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    Unhappy URGENT: Gecko Not Eating - Please Help!


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    HISTORY:
    I adopted an adult leopard gecko from PetSmart two weeks ago because it was blind. Prior to this, the gecko lived in the store for maybe five months in a 10 gallon enclosure with an overhead heat lamp during the day and a night lamp at night. It was fed a diet of crickets until it began rejecting those, then it was fed giant mealworms because that was all it would eat. To my knowledge, it would eat 2-3 giant mealworms every second or third day, but it was offered food almost daily. The gecko was known to go longer without eating, but it was fairly healthy with a decently plump tail.

    ENCLOSURE:
    I placed the gecko in a 20 gallon tank with a warm and cool side and three respective hides (one of them being a humid hide in the middle with moist moss). The bottom is lined with paper towel. A low-lying water dish and calcium dish are provided at all times. The heating pad ranges from 90-94 degrees Farenheit and she spends most of her time there during the day and comes out at night to roam and drink water. She has shed once (yesterday) but has not gone inside her humid hide. I do not have a UVB lamp.

    PROBLEM:
    After I brought the gecko home, it ate seven giant mealworms the next day (it had not eaten for four days prior) and rejected all the giant mealworms, regular mealworms, and large crickets I'd offer it until 10 days later when it accepted two large crickets. Two days later, I managed to feed it five waxworms and I wasn't able to feed it after that. The gecko has used the toilet regularly since being adopted, but mostly to pee since it doesn't eat. It is a very picky eater and because it can't see well, prefers slow-moving insects and none that can touch his face (unless she is nudging it purposely). She will not eat if there is too much movement in the tank and will immediately stop eating if the insect touches its face - she will try to leave the area very quickly.

    -----------

    I am at a loss for what to do. Besides not providing a timed UVB bulb, which I intended to supplement with D3 during some feedings, I feel like have provided a decent environment for the gecko to live in. It is placed in the warmest room in the house and I have barely handled it since I brought it home. However, I have held it three times - once the day after bringing it home, then the day after that, and then yesterday. She is very skittish and doesn't enjoy being scooped up, so I try to avoid making her anxious by not interacting with her. I can barely move when I go to feed her because the movement of the shadows or just me can startle her if she notices. It's not like she doesn't want food because she has followed my finger in hopes of eating it before, so I don't know what her issue is. She has lost the nice bulge in her tail since coming home and it's more straight. At this point, I feel like I might have to force feed her liquid nutrients in order for her to survive, but I don't want to do that because I feel like that wouldn't be living. I am very tempted to give this gecko away to someone with more experience and money if they can get her to eat regularly.

    If anyone has any advice, I would very much appreciate it. I don't want to give this gecko away, but if she's not happy with me then she would be better off going to someone who might know how to care for her better.
    Last edited by BalloonBat; 04-02-2021 at 02:35 AM.

  2. #2
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    ENCLOSURE:
    I placed the gecko in a 20 gallon tank with a warm and cool side and three respective hides (one of them being a humid hide in the middle with moist moss). The bottom is lined with paper towel. A low-lying water dish and calcium dish are provided at all times. The heating pad ranges from 90-94 degrees Farenheit and she spends most of her time there during the day and comes out at night to roam and drink water. She has shed once (yesterday) but has not gone inside her humid hide. I do not have a UVB lamp.
    Welcome aboard! Thanks for your very thorough message.

    Please share a photo of your leo. How long is he?

    Please lower the warm end temp range to 88-92*F.
    1. Have you a thermostat?
    2. What type of thermometer are you using to report these temps?
    3. Are you measuring ground temps?
    4. Please list your leo's supplements: brand, exact name, & frequency you use them.

    Scoot the humid hide over to the warm end so it sits directly on top of the heat mat near your warm dry hide.

    Temperatures - A temperature gradient from warm to cool maintains your leo's health. Here's a temperature guide for all leopard geckos as measured with the probe of a digital thermometer or a temp gun. Set your thermostat at 91*F/32.8*C.

    Tape the thermostat's probe and a digital thermometer's probe together, but offset a little. Place them right on top of the substrate underneath the warm dry hide. If you use a UTH + a CHE you'll need 2 separate thermostats, because ground and air temperatures are substantially different.

