Leopard geckos are hardy creatures, and when kept with great care, they usually experience no illnesses or injuries throughout their lifetime. That said, several health issues may afflict pet Leopard geckos if their nutritional needs are not being met or something off about their habitat.
In this article, we will talk about the causes and treatments of some common Leopard gecko health issues. Although we have discussed initial treatments for the common Leopard gecko, it’s more appropriate to visit a reptile vet to cure these diseases.
Common Leopard Gecko Diseases
1. Calcium Deficiency and Metabolic Bone Disease (MBD) In Leopard Geckos
Metabolic bone disease symptoms in Leopard geckos include tiredness, lack of body movement, weakness, etc. Leopard Geckos with MBD may also show a sign of crooked legs. If you notice that your pet Leopard gecko’s limbs have a rubbery appearance being soft or weak, and their knees are round, then they might be suffering from metabolic bone disease.
Suffering from metabolic bone disease, Leopard bones become weak and prone to fractures.
If the food lacks the required calcium element, a calcium deficiency is seen in Leopard geckos. Geckos are also at risk of calcium deficiency when their food is overly supplemented with phosphorous.
To treat calcium deficiency in geckos, the use of gut-loaded feeder insects could be a great choice. Dusting gecko’s food with calcium and vitamin D3 powdered supplements can also help treat MBD in Leopard geckos.
If caught at an early stage, metabolic bone disease can be treated and fully reversed by providing a balanced Leopard gecko diet and the best Leopard gecko lighting setup. If you discover it at a later stage, it might not be reversible. In such a case, all you can do is stop it from progressing further by providing them with the appropriate diet.
In addition to providing calcium supplements to your Leo, you also have to make sure that they are getting some vitamin D3 as well. It is crucial for the absorption of calcium.
2. Mouth Rot in Leopard Geckos
Mouth rot, also known as stomatitis, is a common Leopard gecko disease. It is a bacterial infection and can be fatal if left untreated. If your gecko is suffering from mouth rot, he may refuse to eat or drink as it would be painful.
Leopard geckos might get infected by mouth rot when they are stressed. The immune system becomes weak when these reptiles are facing stress. A weak immune system allows the bacteria in the mouth to grow more rapidly.
Other causes of mouth rot in geckos are incorrect temperature in the tank, inaccurate humidity levels, poor nutrition and hygiene, and overcrowding. These conditions cause stress in geckos that ultimately weakens immunity, leading to mouth rot in geckos. Moreover, putting two male Leopard geckos in one habitat may result in fighting, which can lead to mouth injuries, making way for bacteria to infect.
You can easily reduce the chances of your Leopard gecko developing mouth rot by regularly cleaning your Leopard gecko tank. Meeting your Leopard gecko’s temperature requirements would also help reduce the likelihood of mouth rot in geckos.
Try to rectify the things which are causing stress in Leopard geckos. Therefore, you need to pay close attention to factors such as humidity, temperature, or diet. If the condition is serious, visit the vet to treat such illness by giving an antibiotic injection or removing dead/dying tissue.
Impaction is another problem found in Leopard geckos that can also be fatal if left untreated. The most common symptoms of impaction are lethargy, constipation, a puffy stomach, and lack of appetite.
Impaction occurs in geckos when they eat ingest something indigestible or big in size. Leopard gecko substrate, like sand and small rocks, also poses a risk of impaction on ingestion.
This problem may also occur when your Leopard geckos eat food that is big in size. The stomach of geckos is unable to digest even feeder insects that are bigger than their eyes in length. You can consult a vet for an X-ray to know what your gecko has ingested.
You can treat impaction in Leopard geckos by giving them three to four drops of vegetable oil or petroleum jelly. It’s better to give geckos a warm bath after giving them vegetable oil.
4. Respiratory Infections
Respiratory infection in Leopard geckos is caused by bacterial agents when humidity is high, and temperature is low in their habitat. Symptoms of respiratory infection in Leos include heavy breathing, bubbles on their nose, lethargy, weight loss, wheezing, etc.
Low temperature and high humidity are the main causes of respiratory infections in geckos. In cases of high humidity and low temperatures, bacteria start growing in Leopard geckos lungs, leading to the development of respiratory infections like pneumonia.
You can treat respiratory infections in Leopard geckos by maintaining appropriate temperature and humidity levels in their tanks. Another way of treating respiratory infection in Leopard geckos is to wash their nose with chamomile tea solution.
Having said that, if the respiratory infection doesn’t disappear within 5 days of its occurrence, you should take your Leo to a reptile veterinarian. The vet may prescribe antibiotics to treat the respiratory infection.
5. Egg Binding
Egg binding, also known as dystocia, is a condition in which female Leopard geckos cannot pass their eggs. Geckos may act depressed, restless and show poor eating during dystocia conditions. If not addressed immediately, dystocia may even lead to the death of the Leopard gecko.
