Leopard geckos are truly fascinating creatures. They’re vibrantly colorful and full of anatomical intricacies.
Your gecko’s interesting body may have you pondering its nature and how it functions. If you’re wondering why leopard geckos have bumps, for example, you’ve come to the right place!
The scientific name for a leopard gecko’s bumps is tubercles. These tubercles can be found all over a gecko’s back, but are absent from its underbelly. Their main function is to protect these reptiles against rough surfaces, predators, and prey that fights back.
Read on to learn more about the bumps on your leopard gecko. We’ve also outlined some situations in which you should take your gecko to the vet to ensure that the bumps you see on it aren’t a sign of illness.
If you’ve had your pet gecko for quite some time now, you’ve probably noticed that it has bumps all over its back.
These bumps give leopard geckos the unique, exotic look that makes them such fascinating pets. However, these bumps aren’t just for show.
The technical name for this anatomical feature is “tubercle”. A leopard gecko’s tubercles serve several functions.
Here are a few of them:
Many predators in the wild pursue these small reptiles. In turn, they need to resort to guile as opposed to physical intimidation when warding off such threats.
Their tubercles help them do just that.
For example, many birds of prey consider leopard geckos as lunch meat. These birds typically stalk their prey from a high vantage point.
A leopard gecko’s tubercles make it look like a rock when seen from above. This camouflage can be the difference between life and death for these animals.
Making their shadows less conspicuous is another way in which a gecko’s bumps help it elude predators.
Predators, such as foxes and birds of prey, use shadows to catch their victims by surprise. A leopard gecko’s bumps make a predator’s task more difficult, giving these tiny reptiles more time to react.
In the wild, leopard geckos mainly live in rocky deserts and mountainous regions. Needless to say, these areas consist of rough, unforgiving surfaces.
A leopard gecko’s tubercles give it an added layer of protection against abrasion with such surfaces. Doing so provides a cushion and reduces the chance of them bumping into something and damaging their skin.
This doesn’t just apply to leopard geckos living in the wild, though. Your pet gecko’s terrarium likely has plenty of rough objects inside.
In fact, it should. This is because emulating your pet lizard’s natural habitat as much as possible is a key consideration when designing its terrarium.
Other hard surfaces in a terrarium that may injure your gecko include the equipment installed to maintain the right temperature and humidity.
Not only do the bumps on a leopard gecko’s skin protect it from predators, but they also protect these lizards when their prey fights back.
A leopard gecko’s diet mainly consists of creepy crawlies such as spiders, crickets, beetles, and other insects.
Sometimes, these insects don’t go down quietly and use their sharp claws or mandibles to avoid getting eaten.
Your leopard gecko’s bumps make these claws less likely to pierce its skin and cause serious injury.
Since a leopard gecko’s underbelly spends plenty of time scraping against the ground, you’d expect this area of its body to be heavily protected, too.
You’re right, it is indeed. But does that protection come in the form of tubercles? The answer is no.
Leopard geckos have scales on their bellies instead. These scales protect against nicks and bumps as they climb and crawl over sharp objects. Those can include rocks and twigs, for instance.
Although the bumps on your leopard gecko’s skin are a natural part of its anatomy, you shouldn’t confuse them with skin conditions or diseases.
If you notice that your gecko’s gotten bumpier than usual, you may want to keep a close eye on it. This is especially true if this abnormality comes with changes in your gecko’s behavior, such as lethargy or loss of appetite.
Your leopard gecko may be suffering from subcutaneous abscesses. These growths develop under your pet’s skin as a result of bacterial infection. Abscesses are a serious condition and can be quite painful for your reptilian pal.
In this case, we advise that you take your leopard gecko to the vet for a checkup.
Oftentimes, leopard gecko owners will notice large bumps under each of their pet’s armpits.
This is usually no cause for concern. These armpit bumps, or bubbles, are simply calcium, fat, and vitamin reserves that your gecko’s storing.
Such behavior is common in all types of geckos. Their tails are also a storage site for nutrients and minerals.
Armpit bubbles don’t cause your gecko any pain or discomfort.
However, they may be an indication that your gecko is overweight. In addition to this, they may be a sign that you’re providing your gecko with a diet containing excess calcium.
When you look at a leopard gecko’s bumps, you may be under the impression that they’re hard. However, the truth is that they’re quite soft.
Instead of sheltering a gecko from bumps and bruises like a coat of armor, these bumps act like a cushion to absorb blows.
In contrast, the scales on a leopard gecko’s underbelly are significantly rougher than the bumps on its back, for example.
You may be tempted to stroke your gecko’s bumpy skin to see what it feels like. But is this a good idea?
Generally speaking, leopard gecko owners should only handle their pet reptiles occasionally. Geckos are solitary creatures by nature. In turn, they need their space.
So, you need to strike a balance between handling your gecko and letting it be. Petting your gecko once or twice a week will help develop a sense of bonding and trust with it.
On the other hand, overhandling your gecko will only stress it out. This doesn’t bode well for its health. Furthermore, you may earn yourself an annoyed bite from your pet reptile.
Leopard geckos are creatures that are full of mystery. One intriguing feature of these animals is the bumps on their skin. So, why do leopard geckos have bumps?
The bumps, or tubercles, on a leopard gecko’s back are mainly there to protect it. These small animals are prone to injury in the wild due to the harsh, rocky areas they inhabit.
As such, the presence of bumps on their skin reduces the chances of them getting hurt navigating these conditions. They also protect leopard geckos from both their predators and prey.
If you notice bumps on your gecko that weren’t there before, make sure to consult a vet to ensure that all is well with your pet.
I have a bachelor’s degree in Film/Video/Media Studies, as well as an associates degree in Communications. I began producing videos and musical recordings nearly 15 years ago. I am a guitarist and bassist in Southwest MI and have been in a few different bands since 2009, and in 2012 I began building custom guitars and basses in my home workshop as well. When I’m home, I love spending time with my three pets (a dog, cat, and snake) and gardening in my backyard. I also like photographing wild birds, especially birds of prey.