I have just adopted two Geckos (one male and one one female) from a very good friend as they have moved four hundred

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Customer: Hi,
I have just adopted two Geckos (one male and one one female) from a very good friend as they have moved four hundred miles away to a new job. I am very concerned about the female as she does not appear to be eating. She is extremely thin especially around the tail. What do I do?
Answered by Anna in 15 mins 10 years ago
30+ years of experience

17,020 satisfied customers

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


You are right to be concerned. The female is exhibiting signs of being ill. Some additional information may help us figure out what is going on.

Has she been passing normal droppings?

What substrate (covering) is sued on the cage floor?

What si the temperature in the cage?

Do you know if the vet checked her for parasites?

Was the vet a reptile specialist, or a local vet who sees mostly dogs and cats?

Thank you.

I will try and answer your questions the best I can. The droppings have appeared to be normal (in that they are no different from the the male, who is eating like a horse. I think the substrate is special sand (it came with the tank when we got it and my friends knew a lot about reptiles). The inside of the cage is quite warm and we also have a special plug-in heat heat pad underneath her cage. Though I'm not sure what the optimum temperature should be in there. My friend said that the vet gave her a full looking at so I presumed that meant parasites as well but I'm unsure whether he was a general vet or a reptile expert. I can find out both these things today by phoning her. I know I've been quite vague but it my hope that I've helped you at least a little further in this mystery.
Thank you for getting back to me. I can work with the information you've given. I’m working on your answer and will post it as soon as I have it typed up.(I'm not a fast typist). Please don’t respond to this post as that can lock me out of the question. I’ll be back shortly.

Thank you for waiting. Without knowing for sure if the gecko is passing droppings, it is very possible that she is impacted. Although the sand is recommended by pet stores, it very often responsible for impaction and eye infections. I would get rid of the sand. A solid substrate, such as reptile carpet or ceramic/slate tile is better. I'll also give you a first aid measure to try. Buy some Lectaid (sold in UK pet stores), and prepare a shallow warm bath consisting of 1/2 warm water and 1/2 Lectaid. Soak your gecko for about 20 to 30 minutes. After the first 10 minutes, with her still in the water, gently massage her underside from front to vent(where droppings pass out) for an additional 10 minutes. That may be enough to help her pass some feces. Be sure to supervise closely.

It's also important to make sure the temperatures are correct, so you'll need to get a digital probe thermometer. There should be a range from 28* to 31*C day and night.

The thin tail is a key sign of poor health in a gecko, so I suspect the vet your friend saw was not a reptile vet. Parasites are detected by examining a sample of droppings. I recommend seeing a reptile vet. This link will take you to a directory:


If the gecko is impacted and the baths/massages don't help, a vet will be necessary.
Because you are a new gecko owner, 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.


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.

Please remember to only rate my answer when you are 100% satisfied. If you feel the need to click either of the two faces on the left, please stop, and instead reply to me via the REPLY button with the issue you have. 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

Apologies for my delay in answering you, after I went to answer your initial question, every time I went to go to see what you'd written it threw me back to what you'd written originally about not replying because it would shut you out of the question. Therefore I just assumed you hadn't written anything else. Thank you very much for all your advice. I will certainly try all these thinks. Is there anyway I can come back to you if I have any further issues or problems?
You're welcome. If you want to reach me again, you can just put my name (Anna) as the first word in your question. Then, I'll get back to you as soon as I come online. Thank you!

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