I really didn’t want to have to write this article about leopard gecko diseases and illnesses because it’s kind of depressing to think about. But being aware of these symptoms and possible diseases could help save gecko lives so it’s important to know this stuff.
Before we get into the ‘heavy’ stuff, it is useful to know that leopard geckos are one of the healthiest reptiles. Since they live for up to 20 years they are one of the easiest lizards to own. I haven’t ever had to deal with a leopard gecko that had a serious health problem.
SUPER IMPORTANT: I wrote this article to help fellow gecko owners be more aware of things to look out for. But please, if you are ever unsure, always talk to a qualified vet.
You Leopard Gecko Could Be Having Health Problems If:
- Not very alert when your holding them. Almost like they are in a daze and not paying attention to anything around them.
- Their tail is losing thickness. If the leopard geckos tail is getting very thin they could be getting sick or have a disease or illness. If you have leopard geckos housed together and notice that one of them has dropped their tail the other gecko is probably bullying the other one (see this on leopard gecko tails).
- You notice that you can see the bones in their body. Gecko bodies should have some thickness to them.
- They shouldn’t have any bumps or bulges in their stomach. Make sure they are not pregnant if you do notice a bulge.
- Their skin should be colorful. If their skins looks discolored (and they are not shedding), or have blisters or open cuts that is a strong sign that something is wrong with them. Their eyes should be clear. Make sure there is nothing draining out of their eyes and there is no swelling.
- There shouldn’t ever be anything draining out of their mouth. Their jaw bone should be firm. Their mouth shouldn’t be gaping or anything. This is a symptom of MBD (metabolic bone disease).
- They should have all of their toes. There shouldn’t be any extra skin around them (see shedding problems). If their toes are swelling or bleeding this could be a sign of infection.
- Their feces should be solid (black, brown, and a little white). Their feces shouldn’t be diarrhea or different colors.
Leopard Gecko Health Problems & Illnesses
- Impaction. The number one problem I have seen over the years is impaction. The results of impaction can often be fatal if left untreated. This happens when leopard geckos eat their substrate. Gecko stomachs have a hard time digesting sand, and I really believe calcium sand should be avoided. Also, your leopard gecko can get impacted by eating food that is too big.
- Prolapse. This is a serious health problem. Basically, an organ is trapped outside of their body. Typically, you will notice a vent under their tail which looks like there is something sticking out of it. Make sure you take them to the vet immediately if you see this. This can be fatal if not treated right away.
- Egg Binding. This is also called dystocia. This happens when leopard geckos have problems laying eggs. Their eggs are not leaving their body when it’s time to lay eggs. A lot of times this happens because they are not getting enough calcium in their diet. You may notice your leopard gecko straining to lay eggs, is acting depressed, is not eating very much, or is very restless. This can be fatal!
- Metabolic Bone Disease (MBD). You will notice that your leopard gecko is having problems walking. Their limbs will appear rubbery. It might appear that their limbs are completely broken. This is really one of the hardest diseases to witness as a gecko owner. This happens because leopard geckos are not getting enough calcium in their diet. Make sure you are dusting their food with calcium to prevent this. There is no cure or reversing MBD once they have it – all that can be done is stopping it progressing any further. So the best action is prevention by getting their diet right.
- Parasites. A parasite is a organism that is living inside of your leopard geckos body. They can have parasites for months before you really start to notice your gecko looking sick. This is a pretty common gecko health problem. These parasites are breeding, feeding, and growing inside of your gecko. I know it sounds disgusting. You can tell if you gecko has a parasite by taking a feces sample to the vet. They are treated by medicine that you need to feed to your gecko orally.
- Burns. Your leopard gecko can get burnt on a heated rocked, pad or even light. This can be a serious problem and can even be fatal. You can take your leopard gecko to a vet and they can put some topical ointment on them or give them some antibiotics. But again, prevention is the best cure here by careful habitat setup.
Hopefully you never have to deal with any of these problems with your leopard gecko. But illnesses and health problems are a real problems that a lot of gecko owners are dealing with everyday. It’s always best to take them to a vet if you notice any symptoms or anything that is unexpected or different to what you are used to. You might not notice the warning signs for quite some time because reptiles do a really good job at masking their illnesses, so don’t delay when do notice symptoms appear.