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What is Reptile Impaction

Updated on August 18, 2015
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Whitney has raised and bred different species of geckos, snakes, lizards, tortoises and other exotics since 2003

What is Impaction?

Impaction is a condition in which the digestive tract is blocked by a solid or a semi-solid mass. If it is not treated it can become fatal.

Leopard Gecko Impaction

Causes of Impaction

Impaction can be caused by various sources. The most common of which is housing them on loose substrates.

Other causes of impaction include feeding reptiles food that is either to large or inappropriate. You should never feed insects that are larger than the width of the reptile's head (excluding snakes, in which the rule of thumb for feeding is that the feeder rodent be no larger than the largest part of the snake).

Feeders that are too large can get stuck in the digestive tract, causing the blockage. Feeder insects that have a hard Chitin outer-shell can, also cause impaction. You should only feed these type of feeders to larger reptiles, never babies or juveniles.

Low temperatures can cause inadequate digestion, one more reason to make sure you have proper temperatures. If the reptile requires belly heat versus air heat, make sure that you include an under tank heater as a part of the husbandry. Make sure that the basking sites of diurnal reptiles are appropriate temperatures, as well.

One other cause of impaction is dehydration; always provide your reptiles with fresh water.

Necropsy
Necropsy
The Contents
The Contents

Loose Substrates

Impaction caused by loose substrates develop overtime, so the symptoms are more gradual. Most of the time it will go unseen until it is too late.

Calci-Sand, Vita-Sand, and other calcium based sand is a BIGno-no. Do not trust the manufacturer's label as digestible. Because it contains calcium, reptiles are more likely to eat it, but where calcium is good, sand is not. Calc-Sand clumps together when it is wet. Imagine what it will do inside a reptile... Clump... When wet, it doesn't dissolve either, so what makes the manufacturers believe it will in a reptile's body?

Other high risk substrates include:

  • Playsand
  • Pine
  • Aspen
  • Cypress
  • Woodchips
  • Dirt
  • Bark.

Corn cob, Crushed walnut shells, gravel, cat litter, pebbles, and any other pellet-type substrates should not be used in a reptile's enclosure either, as they, too, can cause impaction if ingested.

The safest substrate that you can use is tile, slate, reptile carpet, and paper towels.

Symptoms of Impaction

The first symptom that you may notice is that the fecal matter may contain loose substrates. For example, it may be covered in sand, but you know that the reptile did not kick sand onto the fecal matter because you cannot find any evidence of holes in the substrate.

Mild Symptoms include:

  • Constipation
  • Straining to excrete fecal matter

Moderate-Severe symptoms include:

  • Slight leg trembles
  • Regurgitation
  • Slight bumps along spinal area
  • Paralysis
  • Lack of appetite
  • Lethargy
  • A blue-bruised area on the abdomen
  • Difficulty breathing

Note: When paralysis occurs in one or both back legs, impaction is in the lower digestive tract, but when it involves one or both front legs, impaction is in the upper digestive tract.

Reptile Substrates

Reptiles Carpet
Reptiles Carpet
Calcium Based Sand
Calcium Based Sand

Treating Impaction

If you are able to catch impaction early on, you can set up the reptile in a different enclosure, or reformat the current one. Include an undertank heater to help achieve appropriate temperatures. Use paper towels as the substrate, as they are disposible and easy to clean; using paper towels, also, insures that the reptile will not be able to ingest any more loose substrates.

If the reptile is showing mild symptoms, you will want to first set it up in an enclosure free of loose substrates, and follow the below method. If you're reptile is showing more moderate-severe symptoms, you want to take the reptile to a vet, ASAP.

Now what you want to do with the reptile, itself, is to purchase a small dropper, in order to administer a few drops of either mineral oil, olive oil, or vegetable oil, daily. Give the reptiel warm soaks at least once a day, as well. Make sure to not let the water get hotter than the reptiles normal basking temperatures.

You want to try to get as much fluids in the reptile as you can without too much force. Try giving the reptile diluted Gatorade or pedialyte by using a dropper.

Do not give the reptile any solids, yet. Try providing the reptile different baby foods. Bearded dragons and omnivorous reptiles can eat fruit or vegetable baby foods, and insectivores can be provided chicken and turkey baby foods. Make sure to add supplements to the baby food. You may have to use a dropper to feed the reptile the baby food, but see if it will eat it on its own, first.

This method may take several days to get the impaction moving through the reptile's body, but DO NOT let it go more than 10 days.

The next option really isn't an option. You should take your reptile to a vet. Hopefully, you know, or have found, a good reptile veterinarian in the area. The vet will try to flush the impaction out by giving the reptile enemas. NEVER try this on your own!

Preventing Impaction

If you want to prevent impaction before it has a chance to impact your reptile you need to, first, start the reptile on a solid surface. NOT loose substrates. And, make extreme care to not house reptiles under one year on loose substrates.

Feed size appropriate foods. Make sure that crickets aren't too big for the reptile, and chop fruits and veggies up to a smaller size.

Make sure the temperatures in the enclosure are not to low or too high. Using a digital thermometer with a probe, you can accurately determine the temperatures in the enclosure. Fluker's manufactures a digital thermometer with a probe that not only measures temperature but humidity, which can be very important in creating the proper enclosure for you reptile.

Keep a bowl of calcium in the aquarium at all times.

Keep fresh water in the enclosure.

Disclaimer: Please be aware that the advice in this article should in no way replace that of a licensed veterinarian. The methods outlined above may or may not work for your pet. If you have any concerns, you should consult a specialized reptile veterinarian.

