baby leopard gecko severely emaciated, not taking food.

kawaiirorschach`

New member
about a week ago, i bought a pair of leopard geckos, and one of them is doing fine (eating & pooping well, socializing nicely, climbing around and exploring, etc) but the other seems very unhealthy.

i'm fairly certain the store sold them to me too young, and since this is my first time keeping geckos (though i have owned snakes before) i didn't realize there was an issue until newton (the sickly one) started on a rapid decline. as far as i can tell, in the 9 days since i've had him, he's only eaten a few mealworms and (maybe) a small cricket or two. he'll drink water sometimes, but has no appetite whatsoever, and it's showing. i can see his spine, and it seems like his body's starting to shut down (his back legs don't seem to be working right and he's very lethargic). in addition, i've noticed him doing something with his throat that looks like coughing, and he's constantly stretching his jaw and making strange popping noises.

i'm using calcium-based sand as a substrate (the same brand as they were used to in the store), and keep their tank at about 82 degrees to offset the chill of the recent snow we've been having. they have a rock hide on one end of the tank, right under their heat lamp, which has two bulbs: a low wattage infrared night light and a uv light. i've been feeding them mealworms (which neither seem to like very much, but will eat), and small crickets, which the healthy one devours, but the other one won't even touch. he'll even flinch away when one hops too close to him. i've tried separating them so that he'll have a chance to hunt without the stronger one chasing him off, but all i can get him to take in is water.

if he doesn't eat anything within the next few hours, i'm going to take him in to see a vet, but i was wondering first if you fine folk know anything that could help. supplements? an under the tank heater? different food? any input would be much appreciated.
 

Amuna1225

New member
First issue I see is you're using sand as a substrate. The most logical issue I can see, since you said that the decline didnt start until after you got him is that he is impacted due to the sand. Dont keep them on sand..especially babies. Also, it seems like you dont have a heat gradient either, and 82 degrees IS NOT warm enough! I hate to be a jerk here, but i really wish people would do their research before getting their geckos. Even though i'm still a n00b, I did 2 weeks of research on this forum and other sources before getting Sparty.
 

Elizabeth Freer

Active member
Welcome to Geckos Unlimited!

You're definitely correct in separating these leos!

These are the daytime temps you need:
88-93 F ground temp right in warm dry hide right on the substrate
no greater than 85 F air temp 4 inches above ground on the warm end
no greater than 75 F air temp 4 inches above ground on the cool end
about 70ish on ground on the cool end

Please complete the questionnaire below on Newton and his cagemate. Post pics of Newton, the mate, the enclosure.

General Information
Species of lizard:
Gecko's name:
Morph:
Gender:
Age:
Weight:
Total length:
Length of your reptile when you first acquired it:
Source (pet store, breeder, previous owner):
Captive bred or wild caught:

Vivarium
Enclosure dimensions (length x width x heighth):
Cage (type, size):
Substrate provided:
Types of hiding places provided:
Is there a humidity hide? location?
Please describe any other furnishings:
List recent changes in the environment, if any:

Lighting
Artificial lighting
Incandescent (“screw-in” bulbs): wattage(s):
Fluorescent (tube bulbs):

Natural lighting
Access to ambient daylight from a distant window:

Heating
Do you have a thermometer(s) in the cage?
What type and brand of thermometer (digital with probe, temperature gun, LCD strip, analog (circle), combo digital thermometer/hygrometer, stainless steel aquarium type, other):
What is the ground temperature right on the substrate under the warm dry hide:
What is the air temperature on the warm end about 4 inches up from the ground:
What is the air temperature on the cool end about 4 inches up from the ground:
What device(s) are used to heat the tank (Under Tank Heater, heat light, ceramic heat emitter, Flexwatt heat tape, hot rock, other):
Ventilation space for your UTH by elevating the tank above the shelf (some UTHs come with sticky feet for the tank corners):
Are you using a thermostat(s)?
Which hide does she/he spend most of her time?
Is the temperature decreased at night? by how much?

Humidity
Is the humidity measured?
Humidity range:

Diet
Insects and worms, list type:
Regular diet fed to the insects and worms:
Are the insects and worms formally “gutloaded” 1-2 days prior to feeding off to your gecko? If so with?
How often do you feed your gecko?
Please list any supplements (with brand names) used. How are they given and how often?
What calcium brand are you using? with D3, without or both?
Is the calcium in the tank with D3 or without?
Multivitamins (include brand name)?
Please list any recent additions/changes in the diet:

General Health
If your gecko is sick, please describe the signs and how long your gecko has been showing these signs:
Is your gecko’s general activity level normal, decreased, or increased?
Is your gecko’s appetite normal, decreased, or increased?
Have you noticed any of the following?
Weight (loss or gain):
Regurgitation:
Discharge from the eyes or nose:
Increased breathing rate or effort:
Change in the droppings:
Urates
---white or yellowish:
---size of urates as compared to size of feces:
Abnormal skin color or shedding:
Parasites on the skin or in the feces:
Weakness:

Previous problems and/or illnesses:

Other Critters in Same Cage or in Household
List other animals that are kept in the same cage:
Recent acquisitions (new pets within the past 6 months):
Are any of your other pets ill?
 
