Leopard geckos are a great pet for reptile owners of all experience levels. These lizards do not require the specialized care that many other lizard species do, but they can still fall ill or suffer from stress as easily as any other animal. In this article you will learn about some common health issues in leopard geckos.
General signs of illness in Leopard Geckos
When you’re holding them, they’re a little drowsy. These people appear to be disoriented and unconcerned with anything going on around them.
This person’s skeleton is clearly visible. The body of a gecko should be thick enough to support the creature’s weight.
The area around their midsection should be smooth and flat. Do not assume your loved one is pregnant if you observe a bump.
It’s important that their skin is vibrant. The presence of blisters or open cuts, as well as discolored skin (and no signs of shedding), are all indications that something is seriously wrong with them. They should be able to see clearly. Check to see whether they are swollen or oozing any fluid from their eyes.
Nothing should ever be dripping from their lips or gums. They should have a strong jawbone. They shouldn’t have a gaping mouth at all. An indication of metabolic bone disease (MBD) is the presence of this sign. The toes on each foot should be present. No excess skin should be covering them ( see shedding problems ). Having swollen or bleeding toes may indicate an infection.
The solidity of their excrement is essential (black, brown, and a little white). Diarrhea and varied colors in their feces are not acceptable.
Sunken eyes are another indicator of health issues. If they can see you, then there’s nothing wrong with them.
Poor appetite or abnormal weight loss can be associated with illness in your Leo. The tail of a leopard gecko can be used to measure weight reduction. In the early phases of weight loss, the tail is depleted of fat because it is used as a fat storage. When compared to a healthy leopard gecko’s large, bulbous tail, it becomes slender and sticklike. Pet geckos should be weighed every week to catch problems before they get out of hand.
If you notice any of these symptoms, contact your veterinarian immediately.
Leopard Gecko Health Issues
Note, this is an overview of a variety of potential health issues. Many of these are not common but have been seen in Leopard Geckos. Always consult your vet with any concerns.
Leopard geckos frequently suffer from malnutrition. In a nutshell, crickets and mealworms that have not been supplemented are insufficient. For leopard geckos, calcium-rich insects are essential and should be dusted with the mineral prior to being fed to ensure proper nutrition. Hepatic lipidosis is a common side effect of a poor diet. For the first six to eight weeks, the gecko must be fed through a stomach tube or feeding tube to help it learn to eat on its own.
Leopard geckos are prone to this issue because of their poor diet and inadequate supplements. As a result, hemipenal casts are maintained, shedding is impeded, and eye issues arise.
The ‘tail drop’ behavior of leopard geckos is called tail autotomy. This means that they are able to use their tails as a kind of self defense. To avoid this, it is essential to avoid handling geckos by their tails. The initial bony vertebrae are replaced by cartilage as the tail grows back after being shed. To minimize infection, it is important to keep the stump clean during the healing period.
Uric acid crystals form when uric acid builds up in the joints or organs (visceral gout) (articular gout). Many different symptoms can occur depending on where the disease has spread. Insufficient humidity or water supply, low ambient temperatures and a high protein diet are all contributing factors to this painful condition. Kidney disease is another possible cause. This ailment necessitates changes in animal care or specific treatment, and in extreme circumstances, euthanasia may be necessary.
The condition known as “egg binding” or “dystocia” happens in female leopard geckos that are having difficulty passing their eggs. Regardless of whether the female is living alone or with others, she can lay eggs without the help of a man. Egg binding in this species is greatly increased by the absence of a damp hide in the nesting location. A moist hide in the cage, low-intensity UVB light, and adequate dietary calcium and vitamin D3 can help prevent and treat minor instances. Veterinarians are needed for more serious cases or ones that have gone on for more than 48 hours. Hormone injections, supportive care, aspiration of the egg’s contents, or surgery to remove the eggs may be necessary. Occasionally, straining can cause a gecko’s vent to prolapse, which necessitates veterinarian intervention.
