Why and how could a leopard gecko miss their food? It’s a scary thing for a leopard gecko owner to witness. You place the crickets, or other live food, into the tank, and monitor your leopard gecko as they eat. But it seems they’re missing their mark. Then, the worry kicks in: Why does my gecko keep missing their food?
If a leopard gecko misses its food all the time, it can be a symptom of metabolic bone disease. Due to softening bones, the leopard gecko isn’t able to fully control its body. Further reasons can be too low temperatures in the habitat, eye issues, impaction, or shedding.
Thankfully, the fixes for why your leopard gecko is missing food are all relatively easy to implement. And knowing the reasons can help you prevent them in the first place. Let’s get started.
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Reasons Your Leopard Gecko is Missing Food
Tank temperature is a big reason why- it’s important to monitor the temperature in the leopard gecko’s habitat so it always stays where it needs to. You will want 90-95F for the basking area and 75-80F on the cold side and 80-85F on the warm side.
Metabolic bone disease is a major issue that all leopard gecko owners should know about. We will talk at length about this later on, but in a nutshell, it’s when lack of calcium in a leopard gecko leads to them using their bones to get the calcium they need.
It sounds scary, but it is easily prevented with proper calcium supplementation.
Other issues related to geckos missing food include vision trouble, injury, or shedding. We will discuss all of these in greater detail, so read on to learn it all.
1. Too Cold Temperatures In The Leopard Gecko Tank
Your leopard gecko might be missing their food because they are cold. Have you ever tried to run or play outdoors in cold weather? It’s not very comfortable.
Athletes who run in the cold wear special clothing and gear to keep their bodies optimized for the work they will do in these extreme conditions.
Now think about life as a leopard gecko. These are reptiles, so they don’t generate their own body heat. They’re already in extreme discomfort thanks to the tank being too chilly, but now they have to work up the energy to catch some food.
Sounds uncomfortable, right? It is.
You should check the tank regularly to ensure everything is working correctly. Part of your daily care tasks, along with feeding and cleaning, should be to keep an eye on your thermometer and hygrometer to make sure it’s in good shape.
You can note the temps and dates in a notebook or record them on your computer in a spreadsheet if you like, just to make sure you’re keeping track. (This is also an excellent way to see how long a brand of bulb or heat mat lasts).
Is there a draft in your reptile area? Make sure your habitat is in a place free from coldness. Basements can be cold, as are hallways where the door opens to let people in. If big drafts are happening where the habitat is situated, consider moving it.
How are the bulbs doing? Make sure they’re in good working condition by checking the temperature. Also, keep a few on hand so you never have to worry about running out or your leopard gecko getting too cold.
This is very important to maintain the proper temps. After all, if the temperature goes below 70F, the gecko could decrease their metabolic rate and quit eating altogether.
Geckos need supplemental heat if you don’t keep the environment at 80F (and we don’t know anyone whose home is that warm).
The bottom line? Make sure you have enough heating gear such as mats, heat elements, and lightbulbs to keep the place warm- leopard geckos do well in temps of 90-95F for basking, 75-80F on the cool side, and 80-85F on the warm side.
Have a look at this video to have more info on this:
2. Your Leopard Gecko Is Suffering from Vision Problems
Here’s an activity to try. Cover your left eye with your hand or simply close it. Have a friend toss a soft object such as a pillow or stuffed toy at you as they stand on the left (keep that throw gentle- we don’t want anyone getting hurt) and try to catch it.
Chances are you are going to have trouble seeing the object come at you, and you might have trouble catching it.
This is what your leopard gecko could be experiencing. If your Leo cannot see properly, they’re going to have one heck of a time trying to eat.
Aside from eyesight failing, retained skin could also be an issue for your leopard gecko. Retained skin happens when a shed is incomplete, and this is mostly caused by the habitat being lacking in its humidity.
Other vision issues you may encounter are abscesses or ulcers on the cornea. Subspectacular abscesses are located under the eye’s spectacles.
The signs of such an ailment include cloudy, yellow, or white eyes, enlarged, nonsymmetrical, swollen eyes (one eye looks bigger than the other), and anorexia. If you suspect this, get to a veterinarian quickly.
In terms of corneal ulcers, animals experience inflammation of the cornea, and this may result in the loss of the eye’s outer layer. It comes about thanks to eye trauma and inflammation.
Look for your leopard gecko demonstrating activities such as constant licking of the eyes, constant squinting, holding eyes closed, or attempting to touch or scratch at the eyes. If you notice this behavior, get to a vet immediately.
