Are Geckos Intelligent? Exploring the Smartness of Leopard Geckos

Before delving into the intelligence of geckos, it is essential to understand the definition of intelligence in animals. Intelligence refers to the ability to acquire, understand, and apply knowledge and skills to solve problems or adapt to new situations. It includes cognitive abilities such as learning, memory, perception, and reasoning.

What are geckos?

Geckos are a type of lizard that belongs to the Gekkonidae family. They are known for their unique ability to climb walls and ceilings due to their specialized toe pads. There are over 1,500 species of geckos, and they are found in various habitats worldwide.

Leopard geckos

Leopard geckos (Eublepharis macularius) are one of the most commonly kept species of geckos as pets. They are native to arid regions of Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan, and India. Leopard geckos are small in size, measuring about 8-11 inches in length, and have a distinctive spotted pattern on their skin. They are nocturnal and feed on insects.

Do geckos have brains?

Yes, geckos have brains, but their brain size is relatively small compared to other animals. The size of a gecko’s brain is determined by its body size and activity level. Despite their small brain size, geckos exhibit complex behaviors, suggesting that they possess some level of intelligence.

Gecko behavior and cognition

Learning and memory

Studies have shown that geckos are capable of learning and retaining information. In a study conducted on leopard geckos, researchers found that they could learn to associate a particular color with a reward. They also demonstrated the ability to remember the association even after a long period of time.

Problem-solving abilities

Geckos have been observed exhibiting problem-solving abilities in the wild. In one study, researchers observed a gecko that had trapped itself in a container and was trying to find a way out. The gecko was seen using trial and error to figure out how to escape, eventually succeeding.

Gecko communication and social behavior

Do geckos communicate?

Geckos communicate with each other through various means, including vocalizations, body language, and scent marking. In a study conducted on tokay geckos, researchers found that they used different vocalizations to communicate with each other, such as mating calls and territorial calls.

Do geckos have social behavior?

Geckos are generally solitary animals, but some species exhibit social behavior. For example, leopard geckos have been observed forming pairs during the breeding season. They also show aggression towards other geckos to protect their territory.

Comparing gecko intelligence to other animals


Primates are often used as a benchmark for animal intelligence due to their close evolutionary relationship to humans. Compared to primates, geckos have a much smaller brain size and lack complex social behavior. However, they do exhibit cognitive abilities such as learning and problem-solving.


Birds are another group of animals known for their intelligence. They possess a larger brain size than geckos and exhibit complex behaviors such as tool use and social learning. However, geckos have been shown to have better spatial memory than birds.


Compared to other reptiles, geckos exhibit a higher level of intelligence. They possess a relatively larger brain size and exhibit more complex behaviors. However, they still fall behind mammals and birds in terms of cognitive abilities.

The importance of understanding gecko intelligence

Conservation efforts

Understanding the intelligence of geckos and other animals is crucial for conservation efforts. It allows us to better understand their behavior and habitat needs, which can aid in conservation efforts. For example, knowing that geckos possess problem-solving abilities can help conservationists design better traps to capture them safely.

Captive care

Understanding gecko intelligence is also important for their welfare in captivity. It allows us to design better living conditions and provide them with enrichment activities that stimulate their cognitive abilities. For example, providing leopard geckos with puzzles to solve can help keep them mentally stimulated.


In conclusion, geckos, including leopard geckos, possess a certain level of intelligence. While they may not be as intelligent as primates or birds, they exhibit cognitive abilities such as learning and problem-solving. Understanding their behavior and cognition is crucial for their conservation and welfare in captivity.

ThePetFaq Team