I have a similar question as one posed by another client. I have a 14yr old African leopard gecko and this past week he

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Customer: Hi,

I have a similar question as one posed by another client. I have a 14yr old African leopard gecko and this past week he stopped eating. When I lift him from the tank and put him in with his crickets he has no interest in eating. I have tried several times throughout the day and late evening over the last week.
I am ready to give him the electrolyte bath of which I have done in the past for his now dead mate. I also have purchased the baby chicken food and will increase the voltage on his red light to 100w in case the tank is too cold. My vets here in Toronto are suggesting that he probably is very ill and should be seen. His digestive track is clear of sand.
I have also purchased a new batch of crickets just in case he has preference!
Do you think he could possibly have gone into hibernation? What is your opinion?

Many thanks for your responses.

Karyn in Toronto
Answered by Jav917 in 10 mins 11 years ago
Pet Specialist

27,324 satisfied customers

Specialities include: Reptile Veterinary, Herp Veterinary, Exotic Animal Medicine, Amphibian Veterinary


Can you tell me about the set up?




Passing stool?

Any loose stools?

When was last shed?


Hi Joan,

Zack lives in a 30 gallon tank with house tree, rocks etc. He was moved a few years back to our spare bedroom beside natural light. His light if on at night only.
He does pass stools with a little of the white calcium but sometimes the whole cricket.

I basicall supply the crickets with Flunkers orange cubes which is the complete cricket diet. Many of the pet stores use this and have assured me that it would replace the powder and that the lizard would obtain his nutrients through this substance.
He also has music played for him every night as his owner has been overseas studying for the last year. Human contact is limited and we try and walk him around to stimulate him but it has been quite infrequent.
His last shed was about 3-4 weeks ago.
His tail has dimished quite a bit over the last week.
He is alert some of the time but refuses to eat. His eating patterns over the many years is about 2x a week. Not sure what you mean by substrates. Must llok up the word.




The Pet shops have ill informed you about the calcium. You have to dust prey and also keep a dish of calcium in the tank at all times. Without having the availability of the calcium this leaves the Leo open for Metabolic Bone Disease.


Leopard Geckos do not Brumate, but will slow down a bit in the winter months. If the substate is calci sand it is deadly! This shows the X rays of an impacted Leopard gecko: http://www.herpcenter.com/leopard-gecko-sand-impaction-xrays.html The sand can also cause corneal ulcers and skin problems. I would remove the calcium sand immediately and replace with paper towels or cage carpet.


I suspect the leo is either impacted or has a paraiste issue and it will need to be addressed by a Herp Vet. In the mean time we can try some first aid. You can start with a soak in 50/50 warm water and plain Pedialyte(shallow where it comes under the legs. Once that is done we are going to mix a meat flavored baby food with calcium powder and drop on the snout and allow him to lick it off. We do not force feed since it can cause aspiration pneumonia. I will be happy to give you a location for Herp Vets in Canada . Herp Vets in Canada: http://www.triciaswaterdragon.com/canrepvt.htm Joan




Leopard Gecko Care Sheet

The Leopard Gecko is originally from Pakistan, India, and a few other countries in Asia. They actually live on hard rocky outcrops and they are nocturnal (active at night). They prefer temperatures between 82 and 88 degrees all day and night. They grow to between 8 to 11 inches. Leopard Geckos are available in a wide range of colors and patterns which are the result of selective captive breeding. These include albino, ghost, striped, jungle, Leucistic and high yellow. These colors have been made possible through selective captive breeding. Leopard Geckos make wonderful pets for almost any age person. Leopard Geckos also make good long term pets. They can live over twenty years. Never grab by tail it will break off. Leopard Gecko Housing: A male Leopard Gecko should never be housed in the same cage as another male leopard gecko because they will fight and possibly kill one another. A male can be housed with several females without any problems. I do not advise housing leopard geckos in the same cage with any other reptiles. A single Leopard Gecko can be kept in a ten gallon tank. For a male and a few females a twenty gallon tank or larger should be used. The cage should have a screen lid on top of it to prevent any escapes. Leopard geckos need places to hide and sleep during the day so you must provide a couple of hiding spots. They need a warm hiding spot and a cold humid hiding spot. Just put one hide box on the side with the heat light and put the humid hide box on the side that does not have the heat light. I actually prefer an under the tank heater for heat source rather than a light since the geckos are Nocturnal.



For the humid hide box, Paper Towels work well and easily replaced inside a hide box. You can make your own humid hide box from a small plastic shoe box or from a margarine conatiner. Cut a hole in one end of the container and place moist paper towel inside it. The humid box should be cleaned out every week and re moistened. A humid hide box is needed so that the gecko can go in it when it needs to shed. The humidity helps the old skin come off.


