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    Default Arm Pit Bubbles --- Lets talk about it


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    There is quite a bit of discussion on these armpit bubbles. You can search this site or any other site and find lots of different theories as to what they are, what causes them, and if they are normal.

    A few things that all of the geckos have in common are :

    1. They are overweight
    2. They are typically females
    3. They receive supplements

    Perhaps some of the Leo owners that have Leos with these bubbles could participate in this thread to try and see if we can drill down on what causes them and weather or not they are an indicator of some type of health risk.

    I have a theory that the cause is directly related to over supplementation. Anybody have a Leo with these bubbles that does not supplement or does so very lightly , say once or twice a month ?

    It is fairly obvious why over supplementation is fashionable, we have all seen the horrific effects of MBD. Over supplementation could be considered daily or even two or three times a week.

    Some supplements (Repashy) are touted as being ok to use at every feeding. I have also noticed that those using that product do have Leos wit the armpit bubbles.

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    what is interesting is how the geckos that have them are fairly healthy and the vets all say it is harmless. However, they all appear slightly overweight... has anyone experienced them vanishing after putting their geckos on a "diet"?
    2 Albino Leopard Geckos-(Tremper) Rex & Xena
    1 Red Eared Slider Turtle - Shredder!
    2 cats- Tonkinese - Hassani / Orange Tabby Sachi
    1 ball python - Fang
    1 Beta - Blueberry
    Thanks Aimless thanked for this post

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    I have a female leo who went off food in February, and only began regularly eating again at the beginning of August. When I say "off food" I mean she would only eat one un-dusted cricket every 3-4 weeks. I initially attributed her anorexia to ovulation, because she goes off food for a few weeks every year as a result (vet-confirmed).

    However, this year was different. As a background, she's never been bred, and has never laid eggs, and is about 3-4 years old. She also had two different vet checks this year (including fecal), and I had several local leo breeders go over my husbandry and care, and nothing I was doing was causing her anorexia (from what they could tell). She was active, alert, and appeared healthy in all regards.

    Long story short...it turns out she was holding out for a food item that she has not received since she was a baby (mealworms - she had been upgraded to kingworms and superworms when she was a juvenile). I didn't know they could or would do that, so it was a complete shock to me (and the breeders I shared my story with).

    ANYWAY...she was 100g before her fast...and at last weigh-in (July) was about 80g (no giant genes in her as far as I'm aware). She had massive armpit bubbles prior to her fast...two on each side actually (one above her leg, one below). Prior to her fast, she would eat about 5 crickets every 3-4 days, then some variety of worms once every couple of weeks. Her crickets and worms aren't dusted as she refuses dusted prey (but they are all gutloaded with a mix of oats, bran, wheat germ, carrots, collard greens, and butternut squash). However, she has a cap of Repashy Calcium Plus available in her enclosure 24/7, and was given plain liquid calcium by mouth every 2 weeks (mixing Reptivite with D3 in with the calcium - dosage as per vet - 1 drop per 100g of animal).

    On her fast, I would only supplement her with liquid calcium/multivitamin on the days she ate. With no food in her system, supplementing her would have been pointless otherwise.

    Her armpit bubbles sloooooowly shrunk over the months, and finally disappeared completely in June.

    The beginning of August, I decided on a whim to toss some mealworms in her tank to see what she would do. She always showed interest in the food offered, but rejected it once she knew what it was (and yes, I tried EVERYTHING - crickets, phoenix worms, hornworms, butterworms, silkworms, waxworms, superworms, and kingworms - even a tiny pinky as per vet recommendation). She rejected everything. Then I threw some mealworms in, and she went nuts for them (Ever since then, she's eaten them regularly (every 3-4 days, between 5-10 a feeding). She's also on the same supplementation schedule as before - every two weeks.

    Now here's the fascinating part - her armpit bubbles returned after the very second feeding. Before I supplemented her with the liquid.

    I also monitor the supplement in the cap in her tank, and while she does lick from it, it's certainly not excessive. The supplementation and feeding schedule she is on was also a vet recommendation because she wasn't sure if the bubbles were due to weight, excess calcium, or excess protein.

