Impaction in Leopard Geckos – Four Things to Watch Out For!

Impaction in Leopard geckos is very common.  What this means is something is blocking your Leo’s intestine.  This is usually some kind of material that is very difficult to digest or not digestible at all. This is very serious and should be prevented at all costs.  If left untreated, an impacted gecko will eventually die from starvation or other complications.

What are some of the causes of impaction and is their any way to treat this without having to take my Leo to the veterinarian?  In most cases, the number one cause of impaction is loose substrate. Other causes are food, temperature, and hydration.  Any number of these things can lead to a gecko that is sick and is having a hard time passing its stool.

Loose Substrate:

This is an area of raising a gecko that gets a lot of attention. The biggest question is whether or not to use a loose or solid substrate in your Leo’s cage.  The biggest problem with using a loose substrate is the possibility of impaction in leopard geckos.  Loose substrates such as sand, gravel, or coconut husks are inviting little chews for your pet.  They swallow a few pieces of sand and since many of these substances cannot be digested, the can cause your reptile to become impacted.  It is better to error on the side of caution and not use a loose substrate because of the problems it might cause.


The mouth of a gecko isn’t very big.  When deciding what to feed you gecko, the size of the food should definitely be taken into consideration.  One rule of thumb is the prey should be no larger than 1/2 the length of the gecko’s head.  If you feed you Leo something that is too big, it may have eaten it but that doesn’t mean it will have digested it all.  This also goes for smaller foods also. They might eat a bunch of meal worms, but the amount the have consumed might cause a blockage due to the high numbers. The inability to digest certain things will eventually lead to the possibility of impaction in leopard geckos.


Just like in humans, hydration is very important to having successful and healthy bowel movements.  A lack of water or improper hydration causes the body to draw necessary fluids from other parts of the body and in this cases the digestive system.  When water or fluids are taken from the digestive system, a gecko’s stool becomes hard and much more difficult to pass. Make sure you have plenty of water available for your pet.


How would have ever thought that temperature would be a cause of impaction in Leopard geckos?  Your pet is cold blooded and needs constant heat to stay alive.  This is usually through an Under tank Heater or etc. The body temperature of a gecko is has direct effect on its metabolism.  Cooler temperatures lead to a lower metabolic rate. This slower metabolic rate has causes the gecko to improperly digest its food.  The ideal temperatures for proper digestion are 92 degrees to 95 degrees on the hot side of the tank.  This way the can use the heat absorbed through their belly to increase their metabolism to better digest their food.


How do you treat impaction in Leopard geckos? The most obvious treatment is to take your pet to the veterinarian. They will know exactly how to treat this problem. If you are not sure if your Leo is impacted, there are a few thing you can do at home before visiting the vet’s office.

The first thing would be to raise the temperature on the warm side of the cage to about 97 degrees. Hopefully, this change in temperature will increase its metabolism. Another way to treat impaction in Leopard geckos is to give them a bath in luke-warm water about twice a day. This will generally help soften the stool in their belly. The last thing you can do is to place 1 – 2 drops of Olive Oil on it’s nose and let them lick it off. This will provide a natural lubrication work as a laxative also.

As you can see there are things you can do as an owner to keep your Leo from becoming impacted. If you gecko does become impacted you can try a few of the things mentioned above to help the impaction go away.