Helping a Leopard Gecko That Stopped Eating

Leopard gecko eating a worm on a reflective surface
Leopard geckos may stop eating because they are too cold. Getty Images/Westend61

Reptiles can stop eating for a variety of reasons. Sometimes it's due to something we've done or fed them previously and other times it's because of an illness. If your leopard gecko has suddenly stopped eating but is still active there are things you can do at home before rushing him into your vet's office.

Check The Cage Temperatures

The number one reason why leopard geckos stop eating is that they are too cold. Perhaps your heat bulb burned out, the heat mat stopped working, there's a draft going into the cage, or maybe you never had a heat source for your leopard gecko to begin with and now it's just gotten too cold. The change of seasons from fall to winter often brings a lot of anorexic geckos into the animal clinic but more often than not, a simple fix to their environmental temperature will make them start eating again.

If your leopard gecko's metabolic rate is decreased due to temperatures dropping below 70 F then it will most likely stop eating. Supplemental heat is necessary if you don't keep the room where your gecko is located around 80 F and not many people keep their homes this warm. A heat mat works well but it will not warm the air as well as it does the cage flooring so it is hard to monitor what temperature it is where your gecko is sitting. It is much better and more cost effective than heating an entire room to have a simple heat light on the enclosure. This way you can properly monitor the basking temperature and make sure it isn't getting too cold in your leopard gecko's cage at night. 

Is Your Leopard Gecko Pooping?

If your leopard gecko hasn't defecated recently it may be impacted with fecal matter. This fecal impaction could be due to a recent large or hard meal your leopard gecko ate, such as super worms, or from bedding material that was accidentally ingested. Urate plugs can also cause a blockage of fecal matter if your gecko is having problems passing the white part in their feces. If your gecko is having these problems, try soaking it in a warm water bath. The water should be deep enough to cover your gecko's hips for a few minutes a couple of times a day. While your gecko is submerged you should gently massage it's belly. If that doesn't help your gecko pass their stool and urates you should take your gecko to a vet. Your vet may need to administer an enema to your leopard gecko or they may discover it has intestinal parasites or needs other medical attention.

Does Your Leopard Gecko Have an Illness?

If your leopard gecko recently got a chill from a draft or had a decrease in their environmental temperature, it could have a respiratory infection that has caused them to stop eating. Respiratory infections are the most common medical reasons for reptiles not wanting to eat. If you couldn't see or smell your food because your eyes were sealed shut, or you had nasal drainage, you wouldn't be too excited about food either.

If your leopard gecko is sick in some other way, there may be a different reason for their inappetence. Your exotics vet can diagnose growths that affect or block the intestinal tract, mouth ulcerations, and other ailments. If you suspect an illness is the reason for your gecko to not be eating, visit your exotics vet for assistance.

Does Your Leopard Gecko Have an Injury?

If your leopard gecko has a wound or is in pain because of an injury, it may stop eating. Abscesses, eye injuries, tail and toe problems can all be pretty uncomfortable and make your gecko not want to eat. If you know your gecko has an injury be prepared that it may not want to eat until it's pain is controlled and it is feeling better.

Can Your Leopard Gecko See It's Food?

Retained skin on the eyes can block your gecko's ability to see it's food, especially if it's trying to catch a cricket. This usually occurs after an incomplete shed and is often due to a lack of humidity in the cage.

Other eye problems include corneal ulcers and retrobulbar abscesses that would cause your gecko to stop eating. 

Of course, your gecko may have stopped eating for a different reason than is listed so if you've tried all the tips above with no improvement make sure you schedule a visit to your exotics vet so they can help you figure it out.