My leopard gecko has not eaten in two days and one of his eyes is completely black. He is not interested in meal worms

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Customer: My leopard gecko has not eaten in two days and one of his eyes is completely black. He is not interested in meal worms or crickets even if I put them in front of his nose which has never happenned before.
Answered by Anna in 40 mins 7 years ago
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Anna
30+ years of experience
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17,046 satisfied customers

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

Hello and welcome. Thank you for requesting me. I'm sorry to hear of this problem. Some additional information will be useful.
Is your gecko passing normal droppings?
What temperature gradient do you maintain in the cage?
What substrate do you use on the cage floor?
Is there any discharge from the eye?
Thank you.
Anna
Customer
The temperature is 80-85 in the cold and 90-95 in the warm part of the cage. He has had droppings though smaller than usual since he stopped eating. I use a carpet as a substrate. No discharge from the eye.
Thank you for getting back to me. I'm glad to hear you use carpet as substrate. I'll give you a first aid measure to take right away. Buy some Pedialyte (yes, the kind for human infants). Prepare a shallow bath consisting of half Pedialyte and half water. It should be deep enough to cover the gecko's vent - where droppings pass out. Lizards can absorb fluids and nutrients through their vents. Soak your gecko for 20 to 30 minutes. Be sure to supervise closely. After the soak, you can put a drop or two of saline solution (the kind made for contact lenses) in the eye.
You can try feeding him some plain meat baby food. Just drop a small dollop right on the end of his snout. Many times they will lick it right off.
Often we'll see an immediate improvement with the soaks. If you don't, it would be best to schedule a visit with a reptile vet tomorrow. Here is where you can find a reptile vet:
http://www.anapsid.org/vets/index.html#vetlist
If you have more questions, let me know in a REPLY. I hope your gecko will be fine.
Anna
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
Which flavor of pedialyte should I get?
It doesn't matter. Whatever you can find will be all right.
Customer
I gave him a bath for about 25 minutes about an hour ago. He still has not eaten anything and has been either in his cave since or has for some reason been rubbing his neck on the carpet. He is very lethargic looking. I took him to the vet as well earlier in the dat and was told that he has some infection on the inside of his eye that does not seem to be due to shedding or a cricket byte so I was given anti biotics for the gecko and an eye cream. I hope all this helps as the little guy looks very sad. Please let me know if you have any other suggestions.
It sounds like you are trying to do everything possible. The Pedilayte baths should be continued twice a day until he recovers because dehydration remains a bug risk.
Have you tried the baby food on the end of his snout? If not, give that a try, too.
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.
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
Hi,
I'm just following up on our conversation about your pet. How is everything going?
Anna
Customer
He is still not eating. I started force feeding him yesterday but he's not happy about it. He spends most of the time in his cave and his eye is still pitch black.
I'm so sorry to hear that. Unfortunately, force feeding is not going to save his life if he is seriously ill. Often they end up aspirating food into the lungs, which leads to pneumonia.
Continue the twice daily Pedialyte baths to prevent dehydration. That is the biggest danger.
If the vet didn't do blood work or check a stool sample for parasites, those would be the next steps. It certainly appears that something more than an eye infection is affecting him.
Anna
Customer
It was the vet who advised me to force feed him with baby food such as squash or green beans. He did not do any blood work and I didn't know to ask as I didn't know it could be done.
If the vet demonstrated how to force feed, then it's OK. If it's done right, it's not dangerous. But it still won't cure whatever is wrong with him.
Blood work usually isn't done until simpler options are used up. Liver and kidney disease can be detected with blood tests. It's up to you if you want to go that far. It can be expensive.
Customer
I am giving him antibiotics and the dr told me that if the gecko doesn't eat nothing will get cured. The dr didn't show me how to do it so I hope I'm not making things worse.
Well, it's a very difficult situation no matter what. Usually, the first aid measures I gave you help. Usually, the medications the vet prescribed will make a difference. But sometimes it seems nothing helps. You are doing the best you can, and that's all anyone can do.
Customer
On a good note when he is out of the cave he looks very alert, just not interested in worms and crickets. I'm taking him to a new vet tomorrow, one from your list, and my vet recommended another specialist that we're going to on Friday. My son, and I, love this gecko so we'll get him through this if its possible.
I'm happy to hear you're getting a few good signs. Please keep me posted on what the other vets find.
Customer
We ended up doing a blood test and stool analysis (expensive but I could not just let the little guy suffer) and it turns out he has a bacterial infection and parasites so he is going to stay on antibiotics and tomorrow they'll give me the meds for the parasites. He's been on antibiotics for over a week now and is more energetic and started eating on his own yesterday though he is still not hunting but just eating worms from a bowl that he knows food is usually in. I am still not sure about his eyesight though he seems much more alert, but until he starts hunting I'm not sure what he actually sees.
I'm glad you go to the bottom of it, and are getting treatment. I suppose all you can do about the eye is give it time. Now you know you've done everything possible. Thank you for the update. I hope he soon will be back to normal.
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