Impaction is a pretty common condition in reptiles and more so leopard geckos. It is one of the issues that vets have to deal with on a regular basis. Unfortunately, leopard gecko impaction can be fatal if left untreated.
But what is impaction? Well, it is a condition that arises when there is a blockage in the gut of a leopard gecko. The blockage prevents the gecko from pooping and eating as well.
A Leopard gecko’s digestive tract can be blocked by a semi-solid or solid mass. Identifying impaction in its early stages can go a long way in saving your gecko’s life.
Now that you have a clue of what leopard gecko impaction is, let’s dive into the most important details. This will obviously include the causes, treatment, prevention, and cost of treatment.
How Do I Know If My Leopard Gecko Is Impacted?
Identifying impaction early is crucial if you want the leopard gecko to survive. But how do you identify impaction in its early stages? Well, impaction comes with its fair share of symptoms. Below are the common signs as symptoms that you should look out for:
- Loss of appetite
- Bloated tummy
- Straining to excrete poop
- Discoloration around the abdomen
- Difficulty breathing
All these symptoms will not go unnoticed if you love handling or petting your leopard gecko regularly. You will obviously notice something is off with the mood and health of your gecko.
What Cause Leopard Gecko Impaction
Impaction is mostly brought about by poor diet and husbandry. Remember leopard geckos are delicate reptiles and they require to be treated well in captivity to prevent impaction. We’ve covered some of the common causes of impaction below:
1. Loose Substrate
Using loose substrate on your gecko’s tank only increases the risk of impaction. There is always a high likelihood of your leopard gecko ingesting the substrate when feeding on insects and worms. Now imagine what can happen when the gecko ingests significant amounts of substrate. Loose substrate such as sand will harden as soon as it gets to the geckos stomach and lead to impaction.
2. Too Much Mealworms
Mealworms form a significant part of a leopard gecko’s diet, but feeding overgrown mealworm beetles can lead to impaction. Keep in mind that large mealworm beetles tend to have a hard exoskeleton and your gecko can have a hard time digesting them. Always regulate the number of mealworms you feed your gecko to avoid impaction.
As is the case with most animals, leopard geckos can suffer from constipation if they don’t get enough water. It’s true that leopard geckos are desert creatures, but they also need to take water in order to help with bowel movements. Do not assume that they’ll get water from worms or insects. You have to keep a bowl of fresh water in their enclosure.
4. Hard-Shelled Feeders
Apart from mealworms, most feeder insects with a hard outer shell can easily cause impaction in leopard geckos. This mostly happens to babies and juveniles because their digestive system is not strong enough to break down the hard shell
5. Low Temperatures
The temperature around the vivarium can influence whether your leopard gecko will suffer from impaction or not. As you well know, leopard geckos require belly heat for them to digest food as required.
If the temperatures in the enclosure drop, then there is a high possibility that your gecko won’t digest food as required.
Check out our article on whether leopard geckos require a heat lamp
Inadequate Vitamin D Supplementation
Vitamin D is quite important in all vertebrates including reptiles. Remember that leopard geckos have to be supplemented with vitamin D3 or even UVB lighting. Providing the right amount of UVB to your leopard gecko will ensure that all its functions are running well.
On the other hand, an insufficient amount of vitamin D can compromise digestion and later lead to constipation or impaction.
Treatment for Leopard Gecko Impaction
Impaction is treatable if diagnosed at an early stage. Sometimes, the level of impaction can be so severe that even vets can’t help. All in all, we’ve compiled some of the common remedies you can apply when your gecko becomes impacted.
1. Give a Warm Bath
The first thing you should do is give your gecko a warm bath. The water should be lukewarm to avoid burning the little animal. Warm baths should be given twice in a day as it helps soften the poop that’s stuck in the belly.
2. Use Olive Oil
Studies have shown that olive oil can be useful in curing impaction. It works as a laxative and can also help in providing natural lubrication in the digestive tract.
All you have to do is place two drops of olive oil on the mouth or nose and allow the gecko to lick it off.
3. Increase Temperature
If you suspect that low temperatures have contributed to your gecko’s impaction. Then you can raise the temperatures to around 95 degrees Fahrenheit. This method helps increase metabolism and speed up metabolism.
4. Visit the Veterinarian
If none of the above methods works, then you have no other choice than to book an appointment with your local vet. Most of the vets who deal with reptiles will know exactly how to treat leopard gecko impaction.
The vet should be your last option, but if your gecko is having severe impaction, then you should take it to the vet immediately.
How To Prevent Impaction In Leopard Geckos
You should not wait for impaction to happen in order to take your gecko to a reptile vet. As they say, prevention is better than cure. Below are some of the preventive measures you can take to keep your leopard gecko safe from impaction:
- Always have fresh water in the gecko’s enclosure
- Supplement your leo with vitamin D3 or provide the right UVB lighting
- Make sure your gecko exercises frequently
- Use solid substrate or fine-grained sand in your gecko’s tank
- Avoid giving worms and insects that have a hard exoskeleton
- Provide sufficient underbelly heating
- Feed your gecko in a special place or dish in order to avoid the accidental ingestion of substrate
Wrapping Up – Leopard Gecko Impaction
There you have it guys, that’s all there is to say about impaction in leopard geckos. We hope that you are now in a better position to diagnose, treat and prevent future cases of impaction. Always consult with a vet if you are unsure of your gecko’s health.