What to do if your gecko won't eat......

WulfSC

New Member
Messages
556
Location
Landrum, SC
Thanks. Same here. And, maybe I'm just a pessimist, I'd say it's all three.

I'm trying my best to make him (could be a her...much too little to tell right now) comfortable and happy. So far, it appears to be.
 

Autonerd

New Member
Messages
16
Thanks for this thread -- my elderly leopard gecko was ignoring food, his tail was getting thin, and I was getting worried. Put a couple of waxworms in front of him and he snapped them right up. He's still not going for mealworms or superworms but I'm just glad he's eating.

Aaron
 

Designer Geckos

Contributor
Messages
964
Location
Boulder, CO
Thanks for this thread -- my elderly leopard gecko was ignoring food, his tail was getting thin, and I was getting worried. Put a couple of waxworms in front of him and he snapped them right up. He's still not going for mealworms or superworms but I'm just glad he's eating.

Aaron
Hi Aaron,

While many are opposed to feeding waxies, I say it is a MUCH better alternative than letting a gecko waste away and die.....feed it waxies until you stimulate the feeding repsonse again...maybe a few days....then drop a mealie in front of it. Do that until you transition it back onto mealies.

You don't want to feed your leo waxies exclusively, and they can be addicting, but they are actaully pretty high in nutritional content, albeit somewhat high in fat as well. But if your gecko is getting thin, a little fat ain't such a bad idea anyway. Nutritionally, waxies are about the same as supers, believe it or not. See this chart from Grubco: http://www.grubco.com/Nutritional_Information.cfm

Generally, I say give em what they want. Some geckos love supers and hate mealies. Some love crix and hate supers. Some love dubias and many hate them. Each gecko has its own favs. Find out what each gecko likes, and make sure they are well gutloaded. Waxies of course do not require any gutloading. They must be kept at 60-70 degrees. 60 is best. NEVER put waxies in the fridge like stores do or they die! Buy your waxies online from a reputable feeder supplier. Well worth the shipping fees because they are all alive!

Let me know if you need further info.....we're here to help.
 
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mjr_my

New Member
Messages
32
OK this is an awesome thread for one..but what if all of this has failed :( then what is the next step...I have been to vet and all that but her not eating now for a week has been stressing me out big time!
 

mjr_my

New Member
Messages
32
Hey never mind....I am posting to all threads that I started (started a few because I was so worried).

Our Lizzy (I know not a very original name, she is actually named after Elizabeth Bennet) ate a waxie right in front of me today. I made her a little bowl of legless crixs, mealies and waxies and when I was checking her hide temp decided to block her hide opening (we have a rock cave that has an opening on the top) with the bowl of breakfast. For the first time in a week, she eyed a waxie, and gobbled it up right in front of me, licked her lips and decided that was all she wanted. So I let her go to her room to digest.

YAY!! I know it is only one, but maybe it will be enough to wake her gut up.

Thanks everyone for sticking with me, I really hate when I feel responsible for an animal's health and there seems to be nothing I can do.....we are stewards for all living things in my opinion. Also, I wanted to teach my son that pets are not disposable and you have to try everything. Let's hope she perks up.....
 

morrun

New Member
Messages
12
Location
NV
We get this question often, especially around this time of year when leos are in more of a dormant phase. The experienced leo folks know all this, but here's some info on our method for the newbies out there struggling with a leo that is off food and losing weight.

First off, the usual comments about temperature, good husbandry, etc....I won't address again now, but it is very important of course.

If your gecko is healthy and was eating well but all of a sudden stopped eating....
We are not advocates of force feeding. While it can have its place and can be effective, many cannot master it easily, and it can be very traumatic on the gecko as it struggles in your hand while you try to cram something down its throat. Force feeding can tip the scales dramatically on an already stressed gecko, and you can do far more harm than good if you are not an experienced keeper.

