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Health


Leopard geckos are on the whole both hardy and relatively long-lived providing the correct care and attention is given to them. Most problems are usually caused through stress, poor hygiene or unsuitable conditions.
While some problems or health conditions can be treated at home it is always wise and recommended to find a Veterinary Practice nearby that specialises in reptiles incase of emergencies before they are needed.
When buying new geckos or if having a poorly or sick one it is important to have a seperate quarentine tank or viv ~ this serves several purposes;
1. If a leo is ill or injured it can be kept away from any others while being treated ~
2. If it's being treated for parasites or infection this also reduces the risk of it spreading to other leo's.
3. If the leo is newly purchased it allows it to settle in with minimum stress and gives you a chance to see how well it is feeding, defecating etc and to have it ~ and a fecal sample ~ checked by a vet.
Don't assume that all captive breed shop or breeder bought leo's are parasite free ~ I always recommend a minimum of 3 months quarentine to ensure they are healthy. There is a section covering quarentine in more depth further down ~ courtesy of Sam from TSGeckos ~ and amended slightly.

The following list is a general guide to some of the more common problems or health concerns that may occur with a leo ~ as always if concerned I always recommend taking the leo to a trained Veterinarian for assistance, advise and/or treatment.


Quarentine
(used with permission from TS-Geckos)

Recently we have received a number of emails regarding our quarentine practices with our reptiles.
It concerns us that we see more and more keepers (new and old) showing a complete lack of knowledge and concern involving quarentine procedures. We hope to raise awareness, and let people see why quarentine with any type of reptile really is essential.

The Basics

What is quarentine? ~ Quarentine is a period of time that an animal is isolated from any other animal.
How long should quarentine last? ~ Usually the minimum recommended period is 3 months, if you spot anything abnormal during this time lengthen the quarentine period.
What is it for? ~ Quarentine allows you to do a number of things including:-
• Getting to know your new reptile.
• Making sure your new reptile is eating, shedding and eliminating in a manner that is normal to its species.
• Establish whether your new reptile expresses any abnormal behaviour.
• Establish whether your new reptile has got any underlying health issues before spreading it around your current collection.
• It also allows the reptile to get used to its new surroundings.

What about Hygiene?

In our opinion normal hygiene should be the same high level for quarantine because, we feel between every individual reptile you should wash or sanitise your hands using an alcohol hand gel as standard. You should however try to minimise direct contact between yourself and the new reptile as this will stop cross contamination. Try to keep any reptiles that are in quarentine in a seperate room or as far away as possible from any other reptile you may have.

How We Quarentine

When we receive any new reptile it under-goes 3 months intense quarentine with a number of full feacal tests done during this period.
The quarentine enclosure usually consists of the bare minimum to allow for regular cleaning. This usually consists of a kitchen roll/toilet roll tube, a moist hide with kitchen roll, a water bowl, a feeding bowl and a calcium dish.
All newcomers are kept on the opposite side of our reptile room, and are handled as little as possible. After handling, cleaning or dealing with any of our reptiles we sanitise our hands using alcohol hand gel, NO EXCEPTIONS!!!
After the first week into quarentine we start collecting the first batch of feacal samples ready for testing; the reptile will then complete its 3 month quarantine period ~ providing during this time we have not noticed anything abnormal we collect one more feacal sample and on the completion and all-clear of this the reptile is ready to join the rest of our collection.
If at any stage a reptile becomes ill or has tested positive for parasites or diseases, that particular animal immediately enters quarentine once more, regardless of how long they have been present in our collection.

