What to do when your Leopard Gecko doesn't eat
Most of the time leopard geckos are excellent eaters, however, every now and then you get a gecko that stops eating. This is one of the most commonly asked questions, so i'm going to go in depth on some of the causes for your gecko not eating and the solutions for you to get your gecko to eat.
Before we start, this guide is meant to be for what you can do at home to get your gecko to eat by yourself. And most of the time this is all you have to do for most causes, however if your gecko is losing lots of weight or doesn't eat after you try all this the best option always is to take it to a qualified vet who can diagnose your gecko, because your gecko not eating could be because of more serious conditions like parasites, impaction, metabolic bone disease, and infections. If you need a vet here is a good place to find one www.arav.org.
However if none of those apply to your situation then one of the following might be the reason your gecko isn't eating, acclimating geckos to a new enclosure, food choice, incorrect husbandry, breeding, seasonal changes, and bullying among geckos. All of these are treatable by yourself and i'm going to talk about each of them.
The most common time a gecko won't eat is when it is first purchased and transferred to a new home. If you have just gotten your gecko and it has been a couple of days since he has eaten don't worry! Most of the time geckos need time to acclimate to their new conditions, and will start to eat after a week. To help make sure they start eating again here's what to do to properly acclimate your gecko. First, you want to avoid stress on your gecko. This means do not hold it or place your hand in its cage, also avoid excess fast movements outside of the cage if its glass, since they can see through it, especially if they are in an open area (like a living room or kitchen or place of high activity). You also want to ensure they have plenty of places to hide, I suggest at least one on each side of the tank, the hotside and coolside. This way when they adjust their temperature they can hide in both places. One trick for making your gecko feel more secure is to cover the glass around the cage with an opaque cover like paper or cloth.
What are you offering your gecko to eat? It's a good idea to ask whoever you got the gecko from what it was eating, that way you can offer your gecko the food it's used to eating. If that doesn't work you can try offering the gecko different kinds of food like mealworms, dubia roaches, wax worms, crickets, even black soldier fly larvae and horn worms. Also it's a good idea to leave a few food items in the cage(like two or three mealworms, or whatever food you choose). A lot of the time they eat during the night when you wouldn't normally offer them food, this way they can eat when they want. Just be sure not to put in too much food because that could stress the gecko. Also be sure you are feeding the correct size food item. Ideally it shouldn't be bigger then the with between your gecko's eyes. (they can eat bigger but this is a better size especially if its not currently eating)
Husbandry and Bullying Among Geckos
Check your basic husbandry, are your temperatures correct? The hotspot should be 90 degrees and cool side mid to upper 70s. Is the humidity to high or too low? Their enclosure shouldn't be wet but the humidity should be high enough to allow them to shed properly. Is the water source clean? Spring water is a good option. Is the substrate dirty or irritating your gecko? Make sure you are using a substrate that the gecko can't eat and get compacted, or is causing irritation to the skin. Paper or reptile carpet is usually the best option. Is there a draft in the tank? Fast temperature changes are not good. Is the cage too big or too small? A 10 gallon for one or two geckos is around the normal recommend size. Another common reason for geckos to stop eating is when two or more geckos are housed together and one bullies the other and shows dominance. Is another gecko competing for food and being aggressive towards your other gecko? This can happen especially if the geckos are different sizes or one has been in the enclosure longer then the other. If you suspect this happening you should seperate the geckos and give them both their own enclosure. More information on basic Leopard Gecko Care
Breeding and Seasonal Changes
If you have had your gecko for awhile and your basic care is correct then it could be due to breeding and seasonal changes. One reason geckos go off food is from breeding. Males will often stop eating when breeding and may need to be removed from breeding and placed alone to start eating again. Females may also go off food when breeding especially if there is a problem like egg binding (which is another severe issue which may require a vet). Also geckos sometimes stop eating during certain times of the year. In the winter it is not uncommon for your gecko to stop eating as much and may even enter into a partial hibernation. This is nothing to worry about since this is natural and Leopard Geckos can go along time without eating. Just be sure to keep a close eye out for any severe weight loss.
- Rohman Taylor