The key is to find out what the gecko might be enticed to eat willingly. All geckos have their preferences, but when off food, they may not even want their favs. Try mealies, medium superworms, nickel-sized dubias (tong-fed)....if those fail, then here's a tried and true magic bullet approach:
Take 4 crickets of appropriate size for your leo, and remove the rear legs and one foreleg with a forceps so as not to injure/kill the crickets. The crickets survive just fine like this, kind of like crabs do. Take the delegged crickets and put them in a small glass petri dish or some sort of clear glass shallow dish so the gecko can see the crickets easily. (We use 60x15mm pyrex petri dishes that are available online.) Place the dish near the warm hide opening and leave it overnight...there's a good chance that after a night or two the leo will eat them. You can also try to tong feed delegged crickets at the opening of the hide, and sometimes the leo will grab them that way.

If crickets fail, try dropping a butterworm (warmed to room temp) at the hide opening. If that fails, the final magic bullet is fresh waxworms dropped at the hide opening. Few leos can resist them. Once you get them eating "treats" for a few days, start to wean them off and get them back on to the staple you had them on previously. You don't want to end up feeding waxies, butters, or crix exclusively.....geckos can get spoiled, especially on waxies, and then you have the problem of getting them off the treats.

What we are trying to do is to stimulate the feeding response and "jumpstart the metabolic process" as Ron Tremper says. When a leo goes a long time without food the stomach shrinks, stomach acid and enzyme production cease, and the gecko can go into a downward spiral of weight loss very quickly.

We want to nip this in the bud ASAP or you can lose a gecko pretty fast as they start to go into shutdown mode and also lose the will to live. Now, in the wild geckos can go for long periods of time without food and water in the dry season. Even in captivity, leos can go for fairly long periods without food. But when they start to drop weight fast and their tail becomes thin, you must act fast or you risk losing your gecko.

Feel free to contact us if you have further questions. Best of luck.
What if all that has been tried but she still refuses to eat.
Everything I tried worked for a day or two, then it would no longer work. her terrerium is set up correctly and temp of air and ground is fine. Is another way to help my girl?
 

moonlitegram

New Member
Messages
36
I wish I had seen this thread earlier. I immediately went to health and medication and not feeding when my gecko stopped eating =/

I got my gecko from petco - he seemed health. Clear eyes, decent size tail that seemed to be the original tail. For the first week he would eat whatever I put in front of him. Meal worms, wax worms, crickets...

Then one day I found half digested worms. After that he stopped eating as much - he regurgitated a cricket and then stopped eating all together.

I tried leaving wax worms in the cage, both in his dish and free near his warm hide that he stays in a lot. He doesn't touch them. They just crawl around there with him and nothing happens. His tail is starting to thin and its worrying me.

I wish I could have tried the cricket trick before I tried gecko soup. But the past two nights ive force fed him gecko soup. He hates it. Last night i was able to trick him into licking it off his mouth. Today he did that for a bit and then just started wiping his head on my hand to wipe it off him.

Hopefully I didn't irreversably traumatize him... Im going to pick up some crickets tomorrow and take their legs off and see if that trick works. If hes not eating wax worms though i don't know what hes going to eat.
 

morrun

New Member
Messages
12
Location
NV
We get this question often, especially around this time of year when leos are in more of a dormant phase. The experienced leo folks know all this, but here's some info on our method for the newbies out there struggling with a leo that is off food and losing weight.

First off, the usual comments about temperature, good husbandry, etc....I won't address again now, but it is very important of course.

If your gecko is healthy and was eating well but all of a sudden stopped eating....
We are not advocates of force feeding. While it can have its place and can be effective, many cannot master it easily, and it can be very traumatic on the gecko as it struggles in your hand while you try to cram something down its throat. Force feeding can tip the scales dramatically on an already stressed gecko, and you can do far more harm than good if you are not an experienced keeper.