Substrate: There is an abundance of products on the market that claim to be safe substrates. All Loose Substrates (Please note the link above) however are not safe to use. A substrate is what you put on the bottom of the cage for the lizard to walk around on. If a Leopard Gecko ingests any of the substrate accidentally, the substrate must pass through the digestive system. Trust me they will ingest substrate, sometimes on purpose. If it does not easily pass through the digestive system compaction will occur. Compaction is an extreme blockage of the digestive tract and is often fatal. Some substrates that I consider unsafe because they can cause compaction are: sand, bark, Calci sand, crushed walnut shells, lizard litter, gravel, aquarium gravel, and coconut fiber. The safest substrate is using paper towels or plain newspaper, non-stick shelf liner , cage carpet or ceramic tile. For any leopard geckos that are younger than six months I advise using paper towels or plain newspaper until they are at least six months old. Sand is not fully digested no matter what it claims. The stuff just does not break down completely. .



Leopard Gecko Heating and Temperature: The cage should be between 82 to 88 degrees all day and night. There is two basic ways to heat the cage. One is to use a under tank heater like heat tape. The other is to use a black, or blue night incandescent heat light. I prefer to use a heat light. For a 10 gallon tank a 60 watt bulb should work depending on room temperature. Place the heat light on one end of the cage. By putting the heat light on one end of the cage it keeps that side warmest and allows the gecko to move to the warmer side with the light or to the colder side without the light as needed to regulate body temperature.

NEVER EVER USE A HOT ROCK, HEAT ROCK, OR ANY SIMILAR PRODUCT. Hot rocks heat unevenly and are notorious for causing terrible thermal burns. Do not buy a hot rock and if you know anyone who uses one, tell them to throw it away.

Leopard Gecko Feeding: Leopard Geckos will do very well on a diet of mealworms and crickets. I like to provide some variety in feeder insects to create a more balanced diet. Feeder insects I use are silkworms, mealworms, roaches and crickets with the legs on one side of the body pulled off. Crickets will bite your geckos while they sleep, these bites are prone to infection, so if you pull off one side of their legs then they cannot move around the cage and get to the gecko and also this prevents the crickets from climbing out of the cage. Gut load feeder insects for at least a day before putting them in with the gecko. Feed geckos insects that are not larger than the width of the head of the gecko.
Adults can be fed superworms, though I advise only feeding a couple superworms at a time. Leopard Gecko Vitamin/Mineral Supplement: For young geckos dust the feeder insects every other feeding or place a small feeder dish with supplement in it and some mealworms in the cage. For adults and babies place a shallow dish or a plastic lid in the cage with a teaspoon of calcium powder on it. The gecko will lick the calcium powder as needed. You still need to dust feeder insects every other feeding though with a vitamin supplement for young geckos. Adults use vitamin supplement once a week. Leopard Gecko Water: Use a shallow water bowl, fill with water as needed. Remove bowl from cage and clean out weekly.

Do Not Feed Pinkies


Wow! I appreciate the information but will try everything you have suggested as I have all ingredients on hand except the calcium for the tank. Would that be liquid calcium for human consumption? Like SISU?

My Terrarium substrate indicates that it is natural desert sand with no additives meaning dyes and chemicals. Would this be safe to use?
I have a heater for underneath but for some reason this newer replacement was causing the lizard to vacate.
I have only a few days before I leave for my son's graduation and therefore will only be able to try your advice and hope for the best. My daughter will be in to supply fresh water.


The desert sand is equally as dangerous, as some are nothing but crushed walnut shell which can perforate the intestinal tract. You can get the Reptile calcium which is a powder at the pet shops. I recommend Flukers Plain calcium without phosphorus or D3. Joan

Thank you Joan,

I will make a printout of your answers so I can study in detail. Meanwhile a bath for Zack and baby food. I do have some powder calcium so will try it first.

I am shocked that Reptilia did not mention about the sand. I will look for carpet as well but will use newspapers for the time being. Zack's mate was lost to ingestion of sand but it is the parasite that I'm worried about. I will also resume sprinkling the crickets with calcium and vitamins.



The Newspaper should be fine as most is soy based ink and safe for reptiles. The Pet shops sell products to make money and sand is a big seller. As far as the calcium, that is a must in all reptiles. What the crickets eat goes through them very quickly, and most of the time the animals does not get enough. Hope this helps. To print out the info, copy and paste to a word processor document and then print. Joan


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