Crested Gecko Impaction – Causes, Symptoms And Treatment

Crested Gecko Impaction

Crested geckos are overall healthy animals. However, a common health condition to look out for is Crested gecko impaction. As their digestive system is very delicate, ingesting the wrong thing can result in impaction.

By knowing the Crested gecko impaction symptoms: rounded belly, absence of stool and loss of appetite, you can catch the condition early on and help your gecko recover quicker.

In this article, we discuss the following topics that will help treat your Crested gecko’s impaction and prevent it from reoccurring:

  • What is Crested gecko impaction
  • Cause
  • Symptoms
  • Treatment
  • Prevention

What Is Crested Gecko Impaction?

What is Crested gecko impaction? This condition occurs when your gecko has ingested a solid or a semi-solid mass that causes a serious stomach blockage. The mass is then lodged in the gecko and can’t pass as stool.

This is a common health condition seen in captive reptiles due to them swallowing non-natural objects that they cannot digest.

Crested Gecko Impaction – Cause

If you suspect Crested gecko impaction, it’s important to understand what causes it in the first place. This way you will know what to remove from your Crested gecko’s habitat and how to prevent the condition from reoccuring.

With that said, the most common causes for Crested gecko impaction include:

  • Ingesting loose substrate
  • Feeding hard-shelled feeder insects
  • Feeding insects that are larger than the distance between your gecko’s eyes can result in impaction
  • Live insect feeding – whilst hunting live food, the gecko can ingest part of the substrate by accident
  • Dehydration – if not hydrated enough, it can result in food getting stuck in the digestion track
  • Low temperature and low humidity levels can result in your gecko’s digestive tract not functioning properly which subsequently can cause impaction
  • Nutritional deficiency – if your gecko’s diet is not nutritional, it can result in them actively eating non-food items

Crested Gecko Impaction – Symptoms

Crested Gecko Impaction
Impacted Gecko

Recognizing the Crested gecko impaction symptoms early is very important. If ignored or left untreated, impaction can cause serious damage to your Crested gecko’s intestines and can even be fatal.

With that said, the Crested gecko impaction symptoms include:

  • Rounded belly
  • Weight loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Absence of stool
  • Straining when pooping
  • Leg trembling
  • Regurgitation
  • Paralysis
  • Tiredness
  • Laboured breathing

Crested Gecko Impaction – Treatment

Crested Gecko Impaction
Crested Gecko Sauna

If your Crested gecko is impacted, it’s essential that you act quickly and treat your gecko.

If you suspect Crested gecko impaction, you can help relieve their symptoms by following these steps:

  • Limit hard foods. Only feed liquids or easily digestible foods using a small syringe to feed the gecko. High fiber healthy fruit puree can relieve Crested gecko impaction
  • Feed soft-bodied feeder insects
  • Increase water-to-powder ratio in prepared diet
  • Massage belly gently
  • Your vet can prescribe a reptile-safe “laxative”
  • Olive oil as a natural laxative. Use tiny amounts of olive oil and feed to your Crested gecko through the use of a small pipette
  • Sauna. One of the quickest ways to help you gecko pass the masses is by soaking your them in a small plastic box/crate/bowl with air holes. You need to put a wet, lukewarm paper tower on the bottom
  • Soaks. If you still have a dehydrated gecko after following the steps above, you should soak your gecko in a lukewarm water a few times a day
  • Misting your gecko’s tank regularly will keep them hydrated. Mist twice per day – light one in the morning and stronger in the evening. Use a hygrometer to track the humidity levels
  • Hydration. Provide your gecko with plenty of fresh water

If there is no improvement in their condition after 2-3 days, you must take you gecko to the vet.

Note: Force feeding when an animal is impacted is a bad idea as well, and can cause prolapses.

Crested Gecko Impaction – Prevention

As Crested gecko impaction can always reoccur, it’s important take the following steps to prevent it:

  • Use safe substrate
  • Feed your gecko foods that are the right size
  • Feed live insects in a safe way
  • Your Crested gecko is fed a nutritional diet
  • Use safe decorations for their tank setup
  • Correct temperature and humidity levels

Substrate

The most common reason for Crested gecko impaction is ingesting loose substrate. But why do you need substrate in the first place?

A substrate is used for the following reasons:

  • To cover the floor
  • Odor-control
  • Absorbing (spilled) water

The type of substrate you choose depends on the age of your Crested gecko.

For hatchlings or young Crested geckos, use the following substrate options:

  • No substrate means no ingestion risk. However, the tank will need to be cleaned daily to avoid bacteria and water build up
  • Paper towels work well as substrates for hatchlings and juveniles. If your geckos try to eat it, you can use butcher paper, which is harder to tear

On the other hand, adult crested geckos (around 18 months) are still at risk of impaction but much lower compared to a young gecko. Therefore, it’s still recommended to stick to the safest option which is tough paper towels.

