Wondering why your Leopard Gecko is getting skinny? This guide is for you!
A skinny leopard gecko is a sign of many underlying health issues engulfing this reptile. When a leopard gecko loses weight to the extent that it has a stick tail, urgent medical intervention is required.
But what makes a leopard gecko that skinny?
The most common cause of weight loss in leopard geckos is cryptosporidiosis, also known as crypto. Other causes include a poor diet, poor husbandry, kidney disease, bacterial infections, and tumors. All these complications interfere with food absorption, denying your leopard gecko much-needed nutrients.
Leopard geckos get skinny because they cannot absorb and utilize the food they consume. In addition, because of infections, most leos develop diarrhea, further leading to a loss of nutrients.
This weakens the reptile and gives his tail a ‘stick-like’ appearance. If action is not taken, death is sure to follow within a few weeks or months.
Why is Your Leopard Gecko Getting Skinny?
#1 – Inadequate or Poor Nutrition
Your leopard gecko needs to be fed regularly to meet his caloric needs. Being picky eaters, these reptiles do not eat just anything presented to them.
If your leopard gecko is getting thinner, it could be that you have not been feeding him regularly enough.
Also, feeding your pet the wrong diet could lead to severe malnutrition. Your leopard gecko thrives on insects and insect larvae.
He also needs an adequate supply of clean water to do well.
#2 – Heightened Stress Levels
Leopard geckos react poorly to stress. Therefore, heightened stress levels in this animal will not only make him skinny, but sick as well.
Stress can be caused by a myriad of things in the enclosure. For example, the temperature and humidity levels could be off, making this animal uncomfortable.
It could also be that your pet is not happy with the diet you subject him to. Another cause could be bullying from his tank mates or other pets in the house.
Identify the source of the stress and eliminate it as soon as possible to help your pet resume a normal life.
#3 – Parasitic Attacks
Your leopard gecko could be hosting parasites in his body. Parasites are notorious for taking up all your pet’s nutrients.
Although your leopard gecko could be feeding correctly, he never benefits from the food he consumes. This is because parasites use these nutrients to grow and multiply.
One of the most notorious culprits is the cryptosporidium parasite, which causes cryptosporidiosis.
This parasite embeds itself in the leos intestinal tract, consuming all the nutrients your pet eats.
Before long, your leopard gecko develops stick tail disease – another way of saying it gets extremely skinny.
#4 – Your Leopard Gecko Is Impacted
Severe weight loss in leopard geckos can be caused by impaction. Impaction happens when the leopard gecko’s stomach or intestines are blocked by a solid object.
This prevents food or waste matter from moving and is one of the leading causes of your pet not pooping.
Substrates like sand or gravel can block the intestines, making it impossible for your leopard gecko to eat or drink water.
This is a serious condition that can make your pet’s health deteriorate rather fast. Fortunately, it can be treated with the right interventions.
#5 – Metabolic Bone Disease
Metabolic bone disease, or MBD, is caused by calcium deficiency. It can also happen when your pet does not get enough Vitamin D, or suffers from kidney disease.
When an animal has this condition, its calcium deposits are depleted, making the key structures in the body weak and fragile.
Metabolic bone disease is characterized by soft, rubbery bones and breakages in the body structure.
#6 – Egg Binding
When female leopard geckos mature, they regularly produce eggs that must be expelled from the body.
However, stress and harmful environmental factors can make your leopard gecko retain eggs in its body.
This is known as egg binding. No matter how much the reptile tries to push out the egg, it simply will not come out.
Egg binding causes loss of appetite, lethargy, and illness. This is one of the leading causes of your female leopard gecko getting thinner.
What Is the Correct Weight for a Leopard Gecko?
The correct weight of a leopard gecko depends on its weight and gender. Generally, young and juvenile leopard geckos tend to weigh the same irrespective of gender.
However, adult male leopard geckos tend to weigh more than their female counterparts.
It’s important to note that not all leopard geckos are the same in weight. Figures vary depending on the genetics and upbringing of the animal.
However, if your leopard gecko weighs below 40g by the age of 1 year, something is wrong. This animal is considered underweight; you must see your vet for advice.
Here’s a look at the correct weight for healthy leopard geckos based on age.
- At birth – both male and female leopard geckos weigh 3g to 4.5g.
- By 3 months, male and female leopard geckos weigh 15g to 30g.
- By 6 months – both male and female leopard geckos weigh 25g to 60g.
- By 9 months, male and female leopard geckos weigh 40g to 60g.
- By 18 months, male and female leopard geckos weigh 40g to 110g.
- By full adulthood – males weigh 60g to 120g while females weigh 40g to 120g.
Is Your Leopard Gecko Too Skinny? How to Know for Sure
Stick tail disease is the most tell-tale sign that your leopard gecko is skinny. This is not a disease per se, but a condition that affects your leopard gecko’s tail.
What is Stick Tail?
Your leopard gecko’s tail is a vital appendage as it stores extra fat and water. A healthy leo should have a fat tail – as fat as the broadest point in this animal’s head.
A healthy leopard gecko’s tail is usually fatter than the rest of the body, save for the head.
If your leopard gecko is getting skinny, the tail will be the first to be affected. It will have the following signs and symptoms:
- It becomes thinner.
- It changes color.
- It shrivels up.
- It dries up and becomes stick-like.
Secondary Signs Your Leopard Gecko is Getting Skinny
As you can tell, the most obvious sign that your leopard gecko is losing weight is the thinning of the tail.
However, you can look out for other signs to support your findings. Here are some of them:
Your leopard gecko tends to keep to himself most of the time, spending considerable periods in his hide.