Calcium deficiency in the body of leopard geckos is one of the causes of egg binding problems. Calcium is an essential nutrient for geckos as it assists the formation of eggs alongside the contraction of smooth muscles that pushes the eggs into oviducts.
Egg binding problems in Leopard geckos can be treated by gut loading and dusting food with enough calcium and other essential nutrients. Also, make sure your gecko is provided with an egg-laying site to lay eggs (mostly, they lay eggs after ten days of mating). You can check whether your leopard gecko is gravid or not by placing a bright light close to it. Another way to check if your gecko is gravid is to bring your gecko to a vet for an X-ray.
Prolapse is a serious health problem found in Leopard geckos, in which a tissue or an organ slips out of their vent and is not being retracted. You can notice a vent below the tail of your geckos that may seem like something is sticking out. It’s advisable to bring your pet to a vet as prolapse is a serious health problem that can be fatal if not treated properly.
Prolapse hemipenes in geckos is caused by excessive strain from impaction, trauma, or improper sexing. Low humidity also increases the chances of prolapsing in Leopard geckos.
If your Leopard gecko is failing to retract the hemipenes on its own, you might have to intervene. While it is generally advised that you don’t interfere and take your gecko to a reptile vet, if you are unable to get an urgent appointment, you can try to gently push the hemipenes with a cotton bud.
If it still doesn’t go back inside, you should apply vaseline or lubricating jelly to hemipenes to prevent it from drying out.
7. Parasite Infestation
In parasite infestation, parasites start living—breeding, feeding, and growing—inside the body of Leopard geckos. A Parasite may be living inside the body of geckos for months-long before you notice that your gecko is sick.
To confirm whether your Leopard gecko is suffering from parasite infestation, bring the feces sample to a vet. The vet may prescribe a worming medicine for your Leopard gecko to eliminate parasites.
First of all, it is necessary to determine which parasites are living inside your geckos’ bodies by performing tests. Antiparasitic medication and increased emphasis on hygiene usually end most of the parasite infestations within weeks.
8. Shedding Problems
Leopard gecko shedding is a natural and healthy phenomenon. Leos shed throughout their lifetime. While usually, geckos don’t experience any troubles in the shedding process, in some cases, geckos experience troubles shedding their skin—leaving patches of stuck skin
Leopard gecko shedding problems mostly occur when the humidity in their tanks is below 30%. Other factors like dehydration, stress, and malnutrition may also cause stuck skin in Leopard geckos. Parasite infestation, robbing geckos of their essential nutrients, may also cause shedding difficulties for geckos.
A stuck shed in Leopard geckos can be removed by soaking or spraying the affected area with warm water to soften the shed. This softened shed can then be peeled off gently without causing much pain to your Leopard geckos.
You must maintain optimal humidity level—30% to 40%—in geckos’ tank to prevent shedding problems. This can be done by placing a humid box, with 70% to 80% humidity, in the Leopard geckos’ tank where they can go during shedding.
Although reptile owners try their best to provide a healthy environment for their pets and protect them from any illnesses or traumas, some accidents may still occur. Small negligence may cause injury to pet Leopard geckos. One such accidental injury is burns in Leopard geckos.
The causes of burns in Leopard geckos are extra heated rock, pads, and even a constant light falling directly on the gecko vivarium. Hot rocks, which are great for thermoregulation, may also cause burns in Leopard geckos. Geckos actually don’t know when to move away from a heating source, so heat sources like hot rocks make them prone to burns.
Burnt skin in Leopard geckos is a serious problem and, if not treated properly, can be fatal and often lead to infection. So, if you see any burns, bring your Leopard gecko to a vet. The vet will apply some ointment on burns and prescribe antibiotics if required.
However, as it is said that prevention is the best cure, be careful while providing for the temperature requirements of Leopard geckos. Here are some useful tips:
- No hot rocks for Leopard geckos
- Never place gecko tank by the window, where sunlight may fall directly on the tank
- Never keep the basking light on throughout the night
- Provide a suitable temperature gradient of 75° F to 85° F by placing a basking light on one side of the tank.
10. Tail rot
This condition can be seen in Leopard geckos when the tip of leopard geckos’ tails starts appearing dry, skinnier, and black in comparison to the rest of the tail.
The reason behind tail tip rotting could be a stuck skin on the Leopard gecko’s tail. The patch of stuck skin restricts the blood flow and causes the skin there to die off. The cage mates may also bite on the tail, causing wounds, which may cause the tail tip to rot.
If stuck skin is causing the tail rot, you should try to give your gecko a nice bath and increase the level of humidity in the tank, as discussed earlier. If the tail tip has already started to die off, you should cut off the rotted tip to stop necrosis from spreading.
That said, you do not need to do anything if you notice that the tail tip is very dry and is about to fall.
If you are not sure whether to cut the tail tip or leave it alone, take your gecko to a vet, who can help you make a good decision. But if you are doing this at home, keep antibiotic ointment handy to control the bleeding (if any) while removing the dry tail tip.