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    Unhappy Leo GeckoWon't Eat! Turns Up Nose at Food! First Time Owner Nervous for her Health...


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    Hello! First time owner here hoping for some help. Let me fill you in...

    My 3-4 year old female gecko (Thorn) will not eat... regularly. She will go weeks without food, then maybe eat one insect. I have tried feeding with tongs, feeding in a bowl, feeding in a separate container. I have tried waxworms, super worms, meal worms and crickets. (Going to try dubia roaches and horn worms next.) She used to eat just fine, now she is uninterested. She might glance or boop it with her snoot at most, but then turn away. Her tank is a good 80, with a warm side and a cool side, so I don't think it's temp related.

    I know this is long winded but stay with me, this is my first reptile and I'm anxious qnd I feel like I'm failing her.

    On top of that she just never leaves the cool hide. Never except to go to the bathroom. She's super lethargic and just sleeps. My reptile friend suspects brumation, but I wouldn't know. She still seems an alright weight, but still.

    Any advice is welcome!

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    First, what is her set up like? (What substrate do you use, what kind of heating devices / thermometers, what is the humidity level, is there a humid hide, what is the size of the tank, have you had her for her whole life or did you recently purchase her as an adult, how many hides dose she have and what kind are they. Importantly what is your vitamin and supplement schedule and what brads do you use. Are the insects gut loaded).

    My female did this for about four months of slowly eating less and less and noticeably loosing weight. I took stool samples to the vet to check for parasites and everything was dialed in to exactly what my males' tank is. Then she laid an egg - infertile of course and very hard. A few days later the second come out. I don't breed geckos so I don't know what their "season" is, but if she's new to you, is it possible she was bred just before you got her? Or that she has infertile eggs. Sometimes you can see them by looking at the abdomen.

    If eggs / husbandry / diet are not the issue, then you could be looking at an illness. I'd find a good reptile specialist vet (not one that just will looks stuff up in a book) and take a fecal sample in to check for parasites, and also make an apt for the gecko to see if there is any physical cause.

    Usually the reasons reptiles stop eating and become in active and seem off is a husbandry issue. 95% of illness are also husbandry / diet related too. So there may be something that is in her set up that is throwing her off.
    Last edited by SpottedDragon; 02-10-2022 at 01:21 PM.
    Nature is the best teacher, learn by observing

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    Her substrate is a mix of reptile sand and coco fiber mix, being mostly coco Fiber. I know people are kind of iffy on substrate but I read and watched some videos saying that this was an okay mixture. I can throw it out if need be.
    Her heating setup is a night basking lamp right now, she is upstairs in my apartment where its usually pretty warm and keeps it around 80.
    The humidity I'm not sure and I do not have a humid hide. Which I can remedy that tonight.
    She has a 20 gallon tank with three hides. She only ever uses the cool one.
    I have flukers reptile calcium and recently bought and exoterra multi vitamin. I try to dust her food in them both once a week, but she doesn't eat so.
    She also has a light that should give her d3 that I leave on during the day, and a heating pad I can turn on.

    As for her history I bought her two years ago at an expo, she was two then. She ate fine but still just stayed in her hide. She's never explored or anything really, but she's been docile and let me hold her and everything.
    I've never tried to breed her. I was thinking maybe illness, so a vet checkup wouldn't hurt regardless.

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    A few things stand out in your set up that could be a factor. This is a long post, but if you read it and have more questions, just ask

    1st - the substrate is a hotly debated topic, most keepers recommend only using loose substrate as egg-box material for gravid females. I personally use a mix of slate tile, repti-carpet, and natural large rocks. I tried using eco-earth as my moist hide substrate but my male kept eating it. My female did fine with it in her egg box while she was going through that. Until you know what is causing the lack of eating I'd switch to something solid that she can't eat on accident.

    2nd - Depending on the wattage of the basking light, it might be higher than 80*. Are your thermometers the digital kind, one that measures the hot side and one that measures the cool. If she is always on the cool side, my guess would be that the other side is too hot. You can get a thermal temp gun for $15 on amazon that will allow you to check the surface temps of everything, the digital thermometers only measure air temp.

    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. All Heat sources need to be on a thermostat - esp heat mats and CHE's, dimmers can work in a pinch for red bulbs

    I use hot glue to fix the thermostat's probe and a digital thermometer's probe together, but offset a little (gluing the wires not the probe heads themselves). 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 (or under the heat light / CHE). 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).
    Elevate your entire enclosure 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch off the stand to prevent house fires!!! For larger enclosures elevate the enclosure at each corner and at center edges! Use sticky chair pads, Pink Pearl erasers, sturdy bottle caps, small tiles, or wooden blocks. Wrought iron stands support the periphery of the tank, but are completely open on the bottom.

    3) If your tank is too hot - she is likely also dehydrated. A moist hide will help with this. You can use damp paper towels, sphagnum moss, or chemical free natural sponges. Also a 10-15 min bath in warm (no more than 85*) chlorine free water twice a week if she's having any trouble with stools or has eaten substrate - leo's can't swim well, the water only need to be deep enough for her belly to sit in it.

