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Anna, Reptile Expert, Biologist
Category: Reptile
Satisfied Customers: 11066
Experience:  Have owned turtles, snakes, amphibians, and lizards. Study and provide habitat for wild herps.
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female leopard gecko - one side of head is very swollen and

Customer Question

female leopard gecko - one side of head is very swollen and discolored. gecko is losing weaight and very lethargic.
Submitted: 8 years ago.
Category: Reptile
Expert:  Anna replied 8 years ago.

Some additional information may help me to answer your question.

Does your gecko have her normal appetite?

Is there any saliva coming from her mouth, like she's drooling a bit?

Do you give her any supplements? If so, which ones?

Thank you for the additional information.

Customer: replied 8 years ago.

Anna -


Does your gecko have her normal appetite?

No, if she is even eating at all. She has lost considerable weight and her tail is now very thin. She is awake and aware. She looks at me but her one eye on the swollen side will not open all the way. The swollen area is about the size of a large olive (half coming out of her head, with the skin discolored just in the same place). The swollen area has been there for at least 4 weeks, and had grown slightly since first noticed.


Is there any saliva coming form her mouth?

No, I don't see any wetness or drool.


Do you give her any supplements?

I have two geckos in the same tank. Male and female. I only give them a calcium dust on their crickets when feeding weekly. I also feed them meal worms/wax worms daily when crickets have been devoured. The male appears very healthy, large, well fed, and active.


The two have always gotten along, were together and the same age as juveniles when I purchased them at a pet store over a year and half ago, and I have never witnessed disputes or fighting between the two. The female laid a few eggs last year but only the one time.

Expert:  Anna replied 8 years ago.
Thank you for the additional information. There are many possible causes of the swelling you see - bacterial infection, an abscess, a tumor, MBD, nutrient deficiencies and more. Because there are so many possibilities, the best thing to do is take her to a reptile vet on Monday for diagnosis and treatment. If you need help finding a vet, give me your city (nearest larger town if you live in a small one) and state, and I'll help you find one.

In the meantime, there are a couple of first aid measures you can take to support your gecko until you can get to a vet. The temperature directly under your heat source should be warmer - 90*F would be good. You can adjust the temperature by moving your heat source up or down, but do make sure it's not so low that your geckos can touch it. You'll want to maintain a temperature gradient in the cage, but the warmest spot should be 90*. Second, because your gecko hasn't been eating, she may be dehydrated. You can give her a soak in a shallow bath consisting of half warm water and half unflavored Pedialyte (available in discount stores and pharmacies). Soak her for 20 to 30 minutes twice a day until you can get to a vet. Lizards can absorb fluids and electrolytes through their vents, so these soaks will help keep her hydrated.

If you have more questions, or need help finding a vet, just let me know by clicking on REPLY. I hope your gecko will be fine.

Customer: replied 8 years ago.
Customer: replied 8 years ago.
Customer: replied 8 years ago.

I know the vet will suggest to euthanize her. I don't think they will have much more to offer concerning the abcess. I posted pictures so others might try and find research. I had a lot of trouble finding anything specific about the condition or cure.


I have seen her drinking from the water bowl at least once.

Customer: replied 8 years ago.
Expert:  Anna replied 8 years ago.
This does look most like an abscess. I do think that if you went to an actual reptile vet, they might have some options. If you want to read how a good vet might treat this, see the following site:

In the photo, it looks like there's an open sore on the swelling. You can clean that area with some Betadine or Nolvasan. Follow that with an application of an antibiotic ointment, such as plain Neosporin (the kind with no added pain relief ingredients). Do that twice a day. A warm wet compress held to the swollen area twice a day for about 5 minutes may also help any pus to drain. Although it may be too thick and hardened for that to work, it won't hurt to try. Do that before applying the antibiotic ointment.

One way you may be able to get her to eat is to drop a little dollop of plain chicken baby food on her snout. Many times, they'll lick it off. Again, if you have more questions, let me know.

Customer: replied 8 years ago.

I appreciate the responses about my lizard. I don't feel a diagnosis or prognosis was given. There was no suggestion on the cause or how to prevent the same problem in the future. The treatments suggested are only guesses and hopeful remedies.

I would rather have gotten a response from someone who notices and can identify the problem directly by either experience, knowledge, or research.

An abscess and a trip to the veterinarian is nothing I didn't already know.

I will take her to the vet and go from there. I would rather save my $15 for the $55 initial vet consultation charge so my lizard might than a chance of recovery. Thank you.

Expert:  Anna replied 8 years ago.
That's fine. I'll put in a request for the refund of your deposit. I'm afraid that no one is going to give you a definite diagnosis and prognosis online. I will, however, also opt out of your question to see if any other experts have anything to add. Thanky ou for letting us know that you aren't satisfied. I hope your lizard will reach a full recovery.