What to Look For

These are the most common things to look for when quarentining:

• Weight loss
• Diarrhoea, a typical reptile poop should be well formed. (examples can be Here)
• Lethargic/Drowsiness (dependant on whether the reptile is nocturnal or diurnal)
• Abnormal behaviour i.e. spinning in circles (especially Enigma leopard gecko morphs)

FAQ

These are the most common question we get asked after explaining our quarentine procedures.
Q. I trust the breeder/shop/friend though, so that makes it okay right?
A. No! No matter where the animal has come from it must be quarentined. Put it this way if we were to buy a reptile from ourselves we would still quarentine it.
Q. If I get two or more from the same breeder is quarentine still needed?
A. Yes! Quarentine should have no exceptions, not even if they have previously been kept together. No matter how well you know the animals have been looked after, certain parasites and diseases may live harmlessly for years, but when stressed or passed to other reptiles the results could be disastrous.
Q. Is it okay if I put them together for a quick photo?
A. No! That is completely defeating the object of quarentine and the three months spent in it could just be a waste of time. Some parasites need the host and the victim to touch directly others do not, dont take the risk for the sake of a photo.
Q. Is Cryptosporidium (Crypto) curable?
A. No to this date there has not been an effective treatment for Crypto, this is why such good quarentine practice is essential. More can be found on Crypto Here

Our Tips

Here are some of our tips when quarentining:

• Make good notes, you can always dispose of them when the animal is out of quarentine.
• Always get quarentine backed up by at least one full feacal preferably more, as stated above some parasites and diseases can go unnoticed for a long time!
• Never make exceptions!
• Try not to handle your new reptile too much.
• Keep the reptile in quarentine away from your current collection.
• Keep accurate, week to week weights.
• If in doubt seek veterinary advice.
But most of all.... DONT SKIP QUARENTINE!!!

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Tail Loss (Caudal Autotomy)

even bad bites will regenerate over time
Like most geckos leo's can drop their tails if grabbed by the tail or threatened
- in the wild the tail would distract a predator while the gecko escapes safely ~ however in captivity there are several reasons why a leo may drop it's tail aside from the obvious of being grabbed by the tail, these can include retained shed cutting off the circulation; bacterial or fungal infections either through a previous injury; bitten through fights with other geckos or ill health and stress through bullying from other tank-mates.
If a leo loses it's tail it also loses a substantial amount of it's fat reserve and needs to be kept warm with regular feeding and clean water ~ preferably on a clean paper-towel or similar substrate to prevent infection, if feeding crickets then remove uneaten crickets after a set period of time to prevent them nibbling at the would. If kept with other geckos it's advisable to remove the leo into it's own tank or viv until recovered. The tail will eventually grow back but will not be the same when regrown tending to be shorter and more rounded.

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Shedding

Leo's shed periodically ~ the time between sheds varying with age and or growth rate ~ which they usually eat.Albi shedding Sometimes the shedding doesn't go smoothly with old skin stuck especially to toes, tail and head which if left or ignored can cause serious problems for the leo with old skin eventually tightening and causing loss of toes etc or getting infectioned. If skin is left on the toes then standing the leo in a small container of warm water for a while to soften the skin should help before gently trying to remove the dead skin. A cottonbud can be used to soak patches of skin on the body ~ caution should be taken to not forcibly remove the skin as this can do more damage.
I've found that a lot of shedding problems can be avoided by simply providing a lidded plastic 'moist-hide' or similar box/container filled with a damp medium such as moss, kitchen paper, eco earth etc which provides the humidity needed and by having something in the viv with a slightly rough texture ie: cork bark, stone etc for the leo to rub against.

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Eye Problems

leo eye courtesy of nsn89
deformed eye ~
courtesy of nsn89

A few of the more common causes of eye problems with leo's are retained shed ~ which can eventually form a 'plug' of skin and/or pus over the eye ~ injury, dehydration, vitamin A deficiency and substrate ie: fine or dusty sand, dirt, peat moss etc which may cause irritation to the eye or beneath the eyelids. Symptoms may include squinting, failure to open eyes, sunken eyes, bulging, weeping or crusty inflammed eyes. Depending on the causes the eyes may need to be flushed, cleaned and/or treated by a Vet and any deficiencies treated and corrected.

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Metabolic Bone Disease (MBD ~ Hypocalcemia)

Deformed limbs caused by MBD ~ picture courtesy of ginnerone

This is usually caused by incorrect or no dietary supplements especially of calcium and the vitamins needed to utilise the calcium in their diet, causing the leo to use it's own bodies calcium from its bones ~ this leads to soft bones, swollen or mishapen legs/joints, weakness/ lethargy with poor movement, trembling when walking or standing, paralysis (either complete or hind limb), spasms and/or seizures, stunted growth and other deformities with the leo eventually dying if not treated soon enough.
This can usually be avoided if the leo is provided not only with a dish of calcium available in the viv or tank but by ensuring it's food is regularly dusted with the correct calcium/vitamin supplements.