    • Warm dry hide ground temperature: 88-92 F (31.1-33.3 C) inside a leo's warm dry hide.
    • Warm humid/moist hide: Place the humid hide 100% on top of the heat mat. Keep temperatures similar to the warm dry hide.
    • Cool dry hide ground temperature: 70ish-75 F (21.1-23.9 C) Usually the cool end ground temperature matches the room temperature where the enclosure sits.
    • no greater than 82ish F (27.8ish C) surface temperature - 4 inches (10 cm) above ground on the warm end
    • no greater than 75 F (23.9 C) surface temperature - 4 inches (10 cm) above ground on the cool end

    Leave your heat mat on 24/7 IF ambient room temperatures drop lower than 67ish*F (19.4*C). If NOT, during the night turn off overhead lighting/heating (~12 hours on and ~12 hours off)
    "If you can hear crickets, it's still summer." ;)

    "May the peace that
    You find at the beach
    Follow you home"

    Click: Leo Care Sheet's Table of Contents

    ===> No plain calcium, calcium with D3, or multivitamins inside an enclosure <===

    Oedura castelnaui ~ Lepidodactylus lugubris ~ Phelsuma barbouri ~ Ptychozoon kuhli ~ Cyrtodactylus peguensis zebraicus ~ Phyllurus platurus ~ Eublepharis macularius ~ Correlophus ciliatus ~ (L kimhowelli) ~ (P tigrinus) ~ (P klemmeri) ~ (H garnotii)
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    Quote Originally Posted by Elizabeth Freer View Post
    Welcome aboard! Thanks for your very thorough message.

    Please share a photo of your leo. How long is he?

    Please lower the warm end temp range to 88-92*F.
    1. Have you a thermostat?
    2. What type of thermometer are you using to report these temps?
    3. Are you measuring ground temps?
    4. Please list your leo's supplements: brand, exact name, & frequency you use them.

    Scoot the humid hide over to the warm end so it sits directly on top of the heat mat near your warm dry hide.
    Dear Elizabeth,

    Thank you for your response. My gecko is around 5.5-6 inches in length. I have made adjustments to the temperature as you have suggested and I will also remove the calcium dish. The following are responses to your questions:

    1) Yes.

    2) I am using the iPower 8x12 inch 16-watt heating pad with the iPower 40-108 degrees Fahrenheit heat mat thermostat. There is a probe at the end of this thermostat that I've taped directly over the glass where I place the warm, dry hide.

    3) I only monitor the temperature on the ground and where the heating pad is. My house is set around 69.8 degrees Fahrenheit.

    4) I use two supplements by ZooMed: Repticalcim (without D3) and Reptivite (with D3). I keep the plain calcium in a dish inside the enclosure and I have yet to use the D3 calcium since my gecko has not been eating consistently. I planned to use it once a week during feedings.

    5) The humid hide has always been on top of the heat mat, but only about 3/4 of it is on the heat mat since it's sharing the space with the warm hide.

    Gecko Enclosure.jpg First Day.jpg Roaming.jpg Hide.jpg gecko.jpg Full Body.jpg

    The first and the last two photos were taken today.
    Last edited by BalloonBat; 04-02-2021 at 07:05 PM. Reason: Uploaded photos.
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    Dear Elizabeth,

    Thank you for your response. My gecko is around 5.5-6 inches in length. I have made adjustments to the temperature as you have suggested and I will also remove the calcium dish. The following are responses to your questions:

    1. Do you know how old your leo is? ~6 inches total in length is a bit short for an adult leo.
    2. Are you assist-feeding this leo?
    3. Do you know your leo's sex?
    4. What size is your enclosure?

    1) Yes.

    2) I am using the iPower 8x12 inch 16-watt heating pad with the iPower 40-108 degrees Fahrenheit heat mat thermostat. There is a probe at the end of this thermostat that I've taped directly over the glass where I place the warm, dry hide.

    Please relocate the thermostat's probe. Place this probe right on top of the substrate & underneath the warm dry hide. This is the temp your leo feels when he lays there.

    It's a good idea to have a separate digital thermometer with a probe to verify the thermostat's settings. Zoo Med makes a yellow digital with a probe for about $10 USDs.

