Have you ever wondered if your adorable leopard gecko could be a carrier of salmonella? How safe is it to handle these popular reptiles? Are you putting your family at risk by bringing one into your home? These questions often buzz in the minds of potential and current leopard gecko owners.

Leopard geckos have soared in popularity as household pets, known for their unique patterns and low-maintenance care. Recent headlines have raised eyebrows about leopard geckos possibly carrying salmonella. This news has pet owners and potential adopters feeling uneasy.

This article aims to clarify the link between leopard geckos and salmonella. You’ll get accurate, current information for making wise pet ownership choices.

What is Salmonella?

Salmonella, a cluster of bacteria, is the culprit behind a category of illnesses linked to consuming contaminated food. When ingested, these bacteria can trigger illness through tainted edibles, such as eggs and meat. Symptoms resulting from a salmonella infection in humans often revolve around complications within their stomach and digestive system.

Typical symptoms accompanying a salmonella infection include diarrhea, fever, and the discomforting presence of stomach cramps. These symptoms tend to manifest within a timeframe spanning from 12 to 72 hours following exposure to the bacteria. 

Can Leopard Geckos Carry Salmonella?

smiling leopard gecko crawling on the hand

Yes, leopard geckos can carry salmonella. 

Leoраrԁ geсkos, like mаny reрtiles, mаy hаrbor sаlmonellа within their systems. However, it’s сruсiаl to recognize that not every leoраrԁ geсko will саrry this bасterium. This phenomenon extenԁs to seemingly heаlthy leoраrԁ geсkos, mаking it а shаreԁ сonсern within the reрtile сommunity. 

It’s essentiаl to unԁerstаnԁ thаt sаlmonellа is not аn exсlusive trаit of аny sрeсifiс geсko. Rаther, it саn mаnifest асross this sрeсies аnԁ others. The рresenсe of sаlmonellа in leoраrԁ geсkos саrries imрliсаtions for humаn heаlth. Both ԁireсt аnԁ inԁireсt сontасt with these geсkos саn serve аs рotentiаl veсtors for the trаnsmission of the bасteriа. 

This meаns thаt inԁiviԁuаls who hаnԁle or саre for leoраrԁ geсkos shoulԁ exerсise саution to рrevent the рotentiаl sрreаԁ of sаlmonellа to themselves аnԁ others. 

Over the yeаrs, sаlmonellа outbreаks hаve been oссаsionаlly linkeԁ to reрtile рets, emрhаsizing the imрortаnсe of рubliс heаlth аwаreness regаrԁing their hаnԁling аnԁ саre. 

To mitigаte the risk of sаlmonellа trаnsmission, the Centers for Diseаse Control аnԁ Prevention (CDC) hаs releаseԁ sаfety guiԁelines sрeсifiсаlly аԁԁressing the resрonsible mаnаgement of reрtiles. These guiԁelines аim to minimize the рotentiаl for sаlmonellа outbreаks аssoсiаteԁ with these beloveԁ рets.

The Risk of Salmonella from Leopard Geckos

Grasping the salmonella risk from leopard geckos is vital, especially for those who own or plan to own one. Now, let’s explore what factors heighten this risk.

  • Natural Habitat: Leopard geckos and similar reptiles often inhabit places where salmonella bacteria flourish.
  • Feeding Habits: Consuming foods, like insects or small critters, exposes them to potential salmonella contamination.
  • Digestive System: The bacteria can reside in their gut without causing them any harm, making them carriers.
  • Shedding Skin: During the shedding process, the bacteria can spread to the new layer of skin.
  • Fecal Matter: Their waste can also contain salmonella, posing a risk during cleaning or handling.
  • Water Source: Sometimes the water they drink or bathe in can be a source of contamination.

Mitigation and Prevention

Reducing the risk of salmonella transmission from leopard geckos requires proper precautions. 

