Why Is My Leopard Gecko Not Eating?

If you’re a Leopard Gecko owner, you may have experienced instances where your beloved pet has stopped eating, and it can be concerning. 

There are many reasons why your Leo may not be eating, it’s important to understand the possible causes and take appropriate actions to ensure your Leopard Gecko stays healthy and happy.

In this article, I’m going to discuss 22 reasons why your Leo may have lost their appetite.

5 Natural Factors

Occasionally, your Leopard Gecko will stop eating for periods of time due to natural causes. For example, shedding, brumation, egg laying, mating season, and new habitat. I will talk through all of these causes in the section below.

#1 They’re Shedding

Leopard Geckos shedding their skin is a normal process, and a common symptom is a loss of their appetite. Usually, leos will eat their shed skin as it provides nutrients.

The shedding process should only last around 1-3 days. If it carries on longer than this, you can help them by ensuring humidity levels of 40% and providing rough surfaces such as bark for them to rub their loose skin on.

If after 5 days the shedding process is not complete. Consult your vet immediately for advice.

#2 They’ve Entered Brumation

Brumation is a similar process to hibernation for cold-blooded animals. Brumation approximately lasts 3 months. Your Leopard Gecko will stop eating for this time and it’s completely normal.

If you notice your leo has stopped eating and is resting more often than usual, they may have entered their brumation period. Advanced husbandry enthusiasts tend to prepare for their Leopard Gecko to brumate.

If you have not intended for this process to begin, consult your vet for advice on how to provide the correct conditions or whether to encourage eating instead of brumation.

#3 During Mating Season

During mating season, males tend to only have one thing on their minds. They’re only thinking of reproduction and will refuse to eat during this time. If you’re not mating Leopard Geckos, I recommend offering food and encouraging them to eat. 

#4 Are They Egglaying?

It’s normal for females when preparing to lay eggs to stop eating. This’ll usually last around 3-5 days. Once the egglaying process is complete, your Leopard Gecko will eat, and they’ll eat a lot to recover their energy.

If after 5 days your Leo is still not eating, is lethargic, and showing lumps on the underbelly, this is a sign of egg-bound and you’ll need to seek immediate advice from a veterinary specialist in this

#5 They’ve Just Moved In

If you’ve just got your Leopard Gecko, or you’ve just upgraded their tank, they may not eat. This is entirely normal. 

New environments and new people tend to be overwhelming for Leos and they’ll require some time to adjust to their new home. Typically around two weeks is when a Leopard Gecko adjusts to new surroundings and will get their appetite back.

7 Environmental Factors

Leopard Geckos are sensitive to their surroundings, and minor changes to their tank or incorrect setups can lead to loss of appetite. Here are 7 environmental factors as to why your Leo may not be eating.

Incorrect Tank Setup

#1 Tank Size

A Leopard Gecko requires a minimum tank size of 20 gallons. If you’re housing your Leo in anything smaller than this, it’ll cause them to be stressed, and claustrophobic and will result in loss of appetite.

#2 Tank Placement

The position of your tank plays a big role in the environment inside. Having direct sunlight on your tank or a cold breeze constantly flowing through, will easily affect the temperatures causing your Leo to lose its appetite.

If you have your tank in a busy location, for example, if it’s in the living room with a lot of human traffic or loud televisions, and music this can overwhelm your Leopard Gecko. 

It’s best to house them in a calmer room without outside weather affecting the environment. 

#3 Temperatures

Having the temperature gradient set up correctly is paramount for your Leopard Geckos’ eating habits. 

If the tank is too hot, your Leo will become overheated and dehydrated. They’ll then be lethargic and not want to eat because of the high temperatures.

On the other hand, if the tank is too cold your Leopard Gecko will be unable to digest its food.

The correct temperature gradient you should have are;

  • 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)

#4 Humidity

The humidity levels of the tank should remain between 30%-40%, having it lower than this can result in your Leo being dehydrated and can cause impaction.

During shedding, it’s okay to have the humidity a little higher than 40% but not for extended periods of time. 

#5 Lighting

The lighting in your Leopard Geckos’ habitat is important to keeping your Leos hunting schedules. 

They’re crepuscular reptiles meaning they’ll hunt at dusk or dawn for food. If the lighting doesn’t have a routine that influences a day/night schedule your Leo will become disorientated and not know when to eat.

Another problem with the lighting setup is it could be too hot, if the bulb has too high of a wattage or is placed too low in the tank it can cause your Leo to be overheated, dehydrated, and potentially burned.