    Tape both probes together, but offset a little.

    3) I only monitor the temperature on the ground and where the heating pad is. My house is set around 69.8 degrees Fahrenheit.

    At a 69.8*F room thermostat setting, you could turn off this leo's heat during the night.

    4) I use two supplements by ZooMed: Repticalcim (without D3) and Reptivite (with D3). I keep the plain calcium in a dish inside the enclosure and I have yet to use the D3 calcium since my gecko has not been eating consistently. I planned to use it once a week during feedings.

    Your leo may be full. Maybe that's why he's not eating.

    151927940_3926496120733838_256289124466092328_n.jpg
    (click to enlarge)

    5) The humid hide has always been on top of the heat mat, but only about 3/4 of it is on the heat mat since it's sharing the space with the warm hide.

    Gecko Enclosure.jpg First Day.jpg Roaming.jpg Hide.jpg gecko.jpg Full Body.jpg

    The first and the last two photos were taken today.
    Last edited by Elizabeth Freer; 04-02-2021 at 08:31 PM.
    "If you can hear crickets, it's still summer." ;)

    "May the peace that
    You find at the beach
    Follow you home"

    Click: Leo Care Sheet's Table of Contents

    ===> No plain calcium, calcium with D3, or multivitamins inside an enclosure <===

    Oedura castelnaui ~ Lepidodactylus lugubris ~ Phelsuma barbouri ~ Ptychozoon kuhli ~ Cyrtodactylus peguensis zebraicus ~ Phyllurus platurus ~ Eublepharis macularius ~ Correlophus ciliatus ~ (L kimhowelli) ~ (P tigrinus) ~ (P klemmeri) ~ (H garnotii)
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    Hi Elizabeth,

    1) I do not know how old the gecko is since I got it from PetSmart. The gecko arrived larger than the usual babies they tend to receive and has grown to this current size. It is possible that the gecko may about a year or less than a year old.

    2) I am assist feeding the gecko since it is mostly blind. For crickets, I would crush the heads before slowly dragging it across the floor in front of the gecko. For other insects, such as the giant mealworms and waxworms, I let them slowly crawl on the floor in front of the gecko as they slowly wake from coma state. I've kept both the giant mealworms and waxworms in the fridge, but I let them sit out a bit to warm up to room temperature before feeding.

    3) I do know with certainty if the gecko is male or female. I checked yesterday for preanal pores and it did not have any (that I could see? I think they should be quite prominent based on reference photos) so I am assuming it is female.

    4) The enclosure is what I believe a 20 gallon tank. The dimensions are 30x12.5x12.5 in inches.

    With reference to your suggestions, I will try to find a separate thermometer to place in the tank as well. I also do not use a heating lamp, so do you suggest I unplug the heating pad at night? Finally, I do not think that my gecko is full since it has attempted to eat my fingers through the glass thinking it was a worm or something. It has also lost some weight on its tail since I brought it home.

    ADDITIONAL NOTES:
    1) The gecko is incredibly skittish. It will run to hide when there is any movement near the tank while it is out, which is mostly at night or during the late evening. It seems to be very afraid of its new environment and sometimes I question how blind it really is. The eyes react to changes in light, but it uses its nose to probe new surfaces/envrionments and basically presses its lips on a bug before eating.
    2) I feed the gecko late at night when it is more likely to be awake so as to not disrupt it.

    REMINDER: The gecko last ate three days ago, but they were five small waxworms. Prior to that, the gecko had rejected food for basically 10 days. Is it common to have geckos go on hunger strikes for that long? It has lost weight during that time.

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    REMINDER: The gecko last ate three days ago, but they were five small waxworms. Prior to that, the gecko had rejected food for basically 10 days. Is it common to have geckos go on hunger strikes for that long? It has lost weight during that time.
    Please remove nearly ALL waxworms from this leo's diet. There is some chance leos can get hooked on waxworms and refuse other bugs and worms. Waxworms are a poor source of nutrition -- mostly fat. 1-2 waxworms are only recommended @ 1 feeding per month as a vitamin C source.

    Sometimes leos brumate & go on hunger strikes for months on end. However, they often do not lose much weight during that process.

