Leopard Gecko Won't Eat, Losing Weight

Discussion in 'Leopard Geckos' started by freddy2fan, Dec 27, 2010.

  1. freddy2fan Embryo

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    I know there are a thousand of these topics online, but nothing I've read has been helpful, so I figured it would be best to just ask again with my information. So, I bought two leopard geckos not too long ago (less than 2 months), and one is doing amazingly well (the female) and one continues to lose weight (the male). He's so much smaller than the female, and he's beginning to look downright unhealthy. I've done everything I can think of to help him.

    When I first got him, I saw him at least try to eat, but he was very bad at it. He would go for crickets and miss completely, even if they weren't moving. On the advice of several places, I switched from sand to paper, but I haven't seen him go for crickets since then (a couple weeks ago). He's never showed any interest in mealworms.

    I took him to the vet, he's not impacted, he's been given a de-wormer, and now he is on a calcium supplement and I am feeding him this cat food stuff that I was given by the vet. I still try to feed him crickets and mealworms, he seems completely uninterested in them.

    Now he's shedding and not eating the shed.

    I take the female out when I feed him, he has a humid hide, I have several different thermometers that are always between 85-95 on the warm side, and he is pooping, but it's something akin to diarrhea.

    Is there something I'm not doing or something that might encourage him to eat? Is it hopeless?

    Yes, I know I can return him, but there's no way I'm doing that.
  2. sktr021 Embryo

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    25
    The dewormer may be giving him problems, just an idea.
  3. electrofelt Member

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    This is not hopeless, but it sounds like a tough one. I'm just going to ask a bunch of troubleshooting questions, so I apologize in advance.

    It might be a good idea to separate the two geckos just until there is some progress with the sick one. Maybe this is a case of bullying? Is the sick gecko blind possibly? I know you said he had a hard time catching the crickets, but that's kind of a long shot. I agree that the dewormer might be causing him to be uncomfortable. How long ago did he get the dewormer? Were these issues going on before going to the vet? When you feed the cat food stuff how do you do that (do you put it on his nose until he licks it off or do you have to force his mouth open)? You may want to try making some kind of slurry formula, owners with sick geckos have had good results with that. How often do you handle him? When you offer crickets does he look at them and then not be able to catch them or does he ignore them?

    Besides separating the geckos, it might be a good idea to buy a cheap scale so you can keep track of his weight. My leo has been sick before and it was extremely useful to know how quickly/slowly they are losing weight. Sometimes it's hard to tell by just looking at them.
  4. freddy2fan Embryo

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    OK, here we go:

    I know this probably sounds ridiculous, and I will separate them if it persists and I find somewhere to put her, but they seem to get along. They cuddle sometimes and I see no signs of abuse.

    It's possible he's blind, I've seen no hard evidence to the contrary, but he seems to notice crickets when they go past him, maybe from the sound. My mom thinks he might be, but I'm not sure.

    The dewormer was given to him a few weeks ago, and yes, he's been losing weight, I assume, since I first got him. I only started weighing him when we first took him to the vet (when he was given the dewormer) and since then he's gone from 7g to 5g. So that's been in the course of a few weeks.

    I used to feed him .15ml of the cat food 4-5 times a day, but now on the advice of the vet, I do it twice a day to encourage him to eat crickets or mealworms. I force his mouth open (which is really less forcing and more gently touching the sides) because when I try to put it on his nose, he rubs most of it off (which is adorable).

    He used to look at the crickets, go for them, and miss. Now, though, he seems afraid of them, and just walks away when they touch him.

    I only handle him when I'm feeding him, I don't want to stress him too much.

    Also, he finished his shed, and he seemed to have eaten all but a section on his back.

