How to Feed Sick Leopard Geckos

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Leopard geckos are commonly kept as pets and are considered relatively easy to care for, but these reptiles can contract some illnesses that may cause them to lose their appetite. Feeding sick Leopard geckos is essential to helping them regain their health.

  • Contact an experienced reptile veterinarian to assess your gecko to determine if there are internal parasites or other health conditions making your gecko sick and/or causing a loss of appetite.

  • Clean and sterilize a small tank or other habitat for the gecko. It is essential if you have other geckos in the same tank to quarantine the sick gecko to prevent the spread of sickness. Even if you have only one gecko in the tank, place the gecko in a freshly cleaned and sanitized enclosure. A small enclosure also makes it easier for the Leopard to catch its food.

  • Line the sterilized tank with paper towels or newspaper. This makes the tank easy to clean daily, and deters parasites and bacteria from burrowing in to other cage substrates.

  • Heat the cage to the recommended temperature for Leopard geckos, which is 90 to 92 degrees F. A sick Leopard gecko may avoid eating if the temperature is too cool, since it will have a hard time digesting its food. Keep one section of the cage relatively cooler than the other.

  • Place small amounts of the standard Leopard gecko food such as crickets, silkworms and mealworms into the cage with the gecko. If possible, purchase food sources that have been gut-loaded. Gut-loaded crickets and worms were given food packed with nutrients, which pass on to your gecko when it eats. Place only a few insects in the cage at a time, and wait to see if the gecko eats before adding more. Immediately remove any sources of food from the cage if they die.

  • Provide additional food sources such as butterworms or waxworms for the extra nutrition they offer. These worms should not be fed to geckos on a regular basis because they can contribute to obesity, but are excellent sources of rich nutrients for feeding sick Leopard geckos. Since these worms are so rich in nutrients, it is not necessary for them to be gut-loaded, though it is perfectly acceptable if they are.

  • Supplement the gecko's diet with an emergency reptile food aid if the gecko has gone more than five to seven days without eating or interest in food. Various brands of such food aids, which provide high levels of nutrients to the reptile, are carried in most pet stores and on pet supply websites. Use a pet food aid only as a last resort or unless instructed by your reptile veterinarian. Prepare the emergency reptile food aid as needed. The supplements are generally powdered mixes that make a paste when blended with water. Feed the gecko with a small eyedropper or from a small dish if the animal is willing to lick the paste on its own.

Tips & Warnings

  • Always keep a supply of fresh water available for the gecko. Keep a supply of emergency food aid for reptiles on hand at all times.
  • Avoid handling and holding your gecko except for when you are cleaning its cage to reduce stress to the animal. Always wash hands before and after handling your gecko to prevent contamination to your other pets.

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References

  • The Guide to Owning a Leopard Gecko: Identification, Care & Breeding; Ray Hunziker; 1994
  • Reptiles, Amphibians, and Invertebrates: An Identification and Care Guide; Patricia P. Bartlett and Billy Griswold; 2001
  • Leopard Gecko Care
  • Photo Credit Joel St/sxc.hu
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