Help! My Leopard Gecko Isn’t Eating. What Do I Do?

Leopard Gecko Crawling Out of Log

I went through this very recently with our Leo (Jack, who was recently confirmed as Jackie by our vet) and am happy to save you the hours I spent studying the Internet and visiting the vet by putting everything into one concise list for you.

Don’t panic! Yes, this is easier said than done, but there are several mundane reasons a leopard gecko may decide to stop eating for a short time.

Why Might Leo Suddenly Stop Eating?

Over conditioning: We were recently told that our leopard gecko, Jackie was overweight, (welcome to the family!). Sometimes, a Leo will stop eating until their body gets down to a healthier weight for them. It’s their way of dieting!

Shedding: If your gecko is getting ready to shed, it may stop eating for several days. And, as gross as it sounds, they will most likely eat their shed skin and then get back into their normal routine. Be sure they have a moss pit and that it is hydrated for them to hang out in during this time.

Weather changes: As the seasons change, particularly towards winter, a gecko can be more hibernation-like in its actions.  It may start eating a bit less and sleeping a bit more. It’s important during this change to be sure that the habitat has the proper temperatures, even if it means getting a heating pad for under the tank.

Habitat issues: Leopard geckos cannot produce their own body heat so it’s most important to watch the temperature in their habitat. Temperatures should be around 80-85 degrees during the day with an 88-90 degree sunning area. Night temperatures should be in the 70s.

What’s on the floor of your habitat? Sand or wood chip substrate (flooring) is not recommended for younger geckos as it can cause impaction if eaten. The safest floor for all ages is the roll out mat sold at the pet store.

Have you cleaned your Leo’s home lately? Fresh moss and water can do wonders for Leos that have that “not so fresh feeling.” 

Illness: If your gecko has gone a week without eating, it’s time to call the vet and make sure there isn’t something more serious going on. The most likely illness culprit will be impaction, but they will be able to guide you on next steps regardless.

Leopard Gecko's Face Up Close

Some Things to Try: 

Note: always call your vet to make sure they agree beforehand

Vitamin Water: If your Leo hasn’t been eating, they are most likely not getting enough nutrients in. One way to supplement that is to feed them plain electrolyte water. Easily found in the grocery store in brands like Propel and Pedialyte, this water will help boost their caloric intake and provide nutrients needed to help keep them from getting dehydrated.

We also used this water to spray Jackie’s moss pit and habitat.

Hot baths: It was also suggested to us that if there were to be a small impaction that might work its way through on its own, warm water baths in the electrolyte water might help.

1) The warm water may break up an impaction.

2) The water also is providing the nutrients we discussed above. Yes, we put Jackie in what we deemed “the hot tub.”

Oil: As odd as it sounds, if you can get a hint of olive or mineral oil into your Leo, the people at PetSmart told us this can also help move an impaction. What we did was put a little on our finger and rub it around her mouth. Yeah, she was annoyed, but she licked it off and ingested it.

Force Feeding: This one is not fun, but it may be necessary. When Jackie reached a point where she had lost 10% of her weight, the vet said we had to resort to force feeding. You can weigh your gecko with a food or postage scale, just be consistent in what you use.

In regards to force feeding, you can try any of the usual foods. If that doesn’t work, it was also suggested to try a syringe with a mix of applesauce/pumpkin/squash baby foods (apparently that lovely combination contains a good mix of nutrition).

People, this is not an easy task and Leos have a stronger bite than expected. Jackie actually latched onto my finger and did not want to let go! So, lesson here is not to let your young children try this.

Diet: What does your gecko normally eat? Try something new for them. If they eat waxworms, try getting some butter worms. The kind people at PetSmart who were guiding us told us they are the “Twinkies of the reptile world.”

Do you ever give your gecko crickets? Many geckos get crickets a time or two a week dusted with vitamin powder and consider it a treat. According to our vet at All About PetCare, geckos need to be sure and get plenty of Vitamin A in their diet and dusted crickets is the easiest way to get it in.

Diet Re-visted: What happened with Jackie? After about a month and a half of trying all of the above and JUST ABOUT caving to do an X-ray or blood test, the vet suggested one last thing, Pinkiesbaby mice that are less than 5 days old.

While I was completely disgusted by the idea of feeding a baby mouse to our Leo, I was more upset by the look on my son’s face when the vet said she didn’t know what else to try. Dad stopped at the pet store on the way home to pick up a frozen “dinner” for Jackie.

