Sick Crested Gecko? Common Diseases And Treatments

sick crested gecko

Crested geckos are known for being healthy pets and are easy to care for. However, as any animal they can also get sick, especially if their needs aren’t met. If you have a sick Crested gecko, it’s important that you know the cause, symptoms and treatment to nurse them back to health.

Most Crested gecko diseases can be treated by a specialised exotic vet and most importantly they can be prevented by regular health checks and good husbandry.

In this article, we will be looking at the following topics:

  • What does a healthy Crested gecko look like and how to maintain their health
  • Common Crested gecko diseases – cause, symptoms and treatment
  • Caring for a sick Crested gecko

What Does A Healthy Crested Gecko Look Like

Having a sick Crested gecko on your hands can be challenging and upsetting. However, if provided with good husbandry and regular checks, you should be able to avoid many Crested gecko diseases and conditions.

Everytime you clean your gecko’s enclosure, you should use it as an opportunity to check on your gecko’s health.

A healthy Crested gecko should present with the following:

  • Alert – Although, Crested geckos are nocturnal, they should be alert when picked up even during daytime hours. Geckos have different personalities and some might be calmer than others.

    However, they should always react with at least direct eye contact when handled. If you have a sick Crested gecko, it will be shaking and struggling to maintain balance

  • Clean – Another thing to look out for when inspecting your Crested gecko’s health is cleanliness. A healthy gecko will have clean skin, free from infection, no discharge from nose, eyes or ears.

    However, skin infection shouldn’t be confused with shedding skin stuck on the gecko as that’s normal. The same goes if your gecko’s skin appears darker in color, that doesn’t mean infection as Crested geckos are known for changing their color depending on multiple factors such as environment and mood

  • Body Weight. A healthy Crested gecko has a sturdy body build. If they appear thin it can mean that you have a sick Crested gecko on your hands.

    When inspecting your gecko, the hip bones should not be sticking out.
    However, it’s important to note that ribs might be on show in younger geckos which is normal.  

How To Ensure Your Crested Gecko Stays Healthy

sick crested gecko

In the wild, a sick Crested gecko, automatically becomes an easier prey for the predators. For that reason, the Crested gecko has learned how to hide any sickness. This means that it’s harder for owners to tell if they have a sick Crested gecko.

To ensure that you don’t miss any health problems that your Crested gecko might have, you should take extra care and perform the following checks:

  • Check their weight weekly. Any unexpected weight loss can mean sick Crested gecko
  • Keep a diary where you record every weight check, behaviour and moods, etc
  • Any responsible Crested gecko owner should have a reptile first-aid kit in case of injury or sickness

Crested Gecko First Aid Kit

The perfect Crested gecko first aid kid should contain the following:

  • Eye dropper
  • Syringe (the smallest you can find)
  • KY Jelly (lubricant)
  • Cotton swabs (q-tips)
  • Reptile-safe topical disinfectant (.05% chlorhexidine, Betadine, etc)
  • Tweezers
  • Magnifying glass
  • Pedialyte
  • Gram Scale
  • Disposable gloves
  • Vet phone number including out of hours
  • Gauze pads 
  • Sterile saline flush
  • Adhesive tape (cloth and waterproof)
  • Antiseptic wipes or spray
  • Scissors

Common Crested Gecko Diseases And Conditions – Cause And Symptoms

sick crested gecko

Overall, Crested geckos are healthy animals and don’t suffer from life threatening diseases. However, even a non-life threatening disease can turn fatal if you don’t act on time.

Not only are Crested geckos healthy animals but most disease can be prevented simply by providing good husbandry and well-balanced diet. It’s good to remember that prevention is the best cure.

Common Causes For Crested Gecko Diseases

With that said, the following inconsistencies in Crested gecko care can lead to development of certain diseases and conditions:

  • Incorrect diet. Crested geckos need a well-balanced diet to be healthy. The easiest and safest route is feeding your gecko a commercial diet. If your gecko doesn’t receive the nutrients they need such as Calcium, it can lead to them becoming sick
  • Incorrect habitat set up. Crested geckos have certain needs in terms of their enclosure set up such as size and the contents. Read more about habitat set up here Crested Gecko Habitat Setup: How To Build A Perfect Tank
  • Temperature. Crested geckos’ natural habitat is tropical. Therefore, you need to ensure the temperature in their enclosure is 72°F to 75°F. Higher temperatures can lead to heat stress
  • Humidity levels. They need moderate to high humidity – 60% during the day and 80% during the night. The lack of humidity can make your gecko sick
  • Stress. Crested geckos are fragile animals and can get easily stressed which can also lead to sickness

Common Symptoms Of A Sick Crested Gecko

sick crested gecko
Crested Gecko (Rhacodactylus ciliatus), jumping, New Caledonia

Although, a hardy animal even the Crested gecko can become sick and it’s your responsibility to spot the symptoms and act accordingly.

