Leopard geckos are the beloved pets of many beginners and experienced reptile keepers alike, being well known for their docile nature and relatively simple care requirements. Though leopard geckos are very beginner friendly, as reptile keepers we always need to be well informed on anything that could endanger the health of our pets.
When reptiles get sick, they get sick fast, and without a good knowledge base and observation skills, it may be too late by the time the symptoms are super obvious.
Don’t worry though, this article will give necessary foundational information to help keep your reptiles happy and healthy, and allows for some useful knowledge to keep in your back pocket if a health issue ever does arise.
Understanding these warning signs enough to detect them early on very well could save your reptile’s life: so let’s get to it, shall we?
Is my Leopard Gecko Dying? How to tell when your leopard gecko isn’t doing well.
Physical Leopard Gecko Dying Signs
There are many ways an illness can manifest in leopard geckos, however, these physical abnormalities can be a clear and decisive way to detect when something is wrong.
A leopard gecko’s tail contains much of the excess fat that the animal has to store, so keeping a close eye to notice any reductions in tail size could help catch a disease early and make treatment less expansive, easier, and more effective.
If you ever notice that your gecko is losing weight quickly around their body, this could mean that something serious is going on, making it best to just go ahead and take them to the veterinarian for the best treatment options.
Many reptiles are susceptible to a disease called mouth rot, which is a bacterial infarction that can cause pain and swelling around the mouth and can even cause the mouth to become deformed.
This is why it is crucial to keep a close eye on your reptile’s mouth, noticing any swelling or reluctance to eat could very well save your reptile’s life.
If you ever notice that your leopard gecko seems to have an unusual curve to their legs, this could be a sign of something very serious called metabolic bone disease, or MBD.
MBD occurs when an animal either doesn’t have enough calcium in their diet, or they don’t have enough UV light to process calcium to be used.
This can cause bone malformation, impaired movement, and pain for your pet.
Even though leopard geckos tend to like a drier climate, this does not mean they should have limited access to water.
Having sunken eyes is usually a sign of dehydration, and can be a warning for the onset of a serious illness.
If your leopard gecko seems to have unusual-looking waste, it could be a sign something is wrong. Here are some signs to look out for:
- Presence of undigested insects
These symptoms could be from a variety of causes such as stress, low temperature, and dietary problems, so it is best to consult a veterinarian when concerned.
Behavioral Leopard Gecko Dying Signs
Leopard geckos can have a wide range of personalities, and just like us, when they get sick, they tend to act sick, making it important to know the typical behavior of your leopard gecko and discerning what differences in behavior can indicate a stressor or illness.
Lack of Appetite
Leopard geckos should be very hearty eaters, with the average adult eating insects two to three times per week.
There are many instances where leopard geckos will have less of an appetite that are completely normal. Some examples of this could be:
- Ovulation in females
- Recent rehoming
Though it is pretty common for leopard geckos to go a little bit without food, any prolonged period of time should be a concern. Sometimes it is as easy as altering the tank temperature to make it warmer to help aid their digestion.
Fear and Aggression
Leopard geckos are known for their docile and friendly personalities, however, stress can cause many fear responses that can manifest as aggression of fear.
One may notice that their usually calm pet, may be trying to bite them seemingly out of nowhere, wagging their tail when there is no food around, or perhaps even vocalizing (sort of a chirping noise).
This can usually be fixed by improving husbandry practices, but if it does not improve with time and better husbandry, then there is likely an underlying cause.
Lethargy and Frequent Hiding
Leopard geckos aren’t known for their superior athletic ability, but it is very clear when they are being lethargic. They will appear like they are straining to move and will look very weak. Activity and usual behaviors will decrease.
It’s pretty commonplace for leopard geckos to hide for a lot of the day, as they are nocturnal animals, but if they are hiding all the time, even at night, dawn, and dusk, there could be a problem.
This is why it is crucial to know what is normal for your pet given their unique personality so that if something ever does arise, you will be prepared to address it.
How to Prevent a Leopard Gecko from Dying
When preventing disease and stress for your leopard gecko, having good husbandry is a must. Keeping the hot side of the enclosure around 80-85 degrees with a hot spot around 90 or so degrees. Keeping the humidity relatively low is also important (around 30%-40%).
Another important factor in keeping your leopard gecko healthy is diet.
Remember: Leopard geckos are insectivores and should not be eating any plant matter.
Keeping up with calcium and vitamin supplementation is a must to keep away diseases like metabolic bone disease and even mouth rot.
When should I see a vet?
Whenever you are in doubt, it is always best to trust your gut and go ahead and schedule that appointment. It is always important to do proper research before getting a reptile, including making sure you have an exotic veterinarian to go to in times of emergency.
What treatments could I potentially have to use?
With bacterial infections such as mouth rot, it is common to be prescribed an antibiotic, along with the task of rinsing out the mouth with an antiseptic prescribed by your veterinarian.
With most other diseases, having extensive knowledge about your pet, along with emergency resources is your best friend. Prevention is key, so understanding things such as calcium supplementation and UVB lighting requirements will prevent serious conditions such as MBD.
Keeping reptiles is a privilege that is very fun and rewarding, but it is still important to keep up with husbandry and current information and news in the reptile community as it might be exactly what you have been missing, or could be just a better or more affordable way of giving the best life to your beloved leopard gecko.