#6 A Lack Of Hide Spots

In the wild, Leopard Geckos spend most of their time in hide spots to avoid predators, you’ll need to ensure you have a minimum of two in your setup.

In captivity, Leos spend their time in hide spots for 6 reasons

  • Adjusting to the environment
  • Lighting is too bright
  • Brumation
  • Overweight
  • Scared
  • Shedding

#7 Cohabitation

Leopard Geckos are solitary reptiles, they should always live alone unless they’ve been pared for mating. 

Although they’re not an aggressive species, there will still be competition for food, water, and shelter. This can cause stress in the weaker Leopard Gecko and will stop them from eating.

5 Dietary Factors

Leopard Geckos are avid hunters when it comes to eating, sometimes the food you’re supplying them or the way you’re delivering it could affect their eating habits. I have listed 5 dietary factors leading to your Leo not eating.

#1 Poor Feeding Schedule

As I mentioned Leopard Geckos are crepuscular, you shouldn’t be feeding them at random times throughout the day. You’ll need to keep to a routine of feeding them at dusk and dawn.

The best times I find to feed Leopard Geckos are 06:00 am and 08:00 pm, sticking to a schedule will help your Leo’s circadian rhythm and ensure a healthy appetite.

#2 Boring food

Leopard Geckos are avid hunters, they become stimulated by the thrill of hunting down their food. Feeding them frozen, chilled, or dead food will cause them to become uninterested and lose their appetite.

Feeding them the same foods day in, and day out will also result in them not wanting to hunt. You’ll need to keep a variety of food to keep them interested.

#3 Overly challenging food

Although they’re avid hunters, sometimes the food we offer them is too much to handle, for example, food that is too big will intimidate your Leopard Gecko and result in them losing their appetite. 

This is a simple fix, ensure the food you’re supplying is no bigger than the space between their eyes. This is the perfect size for your Leo to be interested in the hunt and it prevents them from potentially choking on food too big.

#4 Inadequate hydration

Ensure a shallow water dish is provided in the tank at all times. Although Leopard Geckos are native to deserts they still need water. 

They’ll usually hydrate from the food they eat, but if they’re not eating, providing this dish is essential. Dehydration can lead to a loss of appetite and in severe cases impaction.

#5 They’ve Stored The Energy In Their Tail

After Leopard Geckos eat, they’ll store the excess energy in their tails. You’ll be able to tell because their tail will be considerably more plump than usual. They’ll stop eating to use up the excess fat stores they have.

4 Health Related Issues

Loss of appetite is a symptom of different illnesses from which your Leopard Gecko could be suffering. I have listed 4 of the most common illnesses associated with appetite loss. If you suspect your Leo to suffer from any of these, consult your vet immediately.

#1 Parasites

If your Leopard Gecko is infected with parasites it’ll lose its appetite but before this happens you’ll see other signs;

  • Vomiting
  • Weight loss in body and tail
  • Regurgitation

Your vet will be able to diagnose and prescribe medications for your Leopard Gecko.

#2 Fatty Liver Disease

Fatty liver disease is caused by overfeeding and obesity, when feeding your Leopard Gecko allow them to eat as much as they can for 10 minutes and then remove any excess food in the tank.

Signs your Leopard Gecko is suffering from fatty liver disease, scientifically known as hepatic lipidosis are;

  • Pale colored diarrhea
  • Extreme weight loss
  • Lethargic

If you suspect your Leopard Gecko has fatty liver disease, seek the advice of a veterinary professional.

#3 Metabolic Bone Disease

Metabolic bone disease (MBD) is caused by calcium deficiencies. This is easily avoided by proving calcium rich foods and supplements in your Leopard Geckos diet. 

Symptoms of MBD are;

  • Deformities in limbs and jaw
  • Inability to stand or walk
  • Lethargic
  • Loss of appetite.

If you suspect your Leopard Gecko has MBD, seek the advice of a veterinary professional.

#4 Impaction

An impaction is a severe form of constipation, caused by blockages in the intestinal tract. Signs of this are;

  • Enflamed lump in the belly
  • Not defecating
  • Loss of appetite

The best way to check if your Leo is suffering from impaction is to gently rub the underbelly to feel for any lumps. If you discover a lump, immediately seek the advice of a veterinary professional. 

Summary

As you can see, there are many reasons your Leopard Gecko will not be eating. As long as you know the mannerisms of your pet, and can spot signs of abnormal behavior you’ll be able to give them the care they need.

Remember, if you’re ever in doubt, contact your vet for advice and expert care.

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.