    Bugs & Worms for Leos
    17342539_1319514908116112_444175116466682477_n.jpg
    (click to enlarge)

    More later . . . . . .
    Last edited by Elizabeth Freer; 04-02-2021 at 08:56 PM.
    "If you can hear crickets, it's still summer." ;)

    "May the peace that
    You find at the beach
    Follow you home"

    Click: Leo Care Sheet's Table of Contents

    ===> No plain calcium, calcium with D3, or multivitamins inside an enclosure <===

    Oedura castelnaui ~ Lepidodactylus lugubris ~ Phelsuma barbouri ~ Ptychozoon kuhli ~ Cyrtodactylus peguensis zebraicus ~ Phyllurus platurus ~ Eublepharis macularius ~ Correlophus ciliatus ~ (L kimhowelli) ~ (P tigrinus) ~ (P klemmeri) ~ (H garnotii)
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    Quote Originally Posted by Elizabeth Freer View Post
    Please remove nearly ALL waxworms from this leo's diet. There is some chance leos can get hooked on waxworms and refuse other bugs and worms. Waxworms are a poor source of nutrition -- mostly fat. 1-2 waxworms are only recommended @ 1 feeding per month as a vitamin C source.

    Sometimes leos brumate & go on hunger strikes for months on end. However, they often do not lose much weight during that process.
    I only began trying the waxworms because it wasn't eating and it was losing weight. I've tried regular mealworms, giant mealworms, and crickets, but the lack of appetite combined with its picky eating scared me so I bought waxworms as a last-ditch effort. Regardless, I don't think my gecko has gotten addicted since it rejected the worms the subsequent days...

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    Hi Elizabeth,

    1) I do not know how old the gecko is since I got it from PetSmart. The gecko arrived larger than the usual babies they tend to receive and has grown to this current size. It is possible that the gecko may about a year or less than a year old.
    Until there's reason to believe differently, I recommend feeding & supplementing her as a 12-18 mo leo. Perhaps she will still grow? See Schedule 125 below.

    2) I am assist feeding the gecko since it is mostly blind. For crickets, I would crush the heads before slowly dragging it across the floor in front of the gecko. For other insects, such as the giant mealworms and waxworms, I let them slowly crawl on the floor in front of the gecko as they slowly wake from coma state. I've kept both the giant mealworms and waxworms in the fridge, but I let them sit out a bit to warm up to room temperature before feeding.
    It's important to feed the mealworms before you feed them to your leo. Vary your leo's food as much as you can.

    3) I do know with certainty if the gecko is male or female. I checked yesterday for preanal pores and it did not have any (that I could see? I think they should be quite prominent based on reference photos) so I am assuming it is female.
    Sexing Leopard Geckos -- A leopard gecko's gender can be confirmed when that leo is over 5 inches in total length. That may happen when the leo is near 6 months old. Males can be distinguished from females by a distinct /\-shaped row of femoral pores above the vent and by two hemipenal bulges below the vent. To see their vents, potential male femoral pores, and hemipenal bulges gently press their bodies up against the glass. They'll squirm if you try to turn them over.
    4) The enclosure is what I believe a 20 gallon tank. The dimensions are 30x12.5x12.5 in inches.
    Thanks! It's a 20 long tank. A 20 tall enclosure is 24 inches long and taller.

    With reference to your suggestions, I will try to find a separate thermometer to place in the tank as well. I also do not use a heating lamp, so do you suggest I unplug the heating pad at night? Finally, I do not think that my gecko is full since it has attempted to eat my fingers through the glass thinking it was a worm or something. It has also lost some weight on its tail since I brought it home.
    I realize you're ONLY using a heat mat to warm your 20 L enclosure. Yes, the 69ish*F temp you have the room thermostat set for during the night is adequate for your leo. No need for the heat mat too. Just place your enclosure thermostat on an analog timer such as this.
    white-defiant-timers-26378-64_400_compressed.jpg

    ADDITIONAL NOTES:
    1) The gecko is incredibly skittish. It will run to hide when there is any movement near the tank while it is out, which is mostly at night or during the late evening. It seems to be very afraid of its new environment and sometimes I question how blind it really is. The eyes react to changes in light, but it uses its nose to probe new surfaces/envrionments and basically presses its lips on a bug before eating.
    Skittishness is typical leo behavior -- at least temporarily.

