I have a leopard gecko that doesn't want to eat. He was thriving but within the last couple of weeks has really seemed

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Customer: I have a leopard gecko that doesn't want to eat. He was thriving but within the last couple of weeks has really seemed off. He almost seems to be dragging his hind legs. He has also gotten smaller. Is it possible that the recent temperature drop has affected him? Or could it be something more serious?
Answered by Anna in 15 mins 6 years ago
30+ years of experience

17,034 satisfied customers

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

Hello and welcome. My name is ***** ***** I'm a biologist with a special interest in reptiles. I'm sorry to hear of your gecko's problems. This may be something serious, but some additional information will help us determine if that is the case. Do you presently not have a source of heat in the tank? What temperatures do you maintain? Does he get a calcium supplement? Thank you.

I have heat lamps on one end. the temp is usually between 80-90 degrees. Yes, I usually dust his worms/crickets with calcium. I ran out and it was about 2 weeks before I could buy more.

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. I'll be back shortly.

Thank you for waiting. I am very concerned about some of these symptoms, especially the shrinking size and dragging the back legs. I'll give you a few things to try, but it probably will be best to see a vet.

I’ll start with a first aid measure.Buy some 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. If you can't get Pedialyte tonight, begin with a plain water soak. After tonight's soak, put just a little mineral oil or cooking oil on the unshed skin on his toes. Leave it over night. In the morning, soak him again. Gently rub that skin on his toes to see if it will come off. Skin stuck on the toes can cut off circulation, leading to the loss of the toes.

There are two common reasons why the back legs don't function properly. One is impaction. Unpassed droppings press on the sciatic nerve, leading to leg problems. If your gecko has not been defecating, let me know, and we'll proceed from there. If he has been passing droppings, then he may have Metabolic Bone Disease (MBD). Geckos don't usually need UVB light, but there are exceptions. When symptoms of MBD develop, it is best to provide a UVB light. I recommend the Reptisun 5.0 in the straight tube style.

The best temperatures for geckos are 88*F on the warm side and 82*F on the cool side, maintained day and night. An under the tank heat pad is the best way to keep a gecko warm. They don't do as well with overhead lights.

Once your gecko has had a couple of Pedialyte soaks, you can try feeding him. Get some plain meat baby food. Drop a small dollop right on the end of his snout. Many times, reflexes will cause them to lick it off.

If these measures don't quickly help, it would be best to see a vet. This link will take you to a directory of reptile vets:


I’m also sending along a care sheet, courtesy of Joan, another of our experts. You probably already know much of what is in it, but 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.


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!

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 are 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

He has not been pooping. I will buy some pedialyte and try that tomorrow. Already worked on his toes tonight and he pretty mad. Will give it another go tomorrow as well. Should i srop using the crushed walnut and switch to a carpet type? Weve been using that since we got him and have never had a problem.

Yes, definitely get rid of the crushed walnut. It doesn't cause a problem right away. The trouble is that it is a bit like reckless driving. A person may do it for years with no problem, but that doesn't make it safe. I'll give you another step to take to help with his constipation. Before giving him a soak, drop a dollop of prune baby food on his snout. After he rates it, wait about 45 minutes. Then give him another soak. After soaking for ten minutes, gently massage his underside from front to vent for ten minutes. Sometimes these steps are enough to help them poop. However, some cases of impaction require prescription laxatives or even surgery, so if this prune/massage method doesn't work after a couple of tries, it's time to see a vet.

I gave him a pedialyte soak and a tummy massage. He really doesnt like me now. No poop yet but it perked him up a bit. Fingers crossed that another soak in the morning will do the trick.

I hope so, too. Let me know.

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