    4) Unless you have a thermostat, don't use the heat mat - these will quickly get to 120+ which can cook her

    5) I'm not familiar with the flukers brand vitamins, but she needs a plain calcium supplement, a calcium with D3 supplement, and a multivitamin that does not have D3 and has retinol as the vit A source (not beta carotene). Even with a UVB light she should get a calcium supplement with D3 twice a month just in case she is not utilizing the light. A lack of either D3 or retinol can cause them to be lethargic / have a poor appetite.

    example:
    Weekly Schedule 126 for Leopard Geckos 18+ months old (withOUT UVB)

    The medical term for Metabolic Bone Disease = Nutritional Secondary HyperParathyroidism. NSHP symptoms include leaning to one side when walking, walking on one or both "elbows", bowed limbs, belly dragging, and an underbite. Difficulty chewing should be closely monitored.

    Monday > > crickets or dubia lightly dusted with Zoo Med's Repti Calcium with D3
    Thursday > > crickets or dubia lightly dusted with Zoo Med's ReptiVite multivitamins withOUT D3
    Saturday > > Optional: mealworms, superworms, or black soldier fly larvae (Phoenix worms) > > no dusting

    If you are using UVB lights - then you would do plain calcium twice a month, and calcium with D3 twice a month - alternating weeks.

    7) you should also be gut feeding her bugs for 24-48 hours before feeding them to her. When mealworms are kept in the fridge the use their own bodies as a source of energy which makes them more like potato chips than real food once she get to them. Kale, collard greens, sweet potato, and other veggies are great for the bugs. You can even buy or make dry powder-like foods for them. Dubia roaches are one of the better feeders as far as nutrition goes, crickets are not great and tend to carry parasites, and things like wax worms should be just for treats. (I have to give wax worms to mine once a week as it is the only thing they will eat their vitamins on).

    Hope this helps some - I know it is a lot, but reptiles are very sensitive to change even though they are hardy as far as staying alive. It just takes some tinkering to get them to thrive.
    Last edited by SpottedDragon; 02-11-2022 at 12:35 AM.
    Nature is the best teacher, learn by observing

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    Hi ~

    Welcome to Geckos Unlimited!

    Can we help out your leopard gecko more?
    Click: Leopard Gecko Care Sheet's Table of Contents

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

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    Thank you! I'm going to save all this in my phone to reference and start working on getting her in a better situation.

    I got my thermometer at petsmart and it's a little digital dot sitting directly on the substrate. I will splurge and get some thermostats and better thermometers.

    As for questions I just wonder how I get her to invest vitamins if she won't eat anything right now. How do you think I should approach that?
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    Quote Originally Posted by SandwingGecko View Post
    Thank you! I'm going to save all this in my phone to reference and start working on getting her in a better situation.

    I got my thermometer at petsmart and it's a little digital dot sitting directly on the substrate. I will splurge and get some thermostats and better thermometers.

    As for questions I just wonder how I get her to invest vitamins if she won't eat anything right now. How do you think I should approach that?
    Her heating setup is a night basking lamp right now, she is upstairs in my apartment where its usually pretty warm and keeps it around 80.
    The humidity I'm not sure and I do not have a humid hide. Which I can remedy that tonight.
    She has a 20 gallon tank with three hides. She only ever uses the cool one.
    I have flukers reptile calcium and recently bought and exoterra multi vitamin. I try to dust her food in them both once a week, but she doesn't eat so.
    She also has a light that should give her d3 that I leave on during the day, and a heating pad I can turn on.
    You're welcome!

    Your heating may be really off! Does Thorn's night basking lamp produce blue light? Leo's can see blue light. Leos need total darkness at night.

    1. Does Thorn have a 20 gallon LONG enclosure: 30 x 12 x 12 inches tall?
    2. Does the temp of "around 80" = room temp all the time?
    3. Leos require a thermal gradient in order to thrive. That's 88-92"F max under a warm DRY hide or in the basking area to ~68*F minimum on the cool end during the day. The entire enclosure can reach ~68*F at night.
    4. How about setting Thorn up "old style" for now?
    5. How thick is Thorn's substrate? There's a chance it's too thick and that heat from the heat mat would NOT be felt.
    6. What dimensions is Thorn's heat mat? Picture?
    7. Please share a picture of your new thermometer that's sitting on the substrate.

    /\ /\ PS: Please Copy & Paste #1 through 7 in your next message to quickly answer those questions.



    > > > How soon can you order a thermostat + a yellow Zoo Med's digital thermometer also with a probe? Once enclosure temps are satisfactory, Thorn might begin to eat. Without proper heat she can't digest her prey or her powdered diet. Without constant & regular belly heat, a leo fails to thrive.

    > > > Please order Repashy's Grub Pie right away. That's a well-balanced powdered diet made with insects that you mix with water. Then place the paste on her nose or add a bit more water & feed it to Thorn with a syringe. If so, that's a way to get some vitamins inside her belly.
    Click (How to assist feed a leopard gecko?): How to get a gecko to open it's mouth?