The following are the most common symptoms that a sick Crested gecko will exhibit:

  • Fatigue and tiredness
  • Sudden weight loss
  • Throwing up and/or diarrhea
  • Not eating
  • Eye discharge
  • Not losing the dead skin when shedding
  • Can’t climb vertical surfaces
  • Floppy tail
  • Prolapsed hemipenes

Common Crested Gecko Diseases And Conditions

As any other animal, the Crested geckos are known to develop a few diseases and conditions. However, most of them can be treated by a specialised exotic vet and most importantly prevented by providing good husbandry.

The following is a list of common Crested gecko diseases that we’re going to discuss in this article:

  • Metabolic Bone Disease
  • Respiratory infection
  • Parasites
  • Impaction
  • Shedding
  • Egg binding (dystocia)
  • Floppy Tail Syndrome
  • Stress
  • Dehydration

Metabolic Bone Disease

sick crested gecko
Crested Gecko Suffering Metabolic Bone Disease

Cause

The cause of Metabolic Bone disease is Calcium and/or Vitamin D3 deficiency. That’s why is so important to provide your Crested gecko with a well-balanced and nutritious diet.

Symptoms

  • Wavy tail
  • Soft jaw
  • Curved limbs
  • Tiredness
  • Not eating

Treatment

Severe cases of the disease should be treated by a specialised vet. However, if you catch it soon enough, you can treat your Crested gecko by increasing the dose of Calcium and Vitamin D3 supplements and adding a UVB light to the enclosure if they don’t have one already.

In the case your Crested gecko already has a UVB light in their enclosure, it’s recommended to put them on Miner-ALL’s Outdoor formula.

It’s important to note that preventing Metabolic Bone Disease in Crested geckos is very easy. As long as you provide them with the following, the chances of developing the disease are slim:

  • A well-balanced and nutritious diet. If you feed your gecko a homemade diet, it’s important to ensure that the foods’ Calcium: Phosphorus ratio (Ca:P) is 2:1 or better
  • Any insects you give to your gecko should be dusted in calcium powder to prevent this condition from developing
  • If you feed your Crested gecko a commercial powder diet, they will be getting all the nutrients they need from that there
  • Provide 5% UVB light

Respiratory Infection

Cause

The cause of most respiratory infections in Crested geckos are caused by bacteria.

Other causes include:

  • Fungal infections
  • Parasites
  • Dirty habitat
  • Incorrect temperature
  • Poor diet
  • Incorrect humidity levels

Symptoms

Symptoms of respiratory infection in a sick Crested gecko include:

  • Laboured breathing
  • Wheezing or unusual sounds when breathing
  • Keeping the mouth open when breathing
  • Tiredness and sluggish behaviour
  • Not eating
  • Discharge from the mouth, nose
  • Weight loss

Treatment

The treatment of respiratory infections in Crested gecko include:

  • Antibiotics. This can be given to your gecko by mouth with a syringe or through inhalation
  • If the cause is parasites, the treatment is with prescribed medication by your vet. In addition, the enclosure should also be treated

Parasites

Reptiles are susceptible to parasites. Crested geckos are no exception.

The only way to be sure what parasite your gecko has is by having a sample of their stool tested by a vet.

There are three main parasites that can result in a sick Crested gecko:

  • Entamoeba
  • Pinworm
  • Cryptosporidium

Entamoeba

The parasite that should be the biggest concern in Crested gecko is Entamoeba.

Symptoms

The symptoms of this parasite include:

  • Sudden weight loss
  • Tiredness
  • In extreme cases it can lead to death
Treatment

The Entamoeba parasites, can be treated through the use of Flagyl (metronidazole). This needs to be prescribed by a vet.

Pinworm

Pinworm is not as dangerous as the Entamoeba parasite. However, the presence of many pinworms can also be a concern.