We also deemed it his job to feed this to her. After nearly 6 weeks of not eating, she decided that this was what she had been waiting for. She took a small sample and then latched on and would not let go.

Suffice to say, our Leo now gets a couple pinkies per week and seems to be happy as pie with herself.  The rest of us are not thrilled with the pinkie situation, but we are ecstatic that our Jackie didn’t appear to have anything more serious going on than a picky palate.

Leopard Gecko Eats Pinkie

Have you gone through this with your leopard gecko? Have any other tips to share with our readers? We’d love to see your comments.


Dog Shedding and Sitting on a Red Rug

How to Control Dog Shedding

Does your dog shed? Learn how to control their shedding!

10 Adoption Stories Guaranteed to Put a Smile on Your Face

If you love dogs, chances are you love a good dog adoption story! These ten stories are ones that I experienced first hand while working at animal rescues and shelters over the last eight years. They may make you laugh, cry, smile or a little of each, but they are guaranteed to warm your heart!…

Long Haired Beauties, What’s the Best Long Haired Cat Breed?

Are you looking to add a long-haired cat to your family, but aren’t sure which breed is right for you? Look no further because I’ve got you covered, from the Brachycephalic Persian to the dainty Turkish Angora there is a long haired cat out there for every personality type. Persian: One of the oldest cat…

Pug Smiling at Dog Park

Here’s How to Find a “Good” Dog Park!

Learn the insider secrets of finding the best dog park possible!

Dogs Walking on Path

How to Spot the Signs of Discomfort and Stress in Dogs

Do you know when your dog is stressed out or in discomfort?

Two Turtles Sunbathing on a Rock

How to Choose the Turtle for You

Turtles come in all shapes and sizes, with different living environments and dietary needs that you will need to be prepared to accommodate.

Pitbull Laying Out on the Beach

How to Rent a Dog for a Day

Want a furry friend, but don’t know if you can make the commitment just yet ?

Dog From a Painting Chewing on a Page from a Book

BO-ZING! 8 Most Popular Dogs in Literary Fiction

Even though Spot was used in the early 1930s to teach kids the fundamentals of reading, he certainly isn’t the only canine to find his way into a good book.

Dog Drinking Water out of Fountain

How Much Water Should Your Dog Really Drink?

It’s important for us to know what is and what isn’t normal for our pets.

Neapolitan Mastiff Outside in the Yard Protective Dog Breed

The 10 Most Protective Dog Breeds

These 10 breeds are all known for their dedication to their owners and their willingness to protect them.

Dog Playing with Pink Toy on Bed

Is Your Dog Possessive Over their Toys?

It’s normal for young pups to be a bit possessive over their toys…

Pug with Wrinkles on Face by Seaside

How to Clean Your Dog’s Skin Folds

The wrinkly faces of the Pug, Bulldog, Shar Pei and other brachycephalic breeds are adorable, but they also require regular cleaning.

Cat Profile in Plane Looking out Window

How to Fly with Your Cat

You have to give yourself plenty of preparation before you and your cat are ready to go jet set off on a plane somewhere.

Pug with Flowers in His Face

10 Dangerous Things in Your Yard for Your Dog

Have you taken a good look at your yard to be sure that everything is safe for your furry friends?

Chow Chow Least Obedient Dog Cover

Watch Out! The 10 Least Obedient Dog Breeds

Every dog can be trained, but some are simply a little less motivated than others.

Two Greyhounds Laying in the Backyard

How Long Should You Leave Your Dog Alone?

There is no short answer to this question as many factors can affect it.

Black Cat in Litter Box Newspaper on Wall

Why Should You Clean the Litter Box so Frequently?

Keeping your cat’s litter box clean is extremely important to her psyche as well as her health.

Millennials Spoil their Pets Jack Russell Sleeping

How Millennials are Changing Pet Parenthood

Millennials are putting off big life events like getting married and having children.
Instead, they’re having fur babies.

What Size Dog Should You Choose Dog Reading Self Help Book

What Size Dog is Best for You?

One thing that you definitely need to consider is size.

Puppy in Training to be a Guide DogPuppy in Training to be a Guide Dog

How to Train Your Dog to Become a Guide Dog

Dogs have been helping humans for hundreds of years, so it’s no surprise that one common job for dogs is guiding the blind.

White Albino Labrador

How to Train a Deaf Dog—It’s Easy!