    Does she bump into things?
    Have you seen her drinking?

    2) I feed the gecko late at night when it is more likely to be awake so as to not disrupt it.

    REMINDER: The gecko last ate three days ago, but they were five small waxworms. Prior to that, the gecko had rejected food for basically 10 days. Is it common to have geckos go on hunger strikes for that long? It has lost weight during that time.
    I understand.


    Weekly Schedule 125 for leopard geckos 12-18 months old
    Adapted for your leopard gecko
    (withOUT UVB)
    Metabolic bone disease (MBD) symptoms include uneven (lopsided) gait, walking on one or both "elbows", bowed limbs, belly dragging, and an underbite. Difficulty chewing should be closely monitored.
    The Reptile Supply Company based in Lodi, California stocks Zoo Med's ReptiVite multivitamins withOUT D3.
    Powdered supplement recommendations for leopard geckos 12-18 months old depend upon how much your leo has grown thus far and whether he/she is walking strongly. Leopard geckos usually reach maximum size at about 18 months old.

    Feed lightly dusted prey 3x per week.

    • Monday > > crickets or dubia lightly dusted with Zoo Med's Reptivite multivitamins with D3
    • Wednesday > > crickets or dubia lightly dusted with pure precipitated calcium carbonate withOUT D3 (Zoo Med's Repti Calcium or NOW's human-grade pure calcium carbonate)
    • Friday > > crickets or dubia lightly dusted with pure precipitated calcium carbonate withOUT D3 (Zoo Med's Repti Calcium or NOW's human-grade pure calcium carbonate)
    • Saturday > > mealworms, superworms, or black soldier fly larvae (Phoenix worms) >> no dusting



    For link 125 click: Weekly Feeding & Supplement Schedule 125 for leopard geckos 12-18 months old
    Last edited by Elizabeth Freer; 04-03-2021 at 03:07 AM.
    "If you can hear crickets, it's still summer." ;)

    "May the peace that
    You find at the beach
    Follow you home"

    Click: Leo Care Sheet's Table of Contents

    ===> No plain calcium, calcium with D3, or multivitamins inside an enclosure <===

    Oedura castelnaui ~ Lepidodactylus lugubris ~ Phelsuma barbouri ~ Ptychozoon kuhli ~ Cyrtodactylus peguensis zebraicus ~ Phyllurus platurus ~ Eublepharis macularius ~ Correlophus ciliatus ~ (L kimhowelli) ~ (P tigrinus) ~ (P klemmeri) ~ (H garnotii)
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    Hi Elizabeth,

    I wasn't able to reply earlier, but I saw your message and I will begin implementing your suggested diet next week. My gecko doesn't seem to be a fan of crickets, but she will eat them sometimes if I am lucky. I tried tonight and she ate one large one followed by seven mealworms. Since I am starting my own mealworm farm to save money, I have begun to gut load them and I've been feeding them a diet of carrots and I gave them a slice of apple tonight. Are there any other cost-effective foods you can suggest that I feed the mealworms? The store I purchase the crickets from feeds them tropical fish flakes and gel water.

    Q: Do you have any suggestions for how many regular mealworms and crickets she should eat in a sitting? I realise you gave me a reference sheet, but it would be useful to know what is the average amount for a gecko with a healthy appetite is.

    As for her blindness, she can see movement and will hunt for her own insects as long as they are not very fast, such as the regular mealworms. She does not bump into things in her enclosure unless she gets startled, but she also knows her way around the enclosure fairly well. I haven't seen her drinking before, but I monitor the water levels that I change daily, and it does go down. I have also left the water dish unchanged for two days once before, and half of the water will be gone (it's a small dish). She also urinated regularly back when she wasn't eating.