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Mouthrot (Stomatitis)

Mouth rot is a bacterial infection that can affect both the leo's mouth and gums; symptoms include bleeding gums, loss of appetite, teeth going black, swollen mouth, and a cheesy, yellowish pus between the teeth. This infection does not usually occur in healthy, well-kept leo's, as it is generally brought on by dirty, overcrowded viv/tank conditions and low temperatures combined with stress. It is extremely painful for the leo and can prove fatal if not treated by a vet. Early stages of mouth rot can be diagnosed if you notice the mucous membranes along the teeth and along the lips show a bright red inflammation.
To prevent mouth rot, keep the leo's viv/tank and other items clean and provide the correct heat for it.

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Impaction

Impaction can be caused by several things; by the leo trying to eat food that is too big; by parasites; too low a temperature to digest it's food; or more commonly by eating substrate ~ either deliberately in the search for calcium or by accident whilst hunting. If not caught and treated early enough the results are both painful and deadly for the leo as with it's stomach and intestines blocked it slowly starves while internal organs begin to give way inside it. Syptoms can include loss of weight, loss of teeth, repeated bone fractures, paralysis and convulsions.
There are two types of impaction ~ acute and chronic;
Acute impaction is when the leopard gecko swallows a large amount of food or substrate and it blocks the vital organs used to process food (stomach, intestinal tract, etc.). This type of impaction commonly leads to lethargy, lack of appetite, lack of bowel movements and - if caused by substrate - sand in the stool.
Chronic impaction is the slow accumulation of sand that binds to (and wears down) the lining of the digestive and intestinal tract. Over time, and often years, it can create a blockage. This blockage has the same detrimental effects as an acute impaction, the biggest problem with this type of impaction however is that when it is discovered, it is often too late to cure.
Prevention is far better then cure and preventative measures include ~ only feeding the leo with the correct size food ie it should be no more then 3/4 the size of the leo's head and 3/4 the width of their jaw; avoid using loose particle substrate; have the leo's regularly checked for parasites and ensure the correct temperature and conditions are provided.

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Burns

Burns are commonly caused by either unprotected heat rocks, unregulated heat mats or unregulated heat lamps (or having the heat lamp too close). Ways to prevent this occuring include using the correct heating equipment for leo's, always use a thermostat and keep regular checks on the temperatures, make sure any heating elements are covered and protected to avoid the leo from direct or too close contact. Heat rocks are not really suitable for leo's; heat lamps do not provide the underneath heat that leo's require.

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Faeces, Fecals and Poo

Some of the more usual questions often asked about leo poo/faeces are "does my leo poop/faeces look ok?" and "whats the white bit?" ~ the second question is easy to answer in that the white bit is the urates which tend to be passed in a semi/or solid form although leo's can pass more liquid urates on occasion ~ usually if drinking more water then normal or fully hydrated.
The main question regarding how a leo's faeces looks depends in part to what they have eaten and if they are ill ~ healthy faeces are well formed, dark in colour (black/brown) and relatively solid with the white urates attached; any that are runny, off in colour or texture and/or with a strong odour should warrant having the leo and a fecal sample checked by a vet.