  • Handwashing: Always wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water after handling your gecko or cleaning its habitat.
  • Sanitize Habitat: Regularly clean and disinfect the gecko’s living space, including rocks, toys, and water dishes.
  • Avoid Face Contact: Keep the gecko away from your face, especially your mouth and eyes, to minimize risk.
  • Use Gloves: Wear disposable gloves when cleaning the habitat or handling waste.
  • Isolate Pet: Keep your leopard gecko separate from food preparation areas and away from vulnerable individuals like infants or older people.
  • Supervised Handling: Make sure children handle the gecko only under adult supervision and wash their hands immediately afterward.
  • Regular Vet Visits: Schedule routine check-ups with a veterinarian experienced in reptile care.

Children and High-Risk Individuals

More vulnerable to severe salmonella infections are children and individuals with weakened immune systems. When these individuals come into contact with leopard geckos, caution is crucial.

Limited Contact

A key strategy in mitigating the risk of salmonella transmission from leopard geckos involves reducing direct contact, especially among high-risk individuals. To achieve this, it’s advisable to establish a dedicated area for the gecko that is strictly off-limits to these individuals. 

By сreаting а рhysiсаl bаrrier аnԁ а сleаr bounԁаry, the сhаnсes of inаԁvertent сontасt between geсko аnԁ high-risk inԁiviԁuаls аre signifiсаntly ԁiminisheԁ. This рreventаtive meаsure serves аs а сruсiаl steр in sаfeguаrԁing the heаlth of those who mаy be more susсeрtible to sаlmonellа infeсtions.

Adult Supervision

When children interact with leopard geckos, it is imperative that responsible adult supervision is in place. This oversight ensures that proper hygiene and handling practices are consistently adhered to. Adults can guide children in safe interactions, emphasizing the importance of refraining from touching their faces or mouths after handling the gecko. 

Having an adult present adds an added layer of protection against potential infection. This proactive approach fosters a safe environment and imparts valuable lessons about responsible pet ownership to young individuals.

Immediate Handwashing

An essential practice for everyone caring for or interacting with leopard geckos is immediate and thorough handwashing. Effective hand hygiene serves as a critical defense against salmonella transmission. 

To wash hands effectively, use soap and warm water, and scrub for a minimum of 20 seconds. This duration ensures that germs, including salmonella, are effectively eliminated. Cultivating this habit promotes overall hygiene and significantly reduces the risk of infection not only from geckos but also from various other sources of contamination in our daily lives.

No Face Touching

Kids tend to touch their faces without realizing it, and that can spread germs. Make sure they understand not to touch their faces, especially their mouth and eyes, when they’re near the gecko.

Responsible Pet Ownership

Being a good pet owner means doing homework before getting any pet, even a leopard gecko. Look into the animal’s needs, like its diet, where it lives, and potential health risks, such as salmonella.

Arming yourself with knowledge enhances your pet’s life and safeguards your family’s health. Online communities focused on leopard geckos can be treasure troves of useful information.

Beyond just food and cleanliness, your pet needs regular vet check-ups and activities for mental and physical well-being. Responsible ownership benefits your pet and creates a healthier, safer living space for all.


Having a leopard gecko as a pet offers a unique and rewarding experience. Proper handwashing and cleaning of the habitat can significantly reduce salmonella risks, letting you enjoy quality time with your pet.

Responsibility is crucial in pet ownership, particularly with leopard geckos. A safe, enriching home environment for your family and pet comes from well-informed choices and attentive care. 


Do Geckos Carry Diseases?

Yes, geckos can carry diseases, including salmonella. Salmonella is only one of several infections that geckos can spread. Like many other reptiles, geckos can carry salmonella germs in their guts and excrete the bacteria in their waste.

Are Geckos at Risk for Salmonella?

Yes, geckos are at risk for salmonella. Salmonella is a real threat to geckos. They can spread the germs to humans and other animals, even if they don’t display any symptoms themselves.

Can I Get Salmonella from My Leopard Gecko?

Yes. Your leopard gecko may be the source of your salmonella problem. Salmonella can be transmitted from the skin of a leopard gecko or the gecko’s habitat if you handle it without taking the necessary hygiene procedures.

Is It Safe to Touch a Leopard Gecko?

Yes, touching a leopard gecko is generally safe as long as you follow proper hygiene practices.

Is It Safe to Kiss Your Leopard Gecko?

No. You shouldn’t kiss your leopard gecko. Salmonella is spread through kissing, so you shouldn’t do it.