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    • profile image

      Brian Hess 3 years ago

      The only substrate I use for my Leo and Bearded Dragon is tile,

    • profile image

      Grainne Gillespie 3 years ago

      Vermiculite is also a risk. I used vermiculite as a medium in my leos shedding box/nest box without problem until I got a new male gecko. He ate the vermiculite and ended up dying of impaction

    • profile image

      lucy 5 years ago

      So my baby leo is red in the face and we do use sand and im so worryed when i saw the pictures

    • profile image

      meagan 5 years ago

      my leo is almost a year and i had him on sand and then i swicthed to reptile carpet and gave him a mineral oil bath but he looks worse . he stopped eating and is always sleeping .i feel really bad what shoyuld i do.

    • profile image

      Steevie Rae 5 years ago

      First off... i work at a petsmart. We do not sell any leo's or any other reptiles under 1 month old or against the law in the state. We could get fined majorly

      Second off

      if he's smaller that's not a problem. you need to separate them while feeding if there is a huge difference in size. In fact you should get two different tanks if there is to big of a difference since the larger ones tend to be a bully.

      there is no way its smaller then a hatch-ling. If the vendor sends us one to small.. we send it back. In fact we measure it up to what the size should be. if its smaller its illegal and we have to file a claim.. yada yada yada..

    • profile image

      Brian Anthony Del Piano 5 years ago

      I am a freelance writer. I have written countless articles in the past about this, but I must say, photo's speak louder than words! EXCELLENT article! I can only hope this educates people.

    • profile image

      ELIOT 5 years ago

      when using any substrate, feed ur animal(s)in a separate container!!!!!!!!!! and don't use sand!!!!!!!! i use eco earth for all animals and have never had a problem with it!!!!!!!!!! i feed all of my snakes in separate tanks so they wont afileate handleing w feeding also.

    • profile image

      Eliot 5 years ago

      if people don't understand this, they are killing there reptiles!!!!! and they don't really care eather!!!!!!!!!!!

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      Deemo 6 years ago

      I have a leopard gecko, they are from the desert so therefore they naturally live on sand. I purchased desert sand after I spoke to a breeder who has been breeding for 9 years and he uses the sand also all his reptiles, some he keeps and some he sells are all on calci sand and none of them have had any problems. What %age of geckos suffer from impaction as it does say 'may' cause impaction ? I was using wood chips and noticed he did eat a small piece of wood that he picked up with a locust, I'm scared now that this is going to kill him could he poop it out or will it get stuck ? Please help.

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      momo 6 years ago

      If the gecko eat something to big, Bigger then it's head. Like a grasshopper a day ago, can i treat him with the veggie oil an warm baths now an have him be ok? I cant bring him to a vet because im dirt broke

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      Pstrat 6 years ago

      My 11 year old gecko died today of impaction. She wouldn't eat anything for quite some time, and in the last week of her life there were large amounts of blood in her cage. It was really sad cause I was planning on putting her to sleep and was too late.

      I advise anyone reading this to NOT house your gecko in any type of sand!!!! If you currently are, it's not too late to switch... My gecko lasted 11 years which is a really long time, it just wasn't a pleasant way to see my childhood until adulthood pet go.

      Again, do not house your gecko in sand!! And if you are, change to something else. Impaction can prove to be fatal!

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      rene'  6 years ago

      My garter snake ate some dirt while eating her worm and is now vomitting blood as well as the worm. Small bit of blood fri. night, more blood and worm sat. afternoon. What do you think her chances of surviving are? Do you think blood is from internal injury or from salmonela?

    • profile image

      Katie03 6 years ago

      Oh, and also, he is acting normal, as if nothing is different, he comes out around the same times at night, walks the same, looks the same, drinks just as much water as usual, the only thing that is different is his lack of pooping and eating.. although he still does a little bit.

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      Katie03 6 years ago

      Hello, I need some advice... So, my leopard gecko is around 8 months old, he is on paper towels for substrate, the temps are usually about 90f on the hotter end of the enclosure, i use two bulbs for my heat source, neither being UVB, just red heat lamps, and i feed him crickets everyday unless he chooses not to eat. Now, for the past 2 weeks, he has only pooped twice, and on top of that he hasn't been eating nearly as much, he will only eat one every night, and sometimes not at all, and then after he does poop, he eats about 3, but then it goes back to the same as before. I've been giving him olive oil to help and warm water soaks while i rub his belly gently, because i was assuming he was impacted, but i don't really know why he would be impacted. The other thing is his poop isn't as full, i guess i could say. Instead its sort of dried out looking/ shriveled up, but still the same color pretty much. I don't know if he has parasites maybe, he was bought from a pet store, is there any way of getting rid of them at home? Is there any other problems he might have that i don't know about?

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      gecko lover 6 years ago

      i just had a gecko die from impaction . despite of how i hate passing the blame this is one time i have to go with everyone else when they say pet stores don't care. when i got my two geckos last december one was noticeably smaller than the other so i got advice from another pet store after he continued to stay the same size as the other grew , even though he was eating as well. she said he was dehydrated and gave me moss and a cool hide box, but nothing happened. well just last week he stopped eating and drinking and finally died my mom wanted to get me another one but i just told her that i would wait till i can ensure they have all they need and will be able to go to the vet before i get any more pets

      and everything in his habitat was fine i have a larger gecko that i got at the beginning of last year that has ther same setup and is doing great and growing regularly

    • Whitney05 profile image
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      Whitney 6 years ago from Georgia

      How can something be smaller than a hatchling? Geckos vary in size. If the gecko is that small, the breeder is nto a good breeder and had no right selling you geckos that small. If it was a pet store, then that's normal, as they buy from wholesalers who don't care about the animals just the money.

      I never recommend buying animals from a pet store. They are commonly ill.

      The two geckos need to be housed individually, as you do not know their genders, and if you have two males, they will fight and a male and female will breed. In some cases, females will also fight. They do better housed individually.

      You just got them, it takes time for some geckos to get adjusted and eat. And, since these geckos should never have been sold, they are more than likely quite stressed and fragile.