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kawaiirorschach`

New member
Welcome to Geckos Unlimited!

You're definitely correct in separating these leos!

[CUT]

General Information
Species of lizard: leopard gecko
Gecko's name: newton pulsifer
Morph: super-hypo tangerine baldy (?)
Gender: unknown, referred to as male here for convenience’s sake.
Age: unknown, likely around 2 months?
Weight: unknown, but i can barely feel his weight even when he’s laying in my palm.
Total length: 9 cm
Length of your reptile when you first acquired it: 9 cm
Source (pet store, breeder, previous owner): D&G Pets in Ft. Collins, CO
Captive bred or wild caught: captive bred

Vivarium
Enclosure dimensions (length x width x heighth): 20x10x12 (10 gallons)
Cage (type, size): glass terrarium with mesh top
Substrate provided: calcium based sand
Types of hiding places provided: 1 warm rock hide, 1 large fake plant they climb/hide in sometimes.
Is there a humidity hide? location? no.
Please describe any other furnishings: food dish, water bowl
List recent changes in the environment, if any: N/A

Lighting
Artificial lighting
Incandescent (“screw-in” bulbs): 1 wattage(s): unknown.
Fluorescent (tube bulbs): 0

Natural lighting
Access to ambient daylight from a distant window: on desk between two east/south facing windows. probably too much direct sunlight.

Heating
Do you have a thermometer(s) in the cage? yes.
What type and brand of thermometer (digital with probe, temperature gun, LCD strip, analog (circle), combo digital thermometer/hygrometer, stainless steel aquarium type, other): LCD strip fixed near warmer end of enclosure.
What is the ground temperature right on the substrate under the warm dry hide: unknown.
What is the air temperature on the warm end about 4 inches up from the ground: 86 degrees
What is the air temperature on the cool end about 4 inches up from the ground: unknown, probably too high.
What device(s) are used to heat the tank (Under Tank Heater, heat light, ceramic heat emitter, Flexwatt heat tape, hot rock, other): heat light w/ ceramic heat emitter
Ventilation space for your UTH by elevating the tank above the shelf (some UTHs come with sticky feet for the tank corners): N/A
Are you using a thermostat(s)? no.
Which hide does she/he spend most of her time? warm hide
Is the temperature decreased at night? by how much? at first, down to about 78, but for the past 5 or 6 days, it’s been steady between 82 & 86

Humidity
Is the humidity measured? no.
Humidity range:

Diet
Insects and worms, list type: small live crickets and pre-packaged mealworms.
regular diet fed to the insects and worms: nothing to worms, fluker’s orange cube complete cricket diet to crickets.
Are the insects and worms formally “gutloaded” 1-2 days prior to feeding off to your gecko? If so with? no.
How often do you feed your gecko? i keep about 4/5 fresh mealworms stocked in their food dish, but neither seems very interested. occasionally a few will vanish when i’m not around, so i can only assume one or the other is eating them sometimes. i put 6-8 crickets in their terrarium every day, and by nighttime, most of them are gone, but gabriel seems to be the one eating them all. even when directly presented with a cricket under his nose, alone in the enclosure with no disturbances, newt refuses to eat.
Please list any supplements (with brand names) used. How are they given and how often? none.
What calcium brand are you using? with D3, without or both? none.
Is the calcium in the tank with D3 or without? N/A
Multivitamins (include brand name)? none. what brands would you suggest for calcium and other supplements to get them back on their feet?
Please list any recent additions/changes in the diet: fairly certain pet store was feeding them crickets, since mealworms the first few days didn’t take. back to crickets, and gabriel at least is getting fat and happy compared to how skinny he was when i got him.

General Health
If your gecko is sick, please describe the signs and how long your gecko has been showing these signs: when i first got him, he was very reclusive, constantly in his hide, but i wanted to give him a few days space to adjust and thought nothing of it. but since then, he’s become very lethargic and noticeably lost a lot of weight. he’s very slow and unsteady on his feet, swaying and walking very high off the ground, and he frequently yawns/pops his jaw and makes weird clicking noises. twice, he’s spit up something clear and viscous. i’ve also noticed strange spastic fits where he curls around on himself and thrashes his head.
Is your gecko’s general activity level normal, decreased, or increased? decreased.
Is your gecko’s appetite normal, decreased, or increased? decreased.
Have you noticed any of the following?
Weight (loss or gain): extreme loss.
Regurgitation: yes.
Discharge from the eyes or nose: no, but i have noticed some around his slit.
Increased breathing rate or effort: yes, labored/slow breath.
Change in the droppings: no.
Urates
---white or yellowish: can’t tell in the sand.
---size of urates as compared to size of feces: larger.
Abnormal skin color or shedding: no shedding, looks pale and sort of translucent.
Parasites on the skin or in the feces: no.
Weakness: yes.

