It is very easy to lose your cool and immediately go to panic mode when you see that your leopard gecko is lethargic. We really cannot blame you as lethargy is almost always the number one sign that your leo is sick. But is lethargy always a cause for concern?
Lethargy in leopard geckos is abnormal and the biggest hint of underlying health problems. The causes of lethargy range from stress, incorrect enclosure temperature, injury, and illness. A quick health assessment should be done when your leopard gecko is lethargic.
In this article, we are going to talk about the different reasons as to why your leopard gecko is lethargic. Unfortunately, all of those reasons are a bit of bad news. Nevertheless, as you will learn the probable reasons, you may now easily determine a cause of action instead of panicking. So keep calm, and read on!
Why Your Leopard Gecko Is Lethargic And How It’s Different From Lazing Around
Before we discuss the reasons why your leopard gecko is lethargic, you must first learn how to differentiate between the normal and abnormal behavior of your leo.
Keep in mind, leopard geckos are crepuscular. Meaning, they are more active during the twilight period. With that said, it is normal behavior for them to sleep or laze around until the evening or even the wee hours of the morning.
Take note that when they laze around, they should look relaxed. This means that they should not have a problem with breathing, they can still sometimes wake up to drink or to check out their surroundings, and the like.
On the other hand, lethargy is on a different level of tiredness. You can easily spot it as your leopard gecko will visibly appear weak. More often than not, they just stay hidden in their hide and will not go out even though you offer food nor will it drink from its water bowl.
Some owners also shared that sometimes, when their leopard geckos are lethargic, they will even stay out in the open, even under harsh light as they are unable to move to a cooler spot.
So if you suspect that your leo is suffering from lethargy, you can observe it to see if it is just being its regular sleepy self or if it is truly lethargic.
Causes Of Lethargy
Let us now go over the different causes of lethargy. Just remember that when you have finally determined that your leo is in fact lethargic, you should consult your vet immediately regardless of the cause.
1. Your Leopard Gecko Might Be Stressed
This cause is the one of the lesser evils in this list, but this does not mean that you should not monitor your leopard gecko. When this is the cause of your leo’s lethargy, it will usually go away and your leo will be back to its normal self.
You can just stick with your feeding schedule as well as ensure that the conditions inside its enclosure are proper. Eventually, your leo will come around and be its cheerful yet passive self.
Leopard geckos can be stressed by a number of things. Usually, a lot of owners observed that if they move their leos to a new enclosure, their leos feel stressed and they become lethargic or even refuse food for a few days.
They can also get stressed when there are sudden loud noises outside their enclosure as well as a lot of sudden movement. Remember that even though they are kept in captivity, they still have wild instincts wherein they need to stay somewhat alert and feel out their environment for predators.
Another thing that can cause them stress is the presence of other leopard geckos. So if you are planning to house leopard geckos in one enclosure, make sure to make the introduction gradual. Further, you should know how to properly house leos together based on their gender.
- Housing male leopard geckos in one enclosure is not ideal as they can become territorial and may result in fights and later on injuries.
- You should only house male and female leopard geckos if you plan to breed them.
- Housing female leopard geckos in one enclosure usually does not cause any problems just as long as they have enough space.
2. Wrong Temperature In The Leopard Gecko Tank
It is important to remember that leopard geckos are cold-blooded. Therefore, they rely on external factors to regulate heat so that their bodies can perform their bodily functions normally.
With that said, having proper temperature and humidity levels in the tank is vital for the health of your leo. If there is something wrong with the temperature and lighting in the enclosure, your leo may not properly digest its food or much worse, it will refuse any feeders.
At the same time, if it is too wet or too hot inside the enclosure, it may also cause too much stress on your leo and it may end up frying under the lights. Eventually, dehydration will start and that also contributes to lethargy.
It is important to maintain temperatures on two sides of the enclosure which are the hot and cool sides. Here are the suggested temperatures:
- Hot spot: 95 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit
- Warm side: 90 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit
- Cool side: 73 to 76 degrees Fahrenheit
It is also good to note that leopard geckos are more active during the night.
If you have bright lights in the enclosure that create a day and night cycle, you should have hides in the tank so that your leopard gecko can hide and sleep in complete darkness during the day when the lights are switched on.
The same goes for bright lights in the room where the enclosure is located. These lights can be too distracting to your leos and they might just end up not getting enough rest due to too much brightness if your leo does not have dark hides.
This in turn also contributes to lethargy.
3. Your Leopard Geecko Is Not Eating Properly
Just like humans, if leopard geckos do not eat properly or they refuse to eat, they will eventually become lethargic.
This is actually a dangerous pairing. Lethargy and refusal to eat usually means that your leo is suffering from an illness.
