A leopard gecko not eating for just a few days is one of our biggest worries as pet owners. My leopard geckos have been there and trust me, it’s so stressful. It does not matter whether you are a novice or an experienced keeper, such an issue can have you worried.
In case you find your leopard gecko in such a situation, you should first find out the cause of appetite suppression. This should be the first step to finding a solution.
Is it normal for leopard geckos to reject food? Yes, sometimes they are not just hungry or they are just suffering from various health issues. Anyway, count yourself lucky, coz this article will cover everything about leopard geckos not feeding and how to get them to eat.
Leopard Gecko Not Eating
Leopard gecko not eating can be caused by a variety of factors such as stress, improper diet, illness, or temperature fluctuations. It’s important to monitor and address these issues to ensure the gecko’s health and well-being. Consulting with a veterinarian and providing proper care can help stimulate the gecko’s appetite and prevent long-term health problems.
Why Is My Leopard Gecko Not Eating?
There are quite a number of reasons why your leopard gecko won’t eat. We’ve covered all of them in this section. Keep reading to find out the most possible reason for your leo’s hunger strike.
1. New Leopard Gecko
If you’ve just got your first leopard gecko, chances are high that he or she will go for days without feeding. Rehoming a gecko can cause stress and it takes some time for them to adapt to its new habitat.
A new leopard gecko not eating should not worry you, especially if there are no signs of weight loss. Remember the leo just got into its new home and is trying to figure things out. Such a gecko can go for days or even weeks without eating his insects or worms.
Luckily, leopard geckos store nutrients in their fat tails. They can actually go for long periods without feeding. As long as your leo is healthy, she’ll start feeding after some time which is probably after they settle.
If that doesn’t happen, then I would suggest you take the leopard gecko to an experienced reptile vet.
2. Breeding season
Male leopard geckos can refuse to eat during their breeding seasons. All they think about is mating and that’s it. Once their reproductive instincts kick in, your leo will have strange feeding patterns which include not eating entirely.
Breeding leopard geckos should not be kept together for so long as they might stress each other out and change their feeding habits. Make sure you read this article on how to breed leopard geckos correctly.
3. Low Temperatures
A leopard gecko can only thrive in a warm environment. So, it is absolutely necessary to have the right temperatures in your leo’s enclosure. Any drop in temperature will reduce the gecko’s metabolic rate and it will probably stop eating entirely.
Remember that this species needs underbelly heat to digest food. So, without this heat, your gecko will opt not to eat. Sometimes they’ll even regurgitate their food when temperatures drop.
Most leopard geckos won’t eat during winter, which is why you need to provide them with supplemental heating. Make sure the temperatures in the leo’s enclosure do not fall under 70°F as they might become inactive.
Always monitor the temperatures around the basking spot and in the substrate. This will help you know if the leopard gecko’s loss of appetite has been induced by temperature changes.
Impaction in leopard geckos can lead to a massive loss of appetite. Remember that impaction is simply a blockage in the intestines or stomach of your gecko. This means your leopard gecko can’t pass poop or even ingest more food.
This article addresses more about leopard gecko impaction. It is pretty uncomfortable for geckos and can cause appetite suppression.
Your leopard gecko can either be suffering from sand impaction or fecal impaction. Both of them can be treated at home, but if it proves to be difficult, then visit a vet as soon as possible.
As is the case with most reptiles, leopard geckos have to shed every now and then. Shedding is pretty normal of leos, but it can affect their appetite. Some leos will not eat during the shedding process, but it is completely normal.
Leopard geckos will mainly eat their shed and it should be enough food for them. So, if you notice your gecko going into shed, then you should let it be until its appetite returns.
6. Mouth Rot/ Sores
Leopard geckos also suffer from oral injuries, and when they do, it becomes difficult for them to eat. Oral injuries can be brought about by various reasons.
Mouth rot is the most common oral injury, and it is characterized by sores, swollen gum and plaque around the teeth. Luckily, you can treat this condition at home and the gecko should resume eating as soon as the wounds heal.
7. Parasitic Infection
Parasites can suppress a leopard gecko’s appetite, especially if they attack the digestive system. Cryptosporidiosis is a common parasitic infection that affects the intestines. Other common parasites include pinworms, hookworms and roundworms.
Sometimes, you can even spot worms in your leopard gecko’s poop. So be on the lookout every time your gecko poops.
Cohabitation is the other key reason why your leopard geckos won’t eat. Most lizards including leos are solitary animals and won’t do well when housed together.
Housing leopard geckos together will induce stress, cause fights, and ultimately affect their feeding patterns. Unless you are breeding leopard geckos, you should not put them in one cage.
How Long Can Leopard Geckos Go Without Eating?
Leopard geckos have bodies that are suited for arid and semi-arid conditions. In fact, these lizards do not get as much food in the wild. This explains why they have fat tails and slow metabolism.
Surprisingly, leopard geckos can actually go for 30 days without eating. During this time, the gecko will be relying on the fatty deposits that are located in its tail.
Of course, the duration can vary depending on the age of the gecko. For instance, hatchlings, babies, and juveniles require a lot of food in order to facilitate growth. Failure to eat for one week or two can have a detrimental effect on their health.
On the other hand, adult leopard geckos do not need a lot of food and they can live off of the fat deposits located in the tail. Some adults can go for a month without necessarily eating, especially if it’s during the cold months.
Ways To Get a Leopard Gecko to Eat
Now that you already know some of the reasons why your leopard gecko is not eating, let’s take a look at the solutions. Some of them may work, but if it gets to worse, visit your local vet for help.
1. Improve your gecko’s habitat
Maybe just maybe, there is something not right with your leo’s enclosure. The number of hides might be insufficient or too large for the gecko. In that case, you need to change the hides and make sure the leo has a good number of them.
You should also make sure the temperature in the enclosure are at the optimum level. Daytime temperatures should be around 75°F to 89°F while nighttime temperatures should be 65°F to 75°F.
Remember to use the right heating equipment in the enclosure. Some do not distribute heat evenly while others can cause serious burns
You will also have to change the substrate at least twice a month. Make sure your leo is living in a clean environment.
2. Change the Diet
Feeding your gecko with one type of insect will make it lose interest. You can’t expect your leo to feed on crickets every single time.
Sometimes you have to throw in some treats. Silkworms, waxworms, and hornworms can be given as treats. You could also try other safe insects and see whether they’ll stimulate your leo’s appetite.
Discontinue providing treats once the leopard gecko stabilizes.
3. Provide Injured Insects/Worms
A lot of leopard gecko owners have had success with this method. It simply involves cutting the insect into two so that the gecko can have a taste of the body fluid. Once the leo licks the fluid, there is a high chance, it will go for the insect without hesitating.
4. Give A Warm Bath
If your gecko is having mild impaction or some kind of digestive distress, a warm bath can help big time. Just make sure the water is lukewarm and have your gecko swim in it for a few minutes. This method should help your gecko poop and increase its metabolism.
5. Give Olive Oil
Sometimes a warm bath won’t just work. If this happens, then you need to give your gecko two drops of olive oil. Olive oil works well as a laxative and it should help your gecko pass the stool. There is a likelihood that the gecko will take an interest and eat the insect.
If you still can’t get your leopard gecko to eat, seek veterinary assistance.
I bet your mind is at ease now! Next time you should be in a better position to diagnose why your leopard gecko won’t eat. Even better, you’ll know what course of action you should take to get your leo eating again.