What Is Glass Surfing?
Glass surfing is when your gecko stands up on its back legs and presses its belly against the glass making a ‘paddling’ motion with its front legs. Think about how you would paddle on a surfboard and imagine your gecko doing that but upright and against the glass instead of in the water.
It’s also referred to as glass dancing (because of the wiggling motion they make), window surfing, wall surfing, or simply trying to climb the glass.
Glass surfing isn’t a Leopard Gecko-specific behavior and is something you will often see in other geckos or pretty much any reptiles that live in tanks.
Why Is My Leopard Gecko Climbing The Glass?
Leopard Geckos usually glass surf when they are simply exploring the environment or when they are feeling bored. Geckos are curious creatures and climbing the walls of their tank can be a good way to try and find something new or just get a better view of what’s going on around them.
Wild geckos obviously don’t experience the same boundaries as their captive cousins and are free to roam as far and wide as they like (or dare) so it seems reasonable to expect your pet gecko to try and do the same.
Some geckos will also climb up in an attempt to get their owner’s attention, usually because they are hungry or just want some time outside of their tank. It’s not uncommon for Leos to stand up and start scratching on the glass as a way to give you a little reminder that it’s dinner time.
In fact, climbing could just be part of that search for food – until they reach the edge of the tank there’s no way for the gecko to actually know they are contained at all. Sometimes they climb the glass because they are on the hunt for food and just naturally reach the ‘end of the road’ and the only way to carry on is by going upwards.
Occasional glass surfing is perfectly normal behavior in geckos but if it becomes excessive or frantic there’s a chance that your gecko is trying to get away from something in their tank – geckos might glass surf in an attempt to signal to you that something’s wrong in their tank and they need your help.
You should be checking your gecko’s environment regularly of course but if you notice a sudden surge in climbing it may point to a few key areas that need immediate attention:
If your gecko’s tank is too hot or too cold they will try and get away from the uncomfortable environment. Because they are unable to regulate their own body temperature like mammals can, they need to use their environment to do this and will seek out somewhere to help them make any adjustments.
Leopard Gecko enclosures need to be kept around 77-84 degrees so if you see your gecko climbing towards a heat or light source then it’s probably on the cool side. Make sure your gecko has different zones in their tank so they can properly regulate their body temperature and that there is a ‘basking zone’ which is kept at the higher end of the temperature scale so they can warm up as needed.
Your gecko might be surfing in an attempt to get away from mites in the tank that are bothering it. If there is an infestation of mites they will quickly swarm all over your gecko and mercilessly attack it.
Even though they are tiny, bites from these nasty little creatures can be extremely irritating and quite painful for your gecko, and in this case, glass surfing could be a way for your gecko to try and escape.
Other tell-tale signs of mites bothering your gecko could be clawing at its own skin or eyes, excessive bathing or problems shedding. Carefully inspect your gecko, ideally with a magnifying glass, paying close attention to the eyes, neck, and joints to check for any sign of mites.
Not strictly an environmental issue, but closely related, is whether or not your gecko is sharing that environment with other geckos. It’s not usually advisable to keep Leopard Geckos together but if they do share a tank and are experiencing problems because of it, glass surfing may be your gecko trying to get away from an unfriendly neighbor.
Keep an eye out for any signs of bullying, especially from a larger or more aggressive gecko, as this can be a major cause of stress in geckos and it may be necessary to split them up and keep them in separate tanks.
Leopard Gecko Glass Surfing At Night
Leopard Geckos are most active around dusk and dawn. If you notice that your gecko is mainly glass surfing at night it’s likely because they are bored and want to explore.
The simple way around this is to add additional or more interesting items to their enclosure to keep them occupied. If they are glass surfing out of boredom then your gecko needs more stimulation inside their tank and this will stop them from wanting to get out of their tank as much.
Can Leopard Geckos Climb Glass?
So do you need to worry about your gecko ‘glass surfing’ his way to freedom? is there a chance that he’ll scale the walls and make a run for it?
Maybe you’ve seen wild geckos climbing walls or dangling perilously from ceilings but Leopard Geckos are not the strongest climbers and certainly can’t climb glass or walls like some other species of geckos.
Certain species of geckos have ‘sticky’ toe pads which means they can climb smooth surfaces including glass but Leopard Geckos don’t have these so there’s no chance your Leo will be able to climb out of its tank and escape.
Instead of the large toe pads, Leopard Geckos have tiny claws on the end of their toes which are much better suited to grabbing and holding onto prey than scaling smooth (or vertical) surfaces.
Glass surfing is nothing to worry about as long as your gecko isn’t doing it constantly and isn’t showing any signs of stress when they are doing it. More than likely it’s just a fun activity for your gecko and they probably think it’s a neat trick that they can do.
Do keep an eye out for excessive climbing though as it could be a sign that there’s a problem in the tank that’s causing your gecko to feel stressed and uncomfortable.
If the environment is comfortable and stimulating and you can be sure there’s nothing stressing your gecko out, then just sit back and enjoy the funny little dance they do on the glass – maybe even put on some music as a backing track for them to groove to.