3. And Impacted Leopard Gecko Can’t Hunt Properly
Along with your daily logs of temperature, you might wish to keep a defecation log for your leopard gecko. When you notice they aren’t pooping regularly, this is your chance to catch any health issues early on, before they get too out of hand.
After all, pooping is very important for your leopard gecko’s health, and while it’s not the most fun task to scoop it out of the habitat, it is an indicator of good health. If you notice they haven’t gone poop lately, the fecal matter could be impacted.
What does impaction mean? In reptiles, this happens when they eat something that they cannot digest properly. Sand and rocks are big causes of this when it comes to leopard geckos and other pet reptiles. They may accidentally eat them while hunting their prey.
It can also happen when leopard geckos and other pet reptiles eat hard meals or even large meals. Super worms are one such culprit.
Urate plugs are another thing to be wary of. This is a hard mass that forms in the cloaca and leads to cloacal and colon obstruction, which in turn leads to constipation. In reptiles, it should be noted that urine is passed in the form of crystals, while for mammals, it is in liquid form.
You may be wondering why such a buildup could happen. Reptiles lack an opening for fecal matter and urates to pass- they instead have a cloaca or vent.
This vent gets urates from kidneys and fecal matter from the colon AND even eggs if the reptile is female. It’s a very important part of the reptile’s life and should be kept clean and clear.
You can help your leopard gecko by soaking them in warm water twice per day. Gently massage his or her belly while in the water. Make sure the water covers the legs and belly.
This should help them pass their urates and stool, but if not, get them to a vet right away. There could be a greater problem at bay, such as intestinal parasites.
4. Metabolic Bone Disease In Leopard Geckos
Leopard geckos must consume correct amounts of Vitamin D plus calcium in order to maintain their nutrition. Leopard geckos have been known to eat the substrate especially if it is made of sand as a means of getting their calcium in. This can lead to impaction as previously discussed.
Leopard geckos eat insects, and calcium is naturally lacking in these creatures. Thus, insects have to be gut loaded and/or dusted using a calcium/vitamin mix. For some leopard geckos, a dish of this vitamin and calcium mix placed into the enclosure will also suffice. The geckos can self-feed as they like.
A leopard gecko suffering from metabolic bone disease, abbreviated MBD, results in the animal being left with rubbery or soft bones in which no calcium is present since it has been used to keep blood concentrations balanced. The bones are replaced using a fibrocartilage matrix as a means of stability.
The bones lack functionality when afflicted by MBD. This is especially true of the mandible, wherein food becomes restricted because the leopard gecko cannot masticate without feeling intense pain.
This disease is preventable by ensuring your leopard geckos are supplemented properly using vitamin D and calcium. Should you suspect MBD, make sure your leopard gecko gets to the veterinarian immediately so a treatment plan can be designed and implemented.
5. Your Leopard Gecko Is Suffering From An Injury
If you’ve ever been in extreme pain, whether it’s a stomachache, a headache, or because you hurt one of your extremities, food is the last thing on your mind. You just want the pain to go away, whatever that might take.
The leopard gecko feels the same way when they feel injured. Injuries may cause your leopard gecko to stop eating altogether. Tail injuries, toe problems, eye wounds, or abscesses are all things that cause your gecko extreme discomfort, leaving food on the back burner.
Consider geckos who have been injured while fighting with another gecko or who have a broken leg. They cannot get around as well as the others, which may cause them to give up and go hungry.
You will need to get your leopard gecko to the veterinarian as quickly as possible. They will help you diagnose the problem and create a treatment plan to get your leopard gecko feeling healthy again.
6. Your Leopard Gecko Is Shedding
It is very normal for your leopard gecko to avoid eating when they’re going through the shedding process—the frequency at which your leopard gecko sheds will depend on its age.
For juvenile or young leopard geckos, expect a shed every week or every two weeks. For adults, shedding takes place once every 4-8 weeks.
They may stop eating altogether or eat very small amounts of food when shedding takes place. You can help by making sure any leftover food is taken out of the enclosure while the shed process takes place and by making sure they have a quiet, dark place to shed.
Make sure that live foods are removed once your leopard gecko is done eating (or when no interest is displayed), as they can irritate the skin. Meanwhile, dead food can harbor bacteria, so remove that once mealtime is over.
You can always tell when shedding will take place in darker leopard geckos because their colors will become muted, and the skin becomes rather dull. It almost looks like they have a white sheen over their skin. This can be harder to notice in lighter-color morphs, such as Blizzard or Albinos.
Thank you for exploring 6 of the main reasons why leopard geckos could be missing their food. As owners, we have to be mindful and alert to our pets’ behavior because they’re always trying to tell us something.
Make sure to monitor your gecko daily so that if something seems off, you can fix it before it gets out of hand.