    Thanks for the replies.
  5. ajlista Well-Known Member

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    757
    That may be it right there
    handling while feeding
    Another thing, ive heard of enigmas having terrible aim while eating, maybe you can try grabbing the the crickets with a tweezer and feeding him like that, but odnt touch him!
    Hope i helped
    Anthony
  6. Shanna66 Well-Known Member

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    2,749
    leos cuddling is not a sign that they get along, it can be a sign of dominence and can stress out the weaker leo
  7. freddy2fan Embryo

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    I don't get how I can feed him without handling him. He squirms too much to let me put any of the food on his nose, and when I am able to, he wipes it off. Also, I've tried offering him crickets with tweezers, but even when he was interested in crickets, he would ignore them if they weren't walking around on their own. I've tried freezing them so they don't move as much, but he still misses, even if they're squirming in one place.
  8. JEFFREH Administrator

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    5,478
    She feels obligated to hold him because she is hand feeding/force feeding, very understandable. It's extremely difficult to feed in this manner without holding the gecko and encouraging him to eat...particularly with cat food. I would stop the cat food regime immediately - the dietary needs of a cat and a leopard gecko are substantially different, and especially when using an average quality cat feed your looking at primary ingrediants being grains, corn meal, and other BS. These things aren't going to be that useful to an insectivorous leo - they should only be intaking grain product that has been processed through an insect's stomach - this is how they attain the macronutrients that would otherwise not exist in their diet. Not to mention most cat foods contain red dye and high amounts of copper which can build up in the liver over time.

    Try making a slurry using insects, chicken babyfood, and some supplementation. It's not pretty, but you can take a handful of crickets and mush them up in a paste that can be fed through a syringe much like the liquified cat food your doing. This will better suit his dietary needs at least. You can hold him - I know how hard it is getting a lizard to cooperate when being fed in this manner.

    I think it's safe to agree with the others in that he should be separated. Not only may the problem be somewhat linked to the cagemate (I'm thinking his symptoms are suggesting otherwise) but if he is sick then he can easily pass this on to the other leo. It can be a difficult process healing one gecko, but two of them can be quite a handful. Furthermore, if both are carrying an intestinal parasite of some sort then you increase chances of reinfection ten fold when they are being kept together. I would create a little quarintine 'hospital' bin and set up the ill leo in this, still keeping a close eye on the health of the other.

    Specifically, do you know the name of the dewormer he was given?
  9. JEFFREH Administrator

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    5,478
    I think it's important to ask also - what supplementation are you using? Do you have calcium with D3, calcium and a multivitamin?

    Onset of metabolic bone disease (MBD) can yield symptoms such as impaired vision, lethargy, instability, and even diarrhea to an extent. It's extremely important that your leo is given calcium supplementation on a regular basis, particularly with D3 present when the leo is ill. This can also aid in metabolism and the digestive processes.

    How confident are you in your vet's abilities with exotics/herps? I've been given the wrong treatment before with relatively devastating effects, and this vet was even posted as a reputable herp vet by http://herpvetconnection.com . She misidentified pinworm eggs as coccidea, giving an entirely different treatment for nearly two months that absolutely annhilitated anything good inside of my bearded dragon until I was able to get ahold of the proper medication (panacur) and a probiotic. Some dewormers are very potent and can obliterate the good gut flora in the stomach and intestines, and a probiotic may be needed.

    Edit: I see now that you say he is being given a calcium treatment - do you know approximately what dosage and what was recommended by the vet? Or is it just supplementation you've picked up recently and began providing (which is perfectly fine)? Your looking for calcium citrate for optimal absorbtion although calcium carbonate is perfectly ideal as well and is the common form that you see available.
  10. electrofelt Member

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    232
    I will agree about the cat food and separating the gecko for now. I have found that mealworms are the easiest to deal with when syringe feeding a gecko. It is really gross, but if you take the mealworms and cut the head off, you can kind of squish out all their insides and are easy to put into a syringe. If that doesn't sound appealing, a slurry formula would be a much better idea and it's not hard to make.

    What I did with my gecko was every time she came out to be fed or to get medications, I would let her sit in a small cardboard box lined with paper towels. After about a week she got used to the box and stopped being so skiddish when she was in it. That way I was able to put little drops of food on her nose and she would lick it up. You may want to try something like that. It also helps because you don't have to handle them as much as you would have to normally.