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      Chris 6 years ago

      P.s. Whenever they see crickets, they don't go after them

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      Chris 6 years ago

      Hi. I just bought my new leos three days ago. To me, the smaller one looks smaller than a hatchling. The bigger one is about the size of a hatchling. I bought both at petsmart and i never saw them eat. from the looks of the cage, they only ate one mealworm. Am i doing something wrong? What should i feed them?

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      Justin  6 years ago

      this article is so great. I'm the new owner of my first beardie and, so far I am loving it! (My fiancé chuckles about this because ive been treating it like by own child, calling to check up on it and getting all kinds of stuff for it) I have a few questions though

      We really want to get a second bd, but of the opposite gender (we are excited to eventually breed). Mine is a juvenile (only about 4-5", I haven't measure it yet) is there any way to check the gender at this young, (I know of the "1 bump 2 bump" method when they are older). Also, my friend recommended putting a damp towel above the cool side of the cage, and I noticed that definitely raised the temp of the warm side and levelled out the cool side, would that work if I eventually move up to a 55gallon breeder tank (currently using a 15gallon)? also, Is there an easy way to check the temp on the basking spot? He definitely seems happy with the temp, but I'm just a little worried it may not be peaking high enough.

    • Whitney05 profile image
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      Whitney 6 years ago from Georgia

      What reptile are you housing? How old is the reptile?

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      madz 6 years ago

      is coconut soil a good substrate? with the string like pieces removed...

    • Whitney05 profile image
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      Whitney 6 years ago from Georgia

      I do see where plastic would be bad as a substrate, as many reptile decor is made of plastic. I would just make sure to clean and disinfect the tiles before putting them in the tank.

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      John10 6 years ago

      Hi whitney, and thanks for the info. I actually ended up removoving the substrate right after i got off the computer. I put in paper towel instead, because its the most convenient of substrates and has no risk. One thing I noticed is the crickets are much faster on the paper towel, but I'm sure that just makes it more fun when he goes to hunt them down : )

      I plan on buying ceramic tiles to put down eventually, because i look the look of them, and they are reusable after being cleaned. But, what i was wondering is, linoleum tiles are a lot cheaper to buy, but considering they are plastic, could they be harmful to a gecko? If i get them, it would be from a dollar store, and because of that, they might not be so good.. if they are made from toxic materials and what not.

      Is linoleum/plastic alright to use?

      Thank you, your help is very appreciated :)

    • Whitney05 profile image
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      Whitney 6 years ago from Georgia

      Try the under tank heater, and see if that helps.

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      newowner 6 years ago

      Thanks for the comment back. I think the temperatures weren't right. We set the thermostat in our house lower during the weekdays, and I think that it made the temps in his cage go too low, even with the heat lamp. It didn't occur to me until this morning that that might be the problem. We're putting an undertank heat pad in tonight to see if that helps. I hope it's that easy of a fix!

    • Whitney05 profile image
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      Whitney 6 years ago from Georgia

      He could have over ate. That or the temperatures aren't right, and he's not digesting properly. What are the temperatures? Are you using an under tank heater? Are you using a digital thermometer with a probe to measure temperatures?

    • profile image

      newowner 6 years ago

      I have a question about feeding and health. We've had our junvenile leopard gecko for 3 days. He's eating (crickets) every day and pooping well and is fairly active. This afternoon we checked on him, and there was a large-ish mass of what looked like cricket exoskeleton on the floor of his cage. (He still seems to be fine -- sleeping under his heat lamp, walking around, etc.) Is this normal? or are the crickets we're feeding him too big? or could there be something very wrong? I hope someone can give me some advice because I'm a little nervous about feeding the little guy until I have an idea what's going on.

      Thanks...

    • Whitney05 profile image
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      Whitney 6 years ago from Georgia

      Long-term, there is a high chance and possibility of impaction. Plus soil will increase humidity, which you don't want in a leopard gecko.

    • profile image

      John10 6 years ago

      Hi, i have had a leopard gecko for almost a month now, he is perfectly fine, but im wondering if the plantation soil i use as substrate is going to be a problem in the future. Im really worried and i cant find any answers on the internet to whether "planatation soil" (coconut fibre one)

      is ok or not, it just says avoid loose substrates.

      I watch him as he eats, and he doesnt seem to ingest it by accident, only the first week when he was really young and a bit more clumsy. He doesnt attempt to snack on it for no reason either.. but im still really worried that it will cause problems down the road :(

      please help, thanks.

    • profile image

      Baza 7 years ago

      Thanks I will remove all sand I just gave my two dragons a long warm bathe hoping it my help them poo wat is best to use in my tank

    • Whitney05 profile image
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      Whitney 7 years ago from Georgia

      I would remove any form of sand, especially any and all calcium based sand. It does not digest nor break down in the body.

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      Baza 7 years ago

      I use komodo calci sand should I get rid

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      rivasrraa 7 years ago

      I just wanted to thank whoever put together this page. We just bought a baby Bearded Dragon a week ago. This is our first reptile and we are learning the care as we go. We put crushed walnut shell in as a substrate because the bag said it was ideal for bearded dragons! After some internet research we discovered this was very wrong. We removed the substrate and put down paper towles, but our baby dragon did not poop for days. We tried baths for a couple of days but these did not help. I read that olive oil might help so we gave him a few drops. About an hour later we brought him outside and placed him on a warm metal surface. In a couple of minutes he excreeted the walnut shells and everything else he had plugged with. This saved me an expensive trip to the vet. He seems much happier now. Thanks for the tip!

    • Whitney05 profile image
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      Whitney 7 years ago from Georgia

      If anything, I hope you've learned the lesson of not housing males with females without proper experience. Otherwise, you may need ton consult the vet via phone to see what she suggests. Typically the shot of hormone to induce labor, so to speak works great, but there are cases where it's not perfect.

