How to Tell Your Leopard Gecko is Dying


Losing a pet is never easy; it can feel like losing a close friend. Leopard Geckos are many pet owner’s go-to pet reptiles because they are extremely hardy, resilient, and have a long lifespan. That said, leopard geckos can get sick if they don’t receive proper care.

There are a few symptoms that can indicate your leopard gecko is sick and could be fatal if not corrected. Keep reading so you know how to tell your leopard gecko is dying. 

Signs You Leopard Gecko is Dying

Loss of Appetite

One major indication of your gecko getting sick is a loss of appetite. Improper temperature, improper diet, and stress are all factors that could contribute to loss of appetite in a leopard gecko.

You can check our leopard gecko feeding guide to make sure you are offering the right food in the right quantity.

Check their enclosure and make sure it has the correct temperature (80-90 degrees F with a heat gradient between the cool and warm side of the tank.) Leopard geckos need belly heat from an under the tank heater to properly digest their food.

Then, you can continue to check if there is anything in their environment that could cause stress and so lead to a lack of appetite.  Are there other geckos sharing the tank that could be bullying them? Are there stray feeder insects that could be bothering your gecko? Do they have a proper day/night cycle? Do they have places to hide and feel secure? Any of these items can be a source of stress and contribute to a lack of interest in food.

Lack of appetite can lead to sudden weight loss.

Weight Loss in Short Time

A clear indication of your gecko suffering from sickness is if they lose a lot of weight in a short amount of time.

You may notice the weight loss first in the tail. Leopard geckos store fat reserves in their tail and will live of their tail fat during periods where they cannot find food. If your leopard gecko’s tail is looking thin, this is an early indicator they are not getting enough to eat.

An adult male leopard gecko should weigh in between 60 and 80 grams, whereas a female gecko should weigh a little less, between 50-70 grams. If you notice rapid or sudden weight loss in your gecko, take him or her to a vet as soon as possible, as it can be a warning sign.

Factors that contribute to sudden weight loss include a poor diet, bacterial infections, impaction, or improper care.

Dehydration

Similar to humans and other animals, leopard geckos need water (in addition to food) in order to sustain themselves. Symptoms of dehydration in geckos can be harder to spot. Signs of dehydration include: dry and flaky skin, skin losing elasticity (and looking wrinkly), sunken in eyes, loss of muscle, or loss of energy and enthusiasm.

The rather straightforward way to avoid any of these symptoms is to make sure your gecko always has enough clean water available to them in their enclosure. 

Related Post: Do Leopard Geckos Drink Water?

Strange or Lack of Droppings

Another way to check your gecko’s current health is to take a look at their droppings. If your gecko has significantly less, or strange droppings, it could be a sign of impaction.

For more on leopard gecko droppings and to know what to look for, check out our posts about how often leopard geckos poop, and find out if leopard geckos pee.

Sadly, impaction is one of the most common reasons for sudden leopard gecko deaths. Your reptile can get impacted if they swallow something they are not supposed to, and this could cause digestive problems. Sand or food items that are too large are the most common causes.

On a positive note, if you notice that gecko is impacted and it is still at an early stage, this can be treated easily. Impaction can sometimes be cleared by a warm bath (find out how in our post on bathing leopard geckos), or your pet may need attention from a qualified vet. On the other hand, impactions discovered at a later stage may result in death. 

You can read more about impaction in our post here.

Disinterest or Listlessness

If your gecko is generally curious, interested, and energetic you can assure it is a healthy, and most importantly a happy pet. You may catch them exploring their cage, hunting for prey, and relaxing in warm areas.

If you find your leopard gecko not moving from a certain spot for extended periods when it would normally be active, or hiding excessively behind or under items in the tank, this may be a sign that they are sick.

If you notice your gecko has become slow, weak, or less alert, your best bet would be to take them to a vet as soon as possible. 

Old Age and Natural Causes

Leopard geckos have a long lifespan, especially compared to other small reptiles. It’s common for a leopard gecko to live for more than 20 years with proper care.

As long lived as they are, leopard geckos will still decline and succumb to old age. If your leopard gecko loses its appetite and drops weight simply because it is old and in decline, there isn’t much to do here.

You may still consult a vet to make sure there aren’t any conditions that need attention. Otherwise, the best we can do here is to continue providing excellent care and make our pet as comfortable as possible.

Avoid Your Leopard Gecko Getting Sick

After reading about scary scenarios where your gecko gets sick or even dies, let’s look at a few ways in which we can avoid the situation altogether. 

  • Keep your gecko’s cage clean; tidy the cage regularly and remove your gecko’s droppings
  • Give your gecko an appropriate diet; give them a variety of insects, and buy these from legit sources (or you can breed your own. Find out how in our posts on breeding mealworms and superworms.)
  • Establish adequate hygiene when dealing with your leopard gecko; if you have touched another pet, wash your hands before touching your gecko in order to avoid exposure to disease or parasites
  • Quarantine your gecko if you suspect he or she is sick; of course, this only applies if you have multiple gecko’s in the same cage. (Read our post about keeping leopard geckos together for more information.)

Related Post: Is My Leopard Gecko Sick

Wrap Up: How to tell if my leopard gecko is dying

Leopard geckos have a longer life span than many pets. Still, we know one day, we are going to lose them. Knowing the warning signs that your gecko may be ill can help make sure your gecko doesn’t go before its time. If you’re worried about your leopard gecko’s health, consult with a qualified vet that specialized in reptiles.

With proper care, you can do your best to keep your gecko healthy and happy to enjoy a long life.


hevanmiller

H. Evan Miller is the founder of the Leopard Gecko Habitat. Like many young boys, he developed an early fascination with dinosaurs, and by extension, reptiles. He’s been keeping reptiles as pets since he was a kid (we won’t count the decades) and enjoys sharing his enthusiasm, experience, and knowledge on the topic. You can read more about his ongoing adventures with science, technology, and a couple of curious kids over at https://STEMtropolis.com.

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