    And I would agree that the sick one should be separated. It might help him to be alone anyways and give him some time to relax and get better.

    EDIT: Another idea for the crickets, it you can break the back "jumping legs" off so they can only walk. My gecko has MBD and has a hard time walking, so I have found this is the only way she can catch the crickets. Just a thought
  11. freddy2fan Embryo

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    14
    When they were on the dewormer, it was .01ml once a week for three weeks. It was called Panacur Suspension. They've been off it for a couple of weeks now. As for the calcium he is on right now, there are several forms. I dust the crickets with "Leopard Gecko Calcium Plus" and also leave a dish in the tank with them. I also dust them with Reptivite. The Casanova Frankenstein (the male) is also being given .01ml of Neocalglucon (Calciquid) a day, and I'm supposed to do this for about three months. It was first given to him on December 8th.

    I'm definitely going to try the slushy thing, but how much do you recommend I give him, and how often? And do you have a recipe that you know works, because I've found a few different ones online and I want to make sure I use one that works. Also, will this help if he has MBD?

    Thanks again for the replies.
  12. electrofelt Member

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    232
    You could probably feed the gecko .15ml twice a day as you already are, and just use the slurry formula instead of the cat food. I checked on a syringe that I have and it seems like a decent amount. If you could grab a cheap scale from somewhere (they sell them around $20 at walmart), it would be very helpful to figure out if the gecko is staying the same weight and then increase the feeding to help him gain weight.

    In terms of the slurry formula, what you could probably do is take a jar of baby food (chicken, squash, or pumpkin flavor; try to get as natural as possible without the added sugar), 1tsp of the Leopard Gecko Calcium Plus, 1/2tsp of the Reptivite, and a whole bunch of mealworms/crickets (I have made this with mealworms before and I ordered 1000 mealworms from Flukers.com to make the slurry, so try to use as many insects as you can). You want the majority of the slurry to be made of insects. It is recommended that everything except for the insects be put in a blender, and then the insects added slowly after that until everything is mixed into a milkshake consistency. I had to buy a blender for this, because my family was not to thrilled about having worms in their blender. Then you can pour the slurry into an ice cube tray and freeze it. Now for feeding it to your gecko, take out a cube, put it in the baby food jar, and let it de-thaw in the fridge. Then you are ready to go.

    So for the MBD, the Neocalglucon syrup will help if the gecko has MBD, and the calcium powder going into the slurry will also help. Basically, if you are supplementing properly with calcium, then the gecko should not have problems with MBD. My gecko got MBD because she was not getting any calcium supplements before I adopted her. But now that she is getting calcium, the MBD has stopped progressing. So if you supplement, especially because he is getting Neocalglucon syrup, then that should stop the MBD from getting worse.
  13. freddy2fan Embryo

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    14
    Thanks for the slurry formula. I'm definitely going to feed it to him with the syringe, but do you think if I put a dish in his cage he might eat that too?
  14. electrofelt Member

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    232
    No problem, I'm happy to help. If you put some in a dish he may eat it, but you have to be careful that it doesn't go bad. When I crush up meal worms without making the slurry, they start to turn a dark color after about 25 minutes, so I assume that it starts going bad then. What you could try is putting the slurry on a little dish or a baby spoon and holding it in front of him when you take him out of the tank. With mine it worked the best after she got used to the little cardboard box and I would hold the baby spoon in front of her and she would start eating. It's worth a shot because if something like this works, it's better than force feeding. Keep trying to put it on his nose, because this will be the least stressful way to get him better.

    Good luck and let us know how it works!
  15. freddy2fan Embryo

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    14
    Thanks so much for all the help! I haven't had to force feed him the slurry, he's been licking more than enough of it from the end of the syringe each feeding. He hasn't gone for any crickets yet, but he seems to enjoy his (disgusting) slurry, so I'm hopeful.
  16. ajlista Well-Known Member

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    757
    Yay!
    Congratulations
    Please keep us updated with pictures and stuff : )
    Best regards,
    Anthony

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