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Leopard Gecko - Impaction

Impaction Issues Found In Leopard Geckos

The above image was taken from our Leopard Gecko Sand Impaction X-ray page. Sand impactions are very real and they do not discriminate. The leopard gecko in the above picture was housed on sand for 14 years and never had an issue, until she discovered there was an issue. Read the entire story on our Leopard Gecko Sand Impaction X-ray page.


Granular substrates have been known to cause impactions in leopard geckos. This is especially true for those who aren't providing proper supplementation or feed in an enclosure that is covered by sand. The biggest problem with sand is that people assume leopard geckos live on it in the wild. They do not reside in the Sahara Desert and their enclosure should not reflect that they do. Below is an excerpt from the Herpetoculture of Leopard Geckos. Keep this excerpt in mind when designing your enclosure.

The Herpetoculture of Leopard Geckos

From the few published reports, leopard geckos occur in areas of clay soils with or without some surface sand, or with alluvial soils (formed of sediments deposited by flowing water), as well as from rocky areas. One report noted leopard geckos avoided sandy soils. The above information offers rough guidelines for possible substrates in captivity. A common feature is the dryness of the substrates and the arid or semi-arid nature of the habitats. (Herpetoculture of Leopard Geckos 2005, p.53)

"In the wild, the habitat of a species is depictive of the food sources available in that location, the climate, and the availability of shelter. Sand, when it comprises a vast majority of the natural terrain, is not a suitable location for this species. The reasoning is fairly simple. In an environment encompassed by sand, the population of feeder prey and adequate shelter would be limited." ~ Substrates

Acute Impaction

An acute impaction is when the Leo swallows a large amount of substrate and it blocks the vital organs used to process food. (Stomach, intestinal tract, etc.) The results of this type of impaction will lead to lethargy, lack of appetite, lack of bowel movements, sand in the stool, etc.

Chronic Impaction

The other type of impaction, and often the most deadly form, is the chronic impaction. A chronic impaction is the slow accumulation of sand that binds to the lining of the intestinal tract. Over time, and often years, it will create a blockage. This blockage will also have the same detrimental effects as an acute impaction. The biggest problem with this type of impaction is that when it is discovered, it is most often too late to cure.


Author: Richard Brooks