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      BlueButterfly714 7 years ago

      Thanks for your advice. I live in Toronto, On, where there are only 2 animal clinics that also see reptiles. After further investigation, I knew you were right, she was egg-bound. I took Ophelia to see a vet- she was nice and did an x-ray for free (I can't afford the 250 they wanted for it). Ended up spending $210 on exam fees, calcium and fluid shots. Had to bring her back the next day and pay $44 for the Oxytocent shot (was told I had to give her more calcium and fluid shots- all together would have been $100 if hadn't done it for free)- which I was told would induce labor in 30 min- to a few hours. It's been 4 days, and she still hasn't laid her eggs. So I spend approximately $260 that I don't have on what? I'm so worried about her, and just not sure what to do at this point. I think I might have to give her away, because I can't afford any further treatment- just don't know who else would be willing to take care of her, and I really don't want to give her away because I really love her. I feel like I'm stuck.

    • Whitney05 profile image
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      Whitney 7 years ago from Georgia

      Calci sand is not digestable, and it does not dissolve in water or stomach acid. Remove the calcium sand, and use just the reptile carpet.

      Also keep in mind that one female can lay up to 16 eggs by breeding just one time. Make room for plenty of babies.

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      Matty 7 years ago

      I have a leopard gecko. He is around 18months old and since i have owned him has been fine. Had ups and downs with eating but always comes round. I have just moved him into a bigger viv as i am looking for some females to breed but within the few hours he has been in there he has had a roam around and then just stayd in the cold side. I have calci sand but realy want to change after what i have read on here and wondered if it wise to put reptile carpet or lino on top ov the sand to keep the uneven look? Thanks

    • Whitney05 profile image
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      Whitney 7 years ago from Georgia

      Yes, add calcium and minerals to the baby food. I wouldn't feed a lot of baby food, as it's not the healthiest for reptiles to eat, especially as a staple, but it's ok for short term when readjusting the reptiles stomach and intestines after impaction, especially severe impaction. If it was just a minor deal, I wouldn't worry about the baby food, and just feed a regular diet.

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      Alissa Scott 7 years ago

      When you say add supplements to the baby food you mean I can add the 'Rep-cal powered calcium' that i use on the crickets?

      I'm very worried about my bearded dragon. It just started happening a few days ago. She just got so plump. She's sluggish, won't chase crickets, and hasn't gone to the bathroom in two days which is normally an everyday thing for her.

    • Whitney05 profile image
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      Whitney 7 years ago from Georgia

      Egg bound means that she's gravid (pregnant) and can't lay the eggs. She can die if she doesn't pass them, if this is the case. A reptile vet can imply one of a few treatment options that range from surgery, hormonal treatment, or manual stimulation. Surgery is very risky for small reptiles.

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      BlueButterfly714 7 years ago

      Thanks for replying so quickly. I've had my adults for about a year and a half. I got Ophelia, the one that is sick first, then my male a month later, than a few weeks after that- my other female, who is Ophelia's sister. The babies were both raised in a 10 gallon separately, then introduced to the adults in the 30 gallon when big enough.

      Ophelia's tail has never gotten quite as fat as my other lizard's, but she always seemed to have a decent appetite, so it didn't worry me. Now, between that, the fact that she's not eating, the swollen redness on her tummy, and her having problems pooing- she can't really go, and when she does, it's white/clearish and stringy. What does egg bound mean? I think I'll have to take her to a vet, do you happen to know of a good one in Toronto, Ontario?

      Thanks so much for your help

    • Whitney05 profile image
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      Whitney 7 years ago from Georgia

      Are they housed together? Were any of the geckos quarantined before introducing? Is this the only gecko having trouble?

      If the female is being housed with the male, she could be egg bound, which could be the redness that you're seeing. If that is the case, you may really need to see a vet.

      If she's only been on food strike for a week, her tail shouldn't have gotten that thin in just that time.

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      BlueButterfly714 7 years ago

      Hi. I have 3 adult leopard gecko (two female, one male) and two female babies. My eldest adult female, Ophelia, has not eaten for almost a week. Her tail has gotten really small, but she still has some mass in her stomach (actually, it looks a bit red underneath), and I was really worried it was impaction. To be honest I have no idea how that would happen, since I keep my guys on paper towel. After reading the information on this page, I started 2 days ago to feed her drops of olive oil, give her warm baths, and feed her applesauce with repti-cal mixed in. It's a struggle, and she still won't eat in the vivarium, but she's a little more active. Today when I gave her the olive oil, she started gasping for air, which really scared me. Do you have any suggestions for me about what I can do to make her better? Do you think it could be something other than impaction, since underneath her belly is red, not blue? Is there anything more I can do for her to make her more comfortable?

      Thanks,

      :)Amanda

    • Whitney05 profile image
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      Whitney 7 years ago from Georgia

      I am sorry that I couldn't provide too much insight.

      For leopard geckos, the under tank heater is essential, and the overhead lighting is optional. They really don't need any lighting. They are nocturnal and do not really need the lighting. Some just like to provide a day/night scenario. I wouldn't even mess with a red light, but that's your option.

      Calcium in a bottle cap is fine. I would also dust crickets. I have heard of Big Apple; they're sort of a wholesaler...

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      Chris 7 years ago

      Thank You for taking the time to respond to my question and i kinda had the feeling you were not going to be able to answer as to why they died. But i wanted to see if you could give me any more insight as to how to better care for them as i think i want to try again to raise some more leopards. UTH is a better option than an overhead light to provide heat im learning, do you use overhead lights? How important is the 12 hr light cycle to them or can i just get away with using room light and a red overhead light for night viewing? I should put calcium in tank in say a gatorade cap or just on crickets? Also just wanted to let you know i purchased the lizards from Big Apple pet supply, not sure if you ever heard of them? Thanks again for your insight its much appreciated!!

