I have a 10 yr old Leopard Gecko that has stopped eating. 3 days ago I got him to eat 7 mealworms but only because I

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Customer: I have a 10 yr old Leopard Gecko that has stopped eating. 3 days ago I got him to eat 7 mealworms but only because I kept sticking them in his face until he finally ate them. Other than that, he has not eaten anything in 3 weeks. Nor is he drinking water. All he does is lay on the warm side of his terrarium and sleep. He just went through a shed about 3 weeks ago and he was doing fine up until then. He has a 40 gallon terrarium with a temperature gradient of about 78° to approximately 93° and humidity level of around 40 to 50 percent.
JA: A lack of appetite can seem worrying. The Expert will know how to help. Does the leopard gecko seem to be in any pain?
Customer: No. Just lethargic.
JA: What's the leopard gecko's name and age?
Customer: Martin and he's 10 yrs old
JA: Is there anything else the Vet should know before I connect you? Rest assured that they'll be able to help you.
Customer: I can't think of anything else.
Answered by Dr. Caryn – Vet in 13 hours 12 months ago
Dr. Caryn – Vet
Pet Specialist

2,238 satisfied customers

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

I should also note that his nose has been wet. He never has been fond of being touched as my niece, whom I got him from, never handled him in the 9 years she had him. I have attempted to get him trained for handling but he'll have none of it and has tried to bite me on several occasions for trying to pet him. Now, in the condition he's in, if I pet him he gets agitated, raises up on all fours and lifts his tail but has not attempted to bite me. He use to come out to the glass wall of his terrarium whenever I would come into the room but not now.

Hello and thanks for posting your question on JustAnswer.com. My name is***** and I have been a veterinarian for over 21 years, specializing in aquatics, reptiles, amphibians, avian and other exotic species. You may already be aware, but on this platform veterinarians can provide insight and advice, but as this is not considered a legal client-patient relationship, we are unable to prescribe medications, provide medical records or sign documents for your specific pet. For that you would need to make an in person visit with a local veterinarian. I am happy to chat with you via text but if you are interested in a phone call instead that is an option you can choose for an additional charge. In the meantime, I am putting together some questions and/or suggestions to help with your pet’s concern.

I am sorry to hear that your leopard gecko Martin may be under the weather. Lethargy and lack of appetite (inappetence) can certainly be concerning. Has Martin ever brumated before? Do you think he might be trying to brumate? Is he seeking out cool areas in the tank? Brumation is a natural hibernation like cycle that can occur at this time of year, though typically it's in response to cooler tank temperatures. Your tank conditions sound good, was there any period of time where the tank temperature dropped or the heaters were off?

Do you provide a moist hide with higher humidity (70-80%) and does Martin get UVB light and calcium/vitamin supplements with his insect diet?

There are a number of reasons why your leopard gecko may not be eating a normal amount of food. Some of them are transient and may be normal while others are more concerning and warrant a veterinary evaluation. Leopard geckos may not eat normally due to emotional or physiological stress. Changes in environment such a new tank or changes in décor, or changes in lighting, temperature or diet might trigger temporary disinterest in food.

Geckos kept with other geckos may be bullied by a more dominant individual. The stress or physical intimidation may prevent a more submissive gecko from eating. Close observation of interaction between geckos is important and this may require separate feeding bowls, tank partitions or even separate housing.

Improper lighting (too little visible light or UVB light) or temperature can negatively impact appetite. As cold-blooded animals, leopard geckos require sufficient temperatures for proper digestion. Before and after shedding, appetite may be down. Shedding is energy intensive and potentially itchy and uncomfortable so while they will commonly not eat during the shedding process, their appetites may be depressed just before and after shedding as well.

Some abnormal causes for appetite depression include mouth rot (infectious stomatitis), trauma, sickness (bacterial, parasitic, nutritional (metabolic bone disease, hypovitaminosis A)), indigestion or maldigestion, and gastrointestinal impaction. The bottom line is that if your adult leopard gecko is otherwise acting and looking normally and the appetite depression is temporary then it may be normal. However, if the leopard gecko is young, or is displaying any other signs of illness such as weakness, lethargy, sunken eyes, skin discoloration, abnormal defecation or urination or the depressed appetite persists, then a visit to a local veterinarian with experience in reptile medicine is warranted.