    Many thanks,
    BalloonBat
    Last edited by BalloonBat; 04-03-2021 at 09:59 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by BalloonBat View Post
    Hi Elizabeth,

    I wasn't able to reply earlier, but I saw your message and I will begin implementing your suggested diet next week. My gecko doesn't seem to be a fan of crickets, but she will eat them sometimes if I am lucky. I tried tonight and she ate one large one followed by seven mealworms. Since I am starting my own mealworm farm to save money, I have begun to gut load them and I've been feeding them a diet of carrots and I gave them a slice of apple tonight. Are there any other cost-effective foods you can suggest that I feed the mealworms? The store I purchase the crickets from feeds them tropical fish flakes and gel water.

    Q: Do you have any suggestions for how many regular mealworms and crickets she should eat in a sitting? I realise you gave me a reference sheet, but it would be useful to know what is the average amount for a gecko with a healthy appetite is.

    As for her blindness, she can see movement and will hunt for her own insects as long as they are not very fast, such as the regular mealworms. She does not bump into things in her enclosure unless she gets startled, but she also knows her way around the enclosure fairly well. I haven't seen her drinking before, but I monitor the water levels that I change daily, and it does go down. I have also left the water dish unchanged for two days once before, and half of the water will be gone (it's a small dish). She also urinated regularly back when she wasn't eating.

    Many thanks,
    BalloonBat
    Thanks so much, BalloonBat!

    I noticed a couple days ago that you've already seen my link #98 about NOT using wheat germ, wheat bran, or oats as a mealworm bedding because of excessive phosphorus. With the former USA FDA link, it seemed easier to get to the exact phosphorus values for wheat germ, wheat bran, and oats that I've quoted in that link.

    I'd suggest Repashy's Bug Burger as a mealworm bedding, but I'm pretty sure that's expensive. Some folks use ground chicken feed that does NOT contain diatomaceous earth. I wonder whether you might find some dry diet in Canada that's similar to Professional Reptiles' Pro Gutload that would be cost-effective to use as the mealworm bedding.

    Aliza (GU's acpart) uses this already ground Professional Reptiles' Pro Gutload (1-775-359-1085) for her mealworm/superworm bedding as well as for her insect and worm food.

    How many mealworms depends upon the mealworm's size and the leo's appetite. Combining crickets + mealworms like you did is best. Maybe how much a leo eats in 15 minutes? Let your leo be your judge.

    \/ \/ \/
    In addition to a balanced dry diet to cover the basics, offer your geckos' feeders some veggies and fruits from these lists.
    Gutload Ingredients for Bugs & Worms . . . . . . thanks to Olimpia -- August 2013

    "A commercial gut loading food like Bug Burger or Superload (both by Repashy), Cricket Crack, Dinofuel, etc. is going to make your life easier AND provide a nutritious diet to your crickets at the same time. Avoid Fluker's gutloads, as they are super feeble in their formulas.

    "If you opt for making your own gutload at home, here's a list of great ingredients to use:
    BEST: mustard greens, turnip greens, dandelion flowers & leaves, collard greens, escarole lettuce, papaya, watercress, and alfalfa.
    GOOD: sweet potato, carrots, (oranges), mango, butternut squash, kale, apples, beet greens, blackberries, bok choy, and green beans.
    DRY FOOD: bee pollen, organic non-salted sunflower seeds, spirulina, dried seaweed, flax seed, and organic non-salted almonds.
    AVOID AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE: potatoes, cabbage, iceberg lettuce, romaine lettuce, spinach, broccoli, tomatoes, corn, grains, beans, oats, bread, cereal, meat, eggs, dog food, cat food, fish food, canned or dead insects, vertebrates."
    Fish flakes are dangerously high in protein. Tetramin Fish Flakes contain 46% protein.
    Last edited by Elizabeth Freer; 04-04-2021 at 12:18 AM.
    "If you can hear crickets, it's still summer." ;)

    "May the peace that
    You find at the beach
    Follow you home"

    Click: Leo Care Sheet's Table of Contents

    ===> No plain calcium, calcium with D3, or multivitamins inside an enclosure <===

    Oedura castelnaui ~ Lepidodactylus lugubris ~ Phelsuma barbouri ~ Ptychozoon kuhli ~ Cyrtodactylus peguensis zebraicus ~ Phyllurus platurus ~ Eublepharis macularius ~ Correlophus ciliatus ~ (L kimhowelli) ~ (P tigrinus) ~ (P klemmeri) ~ (H garnotii)
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