We have a tangerine carrot tail leopard gecko. A few weeks ago my son mentioned that she wasn’t eating much I thought

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Customer: Hello, we have a tangerine carrot tail leopard gecko. A few weeks ago my son mentioned that she wasn’t eating much I thought that it might be because she was getting too much calcium in her bowl and asked him to put less. I checked on her last night and she looks awful. Her tail is super skinny, she is thin, pale and slightly lethargic. She looks awful! Her eyes were also watering. I asked my son how long she’s been like this and he stated maybe a week or so. She also appears to be having diarrhea and isn’t eating very much. Maybe 1-2 meal worms a day.
JA: Hi there. 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: She’s very sensitive, jumps when we touch her. She looks exhausted.
JA: What's the leopard gecko's name and age?
Customer: Peaches, she’s almost two years 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: No, im
Answered by Dr. Caryn – Vet in 7 hours 8 months ago
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Dr. Caryn – Vet
Pet Specialist
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2,238 satisfied customers

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

Customer
Hello?

I am sincerely ***** ***** there was a delay in someone responding to your question. (Experts are independent contractors and as such are online based on their own schedules.) However, I am available and can assist you if you still need veterinary advice.

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.

Thanks again for posting your question, I’m sorry that your leopard gecko Peaches is under the weather. Weight loss, especially rapid weight loss, diarrhea and lethargy or weakness are concerning signs. I have some questions that will help me get a better idea of your pet’s environment and what may be going on with them:

-What is the current tank set-up, e.g.,

Temperature (cool side, warm/main area, hottest basking temp) and humidity?

-Do they receive any access to UV light? When was the UVB bulb last changed out?

-What do you usually feed them, anything besides mealworms? Do they receive any calcium or vitamin supplements?

-When was the last time she pooped and is it still soft? Any blood or unusual color to the poop?

Thanks very much for providing additional information, it is very helpful for me to try and figure out what is going on with your leopard gecko and the history information will help me to do that.

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. Therefore, I am attaching a leopard gecko care (husbandry) reference sheet that I put together. Please review it at your convenience and let me know if you have any questions.

For example, if the environmental temperatures are too low, since geckos are cold-blooded, this will negatively affect their metabolism, appetite, digestion and immune function. So start by checking the temperature gradient in the enclosure and, if it's too low, adjust your basking light or get a stronger watt bulb so you are achieving the proper environmental temperatures. Also proper humidity is very important for overall and skin health, with 30-40% humidity in the main enclosure and 70-80% in the moist hide.

In the meantime, I will give you some information about what may be causing these signs, a care sheet with recommendations about environment and diet as some common medical conditions are unintentionally caused by improper husbandry (such as too low temperatures, humidity, UVB lighting or calcium and vitamin supplementation) and some suggestions for home care and support of your ill gecko.

Diarrhea, weight loss and lethargy are very concerning and I would consider internal parasitism, especially coccidiosis (an infection with a microscopic protozoan parasite) to be top on the list of potential things that are going on though there are other potential causes that I will provide. So I do think taking Peaches to a local reptile veterinarian for a hands on evaluation and fecal examination is highly recommended. Proper diagnosis will dictate the best course of treatment.

There are a number of reasons why your leopard gecko may develop diarrhea. These include infections (parasites, bacteria), stress, spoiled food, temperature outside of range (too high or too low), poor hygiene (dirty food or water bowls or unsanitary cage) or malnutrition/improper diet. It’s important to make sure that your leopard gecko’s 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. Providing a variety of gut-loaded insects (e.g. not only crickets or not only worms which have a high fat content) along with a calcium and multivitamin supplement is important.

To prevent or treat dehydration while they have diarrhea, you can give your leopard gecko a soak in a shallow dish of warm water (85-90F, 30-32C) for 15 minutes once or twice a day to encourage drinking.

While 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 should consider lining the tank with disposable unbleached paper towels or newspaper while he has diarrhea to make clean up easier and to prevent reinfection if she is passing parasites in her poop. The papers should be changed daily or more frequently if soiled.

If your leopard gecko has diarrhea that lasts for more than a couple of days or is tinged with blood or the leopard gecko is showing signs of depression or weakness, then I recommend you have your leopard gecko evaluated by a local reptile veterinarian. Leopard geckos can become dehydrated and weak fairly quickly from diarrhea so a call to a local vet is warranted sooner rather than later. It is recommended that you collect and bring a fresh fecal sample with you so the veterinarian can evaluate the poop to look for possible causes, such as parasites.

There are also many reasons why your gecko might not be eating, or eating much and this can lead to weight loss and lethargy. Some abnormal causes for appetite depression include inappropriate environmental temperatures (usually too cool), mouth rot (infectious stomatitis), trauma, sickness or infection (bacterial, parasitic, nutritional (metabolic bone disease, hypovitaminosis A)), indigestion or maldigestion, reproductive disease (egg binding in a female) and gastrointestinal impaction. So again, a hands on veterinary assessment is recommended.

