There’s nothing quite as frustrating for an owner as when their leopard gecko won’t poop. You’ve tried everything, from changing their diet to trying different types of substrates, but nothing seems to work. Well, never fear! Here are some tips and tricks to get your leopard gecko back on track.
Leopard Geckos And Their Digestive System
Leopard geckos are insectivores, meaning that they require animal protein to sustain their health. In the wild, their diet consists of insects and other small invertebrates. In captivity, they can be fed a diet of commercially available insect food or a combination of live and frozen/thawed insects.
A leopard gecko’s digestive system is designed to extract nutrients from animal prey. Some plant matter may be consumed incidentally but it is not an essential part of their diet. A leopard gecko’s digestive system is relatively short compared to other reptiles and they lack the ability to effectively absorb nutrients from plant material. For this reason, a diet that includes plant matter can actually be harmful to your gecko.
If you are concerned that your leopard gecko is not pooping, there are a few things you can do to encourage normal intestinal function. First, make sure that they are eating a nutritious diet and that they are receiving enough hydration. If you are feeding live insects, make sure that the insects are not too large for your gecko to eat easily. Gut impaction can occur if your gecko ingests an insect that is too large or not properly chewed before swallowing. If you suspect gut impaction, please contact your veterinarian immediately as this condition can be life-threatening.
In addition, you can try offering your leopard gecko a warm bath in shallow water (no more than 1-2 inches deep). The warmth and moisture may help stimulate their digestive system and help them to defecate more easily. Be sure to supervise closely during the bath as leopard geckos can drown if left unattended. If you have any concerns about your leopard gecko’s health, please contact your veterinarian for further guidance.
How Often Do Leopard Geckos Poop?
Before we worry about our Leo not pooping enough we should probably establish how often we expect them to poop!
Generally, a healthy adult leopard gecko will poop once per day. Babies and juvenile geckos will need to go more often as their bodies are growing faster so you should expect a younger gecko to poop 2-3 times per day.
As they get older you can expect the poop frequency (scientific term, probably) to slow down to a couple of times per week.
Of course, how often your gecko poops is also highly correlated with how often you feed them. Just like with you or me, more food in = more poop out!
Why Leopard Geckos Might Not Be Pooping
There are a variety of reasons why your leopard gecko might not be pooping. It could be down to one specific factor or it could be a sign of a bigger health concern. Just like in us humans, a healthy digestive system is a sign of a (generally) healthy body. Likewise, problems in the digestive system can be a sign of an unhealthy body and potentially a sign that something is seriously wrong inside.
The first thing to check is if your gecko is eating properly. If he’s not eating, or not eating as much as usual, this could be why he’s not pooping – if nothing goes in, there’s nothing to come out! Changes in eating habits can be a warning sign that something’s not right but it’s also not uncommon for appetites to go up and down with changes in diet (have you swapped out your insect supplier recently? Dusting your insects with a new powder, maybe?) or if they are getting ready to shed.
On its own, eating less (or not eating at all) isn’t necessarily a major concern but definitely keep an eye on it as it could be a sign of something more sinister developing. If your gecko starts showing signs of lethargy or irritation then you might want to take action but until then a little patience, and maybe a treat or two, could be the best option until your gecko figures it out for itself.
Another reason for not pooping could be that they are stressed out or anxious. Their environment might be too hot or too cold, which can lead to constipation. Excessively warm temperatures can lead to stress and overly cold ones can stop your Leos digestive system from working properly.
Keep an eye on your geckos tank and make sure it’s not too hot or cold. If you’ve made any changes to the layout or got a new heat lamp this could throw off the balance of temperatures your gecko has been used to which can be very unsettling for them.
Make sure the temperature under any lamps is around 90 degrees and that there’s a cooler area in the mid 70’s. Also try and keep the nighttime temps in the low 70’s so your gecko is comfortable and relaxed.
Another common cause of stress with geckos is excessive or unwanted handling. I’m sure it’s the last thing you want to hear about your pet but sometimes geckos just want to be alone and stay in their homes all by themselves and handling them when they want some space can be incredibly stressful.
I know that holding and playing with your gecko is one of the best parts of having a pet and plenty of geckos grow very fond of their owners but if they are not in the mood you just have to respect their personal space and wait until they change their mind.
Moving on to the more serious causes of non-pooping and we get to constipation and impaction.
As most of us have experienced at one time or another, constipation can be uncomfortable but is usually short-lived and caused by something as simple as a slight change in diet or temperature changes. Thankfully, that also means it can be just as simple to fix and most of the time your body will find a way to ‘work it out’ (pardon the pun) and geckos bodies are no different in this respect.
If your gecko is constipated for a while, however, it can lead to impaction. This is more serious than constipation and can be fatal if left untreated so always consult a veterinarian if you suspect your gecko has impaction for more than a few days.
Impaction basically means a colon or digestive tract that is blocked by something that can’t get unstuck.
This usually happens when they eat sand, dirt, or loose substrate from their enclosure and is a lot more common in baby or juvenile geckos while they are still learning what’s food and what isn’t.
Eating substrate can also be a sign that your gecko isn’t getting everything it needs from its diet and is trying to find additional minerals, such as calcium, by other means. If this is the case then, once your gecko is back to normal, make sure you dust your feeder insects with calcium powder to stop them eating things they shouldn’t to make up for missing nutrients in their meals.
And on the subject of eating things they shouldn’t – large insects can cause digestive problems as well. Think about how you feel after a thanksgiving feast and you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about here!