    For comparison's sake, my male was/is on the exact same feeding schedule as she was prior to her fast (5 crickets every 3-4 days, worms once every 2 weeks), with the only difference being that he WILL eat dusted prey, so his prey is dusted with Repashy Calcium Plus at every 3rd feeding (along with a cap available in his enclosure 24/7).

    He is currently 88-90g and has never had these bubbles. He's also housed exactly the same as her, same temps, hide setup, everything.

    Really long story short...I am at a complete loss as to why she has these, and why she apparently gets them so easily. They did disappear while she was on her "diet" but it took several months to do so. As for the correlation mentioned in the first post - she is female, technically is probably overweight (although body structure is good and she doesn't appear overweight), and she does receive supplements, but not in any large amount.

    So that's my story...and if anyone has any ideas, I would love to hear them.
    Last edited by cassicat4; 09-11-2013 at 11:57 AM.
    ~Cassi~
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    extra fat reserves to supplement the tail?
    Morelia spilota harrisoni * Morelia spilota mcdowelli * Liasis fuscus * Liasis mackloti * Liasis mackloti savuensis * Liasis olivaceous olivaceous* Anteresia maculosa * Python regius * Gekko gecko * Correlophus ciliatus * Blaesodactylus boivini * Lepidodactylus lugubris

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    No, it's excess. Here's a recent thread in regards to the "bubbles."

    http://www.geckosunlimited.com/commu...t-pockets.html

    I had several local leo breeders go over my husbandry and care, and nothing I was doing was causing her anorexia (from what they could tell). She was active, alert, and appeared healthy in all regards.

    This above always makes me sigh. The conditions kept by most breeders are not optimal or longterm. I just have so many questions to ask regarding your post. You know I will have to point everything and I don't want you to become. If you're comfortable with me questioning everything just let me know, if not I understand. I do believe it can help everyone. I will not ask for pictures. My intentions are to discuss your previous post.
    Last edited by cricket4u; 09-11-2013 at 01:29 PM.
    Currently keeping:

    Eublepharis gecko 2.1.0~Hemitheconyx gecko 1.0.0~Gekko gecko 1.0.0~Pogana Vitticeps 1.0.0~Varanus exanthematicus 1.1.0~Varanus acanthurus 1.0.0~Blue Tongue Skink 1.0.0~Red-eared slider 1.0.0

    Reptiles I have rehabilitated, rehomed or kept.
    All above species plus:


    Phelsuma Grandis~Rhacodactylus ciliatus~Paroedura~Rhacodactylus auriculatus ~Hemidactylus frenatus~Iguana~Turtles ~Snakes and too many more to name!

  6. #6
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    I haven't seen much consistency with these armpit bubbles. I do agree that many geckos with armpit bubbles seem to be a tad overweight. But that's not always the case.

    I have a super snow eclipse female who finished laying eggs a month ago, so she just started eating again recently. But she doesn't gorge like others, she's always been like this since hatchling, only eats once or twice a week, and only 2 small dubia roaches per feeding. Due to her lack of appetite, she also doesn't receive much supplementation. But here she is, a gecko who's not remotely close to being overweight (I'd say she's under), doesn't receive much supplements but maybe once or twice a week at the most, and doesn't eat much to begin with.... she's got those armpit bubbles.

    Then at the opposite spectrum, I have a bandit female who's been gorging on 1 roach a day, and I dust it every feeding for her. She has no armpit bubbles.

    Then there are the males, most of my males do not have amrpit bubbles, but they eat a lot. Some 2 dubia roaches per feeding, some 3 superworms per feeding, all dusted well with either zoo med reptivite w/ D3 or repashy calcium plus. I feed them every 2-3 days. Yet they have no armpit bubbles. Now there are some really large male geckos in my collection, ranging from 90-160g.

    Then there's another female, who didn't breed this season, but went through the normal fasting and when she ate she only ate once a week. She had armpit bubbles before, 6 months later she's still got armpit bubbles even though most could consider her being on a "diet".

    Keep in mind I have some geckos that'll only eat superworms, some will only eat mealworms, some will only eat dubia roaches, and some will gladly eat a bit of everything. It doesn't seem to be feeder specific. I've had some that gorge on roaches or supers, and never get these bubbles. Then I've had some that gorge on roaches or supers, and do get the armpit bubbles.

