Do leopard geckos play dead?

Leopard gecko play dead

Leopard geckos are one of many species of geckos. Native to Asia, the Middle East, and Africa, they are one of the most popular lizard pet species. They are clearly distinguished by their beautiful leopard-like colors. They’re not just colorful; they are also very easy to care for.

One of the most talked-about behaviors of leopard geckos is their ability to play dead. But do leopard geckos play dead? Or is this just a myth? We have answered this question in this article. It is time to find out if leopard geckos actually play dead.

Do leopard geckos play dead?

Yes, leopard geckos can play dead. However, this is not just unique to leopard geckos. It is a common phenomenon in the animal kingdom. Playing dead is one of many tricks some animals employ to protect themselves from potential predators. This is also called “death-feigning” (thanatosis).  Animals are able to play dead by assuming a state of immobility when frightened. To play dead, leopard geckos usually lie motionless on their backs; they can stay in this position for more than 30 minutes.

A Leopard gecko playing dead

why do leopard geckos play dead?

You may be asking yourself why leopard geckos play dead. Well, the main reason leopard geckos play dead is to prevent predators from preying on them. By playing dead, they make themselves unattractive to potential predators. Most leopard gecko predators will prefer to kill and eat live geckos rather than dead ones.

When do leopard gecko play dead

Before we address this, you have to remember that leopard geckos are crepuscular creatures. This means they are more active between the hours of dusk and dawn. Leopard geckos not usually active during the day, so during this time they would most likely be sleeping and wouldn’t react to touch. But this doesn’t necessarily mean that they are “playing dead.” Leopard geckos sleep with their eyes open, so they may look like they are awake, but they’re not.

Leopard geckos can only play dead in response to an external stimulus in their environment, which means they can only play dead during their active period, which is usually at night. You may mistake a “sleeping gecko” for one “playing dead,” but this isn’t always the case.

Playing dead may not always protect geckos from harm or from a potential predator. Playing dead also has some drawbacks. For example, a leopard gecko that is playing dead may be stepped on by an animal and thereby become injured. Similarly, a lot of energy is required to play dead, so this will often leave the gecko weak and de-energized.

How to tell if your gecko is playing dead

There is a way to tell if your pet leopard gecko is actually playing dead or is really dead. A leopard gecko playing dead will often lie on its back with its leg in the air; it will not react when you touch it but will appear rigid.

What to do if your gecko is playing dead.

If you have discovered that your gecko is not actually dead but just playing dead, there are some things you can do to make it active again.

First, try luring the gecko with food. The smell of food may get the gecko to become active again, especially if it is hungry. If this doesn’t work, you can place the gecko in warm water. This should help stimulate the gecko into action. If none of this works, it may just be best to leave the gecko. It may be that it is sleeping or resting. So let it rest.

How to tell if a leopard gecko is dead

There are many signs that will differentiate a dead gecko from a gecko playing dead; they include the following:


the eyes of a dead gecko will appear sunken. Try shining a light into the eyes of the gecko to see if the pupil will react. An unresponsive pupil is a sign of death. However, it is advised not to use a bright light because it may damage the eyes of your gecko if it is not dead.


you can check for this by placing your finger in the gecko’s ribcage. If you feel a movement, then it means that the gecko is still breathing.


You can check a geckos belly by placing it on its back. A visible bluish or greenish color around the belly region indicates that the gecko is actually dead. This green or bluish coloration is a stain caused by the leakage of bile into the adjacent tissues in the stomach. This stain can be seen an hour after the gecko is dead. This is one of the best ways to determine if a gecko is really dead.

What to do when your leopard gecko dies

Most pet owners have a hard time figuring out what to do after it has been confirmed that their pets are dead. It’s so sad when our lovely pet leaves us. When we finally decide to get over the death of our pets, we are still left with many options to consider. Here is what you can do with a dead gecko pet.

Cremation of the Dead Leopard Gecko

This is a popular way for pet owners to dispose of their deceased pets. After cremation, you have the option of keeping your pet’s ashes or scattering them in the ground. However, keep in mind that you may only be able to obtain your pet’s ashes through a private cremation. A communal cremation doesn’t give that opportunity.


You can bury your dead pet around your property, e.g., in your backyard. However, you can also choose to make use of a public pet cemetery. Burying your deceased pet on your property will provide you with more opportunities to remember it. On average, it takes 20 days for a dead gecko to be fully decomposed.

Veterinary Disposal Services

You can make use of the services of a veterinary disposer, especially if you can’t handle the stress involved in any of the above-mentioned ways. 


Leopard geckos can actually play dead. They usually do this when they feel threatened. This is a self-defense mechanism exhibited by not just leopard geckos but by other animals. Sometimes it may be hard to differentiate between a dead gecko and a gecko playing dead. If you’re in this situation, you can use the following methods we outlined in this article to check if your gecko is dead or actually playing dead.

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