    • Whitney05 profile image
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      Whitney 7 years ago from Georgia

      I'm sorry for the loss. My first thought was parasites; but then you said an online supplier. If it was a wholesaler, then parasites is still a big concern, as breeders tend to put more care into their reptiles. But, I also remembered you said that they were eating, which in most cases reptiles with parasites have a lack of appetite, so whether it was parasites or not would be hard to tell, as you would have needed to have done a fecal test to verify.

      The lack of under tank heater could have caused digestion concerns, but I don't think it would have killed them all of a sudden like that, unless there were signs that you weren't noticing.

      It is hard to diagnose what may have killed them without proper tests, especially considered that they seemed fine.

      I'm sorry, but I don't think that I can give you an answer to what may have happened. :-(

    • profile image

      Chris 7 years ago

      Hello, A month ago we bought my son(12) 2 baby leopard geckos. Both have unfortunatly died :[ When we got both they were both eating fine and im not sure really if they stopped eating as my son did much of the car taking. We housed them both in a 20 gal tank with repti carpet a couple of hiding spots some decor vines and for heat we had a overhead light with a 100 watt bulb. The air Temp when light was on was usually between 84-94. Now i no i made some mistakes here one being i think i should have paid more attention daily to the lizards but having been an owner of many reptiles in the past i just assumed like most of the reptiles i have owned the were pretty simple to keep. I missed the whole UTH during my initial research of these lizards and i didnt have any calcium in the tank, though i applied to crickets on occasion. Both lizards appeared to be very skinny upon death but im just not sure why they would have stopped eating and not having paid much attention(every couple of days) to them its hard for me to say how often they did or did not eat. Im not sure they could have been impacted, i bought them online from a lizard supplier. Both of their abdoman area seemed red under the skin almost like it was bleeding and both had black or blue spots, which i assumed were organs of some sort. I feel really bad that having known they required more attention to temp and all i could easily have checked them more just didnt know better at the time. but i dont want these lizards to have died in vain and not try to figure out what it was that they died from. So in short any suggestions or ideas as to what i should have done differently? I LOVE animals and really really really feel bad when i see injured, dead or abused animals. I just dont want anyone to think that i just neglected them as it happened so fast and they were so little i didnt recognize the symptoms( the 2nd to die looked pretty darn good a couple of days ago i saw him hunting at night and he looked strong). Could it be poor digestion due to the lack of UTH or stress from the light i had on him or parasites, i believe these r the 3 most likely reason for death. Thanks and sry for the long rant but i wanted to try to give you most info i could 1st time around. Thank You for any info u can provide.

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      Jack 7 years ago

      Yeah i give him fresh water everyday and keep the humidity where it should be and i give him a good soak in warmish water like three times a week. however i never quite know how long is enough. i usually soak him for like 20 minutes. And thats funny cause last night i was thinking it has been a while... so decided to feed him and i dipped the fresh killed rat in water! AND, This may sound a bit macabre but i took a dropper filled with normal temperature water and i guess you can say i pumped some into the rat. through his mouth into his stomach. Reno took this rat happily as he always does. we'll just have to wait and see. what are your opinions.

    • Whitney05 profile image
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      Whitney 7 years ago from Georgia

      Do you have a water bowl that the snake can drink from? Try lukewarm soaks a few times a week. I'm not sure if the mineral oil will help with dehydration, but you may consider dipping the pr-killed rat in water so that when the snake eats it, he's getting some water in.

      I know a lot of keepers will used F/T feeders and make sure they're still wet so that when the snake eats, they're getting in the nutrients from the feeder and the water to help keep hydrated, especially as some species really don't care for the bowl.

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      Jack 7 years ago

      Hey. I've noticed everyone here talks mostly about Leo's but I'm having problems with my Blood Python. I had taken him to the vet cause he wasn't defecating at all and he had noticeable lumps towards his tail. They Emptied him out and told me the problem was he was dehydrated and his urate was blocking everything else up. I've noticed before that he never drinks. well i took him home and thought problem solved. but now same problems. not going to the bathroom and a really small (as of now) lump right at his cloaca. i was wondering before i take him back to a costly vet, if maybe you could help me out. i was wondering if it would be harmful to him if i maybe injected a mineral oil/water mixture into his next pre-killed Rat meal. or if i should just force feed him so water with a dropper. what do you think?

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      Whitney 7 years ago from Georgia

      That's good to hear.

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      Mark 7 years ago

      Ah it's okay now, she's been defecating prolifically around her tank so i began offering her food again and she's eating everything fine :)

      She's also coming out and moving around the enclosure so she seems to be a lot more content than she did before.

      I'm not sure if it was impaction but by following what you've said she has got a lot better.

      Thanks for the advice :)

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      Whitney 7 years ago from Georgia

      It typically takes a few days or week or so before there's a huge difference if it is impaction. You may want to have a reptile vet check her out to rule out anything else.

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      Mark 7 years ago

      There is literally nowhere i can get Mineral Oil, i've looked everywhere and in the end i just got some Olive Oil. I've been putting it on the nose of my Monitor and she's been licking it off but no real change.

      She has been defecating but they've been small in comparison to her previous "full sized" feaces. She is also hiding all the times of the day except to bask in the morning and i don't want to continue forcing her to take warm baths since it is stressful for her :/

      Do you think it is impaction or something else? It's mainly the swelling of her stomach that's convinced me.

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      Whitney 7 years ago from Georgia

      Try mineral oil, as recommended above.

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      Mark 7 years ago

      I got a Savannah Monitor a few weeks ago and she was eating mice perfectly fine, but i think i overfed her on mealworms and mice and i've since gathered that this can cause impaction.