Symptoms
  • Not eating
  • Weight loss
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Foul smelling poop
Treatment

Pinworms are treated through the use of anthelminthic (deworming) medication or Panacur (Fenbendazole). It’s equally important to treat the enclosure otherwise it turns into a constant source for re infection.

Cryptosporidium

This parasite is less likely to appear in Crested geckos.

Symptoms

Symptoms can include

  • Regurgitation
  • Vomiting
  • Dehydration
  • Tiredness
Treatment

Unfortunately, Cryptosporidium is not curable. Therefore, once the Crested gecko is infected, it will always have it and the disease can reappear again.

The treatment for this parasite is through the use of Paromomycin, prescribed by your vet.

Impaction

sick crested gecko

If not treated, impaction in Crested geckos can be fatal. But what is impaction? This is a condition where the digestive tract is blocked by a solid or a semi-solid mass.

Cause

  • Loose substrate – this can be digested by accident
  • Hard shelled feeders
  • Large feeder insects – feeding them food that is too large can result in getting stuck
  • Dehydration – if not hydrated enough, it can result in food getting stuck in the digestion track
  • Low temperature – incorrect temperature can also lead to issues with digestion

Symptoms

  • Constipation
  • Straining when pooping
  • Leg trembling
  • Regurgitation
  • Paralysis
  • Not eating
  • Tiredness
  • Laboured breathing
  • Bumps along the spinal area

Treatment

  • Regulate humidity and mist twice daily
  • Your vet can prescribe a reptile-safe “laxative”
  • Try to offer as much fluid as possible
  • Avoid feeding them solids. Instead use puree type of foods
  • Use a small syringe to feed the gecko

Shedding

sick crested gecko
Crested Gecko Shedding

Cause

Shedding is a normal process in your Crested gecko’s life.

Crested geckos shed when they:

  • Lose weight
  • Gain weight
  • Grow

When the Crested gecko’s body size and shape is changing, they shed their skin and a new one grows that fits them better.

Shedding can become an issue if the gecko is struggling to get rid of the old skin. In this case, the gecko needs your help.

Symptoms

  • Gray skin color
  • Loss of appetite
  • Less active

Treatment

To help your Crested gecko shed successfully, you can do the following:

  • Increase the humidity to 80-100% until shedding is done
  • If the shedding skin gets stuck on the toes and tip of the tail, it can result in limb loss. To avoid this from happening, you can place your gecko in a small plastic box/crate/bowl and put a wet, lukewarm paper tower inside. This sauna effect will help the skin come off easier

Once the skin is off, the Crested gecko will eat it. This is completely normal and you don’t need to worry about it. In the wild, the Crested geckos consume their skin to not leave a trace for predators and for the nutrients they get from it.

Egg Binding

Egg Binding in Crested Gecko

Cause

When a female Crested gecko is pregnant, it’s also known as gravid. In some cases, the eggs are not laid on time and can get stuck in the gravid female. This condition is also known as egg binding.

Causes for this condition include:

  • Poor diet and lack of nutrients such as calcium
  • Weak muscles
  • Poor humidity levels
  • Lack of appropriate nest in the enclosure

Symptoms

The main symptom is the appearance and touch of the female’s belly. It will appear wide on the lower end. In addition, you’ll be able to feel the eggs when touching it.

Normally, the Crested geckos will lay eggs after roughly 30 to 45 days after mating. Therefore, if it’s taking anything longer than that, you might have a sick Crested gecko on your hands.

Treatment

If you suspect egg binding, you need to take your Crested gecko to the vet as surgery might be required to extract the masses.

Floppy Tail Syndrome

Cause

The condition known as Floppy tail syndrome is the result of the gecko spending too much time hanging upside down. In this position, the tail of the gecko will be hanging down over the gecko’s head, for long periods of time.

Other causes include:

  • Metabolic Bone Disease and Calcium/Vitamin D3

Symptoms

  • Lifeless tail
  • Tiredness
  • Whimpering
  • Chewing/licking the tail

Treatment

To prevent this condition ensure the following:

  • Your gecko is on a well-balanced and nutritious diet
  • Don’t allow your gecko to spend long periods of time upside down
  • Your Crested gecko habitat set up includes enough accessories such as horizontal branches to prevent your gecko hanging upside down

If your Crested gecko already has the condition, tail amputation might be necessary.

