimulation being isolated can further increase anxiety and depression long-term.

3. Why does my leopard gecko hide when I open the tank?

Sudden opening likely startles them. Try slowly approaching and opening the tank without lots of loud noise to minimize alarming your gecko and sending them into hiding.

4. Should I remove a leopard gecko’s hides to prevent hiding?

No, removing hides will cause even worse stress. Determine the underlying cause of excessive hiding and remedy it rather than eliminating their security.

5. Can a leopard gecko starve itself from hiding too much?

Prolonged decreased appetite paired with continual hiding can lead to dangerous weight loss and self-starvation. Assist feed if your gecko refuses to emerge voluntarily.

6. What temperature causes leopard geckos to hide?

Both overheating above 93 F and cooling below 70 F can prompt temperature regulation hiding. Ensure ambient temps stay between 78 – 88 F.

7. Can a leopard gecko die from being in its humid hide too long?

If the humid hide remains wet for extended periods it can promote dangerous bacterial growth. Strive for a natural day/night hide usage cycle.

8. Should I remove a leopard gecko’s moist hide to prevent constant hiding?

No, limiting access to their moist hide can lead to stuck shed and dehydration. Determine why they overuse the humid hide and remedy the root cause.

9. Can a leopard gecko get dehydrated from hiding too much?

Yes, geckos hiding extensively drink less frequently. Dehydration then causes further illness and hiding. Routinely mist the tank and hydrate your gecko if showing excessive hiding behavior.

10. Is it normal for a shedding leopard gecko to hide for days?

Some increased hiding around shedding is expected as their eyes become blue and skin dulls. But hiding over 3-4 days warrants evaluation for retained eyecaps or other problems.

Summary of Leopard Gecko Hiding

Some hiding is totally normal, but extended hiding paired with appetite changes or lethargy often indicates illness or husbandry issues requiring correction. With a stable habitat and gradual acclimation, hiding should be intermittent versus constant. Please let me know if you have any other questions!

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