Previous problems and/or illnesses: none that i know of.

Other Critters in Same Cage or in Household
List other animals that are kept in the same cage: one other leo, roughly the same age (gabriel, who i'm about 90% sure is a boy. still unsure about newt, though.)
Recent acquisitions (new pets within the past 6 months): both are new to me and to their environment.
Are any of your other pets ill? no.

here are a few pictures of newton: P2EqNJLl.jpg fsQEjiTl.jpg hR6K8Cul.jpg
aaaaand gabriel: 6ZKvdyVl.jpg
and their enclosure: P1yeBuVl.jpg

i definitely think their environment is lacking, which is a big issue, as well as possibly their diet, which can be fixed up real nice within a few days and should help a lot. but as far as getting newton to eat something in the interim to build his strength up, what would you suggest? is a trip to the vet necessary, or is it just a matter of finding a diet to his tastes and an environment where he can recuperate? thank you.
 

Amuna1225

New member
Okay, read the caresheet on this website please. You have A LOT of changes to make. This is why people should do research before just getting a reptile. Pet store advice is more times than not wrong.
 

Embrace Calamity

New member
1) Remove the sand immediately. Calcium sand is quite possibly the worst reptile product on the market. This poses a very serious impaction risk. Not only can a gecko intentionally ingest it to acquire calcium, but it clumps. If you care to test this yourself, drip a bit of water onto the sand and watch it. Now imagine this inside the intestinal tract of a leopard gecko. Paper towels make a fine substrate, even if only temporarily until something 'fancier' can be acquired.
2) You need a minimum of three hides. You need one dry hide on the warm side, one dry hide on the cool side, and a humid hide somewhere around the middle/near the warm side. This is absolutely essential. A gecko needs to be able to choose different places of different temperatures while still feeling secure, as well as a humid area to rehydrate and help with shedding.
3) The tank should not be in direct sunlight. This can cause some serious temperature fluctuations that could cook a gecko.
4) The strip thermometers are not considered to be very accurate. It would be a good idea to pick up a digital thermometer or two.
5) Temps on the ground (under the warm hide) should range from 88-93 degrees. The cool side temps on the ground should be around 75, definitely no higher than 78. It would be very wise to pick up 20 LONGS for both of these little geckos. They will allow you to get excellent temp gradients to keep them as healthy as possible. PetSmart might still be having its $1/gallon sale (plus a few bucks for a lid), and if they are, now would be a great time to get them.
6) Supplements are vital for geckos. They will develop very serious problems without them and eventually die. I personally always recommend Repashy Calcium Plus. It covers all the nutrients (calcium, vitamins, etc.) needed when used to dust at every feeding. Another option is Zoo Med's Reptivite used 2-3 times a week.
7) Definitely get a UTH. This will help with the digestive system working the best it can. Put it right under the hide. It would be a good idea to pick up a thermostat like this: Amazon.com: Hydrofarm MTPRTC Digital Thermostat For Heat Mats: Patio, Lawn & Garden And attach it to the UTH and set it for about 90.

(All of these suggestions apply to both geckos. Also, they should be separated immediately. You don't want both geckos to get sick, and you don't want the healthy one to stress the unhealthy one out or prevent it from eating - if you can eventually get it to eat.)

It sounds almost like your gecko could have a respiratory infection, but I would also be very concerned about impaction. He should definitely see a vet ASAP (as well as changes made to the environment). The vet can check for a respiratory infection and, if yes, do a culture to see what kind and provide treatment, as well as give you Carnivore Care to feed him until he can eat on his own. Does his belly looked swollen or bruised?

~Maggot
 

Elizabeth Freer

Active member
Follow all advice posted above /\.

Please click on the Leopard Gecko Caresheet linked below in my signature for extremely thorough information.

Be sure to get a digital thermometer with a probe which will be very useful in measuring ground and air temps. Having the proper temps is as necessary as the proper food. Leos depend upon belly heat for digestion.

Separate them immediately. Both could be males. Dominance might be an issue why Newton is "reclusive" and failing in health. He is at a critically low weight :sad:. Sounds as if he could also have lack of calcium issues (MBD ?). Both need 20 gallon LONG tanks: 30 x 12 x 12 inches long in order to be able to establish the proper thermal gradient.

As Embrace Calamity says, vitamins and calcium are extremely important!

What do you mean by "prepackaged" mealworms? Live prey is very important. Crickets are good. Add other feeders for variety.

Normal urates should be white and 1/3 the length of the feces.