To find a local veterinarian with reptile experience, here is a useful website you can use to search for a local reptile veterinarian:


(please note this site may not work on older browsers like Safari)

These veterinarians are active members of the Association of Reptile and Amphibian Veterinarians, which means they have interest and experience in treating reptile patients.

It’s especially important if your leopard gecko is sick or injured to make sure that their tank is clean, food is fresh and prepared hygienically and that the temperature is appropriate and that your UV-B bulb is in proper working condition. Here are some additional recommendations of how you can support your leopard gecko that may be under the weather:

-Keep them warm. If they’re not moving around much on their own, place them in an area of the tank that is around 85F, but not on top of a hot rock or under the hottest basking area as they can overheat or get burned.

-Offer food, even if not eating. If your leopard gecko is having difficulty reaching or getting to their food, put the food dish next to them or you can also hand or tong feed them. Place an insect gently against their lips and if they are hungry, they will bite at it. If not, don’t force it.

If needed, you can syringe feed them a replacement formula like ReptaBoost by Fluker's but go slowly and don't feed too quickly to prevent choking. If you’ve never done this before there are some good online videos that you can watch first such as this one by exotic pet veterinarian Dr. Laurie Hess:


-To prevent or treat dehydration, you can give your leopard gecko a soak in a shallow dish of warm water (85F) for 15-30 minutes once or twice a day. Dry them off after the bath so they don't cool off too much.

-Limit and be gentle with handling. If they have MBD they are more susceptible to injury as their bones are likely weakened so limit handling and limit time out of her enclosure to avoid injury. If you must lift or remove them from their tank, go slowly and support their weight from underneath with your palm.

And although Martin's tank conditions you described do sound good, It is always a good idea to re-evaluate current husbandry practices as some common disorders, such as metabolic bone disease, are caused by unintentional deficiencies or imbalances in diet, UVB lighting and calcium/vitamin supplementation. Double check that your thermometer and hygrometer are working properly as well. I am attaching a general leopard gecko care sheet that I put together as a reference, please review it at your convenience and let me know if you have any questions.

It's important that you provide leopard gecko with optimal environment:

Leopard geckos evolved in the arid, mountainous deserts of Asia and the Middle East. With good care leopard geckos can live 8-10 years or more and make excellent pets. It is typically recommended to house them singly, though sometimes it is possible to keep breeding pairs together but only if they are the same type of gecko.

-Temperature: Temperature is very important for keeping your gecko healthy with a gradient of temperature from cool to warm. Daytime temperature range with a cool side at 78-80F (25.6-26.7C), a warm side at 85-90 (29.4-32.2C) and a very warm, focal basking area of 90-94F (32.2-34.5C). A nighttime temperature range of 68-90F (21-32C) is recommended. Heat lamps or ceramic heat emitters are safe options for providing tank heating. Under tank heaters or hot rocks are not recommended as they can lead to thermal burns and do not heat the air as effectively. 30-40% humidity is recommended in the main enclosure, however the moist hide should have a higher humidity of 70-80%. Although they are from an arid region, having sufficient humidity is important to respiratory and skin issues and not too much humidity is important to prevent secondary infections from moisture loving microbes.

