Please help! We got a baby Leopard gecko one week ago today and he still has not eaten! We have offered him calcium

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Customer: Hi, please help! We got a baby Leopard gecko one week ago today and he still has not eaten! We have offered him calcium coated crickets and meal worms, and he turns his head. He lives with another baby leopard gecko we bought from the same cage at a pet store, who is eating fine. We have taken her out for as many as 2 hours, as well as taking out all his hiding places to make it easy for him to find the crickets. We initially were using sand in the cage until we were told it's not good for the young geckos. We are not sure if he may have consumed some sand before we made the change 4 days ago. We are wondering:
1.) Are there any tricks we can use to get him to eat?
2.) Should he see a vet?
3.) What can we give him to help him pass the sand, if that is what happened?

Thanks in advance!
Melissa
Answered by Anna in 49 mins 10 years ago
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Anna
30+ years of experience
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17,026 satisfied customers

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

Hello Melissa,

I'm sorry to hear that your little gecko is having a problem. You
ve provided some good information, but I need to know a couple more things.

Has the gecko been passing normal droppings?

What is the temperature in the cage?

Thank you.

Anna

Customer
Thanks for getting back to me! We are only seeing 2 droppings a day in the cage, which we assume are from the gecko who is eating. Our thermometer is not working properly, it always shows 110 degrees, which can't be right given that we do 12 hours with the day lamp and 12 with the black light. It never fluctuates. I will try to figure out what is wrong and can get back to you on that.
Thank you for getting back to me. I’m working on your answer and will post it as soon as I have it typed up. Please don’t respond to this post as that can lock me out of the question. I’ll be back shortly.

Anna
Thank you for waiting. I suspect that the pet store gave you information on care. while we should be able to count on such information, unfortunately, we can't because it is often wrong. If it's possible to return those lights, do so. Geckos don't need day and night lights. They do best with a heat mat that rests under the cage. Never use the heated rocks, however, they are dangerous. Geckos also do best with the same temperature gradient day and night. The warmest part of the cage should be about 88*F, and the coolest at 82*F, day and night. This can be done by placing the heat mat under about 3/4 of the cage. That will leave a cooler area at one end. You may ahve to experiment with placement of the heat mat. Get a digital probe thermometer for accurate temperature measurement. The stick on kind can be off by as much as 20 degrees.

I'll give you some first aid for the sick gecko. Buy some Pedialyte (yes, the kind for human infants), and prepare a shallow bath consisting of 1/2 warm water and 1/2 Pedialyte. Soak your gecko for about 20 to 30 minutes. After the first 10 minutes, with her/him still in the water, gently massage his/her underside from front to vent for an additional 10 minutes. That may be enough to help her/him pass some feces. The Pedilayte will also help with the dehydration that is almost certainly present by now. Be sure to supervise closely. This process can eb repeated twice daily.

After the gecko has had a nice soak and has been at the proper temperatures for a few hours, you cna try feeding. Get some plain chicken baby food. drop a small dollop right on the end of the gecko's snout. Most of the time they will lick it off. If this combination of measures doesn't help, you will need to see a vet. This link will take you to a directory of reptile vets:

http://www.anapsid.org/vets/index.html#vetlist

It sounds as if you may be leaving crickets in the cage for the geckos to eat as they wish. This is a dangerous practice. Crickets will bite a sleeping or resting lizard. The bites are so tiny that we can't see them, but they are very prone to infection. The infection can become life-threatening. Prescription antibiotics are required to treat it. Only the number of crickets the geckos will eat right away should be left in the cage. Remove any uneaten ones after a few minutes. You can also feed mealworms from a dish if you want to leave food in the cage.

I’m also sending along a care sheet, courtesy of Joan, another of our experts. You can use it as a checklist to make sure all the conditions are right. If you have more questions, just let me know by clicking on REPLY. I hope your gecko will reach a full recovery.

Anna

If you would like any additional information or have more questions please don’t hesitate to ask! There’s no additional fee for such follow-up questions.

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Thank you.


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 (28* to 31*C) 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 container. 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. Calcium 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 (28*C to 31*C)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


Customer
Hi Anna!
Your information was very helpful and he had his first soak today! It was the first time I noticed their belly skin is so thin we can see inside. I saw a black dot about the size of a flea (our sand was black) in the middle of his stomach between base of neck and vent, so i think that could be the culprit. Two more questions (although we will do more warm soaks tomorrow if needed):

1.) What about giving a small amount of olive oil to help pass the sand? If it's OK, how much for a baby?

2.) If nothing works to pass it, what can the vet do? Surgery?


Thanks again!

Melissa
Hi Melissa,

Don't try to put olive oil in his mouth by syringe or dropper. More often than not, that results in aspiration into the lungs, and pneumonia. If he will eat the chicken baby food in the way I described above, you can add a little olive oil to that. try perhaps an eighth of a teaspoon mixed with a half teaspoon of baby food.

If there is an impaction, a vet can do surgery. Often, a special laxative called lactulose is tried first. In some cases, an enema can help, too. The vet would probably need to take an x-ray to determine the best treatment. You can read a little more about impaction here:

http://www.herpcenter.com/leopard-gecko-sand-impaction-xrays.html

If you need anything else, don't hesitate to ask.

Anna

Hi Melissa, I'm just following up on our conversation about Leopard Gecko. How is everything going? MsAM
Customer
Hi Anna!
Thanks for following up. We had to take him to the vet because nothing was working, only to find out it was not sand impaction but he very sick (possibly something bacterial) and becoming septic. The vet felt he had been sick since before we got him but it went unnoticed since their were 8-10 in the cage together. To spare my three young sons the heartbreak of possibly losing him, we took him back to the pet store and got a healthier looking one. The pet store assured me he will get under a vets care asap and they will talk to their leopard gecko vendor. Your information was so helpful, the vet thought the pediatyte soaks and baby food may have been the only thing that kept him alive since he was not eating his normal diet for such a long time. We still got the heat pad and digital probe thermometer you advised for the benefit of the two healthy geckos we have. We can't thank you enough! What a great service this is!
Hi again,

I think you're vet was probably right about the gecko being sick before you got him. A lot of reptiles in pet stores are. I'm glad you got the situation resolved. I hope all your geckos will thrive from now on.

Anna
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