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Anna, Reptile Expert, Biologist
Category: Reptile
Satisfied Customers: 11508
Experience:  Have owned turtles, snakes, amphibians, and lizards. Study and provide habitat for wild herps.
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I found my leopard geckos back all scratched up this morning.

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I found my leopard geckos back all scratched up this morning. the skin has peeled up and it looks all scabbed underneath. almost like he tried to go through something sharp and scratched it? what could this be from and how do I treat it?

My name is XXXXX XXXXX I'm a biologist with a special interest in reptiles. I'm sorry to hear of this incident. Some additional information will be helpful.

Is there anything hanging in the cage, such a s a heat lamp, that Cookie could have rubbed on?

Is she the only gecko in the cage?

Are there any live crickets in the cage?

Is the skin oozing or bleeding at all?

Thank you.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

The heat lamp is on top of the cage. I have turned it off ever since I found her like this. I also thought it could be from the uv light but that would have had to happen over a period of time since we've use it every day for the past few weeks now. I thought maybe the high temperatures in her cage maybe made her skin crack. She looks for the extra heat though. her cage is usually in the 80's and she is usuall beside her heating stone on top of that. She is the only one in the cage and nothings been done to it for a long time.

She did have a large cricket in her feeding bowl yesterday which was gone by this morning.

She was also handled by a little girl last week who was more rough with her then she's used to. could it be stress? she has also slowed down with her feeding recently. She used to eat up to 3 crickets a day and then one day about 2 months ago she stopped eating all together for almost a whole month. Now shes been eating, but very little lately only about 2 crickets a week. I don't know if this would be related though.

Thank you for getting back to me. I think your temperatures are fine. Leopard geckos do best with a temperature gradient of 82*F on the cool side to 88*F on the warm side. However, I have another concern, and that is the heat rock. They are horrible for lizards. Lizards do not have very good heat sensors on their undersides. That means even if the heated rock is maintaining the temperature it is set on, burns can result. The lizard simply doesn't know when its underside has become too hot. Sometimes a lizard can go for years without a problem, but often it's only a matter of time before a burn occurs. A burn would cause the skin to blister on the part of the body that was on the rock too long. It's possible she leaned up against the side of the rock Pet stores recommend these rocks, and at first glance they seem like a good idea. Pet store staff get their information from literature put out by the manufacturers of heated rocks. Here is a nonprofit site where you can read the truth:


Also, take a look at this video:

Since the injury is on her back, it doesn't seem very likely the rock is to blame, but I would get rid of it before something does happen.

I suspect we aren't going to find the cause of the injury, but I can give you first aid for it. Start with a special soak. Buy Pedialyte (yes, the kind for human infants). Prepare a shallow bath consisting of 1/2 water and 1/2 Pedialyte. Soak your gecko for about 20 to 30 minutes twice a day. Reptiles can absorb the electrolytes and fluids through their vents (where droppings pass out), so make the water deep enough to cover the vent. Be sure to supervise closely. This measure will help with the dehydration that has occurred and may improve her appetite.

Next, get some Betadine (povo-iodine solution). This is sold in pharmacies in the first aid department. Clean the affected area with it. Follow that with a light coat of plain Neosporin. The Neosporin can be repeated twice per day.

If these measures don't help in a couple of days, or if the wounded area starts oozing or swells before that, it would be best to see a reptile vet. There may be infection that requires prescription medications. This link will take you to a directory of Canadian reptile vets:

If you have more questions, let me know by clicking on REPLY. I hope your gecko will quickly heal.


My goal is to provide you with excellent service – if you feel you have gotten anything less, please reply back, I am happy to address follow-up questions. Please remember to rate my service only after you have all the information you need. Thank you!
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

I will get rid of the heat rock thank you. would a heating pad under the cage be good or does that cause problems too? So you don't think it has anything to do with stress? could the lack of appetite be from too much rough handling? should I be concerned with how much shes eating?

Yes, a under-the -cage heat pad is excellent. the gecko doesn't have direct contact with it, and the warmth radiates up, warming the whole cage.

Stress could cause appetite loss, but wouldn't lead to the sores. If the little girl wasn't closely supervised, it is possible she accidentally injured your gecko. If internal injuries are possible, I would see a vet right away. That would be most likely if the girl squeezed or dropped your gecko.

As long a s you soak the gecko so she won't get dehydrated, that's most important, rather than food consumption. But if you want to try another way to get some nutrition into her, buy some plain meat baby food. Drop a small dollop right on the end of her snout. Most of the time, they will lick it off.

Because you have some questions about care, 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. Let em know if you need anything else.


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

Anna and 3 other Reptile Specialists are ready to help you
Hi Heidi,

I'm just following up on our conversation about Cookie. How is everything going?