    The lack of consistency is confusing. What I will say is that most of the females with armpit bubbles have had their armpit bubbles disappear during the breeding season, if they are being bred and laid eggs. But after the breeding season is over, most of them get these bubbles back.

    I think there are two things to keep in mind on this subject:

    1. Different leopard geckos are built differently, and they come in different sizes. It's the only thing that can explain the inconsistencies I mentioned above. There are things we can control, they're obviously things such as how much we feed them, how much we supplement, and their husbandry. But I do think there are things we don't have much control over, and these vary differently from gecko to gecko.

    2. Sample size is important. I have 40+ in my collection, so my sample size is large, and it's probably why I see such inconsistencies. For an average hobbyist, they may have 1-3 geckos, so the sample size is smaller. They may not see the inconsistencies I mentioned above, so they may assume if they see armpit bubbles that they're doing something wrong, or if they don't see armpit bubbles that they're doing something right. When someone like me with a larger collection, when my geckos are fed the same feeders, given the same supplements, cared with the same husbandry, I see some with bubbles some without. So am I doing it right or wrong? Both, or neither?

    I do recommend to those that see armpit bubbles to not feed or supplement as much, especially if you don't breed. But I wonder if it's something we always have control over, as I've explained above, I have geckos that don't eat nor get much supplement in the first place, yet they've got armpit bubbles. Then there are the males that almost never seem to get them. Then there are those that gorge a lot, get supplemented a lot, yet don't get these bubbles. There are still mysteries with these armpit bubbles, and I do find it odd as well that most vets do not consider them health risks.

    One thing for sure is that most people do tend to spoil their pets, be it dogs, cats, fish, or reptiles. They're so cute when they eat and they seem so happy when they eat. It's hard to resist not feeding them as much. So for most people, you could probably feed your geckos a bit less and they'll still do just fine.
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  7. #7
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    Mardy, Are you able to post a picture of the armpit bubble for the leo that is not considered "overweight" ?
    I am curious and it is just for comparison, I havent actually heard or seen an underweight gecko with the bubbles.
    Cassicat, mealworms are pretty high in fat/protein so from your observation It does look like maybe it is the excess fatty/protein deposit.

    Glad it is cleared up that it is not a calcium deposit!

    I have a question, are these bubbles only occurring in the leopard gecko species - or does anyone know if have they shown up in other species ?
    2 Albino Leopard Geckos-(Tremper) Rex & Xena
    1 Red Eared Slider Turtle - Shredder!
    2 cats- Tonkinese - Hassani / Orange Tabby Sachi
    1 ball python - Fang
    1 Beta - Blueberry

  8. #8
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    Cassicat4 ~ In the best interest of your leo I think it's best that I just state a few things. Thanks for sharing your story.

    I have a female leo who went off food in February, and only began regularly eating again at the beginning of August. When I say "off food" I mean she would only eat oneun-dusted cricket every 3-4 weeks. I initially attributed her anorexia to ovulation, because she goes off food for a few weeks every year as a result (vet-confirmed).

    The vet can not confirm many problems without blood analysis.

    Un-dusted cricket every 3-4 weeks. Sounds very familiar and likely due to too much supplementation . Read post #16


    http://www.geckosunlimited.com/commu...um-w-d3-2.html


    However, this year was different. As a background, she's never been bred, and has never laid eggs, and is about 3-4 years old. She also had two different vet checks this year (including fecal), and I had several local leo breeders go over my husbandry and care, and nothing I was doing was causing her anorexia (from what they could tell). She was active, alert, and appeared healthy in all regards.

    Check-ups as adults include blood work. There's no way of knowing what's going on inside without it. Radiograph and blood work is important to monitor calcium levels.


    Long story short...it turns out she was holding out for a food item that she has not received since she was a baby (mealworms - she had been upgraded to kingworms and superworms when she was a juvenile). I didn't know they could or would do that, so it was a complete shock to me (and the breeders I shared my story with).

    Why is this so common with superworms? I can only suggest that you eliminate them.


