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    Default new owner, older gecko


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    Hello, I'm a first time reptile owner who recently (about 2 weeks) took in a leopard gecko from an owner who could no longer care for her. I received her secondhand from a friend who held on to her for me until I could set up her tank, so I didn't have an opportunity to talk to the original owner about her previous care and ask all of my pressing questions. I've done tons of research but everything seems to be either outdated or conflicting, so hopefully having my own thread here will help me keep all of those opinions in one place. If there's any additional information necessary to give some advice, please let me know and I'll do my best to provide

    Tank is about 30"x12"14" (lwh), screen lid, substrate is a mix of excavator clay, pebbles/river stones, wood chips and leaf litter, and a layer of well draining potting soil underneath for a few succulents I've put in. She has hides, branches, and faux and real plants pretty much all throughout the setup with a variety of different textures and coverage. The back and sides of the tank are covered with some dark fabric (outside) so it feels more enclosed and secure. She has a shallow dish of water changed daily, and a small dish of arcadia calciumpro+mg available at all times.
    Hot side of the tank is provided by a heat mat connected to an exo terra 100w thermostat, separate thermometer says it reaches about 95f inside the hot hide even though I have the thermostat set much lower (85f). Both probes are in the same location. Cool side is kept at around room temperature, 72f.
    Not sure her exact age but previous owner estimated around 9 years. She was fed prepacked crickets and roaches. Came to me about to shed but otherwise in seemingly very good health, although some of her toes are quite curled from what I could see without stressing her out with a thorough examination.

    In the two weeks I've had her, she spent the first week in the hot hide (filled with spag moss and misted daily to maintain humidity, shed came off perfectly and presumably eaten over night since there were no bits left on her when I checked her next) and then the next week entirely in the cool hide. From what I can tell she doesn't leave at ALL, save for one time I caught her sneaking over to poop directly in her water dish at 4am
    She's not interested at all in any food offered with tongs or left in tank, despite vigorous wiggling. I even caved and got a small order of live crickets to see if that would encourage her, and I was thrilled to see that she at least seemed interested in them so I left a few smaller ones in her tank overnight to give her the chance to hunt on her own- only to find that she hadn't actually eaten any and instead just killed and left them scattered around the tank. I've also tried dusting and not dusting both live and prepacked food, she just scoots back in her hide more whenever I try to offer them. The current supplements I have are arcadia earthpro-A, arcadia calciumpro-Mg, and zoo med's reptivite+d3. Live crickets are fed with carrot and other veggie scraps.

    Eventually I would like to change her heating setup to a deep heat projector over some slate stones, and a regular led light on a timer (but still keeping the pad for nighttime heat,) but for now all I have is the heat pad and whatever ambient light she gets from my room. I try to keep my blinds open as much as possible so there's at least a bit of a natural daylight cycle, but it's canadian winter here so there isn't a whole lot offered from that. I try to turn my bedroom lights off at around 12 but I often end up staying up later and forgetting to, such is life for a college student I do not plan on getting a uv light setup because it's far out of my budget and I do have d3 supplements.


    To sum it all up: Should I be concerned if my adult leopard gecko is not coming out of her hide or eating after receiving her about two weeks ago? What are some changes I can make to encourage her to be more active? Or is it just a matter of leaving her alone and letting her settle?
    She may be older, but she still has at least a few years left in her and I want to make them as good as possible!

    Thanks in advance for any tips, tricks, advice, or reassurance! (and sorry for the super long post!)

  2. #2
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    Welcome to Geckos Unlimited!

    Please feed your leo LIVE prey that's been gutloaded 24-48 hours pre-feed. In the past were these leo's "prepacked" insects dried?

    My leo is 17 years old. I know of a couple leos in Europe who are in their 40s!

    Do you think the ambient light in your room is enough for your leo to tell days from nights? That might be one reason why your leo rarely leaves her hide. ~12 hours of daylight is important so the leo develops consistent circadian rhythms. However, many leos prowl chiefly at dawn, dusk, and during the night.

    How about using a 15 watt incandescent bulb in a 5.5 inch Fluker's dome overhead to provide ambient light during the days. Dim this bulb to half power with the inline dimmer switch.

    Where is the heat pad located? Ground temps underneath the warm dry hide should range between 88-92*F (31.1-33.3 C). Cool end can range between 70ish-75 F (21.1-23.9 C) during days. It can drop to 68*F at night.

    Zoo Med's Reptivite multivitamins with D3 is an excellent multivitamin that contains vitamin A acetate (retinol). How often are you using this?

    Many leos have 3 main hides: warm dry, warm humid, & cool dry hides.
    Last edited by Elizabeth Freer; 01-04-2022 at 08:49 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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    She is going to be on live now, currently I only have crickets that are being fed veggie scraps but eventually I would like to add phoenix worms (black soldier fly larvae) as a main staple of her diet as well. What product/food would you recommend for gutloading?

    Once school starts up again my schedule will be much more consistent so hopefully I can get a more consistent light schedule in my room as well. Currently it's definitely bright enough to tell day from night. I will look into getting her an independent light fixture for sure.

    Heat pad is right underneath the tank and takes up about a quarter of the length. I only have the one hide on the warm end filled with spag moss, but I will be creating a separate dry hide for her with stones once I set up a basking area with stones. For now I'm not misting the moss since she is no longer in shed but she still has a water dish available.

