Leopard Gecko Impaction: The Causes, Symptoms, Treatment

Leopard Gecko impaction is a potentially fatal health condition for reptiles.

In this article, I’m going to discuss what impaction is, what the causes are, the symptoms, and the best practices to prevent and treat it.

Leopard Gecko Impaction: Quick Answers


Causes
  • Food too large or dense
  • Incorrect enclosure temperature and humidity levels
  • Unsuitable substrates
  • Dehydration

Symptoms
  • Constipation
  • Bloated belly
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Blue spots on body

Treatment
  • Bathing your Leopard Gecko
  • Reptile safe laxatives

Leopard Gecko Scientific Classification
  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Reptilia
  • Order: Squamata
  • Family: Eublepharidae
  • Genus: Eublepharis
  • Species: E. Macularius

Diet Overview



Diet

Mealworms

Crickets

Hornworms

Dubia Roaches

Silkworms

Red Runner Roaches

Discoid Roaches

What Is Impaction?

Impaction is a form of constipation. It occurs when a hard undigestible mass blocks the digestive tract of your Leopard Gecko.

Important: Impaction can lead to fatalities. If you suspect your Leopard Gecko suffers from impaction, seek veterinary advice immediately.

What Causes Leopard Gecko Impaction?

There are 4 main causes for your Leopard Gecko to become impacted. I have listed what these causes are below, and how to prevent them from happening.

Eating Foods Too Large or Dense

The most common cause for Leopard Geckos to become impacted is eating foods too large or dense for them to digest.

They’ll attempt to eat anything that moves in front of them. So it’s important to always supply foods suitable to their diet.

Leo’s are insectivores, meaning they eat solely insects. The insects you feed your Leo should be no bigger than the space between their eyes, this reduces the risk of impaction.

Learn more about your Leopard Geckos diet here: What Do Leopard Geckos Eat? The Balanced Diet

Incorrect Enclosure Temperatures And Humidity

Leopard Geckos are cold-blooded, meaning they need external heat sources to allow their body to function properly. 

If the enclosure they’re housed in has incorrect temperature and humidity levels, this will prevent them from digesting their meals, resulting in impaction.

The correct temperature gradient and humidity levels for Leopard Geckos is:

  • Basking Area: 94°F-97°F (34-36°C)
  • Warm Area: 90°F-92°F (32-33°C)
  • Cool Area: 70°F-77°F (21-25°C)
  • Humidity: 30% – 40%

Learn more about Leopard Gecko’s enclosure setups here: How To Set Up A Leopard Leopard Gecko Terrarium

Improper Substrates

As I mentioned above, Leopard Geckos will attempt to eat anything that moves in front of them. This means if you have loose-particle substrates such as sand, soil, wood shavings, or gravel they’ll likely ingest it by accident.

These types of substrates can not be digested by your Leopard Gecko. Leading to their digestive tract being blocked and causing impaction.

The best method to avoid impaction is to use substrates such as reptile carpets, tiles, rubber liners, newspaper, and paper towels.

Dehydration

Leopard Gecko Drinking Water

When Leopard Geckos become dehydrated their intestines lack the fluid required for bowel movements, and in extreme cases, urate plugs can form causing a blockage.

The best way to prevent dehydration is to monitor the temperature and humidity within their enclosure and provide fresh water daily.

Another way to prevent dehydration is to provide a moist hide in their enclosure and mist it daily. They’ll use this hide for safety and will drink from the droplets that have formed inside.

Symptoms: How Do I Know If My Leopard Gecko Is Impacted?

Constipation

The first sign of Leopard Gecko impaction is their inability to pass bowel movements. It’s important to clean out their feces daily for general hygiene and to be able to track their bowel movements.

Bloated Belly

If your Leopard Gecko is impacted their belly will become hard and bloated around the sides. This is a sign they’re not capable of digesting their meal and it is building up.

Loss Of Appetite

Leopard Geckos will lose their appetite if they’re suffering from impaction. This is because they’re unable to defecate and will not want any more meals.

Your Leopard Gecko may also regurgitate their meals in an attempt to clear the internal blockage.

Lethargic

Due to the uncomfortable nature of being impacted, your Leo will not want to move around very much. 

However, lethargy can be a sign of other illnesses too. If you notice them being less active than usual, I recommend monitoring them for 24 hours and calling a veterinarian for expert advice if there are no improvements.

Blue Spots On the Side Of the Body Or Belly

Blue spots appearing is a symptom that usually appears with bloating. This is because as their digestive tract becomes blocked, it’ll start to push their organs toward the surface of their skin allowing them to be visible.

How To Treat Leopard Gecko Impaction

Before you attempt any treatments for your Leopard Geckos impaction, I recommend you consult with your veterinarian for expert advice.

Warm Baths

Giving your Leo a warm bath can help soften the blockage and begin the bowel movement process.

How To Bathe Leopard Gecko’s

  • Get a plastic container with a lid.
  • Create ventilation holes.
  • Fill it with water equivalent to that of the enclosure warm area (90°F-92°F (32-33°C).
  • The water level needs to be no higher than the height of your Leo’s shoulders.
  • Gently place your Leo in the container.
  • Gently massage them by moving your fingers from the throat to their tail base to help move the stool every few minutes for a total of 20 minutes.
  • Repeat this process two times a day for 3 days.
  • If your Leopard Gecko has a bowel movement, I recommend inspecting it to identify the cause of impaction to prevent future problems

Veterinary Assistance

If the bathing method is unsuccessful, it is likely the impaction is severe and your Leopard Gecko may need medical attention resulting in surgery.

FAQ

What Do I Do If My Leopard Gecko Is Impacted?

Contact your reptile veterinarian immediately for expert advice.

Can Leopard Gecko Impaction Go Away On Its Own?

Yes, Leopard Gecko Impaction can potentially clear on its own. However, I don’t recommend waiting for this. Instead, contact your vet and proceed to follow their guidance with home remedies or prescribed medication.

What Laxatives Are Safe For Reptiles?

Dioctyl sodium sulfosuccinate (DSS) is a reptile-safe laxative. However, I advise only treating your Leopard Gecko with veterinarian prescribed medication.

Summary

Remember, to prevent impaction: Use appropriate-sized food, avoid loose-particle substrates, maintain correct temperature and humidity levels, and keep your Leopard Gecko hydrated.

Please note: Even though we’ve extensively researched credible sources to provide you with the best information, what you’ve read should only be used as a guide. We’re not professionals with lab coats and clipboards. Always consult a professional if you have concerns about your reptile’s health.