Why is My Leopard Gecko Glass Surfing? An Informative Guide

By Frank Miller •  Updated: 09/17/23 • 

Watching your leopard gecko going about its normal activities in the enclosure is one of the joys of a pet owner. However, if your leopard gecko is always glass surfing, you can help but wonder why it’s doing that. Is your Leo trying to break out? Does it need some love and handling? Or are there any other reasons for glass surfing?

In this article, I’ll talk about what glass surfing is and some possible reasons why your leopard gecko is glass surfing.

Glass surfing is also known as glass dancing and is not only synonymous with leopard geckos. Most reptile pet keepers have noticed their pets trying to climb the glass structures of the enclosure. However, most cannot climb out because of the smooth glass that reduces their grip.

Why Your Leopard Gecko is Glass Surfing

1. Exploring the Enclosure

The most common reason I’d describe why a leopard gecko is glass surfing is exploring its enclosure. In the wild, leopard geckos climb over rocks and other structures when exploring their environments. However, a leopard gecko will try climbing over the glass in captivity.

Although they can’t climb glass, they’re unaware of that and will intuitively try to climb it, hence glass surfing. Older leopard geckos cannot be able to climb glass. However, younger leopard geckos can climb and hold onto the glass. Always ensure the enclosure is closed on all sides to prevent them from getting out.

To prevent glass surfing, consider also buying some accessories for your leopard gecko so it can explore. Artificial plants, climbing ladders, rocks, etc., can all act as good leopard gecko accessories to keep him/her busy.

2. Escaping a Threat

If your leopard gecko is feeling threatened or stressed, glass surfing might be an attempt to escape the enclosure to seek safety. This usually happens if the leopard gecko is in a new enclosure or you’re cohabiting with more than one leopard gecko in one enclosure.

This is nothing to worry about if the leopard gecko is in a new enclosure. Give your Leo time to adjust to its new environment, and it will be well. Also, provide hiding spots where your leopard gecko can go into hiding whenever it feels threatened.

If you’re housing more than one leopard gecko in one enclosure, this might be the reason you’ll see one of them glass surfing. Unlike humans and other animals, reptiles are not social animals. In the wild, leopard geckos live solitary lives and only meet during the breeding season. In captivity, you should also put each leopard gecko in its enclosure to prevent future problems like bullying and injuries due to fighting.

Whether it is male to male, female to female, or male to female, all these should be housed individually. If you’re a breeder, only house them during the breeding season and then separate them again. Check out my comprehensive article on leopard geckos living together.

> Recommended Reading: Leopard Gecko Stress Signs

3. High/Low Enclosure Temperatures

The temperatures inside a leopard gecko’s enclosure should have a high to-low gradient. This enables the leopard gecko to thermoregulate and avoid overheating or cold. When the leopard gecko has had enough of the heat, it will move down to a lightly cooler spot. When the leopard gecko needs some heat, a basking area will help it absorb heat.

If it’s colder inside the enclosure, your leopard gecko will glass surf, trying to escape and find a warmer spot. However, if it’s too warm inside, your leopard gecko will also try to escape. You might also notice your Leo digging the substrate to hide from the scorching heat.

Always check the temperature inside the enclosure to ensure it suits your leopard gecko. The highest temperatures around the enclosure should be about 80 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit. Higher than that, you risk dehydrating your leopard gecko and other health conditions.

4. Your Leo is Hungry

Are you feeding your leopard gecko? A leopard gecko does not take much to feed. Usually, a varied diet of crickets and mealworms and occasionally throwing in a hornworm, waxworm, and other feeder insects should go well. However, if you’re not feeding your leopard gecko properly, glass might be an attempt to look for food.

Breeding females and young leopard geckos need more food and nutrients. This means you’ll feed them more to meet their diet requirements. Besides feeding them more, always ensure your gut load feeder insects and dust them with calcium to improve their nutrient percentage. This will satisfy your Leo and also make them healthier.

5. Small Enclosure Size

The minimum size of your leopard gecko tank should be no smaller than 10 gallons or a 40-liter tank. However, I usually recommend and use at least a 20-gallon tank for my leopard geckos, each being housed individually. The tank will be made with different heights, widths, and lengths, so make sure to choose a good height, width, and length for your leopard gecko.

If you have a small tank for your leopard gecko, that might be the reason why it’s glass surfing. A 10-gallon or smaller tank might be good for a younger leopard gecko. However, as it grows up, make sure to upgrade it to a bigger tank.

A bigger tank size gives your leopard gecko more area to explore. Also, make sure you furnish it properly and take care of the temperatures and humidity, so your leopard gecko will be comfortable inside.

6. Breeding Season

During the breeding season, male leopard geckos get restless and try to escape the enclosure. This is a normal instinct, and sometimes they will avoid eating or drinking for days. Male leopard geckos are the ones that mostly glass surf during the breeding season in search of a mate. However, female leopard geckos might do it, too, at times.

If you plan to breed your leopard gecko, this is the right time. However, ensure you create the right environment and that your leopard geckos are healthy before breeding.

7. Distractions Outside The Enclosure

You may think your leopard gecko’s world is only limited to what’s inside its enclosure. However, this is not true at all. When I first bought my first leopard gecko home, I placed a container of crickets on the floor just near its enclosure.

As I sat working on my computer, I noticed my Leo had come out of its hiding place and was glass surfing, staring toward the cricket container. I also looked over to see what he was looking at, only to discover an army of black ants attacking the crickets. Thanks to my leopard gecko’s acute observation, I was able to rescue the crickets and also give some to him.

Your leopard gecko is aware of the world outside its enclosure and will always glass surf if anything gets its attention. If you move its enclosure, you’ll notice plenty of evidence your leopard gecko is observing and curious about its new location. This attempt to figure out its new location is very normal.

Frank Miller

Frank Miller is the Founder of Lizard Advisor and owns several pet lizards, from leopard geckos, bearded dragons, crested geckos, chameleons, and others. The mission of this website is to make owning a pet lizard very easy for everyone, but mostly beginners. And each year, he continues to help more people learn more about lizard care and much more.