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Underweight Leopard Gecko: Causes, Treatment And How To Prevent

As a responsible gecko owner, your work is to ensure that your pet is healthy and happy. One of the health problems that can happen to your leopard gecko is weight loss. This means you need to be on the lookout for whether your leopard gecko is underweight or overweight.

You can be sure that your leopard gecko is healthy if it has a healthy amount of fat on its body. Generally, baby and juvenile leopard geckos usually have skinny bodies, but adults are usually heavier in weight.

You may be wondering what signs you can use to detect whether your leopard gecko is underweight are. In this article, we will discuss everything you need to know about underweight leopard geckos, from the causes to how you can treat it.

How To Know If Your Leopard Gecko Is Too Skinny

It is possible for a leopard gecko to become skinny in captivity, but this is quite rare if you provide a suitable enclosure and diet for your gecko. There are lots of ways that you can use to detect whether your leopard gecko is underweight or not.

The most obvious sign that your leopard gecko is skinny is if it develops a condition known as a stick tail. You can easily treat underweight conditions in leopard a gecko if you can catch it early.

How Does Underweight Leopard Gecko Look Like

You can easily detect that your leopard gecko is underweight if it has a slim body and legs with the hip bones and ribs visible. An underweight leopard gecko usually has a stick tail and will not have a round belly.

Some of the other signs that your leopard gecko is underweight are stated below.

  • Loss of appetite
  • Your leopard gecko does not have calcium sacks
  • The behavior of your leopard gecko changes
  • Your gecko has a transparent skin
  • Your gecko has a rubbery bone
  • Your leopard gecko always stays in the coolest part of their enclosure
Underweight Leopard Gecko
skinny leopard gecko

How Much Should Your Leopard Gecko Weigh?

The weight of a leopard gecko usually varies from one individual gecko to another. This means that the weight of your gecko depends on its genetics and can weigh more or less than an average leopard gecko.

However, you can consider that your leopard gecko is underweight if your gecko is over 12 months old and it weighs less than 40g.

Here is a table showing the healthy weight of a leopard gecko to help you determine whether your gecko is underweight or overweight.

AgeHealthy Male WeightHealthy Female Weight
At Birth 3 – 4.5g3 – 4.5g
1-3 months15 – 30g15 – 30g
3-6 months25 -60g25 – 60g
6-9 months40 – 60g40 – 60g
9-18 months40 – 110g40 – 110g
Adult60 – 120g40 – 120g
Leopard gecko age-weight chart

Cause And Treatment A Underweight Leopard Gecko

Different things can lead to weight loss in leopard geckos. It is best to understand these potential causes to help ensure you can easily identify them and treat them immediately before it gets worse.

The three common causes of weight loss in leopard geckos are:

  • Poor nutrition
  • Sickness and parasites
  • Stress

Leopard Gecko Lack Of Nutrition

Generally, leopard geckos need a lot of food to function properly and thrive in captivity. This is because they have a high metabolism and can quickly burn their stored fat. This means you will need to ensure that you feed your leopard gecko regularly to help ensure they don’t become underweight.

Another thing is that you also need to ensure that you are feeding your leopard gecko with foods that are nutritionally rich to help keep them in a healthy shape.

Cause And Signs Of Leopard Gecko Not Enough Eating/Not Eating

It is quite easy to detect when your leopard gecko is not eating. You will find the feeder insects in their enclosure, and your gecko will stop pooping. The next step is to determine why your gecko is not eating before you take it to the vet.

Some of the reasons why your leopard gecko is not eating are stated below.

  • Their enclosure is too cold
  • Your leopard gecko is acclimatizing
  • Your gecko is impacted
  • Your gecko is sick and injured
  • Your leopard gecko is breeding
  • Your leopard gecko is growing older
  • Your gecko is shedding
  • Your leopard gecko is stressed.
  • Your leopard gecko is shedding
  • Your leopard gecko has a vision problem.
  • Your gecko is a picky eater.
  • Your leopard gecko is brumating.

Note: It is also possible that your gecko will be eating enough but will not absorb enough nutrients needed for growth. This may be because you are not feeding it with the right nutrient or you are not supplementing their diet. It can also be that you are feeding your gecko with little food which affects their nutrient intake. 

How To Help Fatten Up A Leopard Gecko

The next step after detecting why your gecko is getting skinny is how you can fatten it up. You can do this by following the steps below.

Establish A New Feeding Diet And Maintain It

It is important to have a feeding schedule whenever you want to fatten your gecko. However, the dietary needs and how many times you feed your gecko will change as they grow. You need to feed hatchling leopard geckos every single day.

skinny and sick leopard gecko
weight lose in leopard geckos, if persistent can cause death.

This is because they need food for their rapid growth. Juvenile leopard geckos are also still growing, and you can feed them every day. As the juvenile gecko continues growing, you can then stop feeding them every day. 

On the other hand, you will need to feed adult leopard geckos every other day.

Use A Varied Diet

You can easily fatten up your leopard gecko using a varied diet. A varied diet will help to ensure that you feed your gecko with insects filled with nutrients to help fatten them and build their strength.. 

