Leopard Gecko - Physical Appearance
This section deals with the Leopard Gecko - Physical Appearance aspect of selecting a leopard gecko. The outward appearance of an animal may not be able to tell you which has had parasites, but it can certainly tell you a lot about their previous care and if the animal may require some special attention.
Remember, a leopard gecko that has some physical flags of neglect, illness, or previous issues does not mean that with a little love and proper care it won't make a great pet.
Is the gecko plump? If the gecko is plump, this is a good indicator that the leopard gecko is getting plenty to eat. Hatchlings and juveniles are sometimes long and slender before they pack on the weight, so don't get this confused with an unhealthy leopard gecko.
Alert and Active
Leopard geckos are nocturnal, so this can sometimes be difficult to determine. If you are able to see the leopard gecko in its enclosure, ask that the hide be lifted to view the gecko. Typically when disturbed like this, the gecko will become alert thinking a predator may have just spotted him. If the gecko appears lethargic and has no concern for your presence at all, you may want to seek out a more active and vibrant leopard gecko.
Does the leopard gecko have any open abrasions or wounds? If so, this indicates that the leopard gecko may have recently been in an altercation with a cagemate or outside animal. If there are apparent wounds, ask the seller what they are from and what they are being treated with. While most superficial wounds won't require medical attention, there is an increased likelihood of an infection that could set in. Keep this in mind.
The tail is the most noticeable indicator of the leopard geckos overall health. A healthy leopard gecko will have a nice plump tail where it is storing its fat reserve. If the tail is very thin, as the picture on this page shows, the leopard gecko could have been neglected adequate food, heating, or it may have a parasite. Unless you are willing to invest your money into treating parasites, avoid a leo with a tail like the one pictured.
A regenerated tail functions exactly as the normal tail would have. It is not a sign that a leopard gecko is unhealthy. It is an indicator that the tail has been dropped for some reason. Ask the seller why the tail was dropped if you have concerns surrounding it. A regenerated tail should also be plump and full.
Unhealthy Leopard Gecko
Digits - Toes
Check to see if the leopard gecko is missing any of its digits. This is an indicator that the leopard gecko has had issues shedding, or it has been in a scuffle with a cagemate.
Is the skin on the leopard gecko tight and conformed to its body? Loose skin is often the result of dehydration. Do not confuse this with a gecko that is shedding.
Same Leopard Gecko - Now
Is there any noticeable swelling of the rear or front legs? This is often a sign that the leopard gecko has either had issues digesting calcium, or receiving the correct amount of calcium. Unless you are willing to invest money into the care of this animal, I would avoid purchasing it. Swelling is often a sign of metabolic bone disease which can be costly to reverse, and can ultimately end with the leopard gecko expiring depending on the diseases severity.
Eyes - Mouth - Nostrils
There should be no mucus or secretions coming from any of these orifices. If there is, the likelihood of an internal parasite is very high.
If any feces are visible in the enclosure, does it appear runny? If there is a runny stool sample in the enclosure, this gecko has a very high probability of having a parasite. The feces should also not emit any obvious and pungent odors. If the enclosure is opened, and the smell of feces is strong, the likelihood of a parasite being present is very high. Normal feces is solid brown or blackish with spots of white (urates). It typically has a very low odor emission, unless it has been heated or has gotten wet.
The above listed items are simply to give you an idea as to what to look for. If the gecko is being housed with other leopard geckos, and a soft stool is noticed or another in the enclosure looks sick, you may want to either locate another avenue to purchase your gecko or ask for an extended warranty on the leopard gecko. It is very common for a leopard gecko to have a parasite and pass it on to its cagemates. This is why a quarantine period is always needed when a new animal is brought into the home.