Where there is movement there is life – right? And where there is no movement – well, there could be lots of reasons, so don’t panic or jump to any conclusions until you have thoroughly investigated the situation. This is especially true where crested geckos are concerned. We all know they are good jumpers who can be quite feisty at times, but then they can also have their quieter periods.
So why won’t my crested gecko move? Well, the short answer is that they are either sleeping, sick, or dead. Within this range of possibilities there are factors to consider such as stress, dehydration, brumation, impaction, egg binding, and lack of appetite.
In this article we will firstly consider how to recognize if your crestie is sleeping or dead. Then we will look in turn at the six other factors mentioned above which may be causing a lack of movement.
Is My Crested Gecko Sleeping?
Everyone needs to sleep, including your pet gecko. Don’t forget, geckos are nocturnal, so maybe that’s why they’re taking a break during the daytime, and getting their strength up for an active night.
Another thing to bear in mind is that your crested gecko does not have eyelids, therefore they do not close their eyes to sleep. They might look wide eyed and trim tailed while in fact they could be faraway in gecko dreamland!
The best way to ascertain if your crested gecko is sleeping is to pick it up and check if it is breathing. This can be done by gently placing your finger on the ribs and see if there is any movement. Another good place to spot the breathing is under the throat where you should see a slight rhythmic vibration when your gecko breathes in and out.
If your crestie is sleeping, they should react to your touch and wake up within a few minutes when being handled gently.
Is My Crested Gecko Dead?
If you can’t find any signs of breathing or movement when you pick up your crested gecko, you may begin to fear the worst. You may notice that its mouth is wide open, and there may be some debris of substrate in the mouth. And if you shine a light into the eyes, there will be no contraction of the pupils.
One sure sign that your crestie has crossed the rainbow bridge is if you see a bluish-green spot on their belly. This happens a few hours after crested geckos die and is a result of bile leaking out of the gallbladder and staining the surrounding tissue.
Hopefully you will not find any of these signs, and you can continue your search to ascertain why your crested gecko isn’t moving.
Is My Crested Gecko Stressed?
Stress wreaks havoc with the best of us, and cresties are no different. Moving house or habitat is one of the primary stress sources, so when you first get your new pet you can expect them to take a little while to settle in. They may not move much in the first week or two and it is important not to handle them more than necessary, especially in the first three days.
Always be very gentle, using a scooping motion rather than ‘grabbing’. And whatever you do, don’t grab them by the tail as this will most likely result in a severed tail, and sadly crested gecko tails do not regenerate.
Additional stress factors for your crested gecko which may cause them to become immobile include other pets, loud noises, inadequate or unhealthy set up of their environment, and too much handling.
Is My Crested Gecko Dehydrated?
The next reason your crested gecko is not moving may be that they are dehydrated. Besides the lethargy, look out for sunken eyes and skin that is dry and wrinkled.
Keeping your crestie well hydrated is important, and regular misting of the enclosure should be maintained to keep the humidity levels up. Ideally crested geckos need a humidity range between 55% and 80 %.
This can be monitored by keeping a hygrometer/ thermometer inside the enclosure. Misting can be done twice a day, morning and evening. Also make sure there is a shallow water bowl for the gecko to drink from or cool down in.
In severe cases of dehydration it may be necessary to mist directly onto the gecko’s skin, or even to place them to soak in a shallow bowl of water for a short while.
Once your gecko is well hydrated again they should be able to move about normally.
Is My Crested Gecko Brumating?
Brumation is similar to hibernation in reptiles, and it can happen when temperatures drop and when there is less light. This may well be a reason that your crestie is not moving, although pet crested geckos do not often brumate. This is mainly because terrariums are usually kept at ideal temperatures and lit with artificial light.
If your gecko enclosure is near a natural light source such as a window, and is not artificially heated, you may well encounter brumation of your gecko during the winter months. This may not be a good idea, especially if your crestie is less than two years old.
If you see signs that your gecko is brumating, you would do well to consult your reptile vet for recommendations on special care which may be required during brumation.
Is My Crested Gecko Suffering From Impaction?
If your crestie is not moving at all, you may be dealing with a case of impaction. This is where the intestines become blocked. Impaction happens sometimes when there is an improper or imbalanced diet with incorrectly sized foods.
Another cause could be if the substrate or bedding used has added calcium. This could result in the crested gecko eating the soil and then becoming impacted. If you notice soil or substrate in your gecko’s mouth, it may also be a result of the mouth being open when the gecko is ill or dying.
Sometimes the ingestion of substrate such as bark or wood chips can cause internal bleeding and impaction as the gecko is not able to pass it. Some signs and symptoms of impaction include no stools, refusal to eat, weight gain and a belly that is bloated.
If you think your gecko’s lack of movement is due to impaction, you probably need to get him to the vet asap.
Does My Crested Gecko Have Egg Binding?
If your gravid female crested gecko stops moving, you might want to check that she does not have egg binding. This is when the eggs become stuck in the oviducts. This can be caused by certain deficiencies in her diet, such as calcium, or if she is physically too small, or even if there is not a decent place for her to lay the eggs. Sometimes crested gecko eggs rupture inside the female’s body before she can lay them.
If you suspect any such complications to be the reason for your crestie’s immobility, it’s best to take it in for an x-ray and proper examination with a reptile professional.
Is My Crested Gecko Not Eating?
Crested geckos are not big eaters at the best of times, and they can go off their food for many reasons including stress, mating, shedding or because of their cage companions. If your gecko is not eating it will also move less. This is especially true in the colder weather. As the summer months approach, your crestie’s appetite should increase accordingly.
Be sure to provide a balanced and nutritious diet, and make sure that food is available at all times. A healthy crested gecko may go for a week or two without food, but if it’s more than three weeks since you saw them eat, better let the vet check for any problems or complications
Checking for poop is one way you can determine whether or not your crested gecko is eating. If there is no fresh poop appearing, then there has definitely been no intake of food. Same with weight loss. If you are worried, it’s worth weighing your pet to see if there has been any significant drop in weight.
If loss of appetite is the reason your crested gecko is not moving, you need to review his diet and make some changes accordingly.
So as you have discovered, there are quite a few possible reasons why your crested gecko may decide to stop moving from time to time. The first thing is to establish whether he is just taking a nap, or heaven forbid, if he is dead.
Once these are out of the way, ask yourself if he may be stressed in any way, is he dehydrated or brumating, is he suffering from impaction or egg bind, or has he lost his appetite and stopped eating?
If you still can’t put your finger on the reason, and if your crestie is still immobile, probably it’s time to consult your reptile vet. Get some professional help and soon you and your pet will be on the move again.