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Thin Gecko

Discussion in 'Herp Health' started by Neils, Jul 4, 2006.

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  1. Neils

    Neils Member

    We're new to reptile keeping, and have had a pair of leopard geckos for about a month. One of them has stopped eating for over a week now and has got really thin, especially the tail.

    The only cause I can think of is it might be that we switched to mealworms right before she stopped eating, whereas she has only had crickets or locusts before then. She ate three in one go that evening, but nothing since. The faeces looked very odd right after: white and very soft, not brown at all. but since then it's got progressively drier and now stopped all together.

    The pair have been separated the past few days, and she has been to the vet today (who is not a reptile specialist and couldn't really say what was wrong). He's prescribed us some antibiotics and suggested force feeding with a syringe. I managed to get about 80mls of crushed fresh cricket mixed with water down her just now, but she's definitely not happy.

    Can anyone help or suggest anything else to try?


    [​IMG] [​IMG]
  2. Neils

    Neils Member

    Thin Gecko *update*

    Well, it's barely 2 hours after we got the fluid into her, and already some news: didn't see it happen, but a green poo and two sticky looking undigested corpses have appeared. Think one is a mealworm and the other a cricket possibly. Can't imagine that was comfortable.

    What does this mean? Could it have been an impaction which we've shifted with all the handling today? Is there a reason why she's not digesting her food? Not sure when she might have eaten the cricket, but the worm must have been inside her for quite a while.

    Thanks for any advice, Neil
  3. venus

    venus Founding Member

    Give us some substrate, temps etc...This will help us better determine or try and help with and answer.

    Welcome to Herp Center.
  4. Neils

    Neils Member

    Well, we got her first, about a month ago. She's about eight months old now. We added a male leopard gecko about two and a half weeks ago. He was about the same size (got quite a bit fatter since), but is only four months old. We were told it was okay to keep a mixed pair like this up until they are a year old.

    The tank is moderately sized, about 24" in length and I'd guess 15 gallons or so. The substrate is plain fine sand which we bought in the reptile shop, and the temperature is around 80F to 90F at the hot end, with a heat pad and a thermostat.

    We also have a plastic box with damp moss in there which both seem to prefer to hide in instead of the plastic rock thing they also have.
  5. venus

    venus Founding Member

    First off, please dump the sand. It will cause impaction to the leos. Try using newspaper, paper towel or shelf liner...second, never listen to petstores, they are only out to make money. That possibly could be part of your leos problems. You can try feeding her wax worms to fatten her up a bit. If she is stress by the male (dominance) you will need to sepereate them until they are bigger. Try bumping the temps up to betwen 90-95 this will help her digest her food better as well.
  6. Neils

    Neils Member

    Thanks for the suggestions Martha. We actually got some repti carpet just recently. Is that okay to use? We'll take the sand out tomorrow.

    The vet suggested feeding her a protein formula thru the syringe. We haven't got any yet, but would you recommend this, or stick to the waxworms? Have turned up the temperature. It feels really warm in there now. We've separated them at the moment by putting her in a box within the tank, so they both get heat from the mat, but he can't get to her. He's literally twice her size now she's got so thin.

    Thanks again, Neil
  7. Rich

    Rich Administrator Staff Member Premium Member


    That leo has gone without food for longer than a week or was ill when you purchased it. (You stated you bought it a month ago.) I keep and breed leos. For a leo to get that emaciated, it has been depriving itself for a while.

    My immediate reaction to a leo that emaciated is impaction or parasite. Initially, I would seek attention for parasites. Most leos with an impaction will still attempt to eat. Those with parasites or an infection of some sort will often refuse food completely, like yours has.

    If you brought that leo to the vet, the vet must have done some blood work or a fecal? What medication is the leo on and what is the dose? I am guessing you got a broad spectrum antibiotic. Needless to say, blood work and a fecal WILL tell ANY vet what is wrong. lol

    The leos are going to require seperate housing. The box is not adequate. You will need to keep the ill leo in quarantine for at least 30 days AFTER she starts eating again. This means that the leo needs at least a ten gallon of her own, heated, and with adequate hides. She should be moved in there asap!

