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Care, Health and Growth, Crested Geckos, Geckos

Crested Gecko Defense Mechanism: Can Crested Geckos Play Dead?

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by The Pet Engineers


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An interesting and baffling question for a lot of crested gecko owners, especially the first-timers, is whether their crested gecko is playing dead?

In a word, no. Crested geckos never play dead.

Crested geckos may sometimes seem like they’re dead, or that they’re playing dead. But they don’t play dead – and definitely not as a defense mechanism.

So, what is their defense mechanism? And why do they sometimes appear to be playing dead? Let’s check out.

Crested Gecko Defense Mechanisms

It is not uncommon to mistake your crested gecko to be playing dead – especially because its wide eyes remain open at all times, even while sleeping!

But playing dead is not one of the tactics that a crested gecko would use when it feels threatened. Instead, it may resort to a bunch of other tactics for survival.

Sleep During The Day

Crested geckos, especially in the wild, sleep during the day under the cover of leaves. This is their way of hiding from the obvious day-dwelling predators.

They come out during the night and look for food and water.


While it is not an active way of defense for crested geckos, they change their colors during the day and the night times to have an added layer of protection from predators.

Crested Gecko Camouflaging


The simplest, most often resorted method of defense for crested geckos is to simply run away at the first sight of a predator.

Lose Its Tail

If you’re an experienced keeper of crested geckos, you will know that crested geckos are capable of losing their tail but they cannot regrow it.

So, if they’re grabbed by their tail by a predator, they will simply lose the tail and escape.

crested gecko dropped tail
Crested Geckos drop their tails as a defense mechanisms

Try To Scare

Though not a very commonly used tactic, crested geckos do sometimes try to scare off the predator.

They open their mouths, bark, and even bite – although it may not hurt the predator, it is sometimes enough to throw them off track and buy just enough time to escape.

Do Crested Geckos Play Dead?

A crested gecko never plays tricks like acting or playing dead.

But this confusion is very understandable because a crested gecko is an expert in making you look twice to check if it is still alive.

The whole confusion has its root in the fact that a crested gecko cannot close its eyes.

Because it cannot close its eyes, a crested gecko sleeps with its eyes wide open.

And seeing your gecko have open eyes and not move for a few hours at a stretch will give the best of us a false alarm that it may be dead.

Even the most experienced owners of crested geckos fall for this trap quite often.

But don’t worry. As long as the living conditions are maintained with accuracy and your gecko is eating and drinking, there is next to zero chance that your gecko dies for any reason other than old age.

How Do You Know If A Crested Gecko Is Playing Dead?

As mentioned earlier, crested geckos never play dead. But if you’ve had to look more frequently than usual to check for your gecko’s status of life.

There is a slight chance your pet may be suffering from some problems that may eventually lead to its death, if not treated in time.

Here are some signs that your crested gecko may be in need of medical assistance:

  1. Loss of appetite and not eating or eating very less for a prolonged period
  2. Excessive basking or staying in the cold end of the enclosure all the time
  3. Weakened jaw and swollen limbs
  4. Excessive lethargy
  5. Unresponsiveness to a stimulus when not under brumation
  6. Excessive loss of weight
  7. Droopy and sunken eyes
  8. Impaction and inability to pass faeces
  9. Blood in faeces or diarrhoea
  10. Shallow or faint breathing

What To Do If Your Crested Gecko Is Playing Dead?

Crested geckos do not play dead. So, if you see any such signs as having been listed above, or if you’ve been suspecting that it is playing dead, or is dead, more frequently the past couple of days.

Then a good idea is to consult a vet and rule out any severe medical conditions.

Why Your Crested Gecko Isn’t Active 

What If Your Crested Gecko Is Dead?

Death is a very uncomfortable topic. We usually prefer to avoid talking, reading, or hearing about it. And especially when the topic is the death of a pet, it becomes all the more difficult.

Pets are essentially our kids, just from a different species. So, it is very difficult to bid them the final farewell. But it is inevitable. What can you do if your crested gecko is dead?

Cremate Your Crested Gecko

A lot of pet parents choose to cremate their pets after passing away.

You can cremate your crested gecko and then either store its ashes as a keepsake for memory or you can spread the ashes at their favorite spot.

Going for a private cremation of your pet will ensure you get the ashes back – it isn’t possible in communal cremations.

Bury Your Crested Gecko

Another thing you can do is figure out a spot in your backyard or a public cremation ground and bury your pet crested gecko. You can even plant a sapling or flower there.

This will give you a way to permanent remembrance of your pet, and you will be able to visit it from time to time.

Opt For Veterinary Services for Disposal

You may either be too traumatized to handle the death of your pet, or you may have come across a dead crested gecko of no known owner.

In such a case, you can visit your nearest veterinary clinic and ask for their help with disposal.

Dead Animal Removal Services Authority

This is especially in the case of an unidentified dead crested gecko or any dead reptile or animal for that matter. Seek the help of local authorities for safe removal and disposal.


Crested geckos are not among the creatures who imitate the dead to protect themselves. A crested gecko would never play dead, even as a defense mechanism.

Instead, the crested geckos prefer to stay in hiding, run, and sometimes scare off the predators.

You may sometimes get confused about this behavior because crested geckos cannot close their eyes – so they sleep with their eyes open.

And it gives off an impression of them being dead or acting like they’re dead. But that’s not the case.

If you’re constantly suspecting that your crested gecko is playing dead quite frequently.

It will be a good idea to consult a vet – because there is a chance that your crested gecko is either suffering from some underlying health condition that needs attention, or your pet has already passed away.

The Pet Engineers

A team of pet lovers. We have owned various pets over their years. From dogs to reptiles, etc. Our love of pets, strive to us to create up-to-date and accurate helpful guides on pets.

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