Leopard geckos are prone to large subcutaneous abscesses that can involve the periocular tissue and are located just a short distance away from it. Under anesthesia, an anaerobic and anaerobic culture with sensitivities, antibiotics, pain medicines and nutritional assistance are all part of the treatment.
An abscess can form if the eye is pierced, infected, or inflamed. As a result of a wound that doesn’t directly affect your eyes, an abscess might form under your eyes.
You’ll be able to tell whether your leopard gecko has an abscess if you observe a bump under its eye. Abcesses are common in pets, but they can also be caused by insects like cricket mealworms and other small animals. When geckos battle amongst themselves, an abscess can grow on the wound.
Stools that are watery or smeared are unusual, and this is especially true if they contain undigested insects. Without treatment, leopard geckos would cease eating even though they have a healthy appetite.
Geckos that live on sand, fine jagged pebbles, or broken walnut shells are more likely to have this problem. Because they are unable to consume it, smooth gravel is an ideal substrate.
Learn all about substrates in our Leopard Gecko Habitat Setup Guide
The use of calcium-enriched sands as a substrate is not advised. Anorexia, lethargy, and straining to urinate are all possible symptoms. Cloacal or colonic prolapse may occur as a result of a blocked digestive system.
Leopard geckos are known to exhibit this odd behavior, which is caused by many sheds remaining on the digits as a result of the low humidity. Avascular necrosis develops as shedding accumulate and blood flow is restricted. A wet hide/nest box is a simple solution to this problem. The toes may have to be amputated under local or general anesthesia if the sheds are not removed properly after soaking in damp paper towels. Antibiotics, including systemic and topical, are recommended.
Metabolic Bone Disease
In order to keep their bones strong, all geckos need calcium and vitamin D3. To provide calcium, most pet parents use a powdered milk dish, dusted feeders or fruit-based formulas. Exposure to sunshine, UVB in lights, or in powdered form with calcium or other vitamins can provide vitamin D3. When geckos don’t get enough calcium or vitamin D3, they develop Metabolic Bone Disease (MBD), which causes their bones to become brittle and weak, eventually leading to severe malformations.
A gecko that has been accidentally exposed to excessively high temperatures might suffer an acute, cataclysmic calcium deficit, which normally takes months or more to occur. MBD symptoms include bending limbs, a stretchy mouth that hinders geckos from chewing or killing their prey, and tail or spine kinks that were previously absent. Calcium metabolism is a problem for certain hatchlings, and they will not live past the first few days of their lives.
Learn about What Do Leopard Geckos Eat.
To compensate for the calcium lost during the formation of the eggs, females that produce eggs need to be given extra calcium supplements. Calcium and vitamin D3 supplementation can help treat mild cases of MBD. Use a calcium with D3 powder-dipped finger to apply to the gecko’s mouth. Geckos typically consume calcium by licking it.
A veterinarian should be consulted for more severe cases of MBD, which may require liquid calcium or an injection of calcium. In many cases, treating MBD does not result in a change in bone deformity, although this can be avoided if the treatment is done correctly.
All geckos are likely to have a modest level of internal parasite organisms that are not harmful. When geckos’ immune systems are weakened due to stress, disease, or injury, they may be less able to control parasites like these.. The gecko’s health begins to suffer as the parasite population grows. Geckos can also become hosts to new parasites by ingesting them through the excrement of other animals or from their surroundings (This is one important reason for quarantining newly acquired animals from the rest of the collection).
With an excessive parasite load, some geckos may not show any signs at all, while others may exhibit symptoms such as anorexia, stinky feces, and swollen stomachs. Some people try to cure parasites on their own by administering a universal anti-parasitic treatment, but consulting a veterinarian is more appropriate to select the proper prescription and dosage. The surroundings of the geckos will be repeatedly disinfected to prevent re-infection as part of the treatment.