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 ill leopard gecko while they are under the weather or awaiting a veterinary evaluation:

-Keep them warm. 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 85-90F (29.4-32.2C) and a very warm, focal basking area of 90-94F (32.2-34.5C).

But if they’re not moving around much on their own, place them in an area of the tank that is around 85F (30C), 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 leopard gecko a soak in a shallow dish of warm water (85-90F, 30-32C) for 15-30 minutes once or twice a day. Dry them off after the bath so they don't cool off too much.

If they might be having any GI issues, you can help promote GI motility and defecation with gentle tummy massage during the warm water soak. Be gentle and stroke the tummy from front to back a few times every 5-10 minutes during the warm water soak.

-Make sure you wash your hands with warm water and soap after handling your gecko or their cage furniture.

-Since 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). Make sure the enclosure is clean as built up waste, dust and other irritants can predispose your animal to infection. Spot cleaning daily but cleaning the enclosure more thoroughly at least once monthly with a reptile safe disinfectant is recommended. F10 Veterinary Disinfectant is a good option, safe with reptiles and comes pre-diluted and ready for use in a spray bottle. You can also consider lining the tank with disposable unbleached paper towels or newspaper while they are ill to make cleaning easier. The papers should be changed out daily or more frequently if they become soiled. Also, since they defecate into their water bowls often, cleaning the water bowl daily with soap and warm water before refilling it and weekly disinfection of the bowl is a good idea while they are ill (normally, it's okay just to do a daily rinse and refill of the water dish with 1-2x per week washing/disinfection).

-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 (if inappetence is prolonged), you can assist feed whole, calcium or multivitamin dusted insects (I recommend removing their heads first) or you can syringe feed them a replacement formula like Fluker’s ReptaBoost, EmerAid Intensive Care Carnivore, Oxbow Animal Health Critical Care Carnivore.

Another option is to assist or syringe feed Repashy Grub Pie for reptiles. It's a diet that is normally mixed with boiling water and then allowed to set up into a solid to make a gel food to feed to insectivorous reptiles. But if you mix it with room temperature (not boiling) water, more water than the package recommends, to make a slurry that is thin enough to go through a syringe, it can be used for syringe feeding. Or you can make it according to the package directions, using boiling water to make a gel that sets up, then cut the gel into pieces that you can then assist feed (like you would assist feed an insect). This formula is nice because it's based on insect and fish based protein and has a good variety of vitamins. Treat any gel you make like you would fresh fish, store leftovers in the refrigerator and discard after a day or two.

With any assist or syringe feeding, 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 these:

Assist feeding an insect by hobbyist Garrett Rose (I do recommend pinching the insects head off first so it is dead before assist feeding if your gecko is sick or lethargic so they are not injured by the insect):

https://youtu.be/cN5Uaoqmrg4

Syringe feeding by exotic pet veterinarian Dr. Kristin Britton:

https://youtu.be/Fq0fGmLNP-4

You can also provide some room temperature water by mouth with a dosing syringe if she is not eating at all, this might be better to do before you attempt assist or syringe feeding food initially. Depending upon size, if they are not eating you can give around 1 ml per 50 gram of body weight per day, but not all at once. You can give it in increments of around 0.25ml at a time.

-Limit and be gentle with handling. If they are ill, limit handling and limit time out of the enclosure. If you must lift or remove them from their tank, go slowly and support their weight from underneath with your palm.

-Calcium and vitamin supplementation. It is important to still offer calcium and vitamin supplements if they are eating. More information about supplements is in the care sheet I shared with you.

If they are weak because they are experiencing a severe calcium deficiency related to Metabolic Bone Disease or dietary insufficiency or they are not eating, you can buy a liquid calcium supplement at the pet store and give them a drop into their mouth once a day and this should help, but isn't a replacement for proper nutrition and a veterinary evaluation and treatment.

Fluker's Liquid Calcium Reptile Supplement

If they are experiencing signs of hypovitaminosis (A or D) or are not eating, then you can buy a liquid multivitamin supplement at the pet store and give them 2 drops for every 50 grams of body weight, twice a week. If they are not eating, then you can give this supplement every other day for a week before decreasing to twice weekly, while they are not eating. The supplement can be placed onto a food item before feeding or dropped directly into their mouth if they are not eating. Once they are back to eating or no longer have signs of a vitamin deficiency, this liquid supplement should be stopped in favor of multivitamin powder dusting of food and gut loading of insects, as described in the care sheet I shared with you.

Fluker’s Liquid Vitamin (Reptile Supplement)

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, calcium/vitamin supplementation or improper environmental temperature or humidity. Therefore, I have already attached a general leopard gecko care sheet for you to review. Thanks.

I should be notified if/when you respond with additional information so we can connect about your tangerine carrot tail leopard gecko Peaches 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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