For many crested gecko owners, getting their lizards to eat is a common problem.
Crested geckos typically do not eat a lot, especially once they reach adulthood and stop growing.
This issue is very concerning, and it is essential to understand why a crested gecko stops eating.
The most common reasons a crested gecko is not eating include improper diet, poor enclosure conditions, illness, brumation, and stress. Impaction, dehydration, and the shedding process also play large roles in a crested gecko’s loss of appetite.
Fortunately, most of these issues are not life-threatening, and they are easily remedied.
Good husbandry will solve many problems associated with a crested gecko not eating, but it will require veterinary care if your gecko is rapidly losing weight.
Read on for the most common reasons your crested gecko is refusing to eat, and learn how to overcome this problem.
10 Reasons Your Crested Gecko Is Not Eating
Improper Diet In Crested Geckos
If you are only feeding your crested gecko a pre-mixed powdered food, it may stop eating because it is bored with its diet.
There are several crested gecko powder foods available, such as this one from Repashy, and they provide your crestie with the essential nutrients to stay healthy.
However, in the wild, crested geckos like hunting and eating live prey such as crickets, roaches, locusts, and other insects.
Cresties will also eat pieces of fruit they find on the ground or in trees.
Offering live feeder insects to your crestie will stimulate its hunting instinct and offer more enrichment to its life.
Dubia roaches, crickets, and small locusts will add more variety to a crested gecko diet.
When feeding live insects to your crestie, it is important to properly gut load them by offering a nutritious diet of leafy greens and vegetables.
Dust the insects with calcium and multivitamin powder supplements for even more added nutrition before feeding them to your gecko.
Live insects, alongside pre-mixed powdered food, will provide your crestie with all of the nutrients it needs to stay healthy.
Check out our list of the best crested gecko foods for more ideas on what to entice them to eat with.
Keep a shallow water bowl in your crestie’s enclosure, so it has fresh, clean water available at all times.
The Enclosure is Too Large or Too Small
A baby crested gecko will need a smaller enclosure until they weigh around 10 grams.
If the space is too large, the baby crestie may have difficulty finding its food and water.
As a result, the gecko will not eat as much as it needs.
A small 5-gallon tank is great for a baby crestie until it has grown enough to graduate to its adult tank.
Baby cresties are often very shy, and the smaller enclosure will help them feel more secure.
Use a simple paper towel substrate and provide your baby crestie with a hide to complete the tank setup.
For a single adult crested gecko, a vertical enclosure between 20-30 gallons is ideal.
The enclosure should be large enough to provide a proper temperature gradient.
If the tank is too small, the overall temperatures may be too hot for the crestie, and it will lose its appetite.
A smaller enclosure may also cause an adult crested gecko to become stressed and refuse to eat.
Improper Enclosure Temperatures
Like most reptiles, crested geckos need warmth to digest their food properly.
A crestie’s enclosure’s ideal daytime ambient temperature should range from 71-79° degrees Fahrenheit (26° C).
The warm end of the tank should be close to 75° degrees Fahrenheit (24° C), and the cooler end should be between 68-70° degrees Fahrenheit (21° C).
Take care not to make the enclosure too hot, as higher temperatures will cause stress and dehydration in a crested gecko and may even lead to death.
The temperature directly underneath a heat bulb should only be 83° degrees Fahrenheit (28° C).
If the temperatures in the enclosure are too low, this will cause poor digestion in a crested gecko.
As a result, the cooler temperatures will cause the gecko to stop eating.
Use a thermometer to monitor the temperatures in your crestie’s enclosure every day and make adjustments if necessary.
Improper Humidity in the Enclosure
If the humidity levels are too low in the enclosure, it will cause appetite loss in your crestie.
Ideal humidity levels for a crested gecko enclosure are 60% during the day and close to 80% at night.
To keep the humidity level steady, mist the tank with purified water twice per day.
A light mist in the morning and a heavier misting at night will help keep the humidity levels at an optimal range for your crestie.
While a tank fogger may seem like a good idea, it does not allow the enclosure to dry out a little during the daytime and should not be used in a crestie’s cage.