External parasites, such as mites, can infest several gecko species, particularly wild-caught specimens. Preventing a re-infestation requires treating both the gecko’s skin and the surrounding environment once more. In the past, we’ve written about gecko mites on our blog.
For example, geckos can become disturbed when they are relocated, their habitat is altered, another reptile is introduced, they overcrowd, or they are bred. Stress can be caused by any disruption in the gecko’s routine or persistent bad care. A person’s immune system can be suppressed and symptoms such as unwillingness to consume food can result from stress, which is not a disease in and of itself.
Even a gecko that generally sheds with ease can have a poor shed due to stress. Allowing a new gecko the time it needs to adjust to its new surroundings without interfering with or disturbing it will solve the problem in certain situations. It is necessary in some circumstances to eliminate stressors and treat illnesses brought on by stress (e.g., isolating the gecko from stressed cagemates).
Knowing about some of the health risks of Leopard Geckos will help you catch issues as they are developing. Take your time when you are learning about Leopard Geckos, and don’t hurry to take action unless necessary. You will have a happier, healthier gecko if you take your time and do things right!
Leopard Gecko Health Issues FAQ
Why Do Leopard Geckos Have Eye Issues?
When compared to the size of their heads, leopard geckos’ eyes are enormous. This may explain why they are more prone than other animals to eye infections and abscesses, as well as other ocular ailments. If this is the case, they may be born with a defect or be suffering from a deficiency in their food or surroundings.
What to Do if Your Leopard Gecko Has Eye Issues?
Large wide eyes make leopard geckos appealing and curious pets. Poor care or environmental factors might cause many of the problems they experience with their eyes.
You must be able to spot the onset of an eye problem in your gecko in order to administer the necessary treatment and know when to seek the assistance of your exotics veterinarian. However, if you keep your pet’s environment in the best possible condition, you can avoid many eye problems.
How long can leopard geckos go without eating?
Leopard geckos are able to survive without food for up to two weeks at a stretch, notably during shedding and blight. Fat reserves on their tails allow them to survive. It’s possible that a parasite infection or an impaction could be to blame for the sudden weight loss.
When Should You See A Vet?
In addition to the lack of food, you should consult your veterinarian if you observe any other health issues, such as excessive hiding, lethargy, or symptoms of infection. If your gecko hasn’t eaten in three or four days, you should take him to the vet. If your gecko loses a significant amount of weight in a short period of time, you should get it examined by a veterinarian.
Why Do Leopard Geckos Stop Eating?
When Leopard Geckos stop eating, it’s usually because their enclosure is too cold.
Will a leopard gecko starve itself?
Outside of shedding or brumation season, a Leopard gecko will not starve itself. A parasite infection, impaction, or digestion problems caused by improper heating and lighting may also be causing your gecko to lose its appetite.
Why Is My Leopard Gecko Not Shedding?
Leopard geckos may shed less regularly as they get older and mature.
If your lizard sheds at night, you may not detect it at all. While it may appear that your leopard gecko isn’t shedding, this is simply a false impression.
There may be a true shed phase that you are not aware of if the rest of your lizard appears to be healthy, developing, and feeding normally.
When ovulating or incubating eggs, some people will stop shedding momentarily. In order to conserve energy, pregnant females may postpone shedding until after they have laid a large number of eggs.
My Leopard Gecko has Stuck Shedding, What Do I Do?
Shedding issues can result in amputations and other bodily harm, but they are extremely rare. As shed constricts blood flow, your leopard gecko may lose its toes and tail if you leave it unattended.
The most important thing you can do to assist your leopard gecko shed is to provide it with a proper habitat.
The leopard gecko’s habitat and nutrition are ideal, so shedding should be a breeze. As a general rule, it is best not to attempt to remove the trapped shed yourself.
When attempting to remove a trapped shed, be careful not to injure the delicate skin below. Your lizard’s shed will be easier to remove if you soak, spray, or bathe it.