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Leopard Gecko Sand Impaction X-rays

Leopard Gecko Sand Impaction X-rays

Leopard Gecko Impaction X-rays

There are numerous reports online of Leopard Geckos becoming impacted as a result of being housed on play sand, as well as calcium sand. While you would think that these reports from people who have experienced an impaction as a result of particulate substrates would be enough to deter others from making the same mistakes, you would be wrong.

We all realize that sand is an attractive substrate. The problem we encounter using sand though in captivity is that it forces the leopard gecko to live in an environment that mimics the Sahara Desert. This is NOT a natural environment, nor is sand a natural substrate for this species. Sand makes up a very small portion of the wild leopard geckos habitat. As soon as owners realize that their leopard geckos safety and health is more important than how they want their enclosure to look, the fewer vets will have to deal with impactions like the one in the following x-rays.

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)

The leopard gecko in the following x-rays had been housed on sand for the past 14 years. (You read that correctly. This gecko had zero issues with impaction for the 14 years it was housed on sand. Impactions do not discriminate.) Up until this point, the leopard gecko did not have any visible issues that had caused the owner to worry about impaction. The sand was the suggested substrate from a petstore employee.

This leopard gecko presented with lethargy and lack of appetite. The owner truly did care for her leopard gecko and brought it to the vet. The vet ran a series of x-rays and found the leopard gecko to be suffering from an impaction. It was caught early enough to be treated without surgery and several hundred dollars later the leopard gecko is currently recuperating.

The treatment for this leopard gecko required an oral laxative called lactulose. It is being force fed via syringe using carnivore care and is receiving daily soaks in warm water. This leopard gecko is expected to make a full recovery and the owner was advised to remove the sand and avoid particulate substrates in the future.

Most impactions are noticed when the damage is so obvious it is already to late for the gecko. This owner was fortunate and vigilant in her observation of her geckos behavior. She noticed some changes in behavior and sought help. You may not be so lucky.


Leopard Gecko Sand Impaction X-rays

Sand Impaction

Leopard Gecko Sand Impaction

Gecko X-ray

Leopard Gecko X-rays

Articles Of Interest

Calcium Sand Dangers


Author: Richard Brooks
Images - © Richard Brooks