      She stopped eating about 3-4 days ago, became lethargic, and stopped passing fecal matter and i knew the risks of impaction and i've been soaking her in hot water twice a day, but there's been no change at all. The temperature's are as there supposed to be and she has a basking rock that warms up her underside significantly. However she has developed a distinct "arch" in her back, and i'm worried that this is a definite sign of impaction.

      There are no reptile vets anywhere near me so that's not an option, what can i do?

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      Ben 7 years ago

      Hi, I recently put moss in just a little area in my geckos tank. And it seems that she has gotten bigger on her sides. She keeps eating real good though, and she's active. Should I be worried about impaction because of the moss. I'm not sure if she is eating it or not. How can I tell if she has one or not?

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      Whitney 7 years ago from Georgia

      That is good to hear. Hopefully he will keep it up.

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      Wendebastage 7 years ago

      Whitney, I want you to know he is drinking and eating very well now on his own, he gained a lot of strength back. He is no longer pooping substrate. I am so glad and thank you so much for guiding me through the process. I really appreciate it so much. :)

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      Whitney 7 years ago from Georgia

      Good luck with him.

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      Wendebastage 7 years ago

      I have under the tank heaters as well. I think I am going to bring them upstairs. It's warmer up here. That is the plan. Thank you so much for all of your suggestions. Everything is seeming to work. He is still pooping substrate though, I am waiting for a cricket to be fully satisfied.

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      Whitney 7 years ago from Georgia

      Gotcha... 80-85 is still rather low, especially for 13 years. 85 would be pushing it to be ok, as it is bare minimum temperature for the hot side, but 80 is definitely low. An under tank heater is the best way to provide heat for a leopard gecko.

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      Wendebastage 7 years ago

      Oh no. This winter was the only winter that they lived in chilled temps. We couldn't afford oil and it was colder than usual downstairs. The temps are now regulated because I added a higher wattage bulb. One gecko, Cartman, is filled out and semi-plump. He's okay. Fluffy just couldn't handle the cold this winter. Sorry, I didn't explain that either. Otherwise the temps were 80-85 on the hot side and 70-75 on the cool side for most of their lives, until now.

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      Whitney 7 years ago from Georgia

      It should take a few weeks to a month or more for him to gain weight. Because they weren't eating like they were supposed to, they're going to be skinny. Then the one with the impaction, not eating for a few weeks on top of probably already being underweight... Just not good...

      Definitely keep up with current research, as you were very poorly informed about the gecko care.

      You were doing something right as they have lived this long, but it is very surprising considering they've only eaten once every two weeks for the past many, many years, and lived in chilled temperatures.

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      Wendebastage 7 years ago

      You are so right there in regards to pet store employees. It's pretty sad, because they should be knowledgeable about the animals they have. The temps are raised and everything is up to standards. They are getting gut loaded crickets daily. I only give them 5 each as that is what they have been eating as of late. I feel like the quality of the lives were not as good as it could have been, but now they are thriving and I am keeping an eye on Fluffy. he seems to be getting around his tank and pooping in the appropriate place. He is still skinny, do you know how long it will take for him to get more meat on his bones. My other Gecko, Cartman, is doing very well, he is meaty and just shed his skin last night and is doing extremely well. Right now I have paper towels in there, I ordered some brown carpet reptile terrain from the pet store, as they only had green.

      Anyway, I will keep you updated and thank you so much for helping me through all of this. I hope I helped him and made his life much better. :)

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      Whitney 7 years ago from Georgia

      If you're still using 80 for the hot side, that's another concern. You want the temps to be closer to 90-92F.

      Information on animals is ever changing as new information develops. You should never stop research once you get an animal.

      Feed as much as the reptile will eat withing 10-15 minutes. Only feeding once every 2 weeks is ridiculous. I have never heard that. Even in the beginning information was still somewhat similar to what it is today. Never listen to pet store employees, as they are not always the most knowledgeable, whether 13 years ago or today. In a lot of cases, they don't know how to care for the animals they're selling you.

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      Wendebastage 7 years ago

      It's interesting, because when we got them 13 years ago, a whole other set of rules applied and there wasn't much information. So the information that was given to me from the pet store was completely incorrect. even the things I read on line was wrong back then. I am finding that this is going to make a difference for the last part of their life. I was told I didn't need a moss hide, just make sure the temps are above 80 on one side and around 70 on the cool side. Then I was told to use Calcium sand, then Walnut shells, etc. You can see how I was grateful to come and find you on this site as I would have never have known. Thanks again for all of your advice, they are now thriving.

      P.S. He pooped again. lol I am just letting him be and get used to his habitat and schedule once again. I am feeding him 5 crickets once every day, is that too much? I was told to feed them once every two weeks, seriously! So, now I know that they eat every day. All of this information is in my Gecko book as well as what I have read in the past. Mind you, the past. :)

      Here is to healthy reptiles! ;)

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      Whitney 7 years ago from Georgia

      I use humid hides, yes. I use moist paper towels for younger geckos, and coconut fiber for breeding females.

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      Wendebastage 7 years ago

      I wanted to ask you another question, do you have a hide box with moss in it or vermiculite? I was reading this link and I didn't know if this is something I had to add. Let me know. Thanks.

      P.S. I am keeping an eye on him. :)

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      Whitney 7 years ago from Georgia

      That is good. Keep an eye on him.

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      Wendebastage 7 years ago

      Thanks again Whitney. He pooped once again last night. I looked at his belly and I saw another urate, so I know that I got the obstruction. I am letting him be now and just watching him to see if he continues to be on the up and up. Thanks again for all of your advice.

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      Whitney 7 years ago from Georgia

      I personally, would just leave a bowl of calcium for him to eat as needed. I wouldn't recommend an enema unless you are familiar with giving reptiles enemas. That is better left for the professionals as you can do damage to the reptile. Just keep an eye on him.