The key is to find out what the gecko might be enticed to eat willingly. All geckos have their preferences, but when off food, they may not even want their favs. Try mealies, medium superworms, nickel-sized dubias (tong-fed)....if those fail, then here's a tried and true magic bullet approach:
Take 4 crickets of appropriate size for your leo, and remove the rear legs and one foreleg with a forceps so as not to injure/kill the crickets. The crickets survive just fine like this, kind of like crabs do. Take the delegged crickets and put them in a small glass petri dish or some sort of clear glass shallow dish so the gecko can see the crickets easily. (We use 60x15mm pyrex petri dishes that are available online.) Place the dish near the warm hide opening and leave it overnight...there's a good chance that after a night or two the leo will eat them. You can also try to tong feed delegged crickets at the opening of the hide, and sometimes the leo will grab them that way.

If crickets fail, try dropping a butterworm (warmed to room temp) at the hide opening. If that fails, the final magic bullet is fresh waxworms dropped at the hide opening. Few leos can resist them. Once you get them eating "treats" for a few days, start to wean them off and get them back on to the staple you had them on previously. You don't want to end up feeding waxies, butters, or crix exclusively.....geckos can get spoiled, especially on waxies, and then you have the problem of getting them off the treats.

What we are trying to do is to stimulate the feeding response and "jumpstart the metabolic process" as Ron Tremper says. When a leo goes a long time without food the stomach shrinks, stomach acid and enzyme production cease, and the gecko can go into a downward spiral of weight loss very quickly.

We want to nip this in the bud ASAP or you can lose a gecko pretty fast as they start to go into shutdown mode and also lose the will to live. Now, in the wild geckos can go for long periods of time without food and water in the dry season. Even in captivity, leos can go for fairly long periods without food. But when they start to drop weight fast and their tail becomes thin, you must act fast or you risk losing your gecko.

Feel free to contact us if you have further questions. Best of luck.


What if these treats aren't working. And her tail is real thin. She has not done this in 2 years and her habitat has not changed.
 

gecko4245

New Member
Messages
428
We get this question often, especially around this time of year when leos are in more of a dormant phase. The experienced leo folks know all this, but here's some info on our method for the newbies out there struggling with a leo that is off food and losing weight.

First off, the usual comments about temperature, good husbandry, etc....I won't address again now, but it is very important of course.

If your gecko is healthy and was eating well but all of a sudden stopped eating....
We are not advocates of force feeding. While it can have its place and can be effective, many cannot master it easily, and it can be very traumatic on the gecko as it struggles in your hand while you try to cram something down its throat. Force feeding can tip the scales dramatically on an already stressed gecko, and you can do far more harm than good if you are not an experienced keeper.

The key is to find out what the gecko might be enticed to eat willingly. All geckos have their preferences, but when off food, they may not even want their favs. Try mealies, medium superworms, nickel-sized dubias (tong-fed)....if those fail, then here's a tried and true magic bullet approach:
Take 4 crickets of appropriate size for your leo, and remove the rear legs and one foreleg with a forceps so as not to injure/kill the crickets. The crickets survive just fine like this, kind of like crabs do. Take the delegged crickets and put them in a small glass petri dish or some sort of clear glass shallow dish so the gecko can see the crickets easily. (We use 60x15mm pyrex petri dishes that are available online.) Place the dish near the warm hide opening and leave it overnight...there's a good chance that after a night or two the leo will eat them. You can also try to tong feed delegged crickets at the opening of the hide, and sometimes the leo will grab them that way.

If crickets fail, try dropping a butterworm (warmed to room temp) at the hide opening. If that fails, the final magic bullet is fresh waxworms dropped at the hide opening. Few leos can resist them. Once you get them eating "treats" for a few days, start to wean them off and get them back on to the staple you had them on previously. You don't want to end up feeding waxies, butters, or crix exclusively.....geckos can get spoiled, especially on waxies, and then you have the problem of getting them off the treats.