Gutloading the Feeders versus Feeding the Feeders 24/7
The term gutloading causes some confusion. Feed your feeders a nutritious regular diet all the time to build strong feeder bodies. Then only feed a special GUTLOAD product to the crickets, for example, 1-2 days prior to feeding the crickets to your geckos. T-REX Calcium Plus Cricket Food is a good gutload food. Top off the crickets by lightly dusting with a multivitamin containing D3/vitamin A acetate and phosphorus-free calcium with D3 no more than 2x weekly.

http://www.geckosunlimited.com/comm...-feeding-issues/68574-cricket-guidelines.html
 
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kawaiirorschach`

New member
thank you all so much for your help and advice! i went out today to get more fixings for their tank, which now includes a humid hide and a third little hidey hole made out of a failed pottery project, digital thermometers, and a UTH. the temperature gradient in their tank is also improving, and while it isn't at an ideal range (78 on the cool side, about 87 on the warm side) it's definitely an improvement. i removed the sand, and for the time being replaced it with paper towels. i also moved their tank away from the window. already, both gabriel and newton seem more active now that their tank is warming up, and newton especially seems to like the humid hide. it'll be at least a few weeks before i have the funds and space readily available for two 20 gallon tanks and more high-quality fixtures for their enclosures, but it is definitely priority.

and on the subject of little newt's health, i've noticed since i changed the substrate that his poops have been laced with sand, so the poor guy must've swallowed quite a lot of it. it seems to be working itself out of his system now, though, and he's coughing less (probably because the dust they were scratching up from the sand is no longer present). he even ate a cricket and a couple mealworms earlier! still looking very sickly, but not so shaky on his limbs, and a little less noticeably scrawny around his tummy. i'm hoping within the next day or so i can keep getting food into him and get him to pass what's left of the sand in his intestines, but if he starts showing signs that his symptoms are worsening again, or that he isn't continuing to improve at the rate he is now, a visit to the vet will be in order this week, and regardless, within the month, just to make sure he's on the right track to health and doesn't have any serious infections or parasites that aren't glaringly obvious.

once more, thanks for the great advice and chastisement. this problem definitely stemmed from a poor decision to cut corners with getting my babies set up, trying to cut cost with minimal/low quality materials, and not doing as thorough a job with my prior research as i should have- a mistake that definitely won't be happening again any time soon. but since this is my first time owning leos, i'm glad i'm getting problematic elements sorted out sooner rather than later.

much love, quinn.
 

Embrace Calamity

New member
Glad to hear you're making these changes and that things are going better. Don't forget supplements too. That's a huge part of getting him healthy again. Also, check both of their bellies for any signs of bruising or being swollen. Even if Newt is passing some sand, that doesn't necessarily mean he'll be successful in passing all of it. It wouldn't hurt to give them each a drop of olive/mineral oil every now and then to ease the process, maybe even a warm soak too.

As for food, you can order Oxbow Carnivore Care from a number of different websites. It's a powder to just be mixed with water that covers all nutrients for geckos who can't eat on their own. With how thin he is, it's very important to get something in him, so I would definitely put a rush on the shipping if he doesn't show any interest in food on his own within a day or so.

I hope he continues to improve and gets to live a long, healthy life. Just remember that you can't cut corners with any reptiles. No matter what people may tell you, they're all more complicated than the average person thinks and rely on us to know exactly what they need to stay happy and healthy.

~Maggot
 

cricket4u

New member
Hi,

You mentioned UVB in your first post, however in the questionnaire you wrote unknown? It's important that you provide the exact light bulb information. You do not want to combine supplemental D3 with UVB.

Also if he is making strange popping noises, there's a chance he may have an upper respiratory infection and needs to be seen by a reptile vet ASAP. If the noise is constant, while he is breathing and more like a crackling sound. I'm not sure what you are reffering to when you state popping noises.
 
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kawaiirorschach`

New member
@cricket4u - i doubled checked, and it isn't a UVB light, it's a red nightlight from zoomed, which now that i have a uth, doesn't seem as necessary at all hours to keep the temperature where it needs to be.

and as far as newt's popping noises are concerned, it's difficult to describe, but he'd hyper-extend his jaw and sort of retch a bit, and that would make a sort of clicky sound. it's not a constant thing with his breathing, and he seems to be doing a lot less strange popping in his jaw/throat.

@Embrace Calamity - i did pick up a calcium plus supplement for them and started mixing it in with their food, both mealworms and crickets. newt's belly looks a bit bruised and darkly colored, but gabriel's coloration seems entirely normal. i'm still separating them to eat, and whenever possible till i can get them both fully outfitted tanks (gabriel in an old ten gallon i used for one of my snakes, but it's only got a single hide, some water, and a heatlamp on it- nothing permanent. thanks again for all the advice, you've been absolutely wonderful.
 
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