Hello and thanks for posting your question on JustAnswer.com. My name is***** and I have been a veterinarian in the US 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 crested gecko Ace is under the weather. Lack of appetite and weight loss are certainly concerning signs, especially in a young gecko like Ace.
There are a number of reasons why your crested 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. 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, crested 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. Appetite may also slow down in crested geckos as their growth rate slows down, such as a transition from baby to juvenile or juvenile to adult.
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 crested gecko is otherwise acting and looking normally and the appetite depression is temporary then it may be normal. However, if the 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 more than a few days, a visit to a local veterinarian with experience in reptile medicine is warranted.
With any sick gecko, it is always a good idea to start by checking that their environment and husbandry are proper for their species. Taking a physical measurement of the temperature gradient within the enclosure and measuring humidity with a hygrometer are a good idea. Making sure the UVB bulb is appropriate for the size of the space and has been changed regularly. Even if they are still producing visible light, UVB bulbs have a limited lifespan and need to be changed every 6-12 months, depending upon bulb type. Making sure diet is varied and the insects have been gut loaded with a nutritious gut-loading diet as well as dusted regularly with calcium and multivitamin powder. I have put together a crested gecko care sheet as a reference you might find helpful. Please review it at your convenience and let me know if you have any questions.
Crested gecko – Arboreal lizards originally from the island of New Caledonia in the Pacific.
-Temperature and humidity: They do best at relatively cool temperatures, daytime temps 72-75F with a small basking area of 75-80F. They should not be housed or kept above 80F as they don’t do well as high temperatures. They do require humid conditioned, 60-80% relative humidity.
-Diet: omnivorous so feeding commercial crested gecko diet is recommended. They can be offered insects 2-3 times a week, gut loaded and dusted with calcium only (2/3 of feeds) and multivitamins (1/3 of feeds).
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 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 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 for 2/3 of insect feeds and should also be gut-loaded (the exception is crickets which should always be calcium dusted before every feed). To ensure proper health, substitute a reptile multivitamin powder that contains calcium, vitamin D3 and vitamin A instead of the calcium only powder for 1/3 of insects fed. Do not use calcium with vitamin D3 for dusting as over supplementation of vitamin D3 can lead to toxicity. Use a calcium only powder instead. 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.
-Lighting: In addition to tank lighting that supplies UVA and visible light exposure, crested 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 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.
-Environment. It is recommended that the enclosure be at least 20 gallons with a tall footprint to accommodate their arboreal nature. They need plenty of climbing structures such as branches, bamboo, vines, driftwood and sturdy live or silk plants. Care should be taken as to the enclosure substrate as they may potentially ingest loose substrates like sand, wood chips or crushed walnut shells. Organic substrate that promotes humidity but is fairly easy to spot clean is ideal. Options include cypress mulch, orchid bark or coconut husk. Make sure to clean the substrate at least every other day or more frequently as it becomes soiled. The entire terrarium should have a more thorough monthly clean including replacing the substrate and cleaning the walls and décor with a reptile safe disinfectant.
However since your gecko is young and is losing weight and sounds weak, I do recommend that you make an appointment to have him evaluated by a local, reptile experienced veterinarian.
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.
I realize that many are closed for the holiday weekend so here are some recommendations for home care until you can get him evaluated and treated in person:
It’s especially important if your crested 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 ill crested gecko while they are under the weather or awaiting a veterinary appointment:
-Keep them warm. If they’re not moving around much on their own, place them in an area of the tank that is around 75F (29.8C), but not on top of a hot rock or under the hottest basking area as they can overheat or get burned.
-To prevent or treat dehydration, you can give your crested gecko a soak in a shallow dish of warm water (75F, 29.8C) for 15-30 minutes once or twice a day. Dry them off after the bath so they don't cool off too much.
-If your gecko has diarrhea, increasing the frequency of cleaning inside the cage with a reptile safe disinfectant will help avoid cross contamination and repeat infection (if it is infectious). You can consider lining the tank with disposable unbleached paper towels or newspaper while they have diarrhea to make clean up easier.
-Offer food, even if not eating. If your 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. For example 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 (if inappetence is prolonged), you can syringe feed them a slurry of the commercial crested gecko diet, thinned with enough water to flow through a syringe. 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 Amy Baugh:
-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. Never grab them or hold them by the tail as they may drop the tail.
-Calcium supplementation. It is important to still offer calcium and vitamin supplements if they are eating.
It is also a good idea to re-evaluate your current husbandry practices as some common disorders, such as metabolic bone disease, are caused by deficiencies or imbalances in diet, UVB lighting and calcium/vitamin supplementation. Therefore, I already shared a general crested gecko care sheet that I put together as a reference.I should be notified if/when you respond with additional information so we can connect about your crested gecko Ace but, in the meantime, I hope this information is helpful and I wish you both the best. Thanks again for posting your question to JustAnswer.com. Sincerely, ***** *****
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