What we are trying to do is to stimulate the feeding response and "jumpstart the metabolic process" as Ron Tremper says. When a leo goes a long time without food the stomach shrinks, stomach acid and enzyme production cease, and the gecko can go into a downward spiral of weight loss very quickly.

We want to nip this in the bud ASAP or you can lose a gecko pretty fast as they start to go into shutdown mode and also lose the will to live. Now, in the wild geckos can go for long periods of time without food and water in the dry season. Even in captivity, leos can go for fairly long periods without food. But when they start to drop weight fast and their tail becomes thin, you must act fast or you risk losing your gecko.

Feel free to contact us if you have further questions. Best of luck.
Although helpful, this information can be misleading for inexperienced keepers preventing them from seeking proffesional vet care if needed. The delay can lead to deadly consequences.

My geckos have never went off food at any time of the year.

How will they know if it's not due to temps, dehydration, parasites, impaction or other issues.

What's concerning is that many times people wait too long and the gecko loses it's appetite and never eats again and die.

When a leo stops eating for a long period of time it will use the fat stored in its tail. The fat from the tail hits the blood stream very rapidly hurting the liver in the process. The liver is unable to utilize this rapid influx of fat, and the liver becomes "fatty" called Hepalipidosis.

I don't think it's wise to allow a reptile to go over a month without eating.
 
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JoAnna

Alaska
Messages
2
Location
Somerset
Hi. I am new to this forum. Looking for help. I have11 months old leopard gecko female- Leo and recently adopted another one ( giant) 15 month old female- stitch. Stitch is much bigger then Leo but they so far stick together and get along in every way, unfortunately that includes- not eating. New arrival is not supprice to me she won't eat yet (4 days) but my 11 month ? She was eating before stitch arrived regularly and with great appetite, now....they both won't eat....please help me please?
 

mythplaced

New Member
Messages
10
Location
United States
Mine hasnt ate since monday, and monday she shed and ate most of it, normal if she doesnt eat? adult female leopard gecko
missy gecko 2.JPG

Our Missy tends to go "off-feed" just before and during shedding..We call it her "Time-O-the-Month"....

She doesn't eat for 4-5 days...Sheds..... eats the shed, and then eats feeders with a vengence...10-15 mealies or crickets in one sitting, then she eats about every 2-4 days...sometimes daily asking for waxy treats while ignoring mealies or crickets.
 

Reptile Rur

New Member
Messages
2
Location
Texas
ok my leo acts hungry and tries to go for mealworm but he misses when he tries to hit. the female i have with him eats fine but ive had to force feed him many times. i am afraid they are underweight. i will try waxworms but im afraid his brain has problems!
 

sawickib

New Member
Messages
38
Location
United States
Hi i just purchased 6 leopard geckos and they havent eaten yet, but im not freaking out considering i just bought them. I have 5 females in their own cage and 1 male in his own. I tried putting meal worms in front of their mouths and they showed no interest, i also have them in the tank 24/7. I might try crickets in a few days or putting them in a small container with mealworms.
 

Mani

New Member
Messages
1
Location
Phoenix, AZ
My leopard gecko has had trouble eating for about a year now. He used to eat great then he suddenly stopped. Took him to the vet who gave him some antibiotics and he seemed to get better but wouldn't eat crickets anymore, only mealworms. Then he stopped eating mealworms and would only eat waxworms. And he is very picky - if they are not fresh he can tell and won't eat them. I recently got a fresh batch when the pet store finally got them in but then he wouldn't eat those either. It has been weeks since he's eaten and he appears to be losing weight again. I am so worried he is going to die. I can't afford to take him to the vet anymore but I want to help him.

I read the first post on this thread about how if they don't eat for a long time their digestive system can shut down, which I did not know. How can I jump start it again?
 

mshelle

New Member
Messages
3
Location
newcastle
our leopord gecko dosnt seem to eat, we are getting worried now, tried meal worms and crickets, read the advice at the top and going to try the delegging the crickets, he is only about 10 weeks old though???
 
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