Stress

Cause

Crested geckos are fragile creatures that can get easily stressed. The cause of stress can be any of the following:

  • Humidity and temperature levels
  • Not used to being handled or handled incorrectly
  • Diseases
  • Incorrect habitat setup
  • Position of the enclosure

Symptoms

Symptoms of a sick Crested gecko that is stressed include:

  • Jumpy
  • Running away and hiding
  • Biting when you try to pick it up
  • Aggressiveness such as jumping at the glass walls
  • Fast and laboured breathing
  • Tiredness
  • Making noises such as whimpering, squeaking, chirping

Treatment

Depending on what has caused the stress in your Crested gecko, you can help them by doing the following:

  • If your gecko is a new pet, avoid handling the first week and in the second week start by introducing small handling sessions of 5 minutes. Learn more about correct handling here How To Hold A Crested Gecko: Tips On Handling Crested Gecko
  • If your gecko is presenting with symptoms of stress, you can cover the sides of the tank with a blanket until it calms down. In addition, don’t interact with it for 1 full day
  • Adjust temperature and humid levels
  • Ensure the habitat set up is correct – click here to find out how to setup your Crested gecko’s cage Crested Gecko Habitat Setup: How To Build A Perfect Tank
  • Ensure the enclosure/cage’s position is not near any loud noises such as TV, radio, etc

Dehydration

Cause

The cause of dehydration in a sick Crested gecko can be any of the following:

  • The temperature in the enclosure is too high
  • Not enough misting
  • Poor diet
  • Low humidity levels

Symptoms

The following are symptoms of dehydration in Crested gecko that you should keep an eye out for:

  • Hips and ribs sticking out
  • Skin appears wrinkled
  • Sunken eyes
  • Wavy tail

Treatment

The prevention of dehydration is by ensuring that your gecko is receiving the correct diet.

If your gecko is dehydrated, you should:

  • Check if the humidity levels are between 60% and 80%
  • Mist more often
  • If your gecko is on a commercial diet, mix more water with the powder
  • If your gecko is on a homemade diet, offer the food in a puree form and add water to it and feed by syringe if the gecko is refusing to eat

Caring For A Sick Crested Gecko

If you have a sick Crested gecko on your hands, most health problems have similar symptoms such as:

  • Fatigue and tiredness
  • Not eating

Therefore, looking after a sick Crested gecko, apart from the medication they need to take, is pretty standard.

To nurse your gecko back to health, read through the following advice:

  • To help with bringing back their appetite, try giving them puree of fruits such as papaya, figs, bananas. You can sprinkle some CGD powder to add vitamins and minerals.
    Click here to find out more about fruits that you can feed your gecko that can help with bringing their appetite back Can Crested Geckos Eat Fruit: Safe Fruits For Crested Geckos
  • Another way to feed them is by using a small wooden stick and dipping it in a repashy mixture. This can make it easier for them to eat by licking the food off the stick
  • Feed them by using a syringe straight to their mouth
  • Avoid handling them for some time
  • Place a blanket over the enclosure. That will help them relax
  • Deep clean the enclosure and strip it down to the bare minimum. Use paper towel substrates until you see improvement in health
  • Ensure temperature and humidity levels are right

If any health issue persist, contact a specialised vet and never leave it for too long.

Final Thoughts

In this article, we have concluded that Crested geckos are overall healthy animals and when provided with the appropriate care, most health issues can be prevented.

However, as any other animal, the Crested gecko can also get sick.

The main symptoms to look out for in a sick Crested gecko include:

  • Fatigue and tiredness, sluggish behaviour
  • Sudden weight loss
  • Throwing up and/or diarrhea
  • Not eating
  • Eye discharge
  • Not losing the dead skin when shedding
  • Can’t climb vertical surfaces
  • Floppy tail
  • Prolapsed hemipenes

The most common Crested gecko health problems and conditions that you should be informed on in terms of cause, symptoms and treatment are:

  • Metabolic Bone Disease
  • Respiratory infection
  • Parasites
  • Impaction
  • Shedding
  • Egg binding (dystocia)
  • Stress
  • Floppy Tail Syndrome

It’s important to act quickly if you notice symptoms of a sick Crested gecko and contact a specialised vet for advice on medication.

It’s even more important to prevent the development of health problems by providing your Crested gecko with the following care:

  • A nutritious and well-balanced diet
  • Correct temperature and humidity levels
  • Frequent misting
  • Appropriate habitat set up and environment that will provide them with enrichment
  • Cleanliness

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