Everyone has their “If I had a nickel every time….” scenario. Well, mine is customers asking why their leopard gecko is not eating and what they need to do as they do so their pet does not die.
I enjoy discussing geckos with other hobbyists and especially with new owners. Leopard geckos are so exciting, fun animal. Anytime I can help someone better maintain their pet gives me quite a bit of pleasure.
However, we get a lot of Emails and questions at reptile shows from new and from long term owners that their crested gecko is not eating!
No Time to Panic
First, baby leopard geckos are fine with missing a meal or two. An adult leopard can miss several weeks of food due to the extra storage in their fat tails! The most important consideration at this time is to make sure you are misting their enclosure. Keeping them hydrated is priority one!
Eating or Not Eating
So, how can you know for sure that your crested is eating? This is much easier than one would think. We suggest keeping new geckos over paper towel or a bare bottom enclosure. As well, smaller enclosures during this time (first 2-3 weeks) is better than larger enclosures. Here is a quick reference: Babies in small, 9 qt. shoe boxes (with proper heat of course) or small exo-terra breeder boxes, Medium (3-7 months) and adults in at least a 10 gallon tank works best.
Why keep them in smaller enclosures? Because you can monitor if they are pooping or not…. “If they are pooping, they are eating!”
New Leopard – Stressed
Easily, the most frequent question I get with the business is certainly- “I purchased a gecko from you this weekend. It’s been 2 days and it is still not eating.
If your leopardgecko eats in the first couple of days, consider yourself fortunate. Think about all the gecko is going through- be it shipping, from reptile shows, or other venue- the animals is relocating to a completely new home- new temps, new decor, new owners.
Give the gecko some time to settle down, adjust, and get comfortable with their new digs.
If your leopard not eaten after 4 or 5 days, contact the seller to work out options.
A Meal is a Meal
Often, I hear that an adult leopard gecko has not eaten for a couple of feedings. The very first thing I like to ask is whether the gecko is going through or recently shed. They normally will not eat 2 or 3 days before and after a shed. This is due them eating their shed (I know ewwww!). They hide before the shed and sometime afterward but skip meals for anywhere from 2-6 days.
They Still Will not Eat – Give Them a Treat
If your leopard gecko doesn’t seem to eat the crickets or mealworms right away (and this is rarer that you would think), here is a TIP ALERT- try a wax worm or two. Not much, as wax worms are high in fat. Once they start eating, ween them away from the wax worms as soon as possible.
They Still Will Not Eat - Hand Feeding The Easy Way
Finally, if nothing else works, you will need to hand feed your leopard gecko.
Hand feeding is NOT the same as force feeding. Never force your gecko’s mouth open to get them to eat. If the animal will not take to hand feeding, get the gecko to a Vet!
To hand feed, prepare a mixture of baby food/honey/a touch of calcium/mushed up crickets or mealworms. We have begun using the Crested Gecko Diet (a bit thicker for this) instead of the above slurry and have had GREAT success. Hold your gecko firmly and, with a small spoon or a type of flattened coffee stir stick, apply some diet to the leopard's nose. The gecko may not accept the food at first but will eventually start licking the diet off its nose. Be patient. You can continue applying the food until the gecko stops eating.
You can repeat this for 3 or 4 feedings (one time every other day) or until you feel the gecko is eating on its own.
It is hard to know when your gecko should be eating and when it is fine that they are not eating. If you feel your gecko is not eating and should be, the tips above will get your gecko eating again on its own.