Too much humidity will cause upper respiratory infections in reptiles.
High humidity levels will also cause bacteria and mold growth in the enclosure.
To monitor the humidity levels in your crestie’s enclosure, use a digital hygrometer like this one.
Check humidity levels every morning and night to ensure they are optimal for your crestie.
We have a post where we talk about the pros and cons of using a spray bottle and a fogger titled “Crested Gecko Automatic Mister (Fogger) Or Spray Bottle?” if you want help deciding which route is best for you.
Your Crested Gecko is Sick
Illness is one of the main reasons why a crested gecko will stop eating.
Loss of appetite is one of the most common symptoms of sickness, along with lethargy.
Metabolic bone disease, parasites, and upper respiratory infections will cause a crested gecko to stop eating.
Unfortunately, this is one of those times where you will need to seek veterinary care.
You will need to go to a vet right away for proper diagnosis and treatment if you notice these symptoms:
- Loss of appetite
- Discharge from the eyes or nose
If an illness is left untreated, it will quickly lead to death in these small reptiles.
Your Crested Gecko is Entering Brumation
Brumation in reptiles is very similar to hibernation, and it also occurs in the winter months.
However, unlike hibernation, a crestie will still need to drink water, and it may occasionally eat during brumation.
Crested geckos enter brumation during the colder months to save their energy, and they can lower their metabolism enough to keep from dying in the colder temperatures.
Because of this lower metabolism, a crested gecko will stop eating, and it will be able to survive on fat stored in the body. Most of this fat is stored in the tail.
Brumation is usually triggered by prolonged periods of below 70° degrees Fahrenheit (21° C), and it will last anywhere from a few weeks to several months.
A female crested gecko will naturally brumate before breeding season to rest her body and store energy.
Males do not need this period of brumation before mating.
Signs your crestie is brumating include:
- Spending more time on the cooler side of the enclosure
- Not basking as often
- Becoming less active
- Not eating for at least a week
Brumation is a natural behavior for crested geckos, and it is nothing to be too concerned about.
If the temperatures in your crestie’s enclosure have consistently been at optimal levels and your lizard is a male, you may want to seek veterinary care.
It is important to rule out any underlying causes for your crestie’s lack of appetite.
Your Crested Gecko is Stressed
If your crestie is stressed, it will likely refuse to eat and may spend a lot of time hiding.
It is imperative to resolve why your gecko is stressed.
Along with a loss of appetite, stress will lower your crestie’s immune system and make it more susceptible to illnesses like respiratory infections.
To lower your crested gecko’s stress levels, you will need to start by evaluating the enclosure setup.
If the tank is too small or the temperatures and humidity levels are incorrect, you will need to make some adjustments to your gecko’s habitat.
Keeping the enclosure in a quiet area of your home is also essential, away from loud noises or lots of movement.
Do not place the enclosure near windows and keep other pets such as dogs and cats away from the enclosure.
Provide your crestie with several hides in the enclosure, so it has somewhere to go when it is scared or overstimulated.
Having lots of branches and foliage in the enclosure will give your crestie several areas to hide.
It is also common for a crestie not to eat when you first bring it home.
After giving your lizard some time to adjust to its new environment, it will resume normal eating habits.
Continue to offer the crestie food every day until it is comfortable eating again, and then follow a regular feeding schedule.
Here is our post on the signs of stress in crested geckos if you would like to learn more.
Your Crested Gecko is Impacted
Impaction occurs in reptiles when they have eaten something they could not digest, and it causes a blockage in the digestive tract.
Insects with tough exoskeletons, such as mealworms, are often difficult to digest and lead to impaction.
A crested gecko may also become impacted if loose substrate, such as sand, is accidentally ingested.
Symptoms of impaction in a crested gecko include:
- The stomach appears bloated
- Sudden weight gain
- Loss of appetite
If your crested gecko is straining to defecate, it may lead to prolapse, which is a very serious condition.
If you suspect your crestie is impacted, you need to seek veterinary care as soon as possible.
