My gecko is gulping for air and I need help

Geckoontherocks

New Member
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Hi everyone, I purchased a pair of super snow leopard geckos about two weeks ago. One of them is starting to make a gulping for air gesture while opening her mouth, just about every 30 seconds. I'm new to leos but have had banded geckos for almost a decade and I know gulping for air is usually a sign of a respiratory infection, however there are no bubbles coming out of her nose or mouth. She also seems energetic and otherwise healthy.

I keep the warm side of the tank at 86-88. The cool side is 75ish. I do let the tank get cool from about 3am-9am which is about 70ish. I had a humid hide on both sides. They have a uvb light for a couple hours a day. Sometimes they bask in it. I have a calcium dish and a small water dish. They are not on any sand or lose substrate. There are about 7 hides in a 40 gal breeder. I dust every other feeding with calcium with d3. Only do the vitamins once a week. Humidity levels are at 24-30% depending on the day.

Anyways, I need to know if there is any other reason she could be doing this? I just don't have enough experience with them to know if this is something common or not. I feel like it's something else :/

I have been feeding them a lot more than I probably should as their tails were not very fat. They said they are juveniles that are 4-5 inches in the description. I've been feeding them larger moths until they stop eating. The moths are about the size of a medium cricket, maybe slightly bigger counting the wings. They both eat about 6 of them before they feel full but I've seen her eat 7. I've fed them every day and I'm wondering if this could be why, like maybe she is so full its pushing against her lungs? She only started gulping last night while feeding. I'm pretty sure she is pooping well. I was thinking indigestion and hiccups but she has not got better in 24 hours. I will not be feeding tonight to see if that helps. Also they seem to just inhale the moths quickly.

In case it was the begining of a respiratory problem, I got rid of the humid hides and raised the temp to 90 last night on the hot side and didn't let it naturally cool off for the night.

Right before the gulp of air she throbs her neck twice and then the gulp is just one large gulp of air. It happens roughly every 30 to 45 seconds. There is a small click sound from some of them but no squeeking. If I've done something wrong with my set up please correct me. I need suggestions on what went wrong or what this is.

Thank You.
 

LoveReps

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It could be that the moths are too big for them. If they are slightly larger than an adult cricket and they are only 3-4 inch geckos, I don't even recommend adult crickets as a staple until they are older. Remember that geckos should only eat insects that are as big as the space between their eyes. Since she is still gulping I would take her to a vet so that they can see if the moth got stuck on the way down. I can't say that the moths are 100% the problem as it could be possible that she could have a RI regardless of whether you see access saliva or not so a vet visit is recommended.
 

Geckoontherocks

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It could be that the moths are too big for them. If they are slightly larger than an adult cricket and they are only 3-4 inch geckos, I don't even recommend adult crickets as a staple until they are older. Remember that geckos should only eat insects that are as big as the space between their eyes. Since she is still gulping I would take her to a vet so that they can see if the moth got stuck on the way down. I can't say that the moths are 100% the problem as it could be possible that she could have a RI regardless of whether you see access saliva or not so a vet visit is recommended.
Thank you. I will be taking her to the vet the second I can. I'm leaning towards RI at this point because she is really dull today. I don't understand how she got it. She isn't gasping as much now but the dull skin is a bad sign. I've gone ahead and separated the two as well. Hoping she can make it to the appointment.
 

acpart

Geck-cessories
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Remember that dull skin can also be due to shedding (I've responded to your concerns on another forum).

Aliza
 

LoveReps

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133
Location
Tennessee
It might've been the previous owners husbandry because from what I can tell your husbandry seems fine. Another possibilty is that they might've had her humidity on the higher side then she had a sudden change when you got her but I might just be overthinking lol. It could be a number of reasons but RI's are common in reptiles and since you caught it early she should recover just fine with some oral medication if she happens to have one.
 

Geckoontherocks

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Thank you both for the replies. It could definitely be shedding. I was worried because she wasn't pitch white like 5 hours before that. It only went up from her tail to her neck which I've never seen, but now it's on the head too thankfully. She also spent a lot of time in her humid hide before I took it away so it's likely shedding time and will be putting it back now. I'm probably over worried. I know I just met her but I really love her. I'm excited to see her grow. I'm not checking her very often right now in case of stress.

It's hard to tell how their past husbandry was but they seemed exceptionally healthy minus the tails not being very plump when they arrived. That's why I feel bad. If I had to guess I'd say stress from shipping and a new home destroyed her immune system. I was also told captive bred reptiles should not eat wild food which probably also played a part in this. It's honestly hard for me to understand that because I've only had wild caught reptiles. In my experience they thrive on wild caught food (I live rural so little to no risk of pesticides) and get bored with staples. I read an article a really really long time ago that only feeding crickets and meal worms will lead to depression, stress and less quality of life. I noticed my wild caught geckos getting depressed with the selection of food so I switched to a variety of wild food and have never had an issue again. I've never had a gecko get a bacteria or parasite from them in the 9 years I've used wild caught so I have just grown accustomed to feeding that way. I didn't realize though that captive bred had lesser immune systems so I'm hoping I didn't harm them :/. I've now switched to staple home grown feeders only for the leos. I may look into breeding more diverse feeders for them because they really enjoyed the variety. The male loves praying mantis so I will try to breed some for him vs catching them.

If she makes it through this I will post some pics :)
 

LoveReps

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133
Location
Tennessee
Crickets and mealworms are a good staple for them but it's best to do a variety every now and then to keep them interested. I've never heard of a gecko getting depressed over eating the same foods all the time but it could be different with wild caught geckos as I'm not experienced with owning wild caught animals in general unless I'm caring for the injured that I re-release. Wild caught insects aren't good for captive bred reptiles because they could have not only pesticides but parisites your captive bred gecko doesn't have the immunity for. If you were to buy them specifically as feeders it would be fine as long as you know when you should and shouldn't offer them as a staple/treat.
 

Geckoontherocks

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I 100% agree. I have no experience with captives, it's a learning curve. I will have to get creative with breeding safer foods for them. They both enjoyed their small mealworms last night. She apparently wasn't shedding but is back to Crystal clear skin. She also didn't struggle for breath any of the times I checked on her last night. I appreciate your advice. Also cool that you help injured animals :)
 

LoveReps

Member
Messages
133
Location
Tennessee
I'm glad she's back to normal. Just keep an eye out. Also she went back to her bright color because she shed! They eat their skin and leave no trace for predators, it's an instinct. Plus it's good for them. It's rare to catch your gecko in the act because it happens so quickly. Mine took only a couple minutes to get rid of the evidence..
 

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Geckoontherocks

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Wow that is facinating they can shed so fast! That makes me feel a million times better. Your Leo is really adorable. I'm gonna have to spy on the male some more because he is duller today/spending time in the humid hide. I would love to catch one in the act.

Do you have any other tips you feel I should know?
 
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