Examples of Faeces
normal faeces
normal faeces
normal faeces
faeces passed after skin shed
Above are examples of relatively normal faeces ~ the last one is after a skin shed
 
Below are examples of diarrhoea-like faeces, those with partially digested food and regurgitations
excess urates soaked into paper
runny faeces
runny faeces
faeces passed after several waxworms
Excess urates soaked into paper
pic courtesy of basildongecko
Runny faeces
Runny faeces
Faeces passed after several waxies
Green, jelly-like faeces - later found to have pinworms
partially solid faeces
regurgitated mealworms
rxcess calium and pinworms
Green, jelly-like faeces ~ pin-worms
pic courtesy of Luvbug19
Partially runny faeces, possible blockage
This example is of regurgitated
mealworms
Pale faeces excess calcium ~pinworms
pic courtesy of Wizard
passed vermiculite
woodchip in poop
 
Large amount of vermiculite passed after ingestion
Woodchip passed in faeces after ingestion
pic courtesy of 53bird
 

leopard gecko diagnosed with crypto ~ picture courtesy of geckogirl85Gastroenteritis can be caused by parasites, bacterial infection and/or unhygenic conditions; symptoms include vomiting of half-digested food and soft (diarrhoea-like), foul-smelling stools, combined with a yellowish white mucus, sometimes there are also traces of fresh blood. Stool samples taken to a vet can help identify the cause and offer the right treatment~ it is important to isolate the sick leo(s) and thoroughly clean the viv/tank and decor. Prevention again is the best way.

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Parasites (External & Internal)

Mites ~ magnified

Mites are small spider-like creatures with those generally affecting leo's being 'blood mites' (Ophionyssus) that settle in the armpits, joint areas, base of the tail, around the eyes, in the vent area and underneath the scales. They are usually reddish-brown in color and if left untreated can cause skin damage as well as transmiting other bacteria and parasites which mites can act as intermediate hosts for. Mites can be easily treated and re-infestation can be controlled by rigorously cleaning the viv/tank and all decor at the same time as treating the leo.

Roundworm passed by young leo ~ actual size

Various internal parasites such as pinworm, roundworm and hookworm may be found in leo's and being captive breed does not mean nor guarantees parasite free.
As examples of just some of what nematodes/worms can do ~
a roundworm can take over 40% of usable nutrients from a leo's system, hookworms attach themselves to the intestinal lining causing ulcers, inflammation and anemia, pinworms can cause irritation to the digestive system and bleeding.
When infestations are severe they can also cause diarrhea, weight loss, straining to defecate and even prolapse. Checking for parasites is done by a vet examing of a fresh (within 24 hours) stool sample. Treatment with the right medication, along with regular thorough cleaning of the viv/tank and decor, can help clear them ~ it should be noted that it usually takes several repeat treatments/medications along with rigid cleanliness before parasites are finally gone and follow-up checks should be done.
To avoid parasites ~ or heavy infestations ~ regularly clean the viv/tank and all decor, remove any uneaten livefood (crickets etc will eat dead livefood and leo stools which ~ if carrying parasites ~ could end up giving the leo even more), remove any leo stools and make sure the water dish is clean and contains fresh water at least every other day preferably every day. Also worth considering is having the leo's stools checked regularly.

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Cryptosporidium is a highly contagious parasitic infection which though normally associated with snakes has become a growing problem with leopard geckos.
The reasons Cryptosporidium can grow to be such a major problem is down to several factors;
1. Firstly the sheer amount of oocysts produced from an infected individual and the ease which the oocysts can be spread around ie: through eating crickets which have eaten infected faeces, drinking faecel contaminated water or licking contaminated surfaces/substrate.
2. Through a lack of quarentine or inadequate quarentine for new purchases/arrivals.
Crypto eventually destroys the mucous membranes that line the leo's gut causing inflammation, dehydration, mal-digestion and mal-absorbtion. Symptoms can start with the leo coughing or regurgitating recently eaten food followed by rapid weight lose, anorexia and diarrhoea. Unfortunately although this can be diagnosed through a stool/faecel sample ~ typically three samples need to be taken over a period as crypto oocysts are not always shed every time ~ there is not as yet an effective cure.
Any leo's found or thought to be suffering with crypto should be placed in strict quarentine immediately and the viv/tank along all decor cleaned thoroughly using a solution of either ammonia (5%) or formal saline (10%) ~ both of which have shown to be relatively effective in eliminating oocyst infectivity after 18 hours of contact.
More detailed information including disinfection tips can be found below:
Cryptosporidiosis in Lizards ~ by Marcia McGuiness of GoldenGateGeckos
Cryptosporidium in Reptiles ~
by Biron Reptile Veterinary Practice in Germany which also offers an English translation.

