Geckos can make great pets for the whole family if you choose the right breed. With children come special considerations — both for the safety of the gecko and for the long-term enjoyment of your family. You want a pet that will be compatible with your personalities and your lifestyle. Everything from temperament to feeding to overall care should be considered when choosing your pet — especially when choosing a gecko, which could live for up to 20 years.
If you think that your family might be interested in welcoming a gecko as a pet, here are a few things to consider for choosing a gecko when you have children:
Start With the Right Species
Not all geckos have the same temperament or style. Some are more high-energy. Some are more social. Others are more aggressive. Others are delicate and require a lot of special care. Research the different species thoroughly to understand how each one might fit in with your family — or not.
Many breeders recommend the Leopard Gecko because they are easy to care for and have a gentle disposition, ideal for overly enthusiastic youngsters who might provoke a more aggressive type.
Choose an Older Gecko
Many young geckos will be high energy and hard to hold. While looking at a stately or colorful gecko perched on a piece of driftwood might be interesting for about a minute, most kids will soon start bursting with excitement to hold or touch or play with their pet.
An older gecko will tolerate being handled more than a younger gecko. However, you will still need to watch younger children or high-energy children to make sure they don’t become too enthusiastic and handle the gecko roughly. Even small hands can crush small bodies in a rush of enthusiasm. And too much energy can scare off even the most malleable of geckos.
Consider Your Other Pets
Geckos don’t make suitable companions for all pets already in the home. Many other household pets, including birds, cats, and dogs, may see them as prey. Even pets that are taught not to attack a gecko may become too excitable during play and unintentionally harm a gecko.
Be sure that you will be able to manage a peaceful co-existence among all your pets before bringing a gecko into your home.
Children should be given responsibilities for caring for their gecko based on their age. Older children and teenagers who are mature for their age may be able to handle all the care that their gecko needs. However, younger children or those who struggle with responsibility may need to be given limited duties or even be supervised.
Start by giving your child very discrete tasks, such as being responsible for cleaning the glass on the cage or adding water to the bowl or bottle. Later, more responsibilities can be granted with age and maturity.
Consider Your Child’s Temperament
There are many aspects of caring for a gecko that may not be a good fit for all children. As noted, children who are high-energy may not be able to safely hold a gecko without crushing or injuring it.
Even children who can properly hold a gecko may just get bored if they aren’t able to “play” with their small pets. Children who enjoy more physical activities like chasing, wrestling, petting, and rough-housing would be better suited for a dog or even a cat in some cases.
Younger children may also have a hard time feeding their geckos. For instance, the feeding of crickets or worms may make them have questions about dying, which could be sticky if you haven’t previously discussed it, or if they are very young.
Practice Safe Hygiene
Like other reptiles, geckos can carry salmonella on their skin. If you have young children who are still constantly putting their hands in their mouths, a gecko may not be the right pet for you. Though you can ask your children to wash their hands after they handle their gecko, young children are likely to slip a fist right past you and into their mouth. Geckos are better suited as pets for older children who have moved past the urge to constantly put items in their mouth and who can practice safe hygiene by washing hands after holding their geckos.
Did you purchase a gecko as a pet for your children? Would you recommend them as pets for other families? Tell us your thoughts in the comments!