Leopard geckos are one of the most popular reptile pets, and for good reasons.
However, like any other animal, they can sometimes have health issues that affect their appetite and well-being.
If you notice that your leopard gecko is not eating, you may be worried and wonder what is wrong with your pet.
In this article, we will explore some of the common reasons why a leopard gecko may stop eating, and what you can do to help them regain their appetite and health.
Let’s dive in…
- The most common reason for a leopard gecko to stop eating is that they are too cold. Ensure that the temperature in their enclosure is consistent and correct.
- Other reasons for a leopard gecko to stop eating include illness, diet issues, stress, shedding, and seasonal changes.
- If your leopard gecko has recently been moved to a new home, it may take some time for them to adjust and start eating again.
- Poor diet diversity and quality can also be the reason behind a lack of appetite. Feed high-quality live meals and vary the prey type you feed each mealtime.
What are the common reasons for a leopard gecko’s loss of appetite?
There are many factors that can cause a leopard gecko to lose interest in food, and some of them are more serious than others.
Here are some of the most common ones:
Stress is one of the main causes of a leopard gecko’s loss of appetite. Stress can be caused by various things, such as:
- A new environment or enclosure
- A change in the enclosure’s layout, substrate, or decorations
- A lack of hiding places or cover
- A noisy or busy surroundings
- A cohabitation with another gecko or a different species
- A handling that is too frequent or rough
- A predator or a threat nearby
Stress can affect a leopard gecko’s immune system, digestion, and behavior, making them less likely to eat.
To reduce stress, you should try to provide a stable and comfortable environment for your gecko, with a proper temperature gradient, humidity level, lighting cycle, and ventilation.
You should also give your gecko enough places to hide and feel secure, and avoid disturbing them unnecessarily.
If you have recently acquired a new gecko, you should give them time to adjust to their new home, and quarantine them for at least two weeks before introducing them to another gecko.
Shedding is a natural process that all reptiles go through, and it is essential for their growth and health.
However, shedding can also be a stressful and uncomfortable time for a leopard gecko, especially if they have trouble removing their old skin.
During shedding, a leopard gecko may lose their appetite and become more reclusive and irritable. This is normal, and you should not force them to eat or handle them during this period.
You should also make sure that your gecko has access to a moist hide, where they can hydrate and loosen their skin. You can also mist their enclosure lightly to increase the humidity.
If you notice that your gecko has some stuck shed, especially around their eyes, mouth, toes, or tail, you can try to gently remove it with a damp cotton swab or a soft toothbrush.
However, if the shed is too tight or hard, you should consult a reptile vet, as stuck shed can cause infections, injuries, or even loss of limbs.
3) Temperature and humidity
Temperature and humidity are two of the most important factors that affect a leopard gecko’s appetite and digestion.
Leopard geckos are ectothermic, which means that they rely on external sources of heat to regulate their body temperature.
They also need a range of temperatures in their enclosure, so that they can thermoregulate and choose the optimal spot for their activity and metabolism.
If the temperature is too low or too high, a leopard gecko may become sluggish, inactive, and lose their appetite. Similarly, if the humidity is too low or too high, a leopard gecko may become dehydrated, have respiratory problems, or develop fungal or bacterial infections.
To prevent these issues, you should monitor the temperature and humidity in your gecko’s enclosure with digital thermometers and hygrometers, and use appropriate heating and ventilation devices.
The ideal temperature range for a leopard gecko is between 75°F and 85°F (24°C and 29°C) on the cool side, and between 88°F and 92°F (31°C and 33°C) on the warm side.
The ideal humidity level for a leopard gecko is between 30% and 40%, with a slight increase during shedding.
4) Parasites and impaction
Parasites and impaction are two of the most serious causes of a leopard gecko’s loss of appetite, and they require immediate veterinary attention.
Parasites are organisms that live in or on a host, and feed on their blood, tissues, or nutrients. Parasites can be internal, such as worms, protozoa, or bacteria, or external, such as mites, ticks, or lice.
Parasites can cause a variety of symptoms in a leopard gecko, such as:
- Weight loss
- Skin lesions
Parasites can be transmitted by contaminated food, water, substrate, or equipment, or by contact with another infected animal.
To prevent parasites, you should always quarantine new geckos, sanitize your enclosure and accessories regularly, and use only clean and safe sources of food and water.
You should also inspect your gecko and their feces for any signs of parasites, and take them to a reptile vet for a fecal exam and treatment if needed.
Impaction is a condition where a leopard gecko’s digestive tract is blocked by a foreign object, such as sand, gravel, wood, or plastic.
Impaction can cause a leopard gecko to stop eating, and also exhibit other symptoms, such as:
- Abdominal pain
- Loss of tail fat
Impaction can be caused by ingesting inappropriate substrate, food, or decorations, or by having a low temperature or humidity in the enclosure.
To prevent impaction, you should avoid using loose or small particles as substrate, and use only paper towels, reptile carpet, or tiles instead.
You should also avoid feeding your gecko insects that are too large or hard, and remove any potential hazards from their enclosure.
You should also maintain a proper temperature and humidity level, and provide a calcium supplement to help your gecko’s digestion.
If you suspect that your gecko is impacted, you should take them to a reptile vet as soon as possible, as impaction can be fatal if left untreated.
5) Seasonal cycles
Seasonal cycles are natural changes in a leopard gecko’s behavior and physiology that occur in response to the variations in daylight and temperature throughout the year.
Seasonal cycles can affect a leopard gecko’s appetite, activity, and reproduction, depending on the season and the individual.
