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Reptiles/Leopard Gecko Not Eating


I have a Leopard Gecko who I believe to male who is not eating. I have no idea how old he is, as I adopted him from someone who didn't want him but I believe he is still pretty young, maybe a little over a year old. He has always had a decent appetite and would happily eat mealworms and waxworms whether on his own or by me feeding him with feeding tongs. Then one day when I put his food in he bit me which was a surprise in itself. He's always been very friendly in the past. I thought maybe he was getting ready to shed or just didn't want to be picked up so I let him alone for a few days and since then whenever anyone attempts to pick him up he screetches and writhes around. I have stopped picking him up because I was afraid with all his squirming that I'd drop him as that happened once before (he didn't seem to be harmed in any way after the fall which happened about 2-3 weeks after he bit me). After the biting incident I also noticed he wasn't eating. I kept leaving his food in his bowl but he just let it die without eating it. I tried tong feeding him but he wouldn't take any food. I tried giving him crickets instead thinking they would be more fun for him to eat but he won't touch them. His tail has gotten very thin. He just sits in his cage all day without doing too much of anything. This has been going on since early July. We thought he might be going through a dormant phase but nothing added up and I'm really worried that he might have coccidia or some other illness. Unfortunately we have no reptile vet anywhere even remotely nearby and I'm really hesitant to move him too much. Anything you can tell me would be very appreciated. I just want to make sure Leonard gets better!

ANSWER: Hello Bonnie,

It sounds like he has been through an ordeal, as well as you also trying to care for him.
When he was eating, did you notice if his stools were normal, or were they runny or unusually
smelly or have any blood in them?
You could definitely try to deworm him or treat him for coccidia, to see if that helps.  His
symptoms sound like he is not feeling well since he is losing weight.
I know it's difficult since you are not able to handle him, but you may need to start hand feeding him feeders or chicken & or turkey baby food via a plastic syringe or dropper to keep some weight on him.
What type of set up do you have for him?  What are the temperatures in his tank & do you have a moist humid hide for him as well over the warm area to help release humidity for shedding?
What type of substrate is he on, sand, paper towels, tiles?
Do you have any pictures of him I could see also?
I don't think it sounds like a brumation (hiberation) type of phase though, as he shouldn't be losing weight.

Let me know how Leonard is doing.


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Leonard front
Leonard front  

Leonard above
Leonard above  
QUESTION: Hi Tracie-
Thank you so much for your help so far.
As per your questions- Before he stopped eating I didn't notice anything odd about his stool, it always seemed pretty normal, if a little smelly. He did have a moist spot to hide but it required straying a patch of moss with a spray bottle of water which he really didn't like so now he occasionally sits in a dish of water that's in his tank, of his own choosing. I sometimes catch him just sitting in there. His tank temperature is around 90 degrees usually. He has a plain glass terrarium with small natural looking aquarium rocks on the bottom for substrate since I heard that having sand can lead to health problems. I also have noticed that his color, while usually pretty vibrant, has faded over the past few weeks. Here is the picture as requested. Thank you so much for all your help! -Bonnie

Hello Bonnie,

He is beautiful.  If his colors are fading, could he be shedding or pre-shed possibly?  How long has it been since he has shed?
Are you using a digital probe or temp gun to measure the temperatures with?
Well, some of them don't like the moss in the moist humid hides.  You could also use a sponge moistened for a moist humid hide.
Are the rocks large enough to where he can't ingest them?
If his appetite is off, I think either getting a fecal on him or just going ahead & deworming him would be fine in case he has worms or parasites.
That is correct, sand is a definite problem with using it as a substrate.  It can cause a lot of problems, especially impaction.

If he is losing weight, I would begin using chicken or turkey baby food to get some nutrition into him.  How often does he get calcium?

Let me know how he is doing.



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Tracie Kretzschmar


I can answer questions pertaining to health, UVB specifics, overall husbandry care & supplementation, analysis of blood test results, and behavioral problems & handling. I can answer questions pertaining to bearded dragons, leopard geckos, iguanas, uromastyx & ball pythons. I can answer adeno virus related questions in bearded dragons, & then specifically about the testing methods as well. I am beginning an Pogona Adeno Testing Society in 2008 which will help to begin to start some standardization within the bearded dragon colonies of the breeders who choose to test.


I have been working with bearded dragons for over 5 years now, as well as leopard geckos, too. I am currently doing rescues, as well. I hope to be able to educate people prior to them purchasing an exotic pet in order to avoid any health crisis with them.

I have a master's degree in sports medicine & physiology, & 1 year of vet tech schooling, & am currently working on a reptile certification through the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council.

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