Too big or too many insects will be too difficult for your gecko to digest and can cause constipation or impaction. Feeder insects should be no larger than the space between your geckos eyes. Bigger isn’t always better, especially at mealtimes!
Another common reason for geckos to stop pooping is dehydration. Even though they don’t drink a lot of water, it’s still vital for your gecko to consume enough water to keep them regular.
A substantial part of a gecko’s water can come from the insects they eat but it is still important to keep a fresh supply of drinking water available at all times and monitor how much they are drinking.
Tank humidity levels are also something to keep a close eye on too. The right humidity level helps with hydration and makes your gecko more comfortable which has the knock-on effect of lowering stress which has the knock-on effect of helping digestion and on and on…..
Lastly, and hopefully something you will never experience, but parasites inside your gecko can also cause digestive problems, along with a host of other health problems. If you suspect that parasites could be the cause of any problems then get your gecko to the vet as soon as possible!
if your leopard gecko has an infection, it can affect their ability to poop properly. Infections can be fatal if not treated promptly and properly.
Tips for getting a leopard gecko to poop
There are a few things you can do to help your leopard gecko start pooping again.
Even though they don’t really enjoy the water, you can try offering it a warm bath. Fill a plastic container with about half an inch of lukewarm water and choose a container that is not much bigger than your gecko. You might want to put a cloth or towel in the bottom of the container to help your gecko keeps its footing but it’s not always neccessary.
Carefully place your gecko into the water and remember that this can very quickly become a stressful experience so go slowly and be patient.
If he can stand it, let your gecko soak for 5 minutes or so (keeping an eye on the water temperature) and this should help him rehydrate and hopefully get things moving again.
If the bath doesn’t work, or if you want to try a little more help, you can give your gecko a gentle massage.
This is another thing that can quickly become uncomfortable and stressful so pay attention to your geckos reaction and behavior and stop if it looks like he is getting stressed out.
Make sure he is comfortable and massage his belly gently. Obviously don’t do this straight after feeding and ideally do it when your gecko is more active and awake so evenings or nighttime work best.
If your leopard gecko is still not pooping after a day or two, or he won’t let you do either of the above methods, see a vet for further help.
How to tell if a leopard gecko is constipated
There are a couple of different ways to tell if your leopard gecko is constipated but the main one is to look at its droppings.
If they are small, dry, and hard, then your gecko may be constipated. Any change in pooping frequency or consistency should be noted as this is often the earliest sign of something not quite right inside.
Another sign of possible constipation is if your gecko is straining to poop or hasn’t pooped in a while.
This can be harder to spot and the chances of you catching your gecko in the act are quite slim, especially if he’s struggling to do the deed in the first place. Still, if you do get your timing right and the little guy looks uncomfortable while trying to poop, that’s a pretty good sign that he’s suffering with constipation.
Above all, if you suspect that your leopard gecko is constipated, you should probably take it to the vet. It could be temporary and nothing to worry about but it can also be quite serious so better to be safe than sorry.
When to see a vet about a leopard gecko’s constipation
So now you know, if your leopard gecko isn’t pooping, it may be constipated. You also know there are a few things you can do at home to help your gecko have a bowel movement. But if those don’t work (or it keeps on happening) it’s time to see a vet.
I’ve listed a number of reasons why a leopard gecko may become constipated, including dehydration, lack of exercise, and eating the wrong food. If your leopard gecko is constipated, you may notice that it isn’t eating as much as usual or that it seems lethargic. Its stomach may appear bloated, and it may try to poop but nothing comes out.
If you think your leopard gecko is constipated, the first thing you should do is take it to a vet. The vet will be able to determine whether the gecko is constipated and will recommend the best course of treatment. In some cases, the vet may give the gecko a laxative or enema to help it poop. In other cases, constipation may be due to a more serious condition such as an obstruction in the intestines, in which case surgery may be necessary.
The importance of a healthy diet for leopard geckos
Leopard geckos are obligate carnivores. This basically means that they need a diet that is primarily composed of animal matter in order to thrive. A healthy diet for a leopard gecko should therefore include a variety of small insects, such as crickets, mealworms, and waxworms.
While commercial foods designed specifically for leopard geckos are available, it is generally recommended that these make up only a small part of the diet.
This is because these products often do not contain the same range of nutrients that are found in live insects. It is important to supplement any commercial food with a variety of live insects in order to ensure that your gecko has a well-rounded diet.
In addition to being an important part of a leopard gecko’s diet, live insects also provide your gecko with essential mental stimulation and opportunities to exercise their natural hunting behaviors. For this reason, it is generally recommended that live insects make up the overwhelming majority of your gecko’s diet.
Prevention of constipation in leopard geckos
Ideally, your gecko will never get constipated in the first place and you won’t have to worry about everything I’ve said above.
With that in mind, there are several things you can do to prevent your leopard gecko from becoming constipated.
First, make sure that you are feeding your gecko a well-rounded diet. A good diet for a leopard gecko includes insects, insects and more insects. Feeding your gecko a variety of recommended insects will help to make sure that they are getting the nutrients they need to stay healthy.
Second, make sure that you are providing your gecko with enough water. You can do this by placing a bowl of water in their enclosure or by misting their enclosure with water on a regular basis.
Third, provide your gecko with an appropriate-sized hide box. A hide box is an important part of their environment as it gives them a place to feel secure and safe. If their hide box is too small, they may not be able to turn around properly or get comfortable which will leave them frustrated and stressed which can lead to constipation.
Finally, make sure that you are cleaning their enclosure on a regular basis. This will prevent the build-up of waste products in their environment which can contribute to constipation.