-Lighting: In addition to tank lighting that supplies UVA and visible light exposure, leopard geckos require UVB exposure to maintain proper health, even though they are crepuscular (most active at dawn and dusk). UVB lighting of 2-5% UVB for 10-12 hours a day is recommended. The cage should not be lit at night. Just as with temperature, their enclosure should have a gradient of UVB exposure with no UVB at the coolest end and highest at the basking spot. To avoid over supplementing, at least ¼ of the tank should not be directly illuminated with UVB light. You can prevent oversupplementation of UVB by placing the UVB bulb at one end of the enclosure (typically the warm end) and fixed at the high end of the recommended distance to the surface for that type of bulb. Distance from the UVB bulb is vital as it dictates how much UVB exposure an animal will receive in the basking site. Distance depends upon the type and UVB output of the bulb. The most common types of UVB bulbs used with leopard geckos are the compact fluorescent (CFL), linear fluorescent or mercury vapor bulbs. For example, a CFL or linear fluorescent 10.0 bulb should be placed no more than 16-18" from the basking site while a 5.0 bulb should be placed 12” or less. A mercury vapor bulb can be used in a larger enclosure due to its greater depth of UVB penetration, up to 3 feet. The mercury vapor bulb’s wattage dictates the heat output of these dual use bulbs it does not change the UV penetration. There should be no glass or acrylic between the bulb and the surface as these will block UV light. Note that metal screening between the bulb and the enclosure will cut UVB output of the bulb significantly, sometimes as much as in half. Conversely, UVB light reflectors can improve UVB penetration by bouncing and focusing the UV light produced by the bulb. All UVB bulbs loose effectiveness over time, even if the light still appears to be working, it may no longer be producing UVB. It's recommended that you change the bulbs regularly, compact fluorescent bulbs at least every 6 months, linear fluorescent bulbs and mercury vapor bulbs every 12 months. Some bulbs may last longer but the only way to know for sure if they are still effective is to measure their UV output with a meter that measures UV Index or total UVB.

-Diet: Leopard geckos are insectivorous and should be fed a variety of prey insects, though can also be fed an occasional pinkie mouse. Insects should be gut loaded for at least 12 hours before being fed using a nutritious diet that contains calcium and vitamins A and D3 and should be dusted with calcium powder before feeding. Nutritional insects include black soldier fly larvae (soldier worm larvae), Dubia and cockroaches and the occasional wax worm, mealworm, superworm or silkworms (limit them due to their high fat content). They should also be provided a shallow dish of water for drinking and soaking. The water should be changed and the dish cleaned at least once daily or, more frequently, if soiled.

Crickets are so-so in terms of nutrition so it’s important to vary the type of insects you feed to your leopard gecko. To boost the nutritional value of the feeder insects it is recommend to "gut load" them for at least 24-48 hours prior to feeding them out. That means to feed the insects a nutritious food so that the leopard gecko gets the benefit of that nutrition. Some options for gut loading are:

Mazuri Better Bug Gut Loading Diet

Mazuri Hi Calcium Gut Loading Diet

Repashy SuperLoad Insect Gutload Formula

-Calcium and vitamin supplementation: Calcium and vitamin supplementation is best done in concert with appropriate UVB lighting, as reptiles needs UVB in order to make the active form of Vitamin D needed for proper calcium metabolism.

Insects should be dusted with calcium (only) powder just before feeding at every meal and should be both gut-loaded and calcium dusted always. But to ensure proper health, for about ¼ (25%) of the weekly feeds, substitute a reptile multivitamin powder that contains calcium, vitamin D3 and vitamin A instead of the calcium only powder. (So, if you feed 5-7 days a week, use multivitamin 2x per week and calcium only at all other feeds. If you feed 2-4 times per week use multivitamins once weekly and calcium only at all other feeds). Do not use calcium with vitamin D3 for daily dusting as over supplementation of vitamin D3 can lead to toxicity. Use a calcium only powder. It is better if the reptiles make most of their own vitamin D3 from proper UVB exposure, so make sure to provide proper UVB lighting with bulbs that are in date and at appropriate distance from the basking site.

-Environment. It is recommended that the enclosure be at least 10-20 gallons in size. Care should be taken as to the enclosure substrate as they may potentially ingest loose substrates like sand or crushed walnut shells. Paper towels, newspaper, slate, tile or reptile carpeting are safe alternatives. Make sure to clean the substrate at least every other day or more frequently as it becomes soiled. You should include cage furniture in the enclosure, such as rocks for them to climb, but especially a moist hide box (lined with moistened vermiculite, peat moss or paper towels) since leopard geckos are a shy, crepuscular species, most active at dawn and dusk.

If you have any specific questions about housing or nutrition, please let me know I would be happy to advise.

I should be notified if/when you respond with additional information so we can connect about your leopard gecko Martin but, in the meantime, I hope this information is helpful and I wish you the best. Thanks again for posting your question to JustAnswer.com. Sincerely, ***** *****

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Dr. Caryn – Vet
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