To prevent Crested gecko impaction, avoid the following substrates:

  • Cedar wood shaving
  • Animal litter
  • Gravel and pebbles

Food

As your gecko has tiny teeth and a very delicate digestive system, they can easily be impacted. Therefore, you must be very careful what foods you feed them.

When feeding your Crested gecko, ensure the foods are:

  • The right size and consistency
  • Digestible material

Food Size And Consistency

The foods you feed to your Crested gecko should be in a puree/liquid consistency. Normally, Crested geckos enjoy ketchup like consistency the most. However, each gecko has a different preference.

Normally, part of your Crested gecko’s diet are insects/fruits. They are fed either as an occasional treat or as part of a homemade diet. To prevent Crested gecko impaction, you must ensure that each piece of fruit/insect is no bigger than the distance between your gecko’s eyes.

Digestible Material

Ensuring your Crested gecko’s food is made of digestible material is most relevant when feeding bugs and insects. The exoskeletons of some insects such as beetles and mealworm and insects with hard chitin or sharp legs can sometimes result in Crested gecko impaction.

Easily digestible insects for your Crested gecko include:

  • Butterworms
  • Dubia Roach
  • Crickets
  • Silkworms

Learn if waxworms are safe for Crested gecko here Can Crested Geckos Eat Waxworms? Pro’s And Con’s

Live Food

If you want to feed your gecko live food such as crickets, you must ensure that your gecko doesn’t accidentally swallow lots of substrate as it can result in Crested gecko impaction.

When feeding your gecko live insects, you should feed them in a separate container with no substrate. It also important to remove uneaten bugs during the day, as they can bite your Crested gecko whilst sleeping.

Although, Crested geckos enjoy hunting live insects, such as Dubia cockroaches, ‘calciworms’, crickets, live food is not mandatory for their diet to be healthy.

Nutritional Diet

If your Crested gecko is not receiving the nutrients they need from their diet, it can result in your gecko eating non-food objects and subsequently in impaction.

A nutritious and well-balanced diet is what will keep your gecko healthy and satisfied.

The most recommended and safest option for Crested gecko diet is a commercial powder food such as Repashy and Pangea, mixed with an occasional treat of insects/fruits/fruit purees 1 to 2 times a month.

To read the full guide on what Crested gecko diet – do’s and don’ts, click here What Crested Geckos Eat? Crested Gecko Diet – Do’s And Don’ts

Decorations

Decorations are very important when setting up your Crested gecko’s tank. Your gecko needs a variety of artificial plants, vines, rocks, hiding spots, etc. that mimic their natural environment.

However, some decorations can result in Crested gecko impaction.

For instance, small rocks or pebbles that can fit in your gecko’s mouth can be ingested by your gecko and result in impaction.

If you include rocks in your gecko’s tank, ensure they are bigger than their head.

Temperature And Humidity Levels

Low temperature and low humidity levels can result in your Crested gecko’s digestion system not working properly. If they can’t digest their food, it can result in Crested gecko impaction.

Therefore, it’s essential to ensure that the temperature and humidity levels in your gecko’s tank are correct.

Temperature

Crested gecko’s tank should have a temperature gradient of 72°F to 75°F with a drop at night to 65°F to 70°F. In addition, they should also have a hot spot in the tank.

If you are struggling to increase the temperature, you can use an under-tank heater on one end of the enclosure on the bottom.

The temperature in the tank can be controlled through the use of a thermostat.

Humidity

Temperature and humidity go hand in hand when it comes to your Crested gecko’s health and the prevention of impaction.

To ensure the tank has the right levels of humidity, follow these steps:

  • Humidity levels need to be kept at 60% during the day and at 80% during the night. It shouldn’t be constantly high
  • Use a spray bottle with purified water (never use tap water) to mist the tank
  • Mist twice per day – light mist in the morning and a stronger one at night
  • Use a digital hygrometer to measure the humidity levels

Final Thoughts

In this article we covered one of the common health problems in Crested gecko – impaction. Every owner should know what the symptoms of Crested gecko impaction look like, so it can be caught early on:

  • Rounded belly
  • Weight loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Absence of stool
  • Straining when pooping
  • Tiredness
  • Laboured breathing

The best treatment is always prevention! You can prevent Crested gecko impaction from happening or from reoccurring by doing the following:

  • Temperature and humidity levels are correct
  • You’re using safe substrate like paper towels
  • The decorations in your gecko’s tank are not easily ingested such as small rocks or pebbles
  • Your Crested gecko is being fed a nutritional diet
  • The foods you feed your gecko such as pieces of fruit or insects are made of easily digestible material and are no larger than the space between your gecko’s eyes

However, if your Crested gecko is already impacted, you can relive their symptoms by following these steps:

  • Feed soft-bodied feeder insects
  • Increase water-to-powder ratio in prepared diet
  • Massage belly gently
  • Your vet can prescribe a reptile-safe “laxative”
  • Feed tiny amounts of olive oil as it’s a natural laxative
  • Saunas
  • Soaks

If there is no improvement in their condition after 2-3 days, you must take you gecko to the vet. Crested gecko impaction should never be ignored as it can result in death.

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