Help! My Leopard Gecko Won't Eat!

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Leopard Gecko and Waxworm. Getty Images/Westend61

Reptiles can occasionally stop eating for a variety of reasons. Sometimes it's due to something we've done or fed, 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 the vet's office.

Check The 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 he's just gotten too cold. These are all reasons why your gecko may be 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 gecko's metabolic rate is decreased due to temperatures dropping below 70 degrees Fahrenheit then he will most likely stop eating. He needs supplemental heat if you don't keep the room where your gecko is located around 80 degrees (most people do not). It is much more cost effective to have a simple heat light on the enclosure so that you can properly monitor the basking temperature and make sure it isn't getting too cold at night.

A heat mat works well too, 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.

Is Your Leopard Gecko Pooping?

If your leopard gecko hasn't defecated recently, he may be impacted with fecal matter. This impaction could be due to a recent large or hard meal he ate (super worms can cause this) or from bedding material that he accidentally ingested.

Urate plugs can also cause a blockage of fecal matter if your gecko is having problems passing a large urate (white matter). If your gecko is having trouble passing stool or urates, try soaking him in a warm water bath that is deep enough to cover his hips for a few minutes a couple of times a day and gently massage his belly. If that doesn't help stool pass your gecko should see his exotics vet to see if he needs an enema, 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 decrease in environmental temperature, he could have a respiratory infection that has caused him to stop eating. Respiratory infection is the most common medical reason 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 his inappetence. Your exotics vet can diagnose growths that affect or block the intestinal tract, mouth ulcerations, and other ailments. If you suspect illness is the reason for your gecko not 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, he may stop eating. Abscesses, eye injuries, tail and toe problems - they can all be pretty uncomfortable and make your gecko not want to eat.

Can Your Leopard Gecko See His Food?

Retained skin on the eyes can block your gecko's ability to see his food, especially if he's trying to catch it. 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 entirely so if you've tried all the tips above with no improvement make sure you schedule a visit to your exotics vet.