Without treatment, impaction may be fatal.
Your Crested Gecko is Suffering from Dehydration
If the humidity in your crested gecko’s enclosure is too low, it will cause your lizard to become dehydrated.
Dehydration will cause your crestie to eat less, and it may even refuse to eat altogether.
A reptile fogger is not ideal for raising humidity levels, as it does not allow the tank to dry out enough for the slightly lower daytime humidity levels.
Instead, mist your crested gecko’s enclosure with filtered water in the evening for higher nighttime humidity levels.
Misting your crestie will help to stimulate its appetite along with providing hydration.
It is also important to provide your crestie with a shallow dish of fresh, clean water daily.
Change the water and clean the dish every day.
You may need to change the water more often if it gets dirty.
If the enclosure gets too hot, this will also cause the humidity levels to drop, and your crestie will become dehydrated.
Your Crested Gecko is Shedding
An adult crested gecko will shed every 2-4 weeks, and the entire process will usually last for several days.
When a crestie is about to shed, its skin will start to have a gray or white appearance.
During this time, a crestie will stop eating for a couple of days to focus its energy on shedding.
It may even eat the shed skin once it has completely come off.
Shedding is a natural process, and baby crested geckos will usually shed once per week to accommodate their rapid growth.
Maintaining proper humidity and temperature levels is vital for the shedding process to go smoothly.
If humidity levels are too low while a crestie is shedding, it will lead to a stuck shed.
Monitor your crestie during the shedding process and look for signs of a stuck shed, especially around the toes.
If the shed gets stuck on a crestie’s toes, it will cut off circulation and lead to necrosis.
Once necrosis has set in, there is no way to reverse it, and the crestie will have to have its toes amputated.
If your crestie has difficulties shedding, check the humidity levels in the enclosure and increase them if necessary by misting the tank with filtered water.
You may also give your crestie a bath in warm water to help loosen the skin.
Never remove shedding skin from your crested gecko yourself.
This may cause small lesions on the skin and lead to infection.
Head over to our crested gecko shedding guide to learn more about shedding with these lizards.
Commonly Asked Questions
Why is my baby crested gecko not eating?
A crested gecko baby may not eat for several days after it has hatched.
Baby cresties will usually start eating after they have their first shed.
It is advisable to leave some food for the baby crestie within 48 hours after hatching if it decides to eat.
Why is my new crested gecko not eating?
Being introduced to a new environment is a very stressful event for a crested gecko.
Do not be alarmed if your new crestie is not eating right away when you bring it home.
Be sure to provide your crestie with plenty of branches and foliage to hide in so it will feel more secure.
Avoid hand-feeding or using tongs to feed your crestie during this transition period.
Place a food dish in the terrarium so the lizard can eat freely.
If your crestie has not eaten after a week, use a spoon to offer some food.
Touch the gecko’s snout with a spoonful of food so the smell will stimulate the animal’s appetite.
It may take up to a month for your gecko to fully acclimate to its surroundings.
Once it is comfortable, it will resume regular eating habits.
Until your crested gecko is entirely comfortable in its new home, do everything possible to create an optimal environment in the enclosure.
How long can a crested gecko go without eating?
A healthy gecko can go for up to three weeks without eating.
However, it is advisable to seek veterinary care after the second week of not eating to rule out any illness in your crestie.
How many times per week should you feed a crested gecko?
For baby cresties less than six months old, offer some fresh pre-mix food every day.
Once a baby crestie is one month old, you may begin to provide live insects, such as small crickets.
Juvenile cresties will need to be fed every other day, and adults will only need to be fed 2-3 times per week.
How do I know if my crested gecko is eating?
If you are unsure whether or not your crestie is eating, there are two ways to find out.
First, check the enclosure for any fecal matter.
If a crestie is eating, it will eventually need to defecate.
Secondly, start tracking your crestie’s weight using a small kitchen scale.
If your crestie has a weight loss, this indicates the animal is not eating.
However, if your crestie maintains a steady weight as an adult or gains weight while it is young, this is a good sign the reptile is eating.