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Coccidia

 
Various coccidia parasites magnified

Coccidiosis is a fairly common problem ~ the coccidia are tiny protozoan parasites which are highly contagious; they invade the digestive tract and intestinal lining where they then reproduce. The coccidia 'eggs' are called oocysts and it is these which are the infectous stage and they are passed in the leo's stools where they remain until, for example, the leo walks through it and its skin becomes covered. By then eating it's skin when shedding the leo's parasitic load increases until it becomes what is called a 'super-infection'. The irritation that coccidia cause in the intestines can lead to mal-absorbtion of food, anorexia and dehydration ~ all of which can then leave the leo open to further secondary infections and parasites ~ and eventually if untreated, death.
Symptoms include anorexia, weight loss and/or failure to do well and diarrhoea.
Strict quarentine and cleaning has to be used alongside medication to clear coccidia and follow-up examinations of stool samples are necessary to ensure coccidia is cleared completely.

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Respiratory Infections

Respiratory infections are usually caused by normal bacteria which take advantage of a stressed or weakened leo; causes are usually related to incorrect/cool temperatures, drafts and/or too high a humidity. Symptoms are usually mucus discharge in the mouth or nose which may resemble mouth rot, but the gums are usually normal, open-mouthed breathing or gaping along with wheezing. Respiratory infections are usually treated with antibiotics and/or a correction of tank/viv conditions.

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Fungal Infections

Fungal infections are usually caused by warm conditions where the humidity is too high and can spread quickly causing damage to a loe's skin. Infections usually start underneath the stomach area and look like raised brown-spotted scales with these becoming open, weeping areas on the skin as it spreads. Veternary advise is needed to identify the fungi responsible and to correctly treat. Any affected leo should be quarentined till clear and the viv/tank and decor scrubbed and disinfected with a recommended anti-fungal wash.

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Egg Binding (Dystocia)

Egg bound female leo after operation ~ courtesy of SuezEgg binding is caused by many different things but typically it occurs when female leo's are either stressed ie: too young and/or small for breeding or not provided suitable conditions and/or boxes for egg-laying; the eggs too large or deformed, obesity or the female being deficient in supplements particularly calcium. Symptoms may include swollen stomach, lack of appetite, straining to lay with possible prolapse ~ if binding is suspected then a vet should be consulted. Sometimes the female will absorb the eggs but if not then they may need to be surgically removed which carries it's own risks.
To avoid many of the causes of egg binding it is recommended that the females get the correct supplements and calcium they need along with suitable laying conditions but also importantly ensure that the female is old enough (minimum of one year old) and big enough to breed ~ most breeders recommend the female being at least 50g-55g ~ but not obese/heavily overweight.

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Prolapse

prolapsed hemipene ~
courtesy of 53ebailey

Prolapse can be down to several reasons; it can occur from the leo straining either through egglaying or as a symptom of impaction/parasites or sometimes with males when their reproductive organs (hemipenes) stay outside the body after mating. Prolapse can lead to further complications including infection or fatality if not quickly treated. Do not allow the area to dry out ~ keep the area moist by placing the leo on damp kitchenroll ~ I do not advise covering the prolapse with Vaselin, KYJelly or similar as this coats the area and can not only hinder the Vets attempts to reinsert or handle the tissue but can also hamper healing if surgery is required ~ sometimes soaking the area in a sugar and water solution can help the tissues retract back through the vent but I recommend in all cases that veterinary help is needed. Do not attempt to push the prolapse back yourself!