You can go about this by feeding your leopard gecko with a variety of staple insects and some fatty insects (as a treat). Some of the staple insects suitable for feeding your geckos are crickets, mealworms, hornworms, silkworms, etc. 

Adding Nutritional Value And The Fatty Insects

Although feeding your gecko with staple insects will provide the protein needed by your gecko, it cannot provide all the nutrients that your leopard gecko needs. This means you will need to supplement your leopard gecko feeder insects to help provide the well-rounded diet they need.

You can supplement your leopard gecko food through the gut loading and dusting method. You can then use other insects with higher fat content to help provide additional nutritional value for your leopard gecko. Some of the insects with a higher fat content that you can feed your leopard gecko are waxworms, butterworms, superworms, etc.

As stated in the section above, you can only use high-fat content insects only as a treat. This is because your leopard gecko can easily get addicted to them and will not want to eat anything apart from them.

Maintain An Ideal Living Environment

Generally, leopard geckos are cold-blooded animals, and they need the temperature to maintain their body functions at optimal levels. Furthermore, leopard geckos cannot digest their food properly when the temperature is too low. This means your gecko can experience weight loss and lack of appetite in a cold environment.

This means you can fatten your leopard gecko by ensuring the temperature in their enclosure is at an optimal level. The temperature should be between 90-93F on the hot side and around 74F on the cold side. You can also use a digital thermometer to help ensure the temperature in their enclosure is at optimal range.

Caution About Supplementing

It is recommended that hobbyists should be cautious when adding supplements to leopard gecko’s food. Most supplements are needed in microdoses, and overdosing can lead to over-exposure of your leopard gecko. Over supplementing your leopard gecko’s food can lead to toxicity and severe health issues.

When planning to supplement your gecko’s food, always be careful, and you should try to follow the usage instructions as much as possible.

keep your leo in an ideal environment
Ensure you leopard gecko is kept in an ideal environment to keep it healthy.

Sickness And Parasites

Generally, leopard geckos can look skinny when suffering from one sickness or another. Your leopard gecko can have appetite loss and lethargy when suffering from a sickness, leading to loss of weight. Some of the health problems that can happen to leopard geckos are respiratory illness, metabolic bone disease, etc.

Parasites can also lead to reduced appetite, rapid weight loss, disease, etc., in your leopard gecko. Parasites usually feed on the blood of the infected lizard and then feed on the nutrients and energy of the gecko.

Most times, parasite infestation can occur if the enclosure in your leopard gecko is dirty or their food is infected with parasites. Some of the parasites that can affect leopard geckos are cryptosporidium, nematodes, coccidia, pinworms, etc.

Signs

Some of the signs of sickness and parasites in leopard geckos are

  • Rapid weight loss
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Sunken eyes
  • Lack of droppings in your gecko’s enclosure

Treatments

The first thing to do is to isolate the infected geckos from other geckos. This helps prevent the spread of the disease and keep your gecko relaxed and away from other geckos. The next step is to take your gecko to a vet for diagnosis and treatment.

Your vet will then help to prescribe the medications that you can use to treat the parasites.

Stress

It is likely for your leopard gecko to avoid eating when going through stress. This can then cause weight loss.

Signs

Some of the signs that your leopard gecko is stressed are stated below.

  • Weight loss
  • Glass swimming
  • Lack of appetite
  • Your gecko is waving its tail
  • Your gecko is hiding all the time

What Causes Stress in Leopard Geckos?

Now that you can identify when your leopard gecko is stressed, the next thing is to determine what causes the stress. Some of the things that can cause stress for your leopard geckos are stated below.

  • Wrong tank size
  • New environment or enclosure
  • Feeding issue
  • The temperature in their enclosure is not correct
  • Housing them with other animals
  • Putting on the UVB lights all the time
  • Improper handling

Treatments

Once you have identified the cause of stress in your leopard gecko, you can treat it accordingly. You should ensure you keep your leopard gecko is an ideal enclosure with optimal temperature and light cycle.

You should also ensure you don’t house your leopard gecko with different animals and try to avoid overhandling your gecko. The enclosure of your leopard gecko should also be clean, and try to know the body language and signals of your geckos to help detect if there is stress early.

Other Causes Less Common

Some of the other causes of weight loss in leopard geckos are stated below.

Dehydration

Your leopard gecko can become skinny when it is dehydrated. You can easily detect that your leopard gecko is dehydrated if it has a sunken appearance. You can easily treat this by providing clean water for your gecko regularly and misting their enclosure.

Impaction

This is a severe health problem that your leopard gecko can experience. Impaction usually occurs when your gecko accidentally feeds on a loose substrate or something bigger for them to digest. Leopard geckos suffering from impaction usually lose their appetite, which can then lead to loss of weight.

It is best to take the impacted leopard gecko to the vet for treatment.

How To Keep Leopard Gecko healthy

It is your responsibility as a leopard gecko owner to keep them healthy and happy. Some of the ways that you can keep your leopard gecko healthy are stated below.

Providing A Balanced Diet

The food that you give your leopard gecko will determine its level of health. This is why it is recommended that you provide a balanced diet for your leopard gecko to help ensure they get all the nutrients that they may need.