    I've tried offering food pretty much every other day so far since she's come out of shed (about a week ago), dusted with d3, but from what I can tell she hasn't taken any of it. When she does start eating more consistently I plan on using it in combination with the arcadia earthpro-A for all feedings, and the calcium-mg every 3rd or 4th feed.
    Likes Elizabeth Freer liked this post

  4. #4
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    I've tried offering food pretty much every other day so far since she's come out of shed (about a week ago), dusted with d3, but from what I can tell she hasn't taken any of it. When she does start eating more consistently I plan on using it in combination with the arcadia earthpro-A for all feedings, and the calcium-mg every 3rd or 4th feed.
    Do you also have Zoo Med's Repti Calcium with D3 or do you just have Zoo Med's Reptivite multivitamins with D3? Zoo Med's Reptivite multivitamins should ONLY be lightly dusted on all prey @ 1 feeding per week. Same for Zoo Med's Repti Calcium with D3 -- just @ 1 feeding per week.

    I am puzzled how you're getting those warm hide temps with a relatively small heat mat that's buried in such a substrate. I wonder why the thermostat's probe and the the thermometer's probe don't almost agree?
    "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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    I have zoo med's reptivite with d3, arcadia's calciumpro-mg and and earthpro-a. I was hoping to get the arcadia d3 supplement as well and follow their feeding programme for leos, but it wasn't in stock. She hasn't eaten at all yet so that hasn't really come into play unfortunately.

    I'm not sure either- the substrate isn't that deep, but the heat mat is outside of the glass, so it feels like it shouldn't be getting that high. Both the thermometer and thermostat are brand new and the probes are in the exact same location too. While she's not out and about often she still seems comfortable enough to move from one end of the tank to the other to thermoregulate though, so even if the temps aren't totally accurate I hope it will be alright.

  6. #6
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    Hot side of the tank is provided by a heat mat connected to an exo terra 100w thermostat, separate thermometer says it reaches about 95f inside the hot hide even though I have the thermostat set much lower (85f). Both probes are in the same location. Cool side is kept at around room temperature, 72f.
    Please share a full-body image of your leo from the top down.

    Please troubleshoot this 10 degree temperature difference with a 3rd digital thermometer's probe. This difference is too great to be by chance. I recommend the yellow Zoo Med digitals with a probe that are commonly found at pet stores for ~$10.

    What brand thermostat have you?

    The warmish ground of the tank should read in the 80s. A warmer area is necessary to digest her prey. I recommend about 1/2 the ground to be warm.

    A leo may "bask" on slate underneath an overhead bulb -- a different heating method. Your leo would get her best belly heat from her heat mat under her warm dry hide.
    Last edited by Elizabeth Freer; 01-05-2022 at 08:21 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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    IMG_20211228_022306_606.jpg

    Thermostat is exo terra, the 100w on/off version. Literally brand new.

    I plan on getting one of those handheld laser thermometers so I can check temps all around the tank. Basking area is also planned for the future but so far it's only the heat mat.

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    Quote Originally Posted by wyrmguts View Post
    IMG_20211228_022306_606.jpg

    Thermostat is exo terra, the 100w on/off version. Literally brand new.

    I plan on getting one of those handheld laser thermometers so I can check temps all around the tank. Basking area is also planned for the future but so far it's only the heat mat.
    Thanks for sharing her photo. She looks GOOD!

    Even brand new thermostats can be problematic. What do you think about contacting your Exo Terra thermostat's source to see what they say about the 10 degree discrepancy?
    "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)

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by wyrmguts View Post
    She is going to be on live now, currently I only have crickets that are being fed veggie scraps but eventually I would like to add phoenix worms (black soldier fly larvae) as a main staple of her diet as well. What product/food would you recommend for gutloading?

    . . . . .

    I've tried offering food pretty much every other day so far since she's come out of shed (about a week ago), dusted with d3, but from what I can tell she hasn't taken any of it. When she does start eating more consistently I plan on using it in combination with the arcadia earthpro-A for all feedings, and the calcium-mg every 3rd or 4th feed.
    Excellent choice! LIVE food is the only way to go. A healthy adult leo like yours usually eats about 2 time per week.

    Here's confirming the plan to ONLY use Zoo Med's Reptivite multivitamins with D3 @ 1 feeding per week lightly dusted on ALL the bugs or worms @ that feeding. Reptivite contains vitamin A acetate (retinol). Retinol helps prevent eye and skin issues. A wee bit of retinol is all that's needed. Additional retinol could be harmful.

    Here are options for good gutloads for your bugs and worms in addition to veggie scraps.
    1. Professional Reptiles' Pro Gutload
    2. Repashy's Bug Burger
    3. Repashy's Superload

    Here's a healthy dry diet/bedding for mealworms/superworms and for bugs too! After you get mealworms or superworms, replace the bedding they come in with already ground Professional Reptiles' Pro Gutload dry insect & worm diet (1-775-359-1085). Let's keep those worms in 6 quart plastic Sterilite tubs with bedding & ventilation at room temperature, NOT in the refrigerator.

    Wheat germ, wheat bran, and oats contain hugely excessive phosphorus amounts! Phosphorus impairs the absorption of calcium. Use something else for a mealworm or a superworm bedding!

    \/ \/ \/
    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."
    Last edited by Elizabeth Freer; 01-05-2022 at 09:17 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)
    Thanks wyrmguts thanked for this post

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