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Obesity, Xanthomatosis and Hepatic Lipidosis

Obesity ~ Leopard geckos can be opportunistic eaters and ~ unlike their wild counterparts ~ captive leo's can easily become obese especially if fed too much fatty livefood such as waxworms. The leo’s tail is it's fat reserve and should be normally be a decent size, but not excessively big; likewise checks should be kept on other areas where excess fat pockets are likely to form ie under the armpits. Obesity can be prevented by feeding a varied diet and limiting food such as waxworms.
Xanthomatosis is a disease most likely caused by a high fatty diet and is linked with obesity; large deposits of fat/cholesterol form in the stomach and internal organs. This can cause organ damage and often produces a swollen stomach with visible pale masses showing. Symptoms include loss of appetite and weight (thinning tail) but a large stomach area. Many cases are fatal, and prevention is the best way with this disease.
Hepatic Lipidosis ~ more commonly known as Fatty Liver Disease ~ is a condition where a leo's liver becomes excessively loaded with fat and is often secondary to obesity. The clinical signs are commonly depression and anorexia (sometimes stress induced).
A high calorie/fatty diet and excess protein often leads to the obesity; when the leo then goes off it's food (anorexia) the fat already stored in the body is then mobilised and released into the bloodstream towards the liver where normally the liver would convert it for energy for the body ~ however with hepatic lipidosis the liver is not able to use or cope with this sudden intake of fat and the liver instead becomes saturated with fatty lipids which in turn affects how the liver functions.
Fatty liver can be treated if the underlying cause can be identified and corrected, with treatment consisting of antibiotics as needed with steroids and vitamins also often required.

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Brumation and Aestivation

Leopard Geckos like many other reptiles and animals will go into a period of brumation ~ a hibernation like state ~ when temperatures drop below a certain level ie: during winter months or when temperatures are dropped to trigger breeding. During this time a healthy gecko will slow down, eat little and use the stored fat in their tail.
Leo's can also enter a state of 'hibernation' called Aestivation which ~ like brumation ~ provides a way for leo's to handle temperature extremes; however aestivation occurs when environmental temperatures become too high for healthy functions to occur.

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Poor Appetite

Poor appetite can be caused by numerous problems; incorrect temperatures (too high or too low), stress, parasites, impaction, eggbinding and dehydration to name a few.
Some problems can be easily sorted ~ check substrate temperatures with a good thermometer and adjust if necessary; provide clean, fresh water every day; if with other leo's seperate incase of bullying (stress and bullying are not always by physical means ~ it can also be through stance, smell and posture); take a fresh fecal to the vets for examination to rule out parasites.
If impaction or eggbinding are a possibility then it is advised that Veterinary advise/assistance is sought as soon as possible.
Assist feeding a leo should only be undertaken if ~ and once ~ all other probabilities have been ruled out ie: parasites etc; as assist feeding done without knowing what exactly is wrong with the leo can lead to causing more problems - often to the detriment of the leo's health.
Do not try putting liquid or food on a leos nose as there is a very real risk of either blocking the nostrils and/or causing distress to the gecko ~ also I do not recommend using yoghurts or babyfoods .... geckos cannot produce the enzyme Lactase and so cannot break down/digest dairy products or those products containing Lactose.

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Bullying, Stress & Fighting

Although leo's can be kept together ie: two or more females; they are not really sociable animals and I've found that they will set up a heirachy with one becoming more dominant. Fighting can happen with the tell-tale signs of bites, scuffs and often resulting in deep bites, loss of tail sections and/or limbs and ~ in a worse case scenario ~ even death.
More insidious and most often missed is bullying ~ as said in previous sections stress through bullying isn't always visible nor is it always through physical means ~ often it is done through stance, scent/smell and posture with the first signs that anything is wrong usually being loss of appetite and/or weight of the leo affected.
One simple remedy would be to remove the bullied individual into a fresh, clean viv or rub/tub with no scents/smells of the other leo.
If you wish to have gecko's together then there are several things which can be done which may if not prevent problems could help minimise them ~ make sure that leo's together are the same size, weight and (if possible) age; make sure that there are ample hides and moist hides for each leo ~ I would recommend at least one warm hide and one cool hide per gecko with extra moist hides made available too also allowing ample alternative hiding and tiered sections so that each can have it's own space; regularly weigh each leo (weight loss can often be the first pointer to any problems) and keep a watch at feeding time to make sure that each has a fair share.
More can be found on the topic of behaviour and bullying here

Tail bite
back bite
Tip of tail partially bitten off
Bite on lower back through fighting

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First Aid Items

A First-Aid kit is something that I feel always comes in handy whether for something as simple as helping with stuck shed or for more complicated use to help keep a leopard gecko comfortable until it can be taken to a vet ~ a first-aid kit is not a substitute for seeking veterinary help nor should it be used as such.
The kit doesn't need to be extravegant so long as it has some basics; here is a list of items that I always keep handy ...