Some of the most common seasonal cycles are:
- Brumation: Brumation is a period of dormancy or reduced activity that some leopard geckos may experience during the winter months, when the daylight and temperature are lower. During brumation, a leopard gecko may eat less, sleep more, and hide more. This is normal, and you should not force them to eat or wake them up. However, you should still monitor their weight, hydration, and health, and provide them with a constant temperature gradient, water, and a calcium dish. You should also avoid handling them or changing their environment during this time, as this may stress them out and disrupt their cycle.
- Breeding season: Breeding season is a period of increased activity and reproduction that some leopard geckos may experience during the spring and summer months, when the daylight and temperature are higher. During breeding season, a leopard gecko may eat more, explore more, and show signs of mating behavior, such as chirping, tail waving, or biting. This is normal, and you should provide them with enough food, water, and calcium to support their energy and health.
However, you should also be careful not to overfeed them or let them become obese, as this may cause health problems.
You should also be aware of the risks and responsibilities of breeding leopard geckos, and only do so if you are prepared and experienced
How to stimulate your leopard gecko’s appetite?
If your leopard gecko is not eating, and you have ruled out any serious causes, such as parasites, impaction, or illness, you may want to try some methods to stimulate their appetite and encourage them to eat.
Here are some of the things you can do:
1) Check your husbandry
The first thing you should do is to check your husbandry, and make sure that you are providing your gecko with the optimal conditions for their health and comfort.
You should check the following aspects of your husbandry:
- Temperature: Make sure that you have a proper temperature gradient in your enclosure, with a warm side and a cool side, and a basking spot. You can use a heat mat, a heat lamp, or a ceramic heat emitter to provide heat, and a thermostat to regulate it. You should also measure the temperature with a digital thermometer, and adjust it as needed. The ideal temperature range for a leopard gecko is between 75°F and 85°F (24°C and 29°C) on the cool side, and between 88°F and 92°F (31°C and 33°C) on the warm side.
- Humidity: Make sure that you have a proper humidity level in your enclosure, and that it is not too dry or too humid. You can use a digital hygrometer to measure the humidity, and a spray bottle, a humidifier, or a dehumidifier to adjust it. You should also provide a moist hide, where your gecko can hydrate and shed. The ideal humidity level for a leopard gecko is between 30% and 40%, with a slight increase during shedding.
- Lighting: Make sure that you have a proper lighting cycle in your enclosure, and that it mimics the natural day and night cycle. You can use a timer to turn on and off the lights, and a dimmer to adjust the brightness. You should also provide some natural or artificial UVB light, which can help your gecko synthesize vitamin D3 and calcium. The ideal lighting cycle for a leopard gecko is 12 hours of light and 12 hours of dark, with some variations depending on the season.
- Ventilation: Make sure that you have a proper ventilation in your enclosure, and that it allows enough air flow and oxygen. You can use a mesh lid, a fan, or a vent to provide ventilation, and avoid using glass or plastic lids, which can trap heat and moisture. You should also clean your enclosure and accessories regularly, and remove any waste, food, or shed skin, to prevent the buildup of ammonia, bacteria, or fungi.
Offer different types of insects
Another thing you can do to stimulate your gecko’s appetite is to offer them different types of insects, and see which ones they prefer.
Leopard geckos are insectivores, which means that they eat only insects, and they can be picky about their food.
Some of the insects that you can offer to your gecko are:
- Dubia roache.
Hand-feed or tong-feed your gecko
Another thing you can do to stimulate your gecko’s appetite is to hand-feed or tong-feed your gecko, and see if they respond to your presence and touch.
Hand-feeding or tong-feeding is a method of feeding your gecko by holding the insect in your hand or with a pair of tongs, and offering it to your gecko’s mouth.
Hand-feeding or tong-feeding can have some benefits, such as:
- Building trust and bond with your gecko
- Making your gecko associate you with food and positive reinforcement
- Making your gecko more alert and interested in food
- Making your gecko more active and stimulated
- Making your gecko more comfortable and confident
However, hand-feeding or tong-feeding can also have some drawbacks, such as:
- Stressing or scaring your gecko if they are not used to it
- Making your gecko dependent or spoiled by your attention
- Making your gecko bite or nip your fingers or the tongs
- Making your gecko overeat or under eat depending on your schedule
To hand-feed or tong-feed your gecko, you should follow these steps:
- Choose a suitable insect, such as a cricket, a mealworm, or a dubia roach, and gut-load and dust it with calcium and vitamin supplements
- Wash your hands or sanitize your tongs, and pick up the insect gently and securely
- Approach your gecko slowly and calmly, and avoid making any sudden or loud noises
- Hold the insect in front of your gecko’s nose, and wiggle it slightly to attract their attention
- Wait for your gecko to open their mouth and grab the insect, and let them swallow it completely
- Praise your gecko and reward them with another insect, or stop if they show signs of disinterest or fullness
- Repeat the process until your gecko has eaten enough, or until they refuse to eat more
- Clean your hands or your tongs, and dispose of any leftover insects.
Q: How often should I feed my leopard gecko?
You should feed your leopard gecko according to their age, size, and activity level.
Generally, you should feed your gecko every day or every other day if they are juveniles, and every two or three days if they are adults.
You should also feed your gecko as much as they can eat in 15 minutes, and remove any uneaten food after that.
Q: What insects should I feed my leopard gecko?
You should feed your leopard gecko a variety of insects, such as crickets, mealworms, dubia roaches, or waxworms.
You should also gut-load and dust your insects with calcium and vitamin supplements before feeding them to your gecko, and offer them in a shallow dish or a bowl.
You should avoid feeding your gecko insects that are too large or hard, such as superworms, hornworms, or beetles, as they can cause impaction or injury.
I am Abdul Kader, the founder of Hellocutter.com. I have a passion for all things tech and love finding ways to use technology to make our lives easier. I have a background in computer science and have been working in the tech industry for over 10 years.