Is your Leopard Gecko refusing to eat?
If so, you’re probably wondering how long a Leopard Gecko can go without eating?
In this article, we uncover how long Leopard Geckos can go without eating and remain healthy, look at some common reasons why they refuse to eat, and explore how often you should feed your Leopard Gecko.
Adult Leopard Geckos can go without eating for 10 to 14 days, although some have been known to refuse food for a few months safely. Baby and young Leopard Geckos can only go a week or so without eating.
Reasons a Leopard Gecko May Not Be Eating
Leopard Geckos are reptiles, meaning unlike regular mammalian pets (like cats and dogs), they do not burn calories to maintain their body heat.
Instead, they rely on external heat from the earth and sun (or in captivity, heat lamps, and lights) to warm them.
What does this have to do with a Leopard Gecko’s eating habits?
Since Leopard Geckos aren’t always burning calories the same way mammal pets are, they can go for more extended periods without food.
Geckos often naturally refrain from eating for lengthy periods.
For example, in the wild, Geckos often go without food for the entire cold season.
During this time, their activity levels are low to maintain their body’s weight and preserve their fat stores.
Let’s look at a few reasons why your Leopard Gecko may be refusing to eat.
When geckos are too cold, they can’t properly digest their food, so they may refuse to eat altogether.
Keep in mind, Leopard Geckos are reptiles, meaning they rely on external temps to maintain their body temperature.
So if your tank is below 75° degrees Fahrenheit (24° C) on the cool side and below 90° degrees Fahrenheit (32° C) on the hot side, it may be too cold for your Leopard Gecko to properly digest its food, causing it to refuse to eat.
Another reason Leopard Geckos sometimes refuse to eat is stress.
Causes of stress include changes in their environment (a recent move or new cage), inadequate cage temperatures, feeder problems, breeding season, and illness.
If your Leopard Gecko shows other signs of stress like hiding in its hideout for long periods, wagging its tail, being skittish or aggressive, exhibiting problems shedding, or displaying dull colors, try to identify what may be causing it stress and consider taking it to a vet to make sure nothing else is going on.
Leopard Geckos may refuse food because they’re dehydrated.
Be sure that your gecko has plenty of fresh water in its cage, and check the water bowl daily to ensure no feeders, feces, or other foreign items contaminate the water.
If your Leopard Gecko’s skin is folding or changing appearance, this may be a sign of dehydration.
During the breeding season, Leopard Geckos (especially males) will often go without food for long periods.
If you live north of the Equator, your gecko’s breeding season will start in January.
Keep in mind, however, if you’re not planning to breed your gecko, there is no reason it needs to go through the breeding cycle or refuse food during this time.
To keep your gecko from refusing food during the breeding season, always make sure to maintain their temperatures throughout the year, continue to feed them regularly, do not house males and females together, and always provide them with roughly 12 hours of light and 12 hours of dark each day.
If your Leopard Gecko is refusing to eat, try to determine the cause and make any husbandry changes necessary to remedy the problem.
If it continues to decline food, you may need to take it to a reptile veterinarian to make sure nothing serious is going on.
How Long Can a Leopard Gecko Go Without Eating
We know why Leopard Geckos may refuse to eat, but how long can a Leopard Gecko go without eating before endangering its health?
Adult and older juvenile Leopard Geckos can typically go without food for around 10 to 14 days without experiencing any problems.
However, some have refused to eat for as long as a few months.
Young Leopard Geckos cannot safely go without food for as long as adult geckos since they are growing and don’t have as much fat stored up, so if your baby or young juvenile gecko refuses food for more than 7 to 10 days, it may be time to take it to the vet.
How to Tell If a Leopard Gecko is Healthy
If your Leopard Gecko is refusing to eat, you need to keep a close eye on it.
Watch for signs of weight loss by checking to make sure its tail is not thinning.
Leopard Geckos, like other reptiles, store fat in their tails, and the first sign of weight loss is often a thinning tail.
Check to see if their backbone is visible and pronounced as this is another sign of weight loss in Leopard Geckos.
If your Leopard Gecko’s tail is thick and healthy-looking, there are no changes in its backbone appearance, and its behavior is normal; most likely, it is still healthy and will start eating again soon.
If, on the other hand, your gecko’s tail begins to thin, it might be time to take it to the vet, as a thinning tail is not only signs of unhealthy weight loss, but can indicate other illnesses.
How Often Should You Feed a Leopard Gecko
Just because a Leopard Gecko can go without eating for a few weeks doesn’t mean it should go this long without eating.
It’s always wise to follow a regular eating schedule to ensure your gecko stays healthy and happy.
If your Leopard Gecko is a healthy adult (1 to 2 years old), aim to feed it every other day.
If it is unhealthy or needing to gain weight, offer it food once a day until it regains its ideal weight and strength.
If you have a young and growing Leopard Gecko (under two years old), make sure to give it food every single day.
How long can a Leopard Gecko go without eating?
Adults are safe without food for 10 to 14 days (sometimes even a few months), while young Leopard Geckos can only go a week or so without food.
If your Leopard Gecko has been refusing to eat, we hope this article helped you understand why it may not be eating and gave you some guidance on how often you should feed your Leopard Gecko to maintain its health and ideal body weight.