    ANYWAY...she was 100g before her fast...and at last weigh-in (July) was about 80g (no giant genes in her as far as I'm aware). She had massive armpit bubbles prior to her fast...two on each side actually (one above her leg, one below). Prior to her fast, she would eat about 5 crickets every 3-4 days, then some variety of worms once every couple of weeks. Her crickets and worms aren't dusted as she refuses dusted prey (but they are all gut loaded with a mix of oats, bran, wheat germ, carrots, collard greens, and butternut squash). However, she has a cap of Repashy Calcium Plus available in her enclosure 24/7, and was given plain liquid calcium by mouth every 2 weeks (mixing Reptivite with D3 in with the calcium - dosage as per vet - 1 drop per 100g of animal).


    100 grams, she was without a doubt overweight. Please remove the Repashy from the enclosure. Why was she given liquid calcium? Giving liquid calcium is never a good idea unless the leo is proven deficient.

    For comparison's sake, my male was/is on the exact same feeding schedule as she was prior to her fast (5 crickets every 3-4 days, worms once every 2 weeks), with the only difference being that he WILL eat dusted prey, so his prey is dusted with Repashy Calcium Plus at every 3rd feeding (along with a cap available in his enclosure 24/7).

    He is currently 88-90g and has never had these bubbles. He's also housed exactly the same as her, same temps, hide setup, everything.


    Do we all have the same nutritional needs? No, neither do they.


    Now let's go back some time. I recall at one point you were using UVB and supplemental d3. You removed the UVB due to enclosure size and then the next year you noticed the difference?

    Did you switch the dimmer for a thermostat?

    Did you increase the enclosure size?

    Air temperatures?

    How do you provide a photo period?

    Do you monitor humidity?

    No need to answer these questions. Just please take every detail I've mentioned in consideration (everyone). Food, supplements and temperatures are all interrelated.

    I don't have or have ever had any male or female with these bubbles, so I don't have a story to share.
    Last edited by cricket4u; 09-11-2013 at 04:00 PM.
    Currently keeping:

    Eublepharis gecko 2.1.0~Hemitheconyx gecko 1.0.0~Gekko gecko 1.0.0~Pogana Vitticeps 1.0.0~Varanus exanthematicus 1.1.0~Varanus acanthurus 1.0.0~Blue Tongue Skink 1.0.0~Red-eared slider 1.0.0

    Reptiles I have rehabilitated, rehomed or kept.
    All above species plus:


    Phelsuma Grandis~Rhacodactylus ciliatus~Paroedura~Rhacodactylus auriculatus ~Hemidactylus frenatus~Iguana~Turtles ~Snakes and too many more to name!

  9. #9
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    Cricket - feel free to ask.

    Something that may be relevant to my case is that the vets and vet tech who checked my gecko out are all experienced herp vets. They're very vigilant in going over your husbandry and care before they perform any exam (to the point where they will challenge you on any aspects they deem questionable). After determining, in their opinion, that her care was good, the conclusion they came back with after her several assessments was that "she's stubborn". They have seen it before, and while it's not common, sometimes leos, particularly females, will just decide to go off food for the breeding season, regardless of being bred, or for other unknown reasons (not interested in the food offered, etc.). Every year, my female has gone longer, and this year is her longest yet. They did bloodwork on her, fecals, physical, even an ultrasound.They didn't analyze the content of her bubbles, but they were irrelevant at this point (i.e. did not cause her to go off food, and were decreasing in size). Because of her size, they said the weight loss, while concerning, was not unexpected due to the amount of time she's been off food, and was not significant enough to indicate an underlying health problem. They suggested to give it time, since she had no other symptoms of ill health (and could probably stand to lose some weight anyway). They theorized that once the temperatures changed (and the "season" was over) that instincts would dictate she would eat again. It's also possible due to our climate (in Canada) that because we had a much longer winter/shorter spring than usual, that it threw off their "cycles".

    They weren't sure why she weighed as much as she did prior to her fast, based on how much she was being fed, and believed it was likely genetics-based. As Mardy suggested, all geckos are built differently. The vets suggested exercise (i.e. allowing her to run around supervised in a gecko-proof room, or on the bed) if I was concerned, but because she did not look obese, even for her weight, the vets themselves didn't think it was an issue. "Big-boned" she is.

    In addition, she is also not kept under UVB light. And the liquid calcium she is given is a vet-prescribed liquid calcium carbonate solution.