    I would not force feed her anything just yet. (Except the antibiotic. (What is it called?) Try offering the waxworms. If she will eat them on her own, she will be better off. Force feeding is very stressful. If you are forcefeeding an already ill leo, its even more stressful. Save that for a last resort.
  8. Neils

    Neils Member

    Hi Rich,

    The antibiotic is 2.5% Baytril, 1ml per day (diluted 10:1 by the vet). The vet didn't want to take blood due to her size and the fecal sample we had was too dried up to be of any use. We have bagged the latest one, so will be able to take that back to him.

    Now you mention it, she always was pretty small. Guess the fact that she was only the same size as anther leo half her age sort of demonstrates that. She did have a healthy appetite for the first three weeks we had her.

    Thanks for the advice, Neil
  9. Rich

    Rich Administrator Staff Member Premium Member


    Baytril is a broad spectrum antibiotic. That is great if the leo has an infection of some sort. If the problem is parasitic though, you may find that the Baytril is not effective as a treatment. (It will help destroy some bacterias though, which is great!)

    Panacur, which can be pretty rough on anything that consumes it, is much more suited for attacking parasitic infestations.
  10. Dawg

    Dawg Elite Member

    as for getting weight back up i just dealt with the same thing with my male i let him mate too soon and it took alot outta him i started feeding him pinkies
    once a week he didnt want it at first so i sliced a leg to get some juices running and wiped it accross his nose. i almost lost my fingers once he realized it was yummy you might want to try that
  11. rbl

    rbl MacGyver in real life

    I would also try some crickets not only because she was used to them but also because they're much more active than any larvae, and that might trigger a stronger hunting reaction.

    If you can, you could try to give her some UVB lighting, which has a very positive effect on herps that don't really require it.

    You need to keep in mind that any new animal you buy should be quarantined for 30 days before introducing it to any other animals.
    You don't want to contaminate your leo colony with any parasite or disease carried by a new animal.

    Good luck with that nice looking girl =)
    See if you can find a herp vet.
  12. Neils

    Neils Member

    Thanks everyone for the practical suggestions and kind words. I'm afraid there has not been any developments and she's still quite lethargic.

    We have her in her own box now on a paper substrate and with her own heat mat. After giving her antibiotics last night and a little protein formula, we managed to coax her into eating one cricket leg (which was still twitching after I removed it), but she wasn't interested in the rest of it or a waxworm we tried her with either.

    Didn't really think to mention it before, but there's a pronounced s-curve to her spine when she rests. You can't see it in my original photos. Does this mean anything? We've spoken to a few more people about her and someone suggested she might have renal failure. Not sure why that might have happened, but has anyone else experienced this?
  13. rbl

    rbl MacGyver in real life

    Neil, do you dust their food and keep a small dish of calcium in the enclosure?
  14. Neils

    Neils Member

    Hi rbl,

    We have been dusting their food with lizard vitamin powder we bought from the pet store, but might have neglected the calcium. I guess we assumed the powder would have everything they needed. What is the best way to ensure they get enough calcium?


    edit: sorry didn't read your post properly! Will check the powder we have contains calcium and put a small dish of it in the box tonight.
  15. rbl

    rbl MacGyver in real life

    Leos need direct access to pure calcium. A small dish in the enclosure will do. Btw, you should read the leopard gecko caresheet here on the site.

    I don't know if it's possible that you are witnessing the first symptoms of MBD but it's a possibility. Read this page about MBD and read the problems page as well.
    Either way I advise you to visit a herp vet as soon as possible
  16. Neils

    Neils Member


    We finally found a reptile specialist and took Gertie along this morning. Turns out she almost certainly has a ruptured gut, possibly caused by us switching to mealworms. We're still awaiting the results from a sample taken from our other Gecko just to definitely rule out a common infection.

    Turns out we are doing exactly the right things to care for her, mostly by following the advice given on this thread, so thanks very much everyone.

    I'm afriad the prognosis is not so good though. She might heal naturally, but it is going to take a long time. He was amazed how thin she has become.
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