    My leo has Hydrofarm's Jump Start thermostat. I've had it since 2013. It's a real work horse. I have the max temp set for 91"F. That's where the thermostat shuts off the heat. I have the thermostat's probe + a separate digital thermometer's probe offset some and taped together sitting on the floor of my leo's warm DRY hide.

    Also check out the Ipower thermostat.


    Zoo Med makes a yellow digital thermometer with a probe that's excellent for verifying your thermostat's settings. It costs about $10 and is usually available at PetSmart.


    Elevate your entire enclosure 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch off the stand to prevent house fires!!! For larger enclosures elevate the enclosure at each corner and at center edges! Use sticky chair pads, Pink Pearl erasers, sturdy bottle caps, small tiles, or wooden blocks. Wrought iron stands support the periphery of the tank, but are completely open on the bottom.
    Last edited by Elizabeth Freer; 02-24-2022 at 01:29 AM.
    Click: Leopard Gecko Care Sheet's Table of Contents

    Oedura castelnaui ~ Lepidodactylus lugubris ~ Gekko kuhli ~ Cyrtodactylus zebraicus ~ Phyllurus platurus ~ Eublepharis macularius ~ Correlophus ciliatus ~ (Phelsuma barbouri) ~ (Lygodactylus kimhowelli) ~ (P tigrinus) ~ (P klemmeri) ~ (H garnotii)
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    Quote Originally Posted by SandwingGecko View Post
    As for questions I just wonder how I get her to invest vitamins if she won't eat anything right now. How do you think I should approach that?
    Elizabeth has a good idea to use the bug burger to add at least something to her diet. I find leo's to be a lot like cats in that they will lick food off their nose just to clean it, even if they don't really want to eat.

    I use "junk food" (nice fat wax worms or hornworms) to tempt mine back onto the path of eating. Butter Worms might also work. They are wiggly in a way that crickets and mealworms just aren't. My make *hates* the multivitamin so he get three wax worms a week with his multivitamin since he won't turn them down.

    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    One other thing that may help, but shouldn't hurt is adding some bee pollen onto the bugs (I use the now brand 500mg capsules from amazon). I just split open a single capsule and put just a sprinkle on the bugs once or twice a month. One capsule lasts 15 or so feedings. You can also add this onto the food for the bugs themselves to eat.

    It contains a load of good things, vitamins / minerals / proteins / etc.
    When I was doing my research on the natural diet of wild leopard geckos I found out that a lot of their food is moths and nocturnal beetles, which in desert environments are important pollinators, just as much as bees are. My exotic vet has recommended bee pollen for bearded dragons that are not wanting to eat since it is sweet and nutritious. I will say it has made my male much brighter in color.

    "Moreover, vitamins and bioelements also belong to valuable substances. Pollen is quite a significant source of vitamin both fat-soluble 0,1%, such as provitamin A and vitamins E and D, and water-soluble 0,6%, such as B1, B2, B6, and C, and acids: pantothenic, nicotinic and folic, biotin, rutin, and inositol. Their total amount is equal to 0,7% in the whole product."

    this is an excerpt of just some of the vitamins in it from Katarzyna Komosinska-Vassev et al in a paper I found a while back. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4377380/
    This was looking at it's use for human medicine, but the vitamins are helpful to all living things, and the animal testing on rats show that it's effective for other mammal groups. I haven't been able to find any peer reviewed research for reptiles outside of papers on calcium / d3 / uvb interactions and some on vitamin a types. It's just not something studied unfortunately
    Nature is the best teacher, learn by observing

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    For easy feeding with a syringe you can get "teat infusion cannula's" that are long and narrow that can help apply the food to the lip line easier that a regular syringe
    https://www.petsuppliesplace.com/pro...MaApk-EALw_wcB
    This fits onto any over the counter syringe, but I find the 1 ml tuberculin syringes easiest when dealing with small animals. Even if you have a vet in the area that does not see reptiles, sometimes you can ask for just one or two syringes (without the needles), explain what you are feeding, and they may just give them to you =)
    Nature is the best teacher, learn by observing

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    Hi! Let me try to answer this in order to your questions!

    She had a night time basking bulb that I used for heating, it said it wasn't going to disturb her sleep but I have since removed it anyways.

    1. Her tank is 20 gallons, I will send pictures of her entire set up since I have adjusted it.
    2. The ambient room temp is around 75, I have the basking bulb and a indistinguishable head bulb I can use to get things warmer. What do you think?
    3. Her cool side is 76 and her warm side is 85, she seems to prefer the cool side.
    4. I'm not sure what old style means, what is that?
    5. I have removed the substrate until I can make sure the temperature is right.
    6&7. I have include pics!

    I now have a thermostat and have the heat pad connected to it. I will order a better thermometer when I get paid this week. Money is really tight for me for the next week.

    I will order that pie stuff because she has not eaten in so long I'm very concerned for her. Her tail is still plump but I want her to eat.20220220_042624.jpg20220220_042624.jpg
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