    I agree with Mardy in that some geckos will only eat one thing or another, and my female leo is the epitome of this. Ever since she was young, she would pick a feeder item that she would eat consistently, and would often reject anything else until she was ready to switch. She cannot be "starved" into eating something she doesn't want, as this year demonstrates. My male will readily accept a variety, but she will not. Even when offered worms as variety prior to her fast, she would hardly eat any - maybe one or two every other offering, if that. So while I wasn't surprised she was being picky with her food, I was surprised at her choice of food. However, she has had these bubbles ever since she was an adult, regardless of what she was eating at the time. I have changed up my feeding regimens and supplementation routine several times over the years, and nothing has made a difference.

    Xo - I agree that mealworms are not ideal, but unfortunately, they're all she'll currently eat. However, she rarely had these prior to her fast, when her bubbles were at the largest. Back then, my initial instinct was that they were caused by excess protein, so I made sure to keep her on a "diet" and offered her only crickets, silkworms, hornworms, and butterworms at that time. She always ate her crickets, but rarely touched the others.

    What I'm wondering is if the gutload would have anything to do with it? I have changed it up several times based on recipes from various sources (the simplest at one point being just Repashy Bug Burger). I strive to pick items that are not high in protein, but maybe I'm missing something?

    However it still doesn't explain why I'm seeing it in this gecko, even after long periods of no eating, and I'm not seeing it in my male who has been eating just fine...

    As for the bubbles - they have shown up in other species (e.g. Day geckos, Tokays) but from my understanding, they represent a very different reason i.e. calcium stores, vs. an excess of supplementation or protein.
    ~Cassi~

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    Cricket - I see we posted at the same time.

    Blood work was completed - nothing out of the ordinary was noted. I don't have the analysis on me, but I can dig it up if it's relevant.

    She has had very little superworms in all honesty. I could count the number she's eaten in her entire life on two hands. Kingworms were what she ate the most of. I have not offered superworms since, other than to try and stimulate her appetite because after being off food for that long, I was willing to try any viable feeder item to get her to eat again.

    Due to having unknown genetics, and having a physical frame to support the weight (she did not look anything like the gecko in the link you provided in your other post), it was possible she had giant genetics which would account for the weight. The lineage is unknown, and the breeder is known for working with lines all over the world without really paying attention to the specifics of each. This is why the vets didn't think her weight was a huge issue. It sounded like a lot, but did not look like a lot on her (if that makes sense). Looking at her, she did not appear obese.

    Liquid calcium was initially prescribed for another reptile (a rescue) but the vet said that she sees way too many reptiles that are calcium deficient, and recommends this for ALL reptiles. As per the vet, we have no way of knowing how much supplements are being ingested from dusting our feeders because of how much falls off before being eaten. She is a firm believer (and this notion was seconded by an entirely different vet in a different city) of providing all reptiles with liquid calcium once a week (in the dosage prescribed - 1 drop per 100g of animal). In my gecko's case, she refuses to eat dusted prey - always has. She sniffs it and rejects it, so the liquid calcium was meant to replace the dusting. Let me make it clear that she did NOT eat dusted prey AND receive liquid calcium - only liquid calcium.

    In case it helps others, I'll answer your questions:

    You are correct; I did try UVB and supplemental D3 at one point as per a different vet recommendation (removed as per recommendations from you I believe, and because it was obviously bothering her). The vet's reason was to ensure she was receiving enough calcium to properly lay eggs in the event she was going to do so (she was off food due to ovulation), and to possibly help reverse a bone issue she's had since she was a hatchling (prior to me getting her). She had bubbles at this time as well though. However, she did gain a lot of weight in the next year...

    She's still on a dimmer, not a thermostat. I increased the amount of time I checked her temps to make sure there was little deviation.

    She was in a 20gal regular enclosure, is now in a 20gal long.

    Air temps - 82-84F warm side, 73-75F cold side. She's in an A/C controlled room which also ensures little deviation in air temps.

    Photoperiod provided by way of timer and non-heat emitting low-light white lights (EnergySaver 5W lights).

    Humidity monitored with digital hygrometer with a probe. 40-45%.
    ~Cassi~

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