Luckily, training a deaf dog isn’t so different from a fully-abled dog.

White Great Dane Laying on the Couch

Why are White Coated Dogs Deaf?

Deafness affects white coated dogs, but not all white coated dogs are deaf.

Sheep Dog with Matted Fur in his Eyes

How to Get Mats out of Your Animals’ Fur

Mats in fur are an issue that many dogs face, especially shaggy ones.

Pitbull out in the Summer Sun

How to Prevent Your Dog From Overheating

It’s up to us. Our dogs don’t know when they’re overheating.

Three Greyhounds Sleeping in Dog Beds in Family Room

April is Adopt a Greyhound Month! 50 Amazing Facts about Greyhounds

The Greyhound, the professional sleeper.

Black Cat on Window Sill

7 Myths about the Black Cat and Why You Should Have One

Black cats are famous for “bad luck.”

Small Brussells Griffons Eating in Kitchen in a Line

What is Food Aggression and How Do You Stop It?

A useful response in the wild, but not so much in the home.

Yellow and Black Snake

How to Help Your Snake Shed his Skin

Shedding skin is a natural process for all reptiles.

German Shepherd Dog with Green Backpack on Back

The Top 10 Dog Traveling Gear Must Haves

Luckily, you don’t need to bring a ton of things.

Two Dogs Hike in Los Angeles

Love Traveling? Countries to NOT Travel With Your Dog To

Watch out for Belarus.

Dog Eating a Treat

Yum. Yum. Yum. Can Dogs Eat Sugar?

We love sweets, but can our dogs eat them, too?

Pitbull Looking up at the Camera

Going Out of Town? Best Pet Sitters in Atlanta

Going out of town and need someone to watch your dog?

Maine Coon Backlit by the Sunset

Feline Monsters: Norwegian Forest Cat vs. Siberian Cat vs. Maine Coon

Not only are these cats’ big, their personalities are larger than life, too.

Boston Terrier by Water

French Bulldog vs. the Boston Terrier: What’s the Difference?

To the untrained eye, French Bulldogs and Boston Terriers could be the same breed

Labradoodle Hybrid Dog with Tongue Out

Why Do People Want Hybrid Dogs?

They’re cute and they’re…healthier?

Two Cats on the Floor Bonding

5 Reasons Why You Should Adopt an Older Cat

Adopting an older cat is a great way to get an amazing cat without all the work of kittenhood.

Black Cat Outside on the Lawn

10 years? 15? How Old Do Cats Live?

Cat’s have nine lives, but how long are those lives?

Grey and White Cat with Green Eyes

How to Prevent Cat Bladder Infections

Bladder infections are the number one reason cats visit the vet.

Dog on Hillside in San Francisco, California

The Top Dog-Friendly Cities in the U.S.

How can you go wrong with a pub-crawl with your dog?

German Shepherd with Pointed Ears

What is Schutzhund and How Do You Train Your Dog for it?

This sport has withstood the test of time.

Dog International in England Shakespeare House

Your Introduction to Traveling Abroad with Your Dog

Going to a new country with your dog can be a great experience.

Brown Horse with Black Mane Trotting in Dirt

How to Manage Chronically Infected Wounds in Horses

This can be a scary thing, because infections can eventually lead to the horse’s death if left untreated for too long.

Alusky Hybrid Frozen in the Snow

The Alusky—the Hybrid of Two Great Arctic Breeds

One portmanteau that doesn’t get the recognition it deserves—the Alusky.

Two Dogs with Tongues out with Separation Anxiety

How to Beat Your Dog’s Separation Anxiety

Separation anxiety is a well-known problem for many pet parents.

Alaskan Malamute Standing in the Mud

65 Fun Facts About the Alaskan Malamute

They’ve lived alongside humans for thousands of years.

Egyptian Mau on Cat Tree

Where Do Different Cat Breeds Come From?

There are over 70 specific recognized breeds…that’s a lot of cats.

Alaskan Malamute Outside in the Snow

Your Go-To Guide to Snow Dog Breeds

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow…

Girl Waving at Computer

10 Ways to Build a Strong Relationship with Your Dog

Not sure how to help your pooch feel more appreciated?

Siberian Cat Profile Outdoors

How to Read Cat Body Language

There are many tell-tale signs to indicate Kitty’s mood.

White American Eskimo by the Lake

What are the Top 10 Dog Breeds that Shed the Most?

Did you know that a dog’s coat serves three distinct purposes?