You can provide a balanced diet to your leopard gecko by feeding them with staple insects like crickets, mealworms, and so on that are gut loaded and dusted with supplements. You will also need to offer your leopard gecko with insects with higher fat content, like wax worms, occasionally for additional nutrients.

Establish A Feeding Schedule For Your Leopard Gecko

You will need to have a feeding schedule for your leopard gecko if you want to maintain their health. This is because leopard geckos usually have different feeding schedules and dietary requirements based on their age. It is also important that you don’t overfeed your gecko to avoid making your gecko fat.

It is recommended to feed hatchling leopard geckos every day. However, you can feed juvenile leopard geckos every day, but you will need to set up one or two days where you will not feed them. On the other hand, you can feed adult leopard geckos every other day.

Diversify Your Leopard Gecko’s Diet

You will also need to diversify your leopard gecko’s diet if you want them to stay healthy. Although most owners usually feed their gecko with crickets only as a staple diet, it is best to add more diversity to that.

This is because there are different staple feeder insects, and each has different nutrient contents. Some of the staple feeder insects you can feed your leopard geckos are cricket, tomato hornworms, phoenix worms, mealworms, silkworms, etc.

You can also feed your gecko with fatty worms only as a treat to help fatten up your gecko. Some of the best fatty worms that you can use to feed your leopard geckos are super worms, waxworms, butter worms, fuzzy mice, etc.

leopard geckos eating
Offering varieties of food to your pet leopard gecko will help ensure it’s in good health

Remember The Feeding Rules

You will need to ensure you follow feeding rules to help keep your leopard gecko healthy. Here are some of the feeding rules to keep in mind

  • Most feeder insects except phoenix worms need to be gut loaded and dusted with supplements.
  • Leopard geckos love live insects, and you need to try to promote their interest by feeding them with live insects. Whenever you are trying to fatten up your gecko, you will need to avoid freeze-dried insects as it will not interest your gecko in eating them.
  • Feeding your leopard gecko with feeder insects that are not bigger than the width between your gecko’s eyes is recommended.
  • Only feed your leopard geckos with fatty worms as a treat. This is because leopard geckos love them and can become addicted to them if you regularly feed them.

Use Supplements

It is important that you supplement your leopard gecko’s food to keep them healthy. You will need to gut-load all the insects (except Phoenix worms) 24-48 hours before you offer them to your gecko. It is also important that you dust the insects with calcium, multivitamins, or calcium and vitamin D3 before you then give them to your gecko.

However, dusting schedules usually differ based on your gecko’s age. You will need to avoid over supplementing your leopard gecko to help avoid health issues. Some of the best supplements suitable for leopard geckos are:

  • Pure calcium like ReptiCalcium without Vit D3.
  • Calcium and vitamin D3 like Repticalcium with Vit. D3.
  • Multivitamins like RepCal multivitamins.

Note: you should avoid leaving a vitamin bowl in your leopard gecko’s tank because this can cause an overdose.

Make Sure That The Ideal Temperatures Inside Tank

You need to ensure the temperature in your leopard gecko enclosure is at optimal range to keep them healthy and happy. This is because leopard geckos are cold-blooded animals and need a high temperature to help digest food.

The basking spot temperature should be between 83-90F, while the temperature on the warm side should be 77-85F. The temperature on the cool side should be between 70-77F and can drop to 66-74F at night.

You can ensure the temperature in their enclosure is at optimal range by using thermometers.

Keep Leopard Gecko Comfortable

A stressed leopard gecko usually has trouble growing and gaining weight. This means you can keep your leopard gecko healthy by ensuring that it is not experiencing any stress.

You can keep your leopard gecko comfortable by ensuring their enclosure is suitable for them, and you do not house them with other animals, you don’t handle them very often, and so on.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How do you know if a leopard gecko is stressed?

Here are some of the ways that can help determine when your leopard gecko is stressed

= Your gecko is not eating like the usual
= It spends more time in its hideout
=It becomes aggressive when you want to handle it
= It has a problem shedding
= It has dull colors
= It is breathing very fast
= Your gecko is running away from you
= Your gecko is wagging its tail
= Your gecko scratches at the glass
= Your gecko is shaking its head
= It is digging a lot.

How much should I feed my underweight leopard gecko?

Baby leopard geckos need a lot of food to help gain weight. This means you will need to feed them as many staple insects as they can eat in 15 minutes every day. You can then set up two days to feed them with 1-2 fatty insects.

However, you will need to feed underweight leopard geckos with as many staple insects they can eat in 15 minutes 2-3 days a week. You can also set up a day to feed them with 1-2 fatty worms from the 2-3 days.

Conclusion

Leopard geckos can become underweight if you do not provide adequate care for them. However, you can easily treat underweight problems in leopard geckos by providing adequate care and visiting the vet.

During treatment, leopard geckos will not gain back weight overnight, but you will see that they recover very quickly with patience. All you have to do is be consistent with the treatment and ensure their enclosure is safe and comfortable, and you will notice that your gecko is thriving once again.

We hope this article provides everything you need to know about an underweight problem in leopard geckos. If you have a comment or question, you can do that in the section below.

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