Why Does My Crested Gecko Look Skinny?
Crested geckos are notorious for their cuteness, adaptability to a captive lifestyle, and long lifespans. But they’re also notorious for being sickly at times, especially if environmental parameters are improper.
Fortunately, you can prevent these problems by understanding what your gecko needs in terms of food, temperature, humidity, and overall lifestyle. But before you get to that point, you may need to struggle for a bit. Today, we’ll look into skinny crested geckos, trying to unveil the reason for their worrying appearance.
7 Causes for Skinny Crested Gecko
We should begin by stating that crested geckos shouldn’t be skinny. They shouldn’t be fat either, but that’s a topic for another discussion. If your gecko appears skinny or begins to lose weight, sometimes despite eating well, consider the following potential explanations.
This is the first point to consider because it’s always better to be wrong about it than ignore it and face the consequences. Dehydration is a serious condition, capable of killing your crested gecko fast. That’s because reptiles are particularly sensitive to temperature and humidity, and any drastic fluctuations can have dire consequences on their wellbeing.
Humidity is particularly important, which is why you always need to spray your gecko’s enclosure and keep humidity values in the acceptable range. That would be 60-80%, depending on the time of day and the gecko’s needs. Subjecting your gecko at humidity levels below 60% for too long can cause the reptile to become dehydrated.
To keep humidity high:
- Add live plants to your gecko’s habitat
- Spray the enclosure 2-3 times per day (optional – invest in a small humidifier)
- Add a water bowl to the enclosure in case your gecko needs to bathe
- Get a hygrometer for accurate humidity readings
– Lack of Nutrition
Geckos don’t eat much, as adults only require one good meal every 2 days for the most part. Juveniles eat one meal per day, though, due to their high metabolic rates. There are several problems with gecko feeding that more inexperienced keepers run into:
- Insufficient food – Novice gecko keepers simply don’t know when their gecko is supposed to eat. They will get accustomed to the gecko’s behavior with time, but until then, they shoot arrows in the dark. This can cause the gecko to receive fewer meals and less food per meal than it should. A good metric is to provide your gecko with as much food as it can consume in one sitting, especially when it comes to insects and worms. The gecko will eat as much as it can and leave the rest behind.
- Adequate nutrition – Proper nutrition doesn’t refer to the quantity of food alone, but the quality as well. Geckoes require a well-rounded diet, especially since they are typically prone to calcium and D3 deficiencies. This means you should personalize their diet properly and gut-load and dust their live food with D3 and calcium. Failing to do so can make your gecko prone to calcium deficiency and Metabolic Bone Disease, the latter being deadly.
So, if your gecko is eating well but still seems skinny, increase the meal size, meal frequency, and/or nutritional intake.
– Environmental Stress
Geckos like comfort and solitude above all else. They don’t appreciate loud noises, flashy lights and don’t like being held for too long or too often. But these aren’t the only reasons of stress that geckos can experience. Improper environmental parameters, poor diet, and parasites also fall into this category.
If your gecko is stressed, it will also showcase low or lack of appetite, hiding behavior, irritability, etc. If the stress trigger isn’t addressed, the gecko will begin to lose weight and experience infections and parasites due to a lower immune system.
Please note that geckos are typically stressed when trying to accommodate to a new environment. So, it’s normal for geckos to become stressed when bringing them home for the first time. Exercise patience, provide the reptile with a natural-looking layout, and give it the space it needs to adapt to its new home.
– Disease or Parasites
Geckos can fall victim to a variety of diseases and parasites with a variety of causes. These include MBD, calcium deficiency, dehydration, flatworms, skin mites, bacterial and fungal infections, etc. Some of these conditions are deadly in advanced cases and will progress fast. Such is the case with MBD.
Fortunately, you can usually detect these problems in time before getting out of hand. In that case, you need to provide your gecko with adequate care to keep the disorder under control and ensure a fast and smooth recovery. You should contact your vet if your gecko:
- Has swollen or curled toes, impacting its ability to walk, climb, or hang
- Has low or lack of appetite
- Experiences changes in color, causing the gecko to grow duller
- The gecko appears more irritable or aggressive than usual
- You notice red or white skin patches that may suggest infections or injuries, etc.
Many of these symptoms suggest mild conditions that are easily manageable with proper medication and care. Even so, I recommend contacting your vet to make sure you’re following the right protocol.
Impaction is generally the result of your gecko accidentally swallowing something that it wasn’t meant to be swallowed. This generally happens during feeding, as geckos pursue their live prey on the substrate. As a result, the reptile can swallow a rock or a hard object that can cause an intestinal blockage.
Ingesting an oversized insect or one with a hard exoskeleton that the gecko’s digestive system cannot get through can also have that effect. The general symptoms of impaction include:
- The gecko strains to poop and may not succeed at all
- Runny poop resulting from only the pee going through while the solid matter is stuck
- Inflamed and red cloaca
- Difficulties moving and climbing
- Lack of appetite, etc.
Some ways to mitigate your gecko’s impaction are by boosting environmental humidity a bit, ensuring proper hydration, and even gently massaging the reptile’s belly. However, if nothing seems to work, get your vet on the line for proper clinical assessment and treatment. Your gecko may even require a surgical intervention if the situation is too severe.
– Aggressive Mate
This shouldn’t be a problem for the most part, given that you’ll most likely keep your gecko solo, as you should. These are solitary animals that don’t appreciate or need company, especially that of other geckos. Even so, many people keep geckos in pairs which can degenerate into some issues along the way.
Aggression can cause geckos to experience stress and even physical injuries that risk infection. The gecko will respond by attempting to flee and will exhibit normal signs of stress, including poor appetite and weight loss. Keep your geckos alone!
Adult geckos shed every 3-4 weeks, depending on their age. Their shedding frequency drops as they age, going to approximately one shedding session every 4-6 weeks. The reptile is very sensitive and vulnerable during the shedding process, which means it’s also irritable and cranky. You should give it space and peace during the shedding session to make sure everything works out well.
Geckos refrain from eating approximately 1-2 days before the actual shedding begins. During this time, you can notice color changes in your gecko as its overall coloring gets duller. This is because of the outer skin layer separates from the newer one underneath. That’s a sign that the gecko is getting ready to shed.
It’s okay if the reptile doesn’t eat for 3-5 days until the entire process is complete, although it shouldn’t last that long. Most geckos can shed completely within 10 minutes to an hour at most, but some may take more than 24 hours to achieve that. The reptile’s appetite will return soon after.
How to Fatten Up Your Crested Gecko?
If you’re worried about your skinny gecko, here are a few things you can try:
- Eliminate stress – Work on everything that may cause your gecko to become stressed. This includes poor environmental parameters, insufficient food, rough or frequent handling, parasites, etc. This alone should restore the gecko’s appetite pretty fast.
- Set up a strict feeding pattern – Have a stable feeding pattern, and always feed your geckos at the same hours and on the same days. This will help the reptile regulate its appetite and metabolism accordingly, allowing it to eat better and assimilate more nutrients.
- Improve dietary supplementation – If your gecko is eating well, but doesn’t put on weight, check its nutritional intake. Maybe the food isn’t as nutritious as you thought it to be. If you can’t work your head around the matter on your own, speak to a vet, a pet nutritionist, or another gecko keeper with more experience in the matter.
Naturally, you should always diagnose your gecko’s problem before doing anything else.
Crested geckos don’t have too many health issues, at least not serious ones. So long as you optimize the reptile’s habitat conditions and diet, everything else will come naturally.