  • Disposable plastic gloves
  • Tweezers
  • Assorted syringes
  • Cotton Buds
  • Magnifying glass or loupe
  • Small test-tubes with lids ~ ideal for fecal samples
  • Sterile gauze
  • CCF
  • Avi Pro
  • Shed Aid
  • Tamodine / Iodine
  • Sterile saline solution
  • Clean, sterile tub for bathing
  • Eye dropper
  • Paper Towels

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Rescuing Geckos
Used with kind permission from V.Schofield
of AllThingsGeckoey

From time to time, geckos that are experiencing ill health or are generally in poor condition are offered for rehoming by their owners (or, where the owner or even pet shop is unscrupulous, they can even be advertised for sale as 'healthy' specimens). While seeing the plight of such animals can make rescuing them very tempting, serious consideration should be given before such a course of action is embarked upon. Anyone wishing to rescue a gecko should seriously reflect upon the following before making such an undertaking:

Will taking on a rescue animal endanger an existing collection?

Many animals that require rehoming / rescuing are underweight and therefore can be experiencing underlying health problems, including parasites or crypto, that can easily be transmitted to other animals. Unless the facilities exist to strictly quarantine a rescued gecko in a separate room well away from other animals, it would be safest not to take on the task of looking after it.

Do I have the money to dedicate to a rescue?

It may be tempting to believe that an animal that is underweight will be alright so long as it can be encouraged to eat or that one that is suffering severely from retained shed will experience no further problems once that shed is removed. However, both of these symptoms may be indicators of underlying health problems that will not be resolved simple by offering fattening foods like wax worms or providing a moist hide.
Rescue animals therefore frequently require urgent veterinary treatment, which can prove expensive financially. Can you afford the resultant vet's bill, which can often be hefty? And the cost of any additional sundry equipment, for example syringes, latex gloves, disinfectant etc that may be required?
A further point to consider is that, depending upon the reason for the gecko's ill health, it may prove necessary to dispose of any equipment used in its care. For example, if an animal is confirmed to be suffering from crypto, then destroying the vivarium that it has been housed in is far preferable to attempting to eradicate this highly contagious parasite. If the expenditure on replacement equipment will pose a problem, then rescuing a sick animal should be seriously reconsidered.

Do I have the time to dedicate to a rescue?

In addition to proving expensive, caring for rescue animals can also prove very time consuming. You should therefore ask yourself if you have the time / resources to make repeated trips to a good herp vet (who may be many miles away) as and when necessary? Can you spend hours repeatedly administering medication / bathing an animal to remove stuck shed / monitoring an animal's feeding etc?

Do I have the experience to provide optimum care for an animal?

Sick animals are, almost by definition, already experiencing physiological stress and require immediate care in optimum conditions in order to maximise their chance of recovery. Unless you have the experience to be able to rapidly establish a suitable environment for an animal and, preferably, experience with healthy specimens of that species, it may prove difficult to provide it with the optimum husbandry that will be required to nurse an animal back to health.

Am I really prepared to act in the best interests of the animal?

All too often people take on animals as a knee-jerk reaction to seeing it in an appalling condition. While the desire to give a sick animal every chance at life is perfectly understandable, there may come a point when, to prevent further suffering and, potentially, a lingering death, euthanising an animal is by far the kindest option. A potential rescuer who feels that they may be unable to make such a distressing decision may do well in not taking on a rescue in the first place.
© V. Schofield


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*The information written on my website and in my various care sheets has been gathered
through my own personal experiance and research over the years ~
Please do not use or replicate any information or photographs without permission ~ thankyou *

Interesting Facts

When shedding their old skin off leo's and Fat-tails will eat it to regain valuable nutrients.

Leo's and Fat-tails use environmental temperature gradients to regulate their body temperature.

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