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 licensed and accredited veterinarian in the US for over 22 years, specializing in aquatics, reptiles, amphibians, avian and other exotic species. JustAnswer is a question and answer service, not a veterinary telemedicine or emergency service. On this platform veterinarians can provide insight and advice based on the information you provide, but as this is not considered a legal client-patient relationship and we cannot examine your pet, we are unable to provide definitive diagnoses, prescribe medications, provide medical records or sign documents for your specific pet. For any of those you would need to make an in person visit with a local veterinarian. If your pet has a serious illness or life-threatening emergency, I strongly recommend you obtain hands-on veterinary care with a local veterinarian or veterinary emergency service as soon as possible. I am happy to chat with you via the JustAnswer app via text. For US based clients, 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 crested gecko Penny is under the weather, poor balance and shakiness might be from weakness or hypocalcemia (low body calcium). 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 gradient and basking temperature and humidity?
-Do they receive any access to UV light? When was the UVB bulb last changed out?
-Have they been eating normally?
-Do they receive any calcium or vitamin supplements?
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 appropriate and if feeding insects in addition to the crested gecko commercial diet, that they 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 crested 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 or high, since geckos are cold-blooded, this will negatively affect their metabolism, appetite, digestion and immune function. So start by checking the humidity levels and temperature gradient in the enclosure and under the basking spot.
Temperature is very important for keeping your crested gecko healthy with a gradient of temperature from cool to warm. 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.
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.
So shakiness, loss of balance and weakness can be caused by a number of things such as hypocalcemia/metabolic bone disease (nutritional secondary hyperparathyroidism), chronic dehydration or malnutrition, chronic malnutrition, gastrointestinal impaction, egg binding or infection (parasites, bacteria).
Given her recent history of egg laying and being off since then, egg binding and metabolic bone disease/hypocalcemia would be high on the list of possible causes. Since some of these causes can be potentially quite serious a hands on evaluation by a local reptile experienced veterinarian is a good idea.
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 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:
-Proper temperature and humidity are very important for proper health. 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 conditions, 60-80% relative humidity, which can be achieved by regular misting and/or light moistening of substrate on the warmer side of the enclosure.
-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. Monitor them during the bath to make sure their head stays above water.
-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 an injury, infection or metabolic bone disease, limit handling and limit time out of the enclosure to avoid/prevent 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.
If they are weak because they are experiencing a severe calcium deficiency related to Metabolic Bone Disease or dietary insufficiency, 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
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 Penny 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, ***** *****
Any loose substrate is potentially ingestible, unfortunately, even coconut coir. Only truly 'safe' substrates would be slate, tile, reptile carpet or even paper towels or newspaper or butcher paper (but even paper is sometimes ingested).
I'm not a fan of olive oil, it's digested before it reaches where it might be needed in the gut. The only non-digestible oil would be mineral oil and while it is a good laxative, it's risky to give because if they accidentally breathe it in, it will cause severe pneumonia.
If you think she might be constipated or impacted, warm bathes, gently tummy massage (though I'd skip that if she's gravid) and increasing fiber content in the diet. If they are eating, dusting their insects (if they get any insects) with up to 1/8 teaspoon per day of methylcellulose fiber (“Citrucel”) or mixing it into their crested gecko diet for a few days may help loosen stool so it will pass. If you can’t get methylcellulose fiber you can use an alternative such as psyllium husk powder (Metamucil or generic) or Ispaghula husk powder (Fybogel Hi-Fibre Ispaghula husk). If they continue to be constipated, then scheduling a physical examination with a local veterinarian is advised.
Yes, typically at a well stocked grocery, big box store or pharmacy. Brand name Citrucel. But if you can't find that you can use psyllium husk powder which is sold as Metamucil or the generic equivalent.
So I agree completely with you, information online and from pet stores is inconsistent at best. That's why I put together the care sheet. Since crested geckos are arboreal and crepuscular, 5.0 fluorescent is usually all you need, though I go even lower for any light colored or albino morphs, down to 2.0.
Yes, I think having a dig box is a good idea partially for her to dig but also because it's going to be harder to maintain the high humidity she needs (usually 60-80%) with a non-absorbent substrate. Just make sure not to feed her in it to avoid it smelling like food.
There are resources online for setting up a bioactive vivarium, having live plants and layered substrate top dressed with leaf litter or live moss can really help with humidity issues.
My best to you and Penny, I do hope she feels better soon. Thanks for using JustAnswer.com.
Sincerely, ***** *****
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