Liver spots are white spots that you can see through your leopard gecko’s underbelly. These spots appear on the liver, indicating that all is not well.
Spending Time in the Cool Zone
With diminishing fat deposits, your leopard gecko will want to spend more time in the cooler parts of the enclosure to conserve energy.
Loss of Appetite
Depending on the primary cause of the weight loss, your leopard gecko may become lethargic and refuse to eat.
Your leopard gecko’s bowel movements become watery. This could indicate that he is infected with bacteria siphoning off all his nutrients.
This reptile becomes noticeably smaller because of the loss of fatty deposits. As a result, the tail and other parts of the body wither.
The skin becomes thin, loose, and translucent.
The leopard gecko’s bones become spongy, rubbery, and weak. As a result, they can easily break if handled roughly.
Are Sick Tail and Weight Loss Treatable?
The good news is that weight loss, and stick tail can be treated if the proper measures are promptly taken. Remember to involve your vet in this process for the best results.
Here’s how to go about it:
Offer Proper Nutrition
As far as feeding your leopard gecko is concerned, fresh is best. Provide your pet with live insects that will give him all the nutrition he needs.
Buy the right supplements to dust your leopard gecko’s food. Be careful, however, not to overdo this. Leopard geckos react negatively to vitamin overdose.
Also, establish the correct feeding intervals. For example, baby and juvenile leos should be fed daily while the adults should be fed every other day.
What might be causing your leopard gecko to lose weight? Is it excess noise or light? Is your pet being harassed by bullies?
Identify the source of your leopard gecko’s stress and get rid of it.
Take Care of the Tank
Your leopard gecko calls his tank enclosure home day and night. As such, this habitat needs to be properly set up.
Ensure that it is big enough for your pet. Then, fix all the tank parameters to make your pet safe and comfortable.
Your vet should be on your speed dial. If you notice your leopard gecko losing weight, consult your vet for medication.
Avoid purchasing or trading in leopard geckos that have tested positive for cryptosporidium.
Quarantine Sick Leopard Geckos
If your leopard gecko is getting skinny because of disease, isolate him from the rest. Get him a tank of his own where you can focus on his unique set of needs.
Don’t Give Up
Nursing your leopard gecko back to health is a long process. So don’t expect results overnight.
You must be patient enough to give your pet the attention and medication he needs to regain his weight and good health.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What’s the Relationship Between Nutrition and Leopard Gecko Size?
Leopard geckos have a high metabolic rate because of their small size. Therefore, unlike big-bodied reptiles, leopard geckos digest their food fast.
This means they can go for long without eating. As such, you should always have adequate food ready to feed this animal based on its feeding schedule.
If your leopard gecko goes for too long without proper nutrition, it starts losing weight.
What Are the Signs That My Leopard Gecko is Too Skinny?
The most obvious sign is that it develops a stick tail condition. Its tail becomes thin and stick-like because this animal has depleted its fat and water reserves.
Your leopard gecko’s tail should be plump and healthy looking. However, a thin, emaciated tail indicates that everything is wrong, and urgent intervention is required.
Why Pay Attention to My Leopard Gecko’s Tail?
Your leopard gecko’s tail is the clearest indicator of your pet’s health. This is because leopard geckos tore most of their fat in the tail.
When your pet starts getting thin, the tail is the first to suffer because it has to give up its fat and water deposits to keep this animal alive.
What Causes Stick Tail to Develop in Leopard Geckos?
Leopard geckos are prone to various illnesses and conditions that make them lose weight, from parasitic infections to diseases and stress.
Weight loss is usually accompanied by diarrhea and loss of appetite, contributing to the skin-tail condition.
However, it is believed that the most significant cause of stick tail is cryptosporidium, which causes cryptosporidiosis.
Should I See a Vet Because My Leopard Gecko is Getting Skinny?
When your leopard gecko starts getting thin, it is at risk of developing stick tail disease. This condition is characterized by the tail’s narrowness due to fat loss.
The tail takes on a stick-like appearance. It is highly recommended that you involve your vet in evaluating the cause and solution to this problem.
How Does Cryptosporidium Affect My Leopard Gecko?
Cryptosporidium removes nutrients from food in the intestines. So, unfortunately, your leopard gecko does not get the nutrients it needs to grow and stay healthy.
Cryptosporidium also causes cryptosporidiosis, a condition characterized by watery stool and sickness.
This further makes your leopard gecko lose water and nutrients, making him thinner and more emaciated.
How Can I Prevent Stick Tail Disease in My Leopard Gecko?
Take good care of your pet’s health, nutrition, and general wellbeing.
The proper pet husbandry practices should protect your leopard gecko from stress and dangerous pathogens such as cryptosporidium.
However, your vigilance should start before purchasing this animal. You should have nothing to do with any leopard gecko that has tested positive for cryptosporidium or genetic flaws.
Is Stick Tail Disease Treatable?
Yes, this condition is treatable if arrested in good time.
The treatment of stick tail disease depends on the cause. Your veterinarian should be able to advise you on the best course of action if this condition has been caused by parasites.
Remember, every pet is unique and needs to be handled differently. Involving your vet will go a long way in helping you identify and resolve any issues affecting your leopard gecko.
Is your leopard gecko getting thinner? Act with speed to discover the source of this anomaly. Likely, your leopard gecko loses weight and develops a stick tail because of things within your control.
Are you feeding him the right foods in the right amounts? Is your leopard gecko stressed or living in poor conditions?
Also, find out whether he is infected with dangerous pathogens, such as the dreaded cryptosporidium. Once you identify the source of this problem, it will be easy to nurse your pet back to perfect health.