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      Wendebastage 7 years ago

      Whitney, I went out and got crickets today and he finally ate. I feel like I am doing the right things.

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      Wendy 7 years ago

      Also, how much is too much calcium? I just put a small small pinch of powder in his mouth once a day, for now until he gets more of his strength back. Plus I have given him an enema twice and this is what promoted the poop as well. I only put in a small small small amount in his rear end. I just started doing this 3 days ago this treatment and he is getting a lot better. Mind you, he is also 13 years old, I would love it for him to live another 7. :)

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      Wendy 7 years ago

      There were three pieces of poop there. I stopped feeding him because he refused to eat due to the impaction. Should I get him some crickets now that he has eaten? Also, his coat is shiny again and his color is back and he has more energy. The impaction is not severe, he is climbing and laying on his rock now, so I think I will be able to get this out of him. I am still calling the vet Monday. Thanks so much for your advice. I appreciate it.

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      Whitney 7 years ago from Georgia

      Be careful in not overdosing calcium. A week of not eating, isn't that severe or anything to cause alarm. The impation is the concern. If the impaction is severe, a vet can flush out the gecko.

      It is good that the gecko passed some of the matter. He may not be out of the woods; it's hard to tell because I don't know how bad the impaction was to tell you if one poo will be enough. It also depends on how much substrate he released.

      You should have never stopped feeding him.

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      Wendy 7 years ago

      Whitney, Fluffy finally pooped. It's been a week. So the stuff is definitely coming out. I looked to see what was in his poop with a rubber glove and it was substrate. I am so saddened that I did this to him. I washed my hands thoroughly with anti bacterial soap after handling the poop. Other than that. I am glad that I found you and read all of your suggestions. It has worked! Thanks so much! Also, does this mean he is out of the woods now? I know I am going to continue treatment until he is fully cleaned out, but does this mean he is out of the woods? Also, when can I start feeding him again?

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      Wendy 7 years ago

      I am force feeding him calcium and water right now. He isn't eating on his own. The temperature on the hot side is about 85-90 and the cool side is about 75-80. The last time he ate was on the 6th of this month. So it has been a week already. I am having my local pet store order Nature Zone Essential Probiotics, they will have it on Tuesday, I hope my little guy makes it.

      Also, if I take him to the vet, what would they do differently than I am doing now? Can they do an endoscopy on reptiles? I am actually being serious.

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      Whitney 7 years ago from Georgia

      Other than what you're doing, you can take him to a vet. Depending on how bad the impaction is, a vet may be needed. Is the gecko eating? What are the temperatures?

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      Wendy 7 years ago

      I have 2 leopard geckos, both are 13 yrs old. One is fine, but the other one has an impaction. I have changed the substrate to paper towels as all these years i have been using the wrong substrate apparently. When I first got them they said Calci-Sand was best and then they said walnut shells. Now I hear that you shouldn't use any of that. Interesting. I have been giving him 2 drops of mineral oil per day, along with warm baths and massaging his belly to try to produce a bowel movement. What do I do in regards to getting calcium and water in him, because he refuses to open his mouth for me anymore. He hates the mineral oil, it takes me 15 minutes just to get 2 drops of that in him. What else should I do to help my little guy?

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      Whitney 7 years ago from Georgia

      Definitely do not use calcium based sand. Very Fine play sand can be ok, but you still have the risk of impaction.

      Reptile carpet/tile should not burn his feet; typically they don't sit and dig though. Newspaper is iffy because some printers use a dye that can be toxic.

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      kaz 7 years ago

      i have a new bearded dragon- the shop advised us calci-sand. i read up yesturday as never heard of it before-for ourother we used-repti sand similar to play sand. we have found both are bad.

      Although if we use newspaper/reptile carpet...what happens if he tries to dig & will my heat lamp not make the substrate hot & burn his feet??

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      Whitney 7 years ago from Georgia

      gecko, as long as you've changed the substrate, just keep things as normal. make sure the temperatures are good and that the gecko is still eating and drinking.

      aline, calcium based sand is horrible, get rid of it. try the olive oil and see if the gecko passes any of the substrate. a diet of sole mealworms is fine, but it's best to var it with crickets or another feeder just to vary it up for better nutrition. If the gecko doesn't pass anything with the olive oil and warm soaks, you will probably need to see a vet.

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      Aline 7 years ago

      I have been asked to look after an adult male Leopard Gecko 6 weeks ago. His female had died, she was not eating. Not knowing much about Gecko i followed the intructions given to me and did not check them as it was only for a month. I have now been asked to keep him so i read more about it. I was given completely wrong info! For the last howmany months he was fed on mealworms only, and did not have any calcium supplement. As he was living in a calcium sand base, he was not lacking calcium. 2 weeks ago he stopped eating. As he is a rather obese Gecko and his tale had not changed, I did not worry. Now his tale is thining so I fear impaction. As he has not eaten for over 2 weeks can I still deal with this myself with olive oil and bathing or do I need to see a VET urgently?

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      gecko beginner 7 years ago

      Hi, I have a leopard gecko that I have had for just over a month. I am worried that she has the beginning signs of impaction as i noticed some sand remnants in her poo.

      I have changed her flooring to slate tiles and she has started to get slightly paler. Im hoping this is just because she is due to shed soon or could this be related to the impaction? She has still got a big tail and hasnt lost any weight so how long would you say it is best to leave her without feeding her anymore crickets?

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      Whitney 7 years ago from Georgia

      since you've already seen a vet, just wait and see what he did works. flushing is something that a vet normally will do to flush out the body.

