Why is my Leopard Gecko not Eating?

by David Lowbridge
Why is my Leopard Gecko not Eating

One of the most fundamental worries is when a Leopard Gecko is not eating. If you’ve come across this and are asking ‘why is my Leopard Gecko not eating?’ then you’re going to be worried. This can lead to some new leopard geckos owners take actions that aren’t going to achieve results.

So, what are the causes for your leopard gecko not eating, and what are the solutions to help you get your favourite reptile eating again?

Why is My Leopard Gecko Not Eating?

To find out why your leopard gecko is not eating you’ve got to look at a few things. Here is a list of the most common reasons why your Leopard Gecko has lost its appetite.

Reason One: Your Leopard Gecko is Shedding

The first reason is that your Leopard Gecko is about to shed and has decided now is not the time to hunt and eat. When any reptile is about to shed, they tend to feel very vulnerable, therefore they tend to hide more. So if you’ve been noticing that your gecko is spending more time hiding and not eating and this is a sudden change, then you might need to leave them alone for two or three days.

After this period, your Leopard Gecko might start to eat again. Look out for common signs that they’re shedding like looking paler. After a shed, the gecko should seem brighter.

Reason Two: Your Leopard Gecko is New

Have you recently bought your Leopard Gecko or moved it into a new home? Then you might notice that it will not eat. This is not unusual. Many geckos when they’ve been moved will refuse to feed for a few days or a couple of weeks.

This is nothing to worry about and if you give your Leopard Gecko time, they should start to eat eventually. Just keep changing their food and disturb them for as little time as possible. As soon as they start to feed, you can start to handle them. The worst thing you can do is to over-handle your Leopard Gecko.

Reason Three: Your Setup is Incorrect

The third reason why your Leopard Gecko is not eating is that there’s something wrong with the environment they are in. There are internal problems and external problems that might affect this. For instance, a gecko that has temperatures too high. Your Leopard Gecko will feed better when you have the temperature around 31 degrees Celsius on the hot side. The cooler side should be around 25-26 degrees Celsius.

Sometimes there is nothing that can be done about these temperatures. During warmer months in the UK, temperatures can get very high. It is not unusual for temperatures to reach 35-36 degrees Celsius. You can try to reduce these temperatures, but you might notice that your gecko will stop eating during this period.

Leopard Geckos who are too cold will also not feed properly. So be sure that you have the right temperatures and gradient from the hot to the cold side. If you live in an area that has cold temperatures, you might need to have two heat sources for the hot and cold sides with thermostats that can regulate the temperatures on both sides.

Another problem might be the lighting. While UVB has great benefits for Leopard Geckos, it should be at a 6-7% strength and on for a few hours a day (four to six at most).

Finally, you need to check your humidity. We utilise a humidity gradient within the enclosures. This is where one side of the enclosure is 40% and the other side is 60%. We’ve found this improves appetite and helps with shedding. If you don’t have a humidity gradient, you will need to include a mist box to help with shedding.

Another problem you might find is that your room might be too busy for them. This is more of a problem if you bring in a new Leopard Gecko and place them in a very high-traffic area of your house. If you have lots of loud noises or bright lights within a room, you might want to change location until your new Leopard Gecko is acclimatised to you and your home.

Reason Four: Your Leopard Gecko is Getting Ready to Lay

If you’ve got a female Leopard Gecko then you might find that your gecko is not eating because they’re about to lay some eggs. If you’re breeding, this is going to be expected. However, some Leopard Geckos do sometimes lay infertile eggs during the breeding season without ever being introduced to a male.

This is usually one of the first signs we look for when it is the egg-laying season to see when a female will lay eggs. Usually, the appetite will disappear about three days before the eggs are due to be laid. Then as soon as the eggs are laid, the female Leopard Gecko will immediately make up for those days that they’ve not eaten.

If you experience this, be sure that your female Leopard Geckos are given supplements after laying eggs as this process is draining on their resources.

Reason Five: Your Leopard Gecko is Looking for Love

Male Leopard Geckos who have been in with females before can sometimes stop eating when it comes to the breeding season. They might go off food and become more restless within the enclosure. This is something that you might need to watch for. Leopard Gecko males are known to sometimes ignore the basics in the pursuit of females.

Males should only be with females for about 24-48 hours at most. They then need to have a rest and be given extra food.

Reason Six: Your Leopard Gecko Requires Different Food

Your Leopard Gecko can be a fussy eater. Sometimes, they want to have a different prey item than you are offering them. For instance, if you feed your Leopard Geckos exclusively on mealworms or crickets, you might find that your gecko would respond better to a different prey item. It is just that they’re bored and would like something else.

To avoid this happening at all, you can use a variety of prey items within their diet. This often keeps them feeding well and helps them put on a healthy weight. A good mixture of prey items include mealworms, crickets, locusts, roaches and the occasional waxworm.

Super Mack Snows are often one of the most troublesome eaters in this regard. We have often found that Super Mack Snows will not want to eat mealworms and then eat lots of crickets, roaches or locusts before switching back to mealworms.

Reason Seven: You’re Not Giving your Leopard Gecko Enough Time

One of the most frustrating things is not seeing your Leopard Gecko eat. However, what some owners do is that they feed their Leopard Gecko and expect the gecko to eat within minutes. When the gecko does not eat, the food is taken away. Not every Leopard gecko is going to eat immediately. Some of our geckos will wait until we’re not watching or will only eat at night.

So, if you’re taking food away quickly, try leaving mealworms or roaches in a dish for the Leopard Gecko. You might find that they’ve disappeared overnight. Remove any that haven’t been eaten the next day. You can put a small piece of vegetable in the dish with them if you wish.

Some people remove the feeder insects promptly because they have heard that crickets or mealworms can bite their Leopard Gecko. We have never experienced this. If your live food is well fed and your Leopard Gecko is fit and healthy you will not have a problem with this.

The worst thing to do is to try to force-feed your gecko. This is when you pick your gecko up and then force food into its mouth. This should only be done with a very sick Leopard Gecko and by someone who knows what they are doing.

Reason Eight: Illness

The final potential reason for a Leopard Gecko not eating could well be that it has picked up an illness. However, you should be seeing other signs that there is an illness. For instance, you might see that it has a runny nose or is blowing bubbles around the mouth. You should seek veterinary advice.

Another common sight is that your Leopard Gecko is gaining weight or is losing weight. If your Leopard Gecko loses about 10% of its weight and is not breeding, then you need to see a vet as soon as you can.

Illnesses can often be cured by a vet. However, this can also be expensive so be sure that you see a qualified reptile vet to get the best advice. They should have experience with Leopard Geckos and be able to explain what they can offer you.

Final Word: Why is my Leopard Gecko Not Eating?

There are many reasons for your question: ‘Why is my Leopard Gecko not eating?’ However, you shouldn’t jump to conclusions and try to find out the true reason for your Leopard Gecko not feeding. You might find that there is something wrong with the internal or external environmental stimulus that is affecting the Leopard Gecko.

Or you might be worried that your Leopard Gecko is ill. If this is the case then you should seek a reptile vet as soon as possible.

However, you will find that many of the reasons why your Leopard Gecko is not eating are because of something that you can rectify quickly or will resolve by itself within a couple of days.

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