Here are some of the possible reasons as to why your leopard gecko is refusing to eat:
- It was bit by a feeder
- It is impacted
- Sudden change in temperature
- Suffering from diarrhea or constipation
- Suffering from immense stress
- It will shed soon or had a bad shed
- It is a fuzzy eater
- It has parasites
- Read our article on 21 reasons why leopard geckos stop eating here to learn more!
Just keep in mind that the outright refusal to eat does not necessarily mean that there is something wrong with your leo.
There will be those times when they will stop eating as part of their nature. An example of this is when they are nearing their time to shed.
So just keep a close eye on your leo when it starts to reject food and water. If this behavior is causing it to become lethargic, then it is time to take it to the vet as there may be other dangerous underlying reasons behind its refusal to eat.
4. Shedding Problems In Leopard Geckos
Leopard geckos will also become lethargic if they had a bad shed. There is this condition called “dysecdysis” wherein the skin around the toes of your leo gets affected by a bad shed leading it to constrict and may potentially lead to digit loss.
This is also the reason why it is important for you to check the toes of your leo regularly, especially after a shed to make sure that it shed its skin completely.
Losing a toe may seem drastic to some, but for some owners, they do not even notice that their leos already lost some digits until they took a closer look at them as they were too lethargic.
In order to prevent this from happening, keeping proper humidity levels in the enclosure is vital. Keep in mind that the level of humidity should be 40% to 60%.
You can also place a water dish in the enclosure so that the water can evaporate due to the warmth inside the enclosure. Further, to aid in shedding, you can moisten the area where their hides are located or you can dampen some parts of the substrate.
5. Diseases and Parasites In Leopard Geckos
More often than not, besides refusal to eat, these are the major causes of lethargy in leopard geckos. These can be a result of a number of things, ranging from poor nutrition, exposure to harmful elements, or simply bad breeding.
If your leo has parasites, then this can lead to weight loss, diarrhea, poor growth, and of course, lethargy. Sometimes, the parasites are just low in numbers wherein the immune system of your leo can take care of them.
By this, we mean that your leo can just be lethargic for a few days but eventually it will go back to its normal self. The low number of parasites do not always lead to illnesses.
However, it is the presence of a higher number of parasites or even deadly parasites that can cause your leo to become lethargic for long periods of time.
An example of this parasite is Cryptosporidia which will lead your leo to refuse to eat and develop a stick tail.
Metabolic Bone Disease
This disease is caused by Vitamin D3 and calcium deficiencies. It leads to bone weakness and deformities. Of course, if there are bone problems then your leo will find it hard to do its daily activities which will then result in lethargy.
When they have this disease it will be hard for them to eat and usually in the late stages of this disease, there is a 95% mortality rate. So do not forget to dust your feeders with supplements that contain Vitamin D3 and calcium.
It may come as a surprise to you that leos can also get gout, just like humans. Gout happens in leos when there is an accumulation of uric acid which turn into crystals that form in certain areas of their bodies, in this case, in their joints and legs.
This can be extremely painful for that part of your leo’s body. Therefore, even though they feel fine, they would just result to not moving at all in order to prevent moving that certain joint to prevent experiencing pain.
If they continue to do this, they will become lethargic.
Usually, gout is a result of wrong humidity and temperature in the enclosure, too much protein in the diet, and kidney-related diseases. In this case, you really have no choice but to take your leo to the vet.
For severe cases, the vet suggests euthanasia so as not to expose your leo to more pain.
This may be hard to catch when you examine your leopard gecko, because usually, we do not focus on their eyes.
However, lethargy can also be the result of ocular problems. Surely, if they have problems with their sight, they will halt their normal activities to just sit still until they become too weak.
Sometimes, there is cellular debris that forms under their eyelids which can also cause bacterial infection and even ulcers. Some researchers hypothesize that this can be brought about by Vitamin A deficiency.
Upping up the intake of feeders to energize your lethargic leo will not be enough for this cause. The debris should be removed by the vet. Flushing them out can also be done. Further, ocular antibiotics are also needed.
6. Egg Binding In Female Leopard Geckos
Let us now talk about your female leopard geckos. If you are in the process of breeding them, egg binding can occur. This is also called dystocia.
This happens when your female leo struggles to pass its eggs. Sometimes, this is the result of an unsuitable nesting area. Moreover, it can also be caused by calcium and Vitamin D3 deficiency.
Lethargy is very obvious in this case. A female leo that has dystocia will become lethargic in a matter of hours after it tries to lay its eggs to no avail.
For this, you really need vet intervention as they may need hormone injections and also aspiration or surgery to get the eggs out.
Lethargy in leopard geckos always needs immediate attention. Even if you do not see anything physically wrong with your leo upon closer inspection, the mere presence of lethargy is always a cause for concern.
Whether you are a newbie or a long-time owner of leopard geckos. It is best to do remedies immediately to somehow alleviate lethargy and then immediately consulting a vet to be safe.
Make sure to set up your leo’s enclosure properly from the get-go as well as feed them properly to prevent lethargic behavior.
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