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      Judith 7 years ago

      I have an 11 year old leopard Gecko named Brutus. He has impaction. I have changed his lining to paper towels, I am giving him olive oil, giving him baths and massaging his belly. I took him to the vet last night and today and they did xrays and gave him something to losen his stool. He has an upper impaction. He appears to be gasping and is not moving his upper limbs. Is there anything else I can do? You talked about flushing. What do you mean by this? If you mean give an enema will it help a Gecko who has impaction in their upper digestive tract?

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      vetherppath 7 years ago

      There is not a good correlation between pectoral and pelvic limb paralysis and the location of impaction. Neurologic disease can be associated with endotoxemia that often occurs with longstanding impaction. Those species with large ceca also can have their lower digestive tract distend and impinge on brachial plexus nerves. Most of the cases I have seen of impaction with paralysis were of this type. They had colonic impaction but had pelvic and pectoral paralysis.

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      Whitney 7 years ago from Georgia

      Towels could get expensive. It may make walking on them harder, and depending on how thick they are the gecko may grab them while trying to eat. Although, the gecko wouldn't be able to eat it, the towels would make feeding harder, I'd assume.

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      matt 7 years ago

      I just had a quick question, would it be bad to have a young leopard gecko housed on small cotton towels instead of paper towels or reptile carpet?

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      Whitney 8 years ago from Georgia

      I'm sorry to hear that. The blue area on the belly is probably the liver. I've found that sick geckos, tend to have their liver more prominant than healthy geckos.

      Make sure that the gecko is on paper towels, and try your best to heal him for the broken leg.

      Good luck.

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      Helena loves Muncha 8 years ago

      My lizard seems to be listing to the right, he seems to be having breathing problems, he wont walk that much, we took him to the vet last week, and they just said he had a fractured leg, but then i found this, he has a purple bruise on his belly. mum says he wont make it through to tomorrow :(

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      Whitney 8 years ago from Georgia

      Terrible housing. You need ventilation, so get rid of the solid lid and get a screen lid. You need to unplug the heat rock, as it can and will badly burn the gecko's belly. You want to throw away the cedar, as cedar is terrible for reptiles and other small animals; the oils can give respiratory problems.

      Paper towels, not regular towels. Just line the bottom; no need to shred. Keep them dry, moisten them and the humidity will rise and respiratory problems can develop.

      For a moist hide, yes mist the paper towels within the hide ONLY and only when the gecko is going to shed.

      Weekly replace the paper towels.

      An under tank heater is a heating pad that goes under the tank. Heat rocks can and will burn reptiles. They are not recommended for geckos, snakes, and most lizards.

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      eimmot38 8 years ago

      My friend has a leopard gecko that was given to him. It is in a 20 gallon (fish)aquarium, with a solid lid and a heat rock. It has cedar shavings for ground cover and he puts a dozen crickets at a time in there for it to eat. He also keeps a piece of potato in there for the crickets to eat...was told to do this by a friend. Is this a dangerous environment? "Harry", has good color is active and has a fat tail, all seems well. When you say use kitchen towels, do you mean paper towels...and if so does he line the entire bottom with them or does he shred them? Does he keep them moist? In his "hide" does he put wadded-up paper towels?, and does he need to spritz them to keep them moist?, How often does he need to change the paper out? Also what is a bottom heater? Harry has a heat rock, wouldn't that keep his belly warm?

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      Whitney 8 years ago from Georgia

      leopard geckos are beter with solid substrate. Your vet was correct. Just give the gecko time to adjust.

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      Francis 8 years ago

      I have a blizzard gecko, he is now five years old and I had always used a kind of sand and my gecko vet. Said me to change substract because it could cause impaction. IN was asking myself what to put: towel paper or repti carpet and if any thing is better... Say me because my blizzard gecko does not seemed to like solid substract.

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      Whitney 8 years ago from Georgia

      Pet stores house on sand as most pet stores have a coporation regulation that have sand as the housing. Also in consideration for pet stores, they house on sand but the reptiles are on the sand for short periods of time. Sand is potentially bad, as you have seen. Hopefully, you will be able to cleanse the gecko of the impacted sand.

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      jez 8 years ago

      Hi whitney

      this article along with others on the net has been useful. i have a 9 month old gecko and was sold it from the store with reptile sand which is was always kept on. at the time i had done a load of research and was aware of impaction, but a couple of friends of mine said it was a bit exaggerated and they had geckos which had been on sand all their life and been fine

      anyway, the last couple of weeks has seen my gecko get really really thin; he was quite thin anyway but this time his tail was tiny. i thought at first it might have been the heating so i put the lamp on for longer and made sure it stayed at 90 (sometimes it creeps down to 80ish). however this didn't seem to do anything and he became even more lethargic just laying on the sand not moving all day.

      I hadnt looked at the belly as i only learnt today that a bruised belly is a sign of impaction, but he has a very large dark area on his belly, much bigger than any liver.

      this has sent me in to kind of shock mode. ive thrown out the sand (i was planning to anyway but my fault for putting it off) and put towel in. I am now going to give him 2 warm baths a day and i have given him some vegetable oil. It looks bad and probably a later severe stage of impaction, which im gutted about as i really dont want to lose him. I found a vet and have an appointment first thing tomorrow, he is a reptile specialist and one of the best in the UK so he should have seen this all before.

      Anyway i guess i am commenting here so people read this and take it from me - dont use sand, the stuff sucks and although most stores for some reason house geckos on it, its so easy for it to kill your gecko; then you will be in my position and be thinking 'i wish i did something about that seeing as my gecko could well die now'.

      :(

      BIN THE SAND!

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      Whitney 8 years ago from Georgia

      If you're allowing the geckos to eat the wood shavings, then yes it can. There's no reason to let the gecko eat the shavings. If you want to bowl feed the geckos, put the mealworms in a bowl of calcium instead of the wood shavings.

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      raikou34 8 years ago

      hi you know meal worms how they have those tiny wood shaving like stuff for the meal wroms would that inpact my 2 gecko's