5 Reasons Why Your Leopard Gecko Is Starving Itself

Leopard geckos are like family to us.  When they get sick, we worry.  When they start to display odd behavior, we try to find out what’s going on as soon as possible.  And when they’re not eating, we start to wonder if there is something serious going on that we’re not able to visually see yet.  With that said, here are some of the reasons why your leopard gecko won’t eat.

  1. Their Feeders Are Dead
  2. They Have A Parasite
  3. Their Tank Is Too Cold
  4. They’re About To Shed
  5. They’re Pregnant

Unfortunately, there isn’t a whole lot you can do about some of the things on the list except wait as some of the reasons for why they won’t eat are natural and normal when it comes to certain things that they go through.  But fortunately, there are some things that you can do for some of the things on the list that might help them start eating again.  Let’s find out a little bit more about each reason.

Their Feeders Are Dead

Some may not know this, but leopard geckos will not eat anything that isn’t alive and moving.  It’s quite odd because despite the fact that the feeders are dead, they still hold the same nutritional value as they would if they were alive, but for some reason, they just don’t find food that’s not moving very appealing.

There have been people who have tried to fool their geckos into eating dead food by buying feeding dishes that shake specifically for feeding them feeders that aren’t alive, but from what I’ve seen, not many have had a whole lot of success using them.

So, instead of trying to trick them, it’s a better idea to just feed them food that’s alive so that it won’t be as much of a hassle trying to get them to eat every time it’s time to feed them.  Many people love feeding their leopard geckos primarily crickets and mealworms, but in my opinion, there should be a good variety in their diet so that they’re getting all kinds of different nutrients from different insects.

If you’d like to know where I get all of my live insects at, then check out this page here that I’ve put together to show you all the feeders I buy for my leopard gecko and where I get them from so that maybe you can introduce a bit of diversity to your geckos diet as well.

If you keep them on a dead insect diet, then you will likely never have success with getting them to eat and because of their stubbornness, they will and can go many days, weeks, and sometimes even months without eating until they get what they want.

They Have a Parasite

Parasites are no fun, and when your leopard gecko gets one, they start showing a whole host of symptoms that are disheartening to watch, and unfortunately, not eating is one of them.  And usually when they start displaying symptoms like these along with other symptoms, a lot of the times they have a very deadly parasitical infection called Crypto.

When it comes to this parasite, aside from them not being able to eat, they have also been known to experience tons of weight loss, runny bowel movements, and will become overall just very slow and weak compared to how they were before contracting the infection.

It’s caught by consuming fecal matter from other reptiles and can lay dormant for many years until their immune system has been compromised enough for it to finally start taking effect on them.  When they catch it, it can easily be spread to other reptiles within the tank for those who cohabit and because there is no cure for it, they will all likely meet the same fate as the leopard gecko that was originally infected with it and the sad part about it is that there’s nothing anyone can do about it.

If you suspect that your leopard gecko has crypto, then you’ll need to remove the infected gecko and isolate them into their own separate tank while putting any other leopard geckos into another tank together and then perform an extremely thorough deep clean of the tank that the infected leopard gecko was in before putting any of them back in that tank.

Unfortunately, as there is no cure for this infection, the infected gecko will have to be housed separately for the remainder of its life until they eventually meet their inevitable fate. 

Crypto doesn’t affect humans the same way it does reptiles because the strain of it that they carry is unique to them, but you’ll still want to make sure you’re wearing gloves, washing hands regularly, and using hand sanitizer so that it doesn’t spread to any other reptiles that you may have.

For those who cohabit, I suggest having an extra tank at all times for various different reasons, and this is one of them.  If you don’t currently have one, I recommend taking a look at this one here from Amazon.  It’s the one I use for not only my primary tank but for my backup as well and I absolutely love it.

Although this infection ends in one way, you should still take care of them to the best of your ability until they pass away.

Their Tank Is Too Cold

This may seem a little odd, but leopard geckos will a lot of the times not eat whenever it is too cold in the tank.  The reason for this is because their bodies need a certain amount of heat in order for it to function properly and without it, their digestive system slows down a bit and makes it hard for them to chew, swallow, digest, and poop out their food.

There could be a few factors as to why the tank is too cold whether that be from the weather outside or even if the tank is stored in a cold room within the house, but aside from those two reasons, it could also be because the temperatures on your thermostat aren’t set right as well.

If you’d like to know where they should be at, then click on this article here that I wrote to find out that information so that your leopard gecko can start eating again.

They’re About to Shed

Leopard geckos display many different unusual behaviors when they’re about to enter a shed.  Right before it happens, the gecko you once knew starts acting completely different than what you’re used to.  They start showing aggression towards you, they get defensive, and they even start hiding a lot more until it’s over.

Not only that, but they’ll also stop eating for a few days leading up to it as well.  Luckily, after they’ve shed all their old skin away, everything goes back to normal.  But for the time being, not eating along with all kinds of other weird behaviors is what you can expect.

Unfortunately, there’s not much you can do about it besides wait it out, but don’t worry, it doesn’t hurt them to not eat every day as they have fat reserves, nutrients, and water in their tails to give them what they need in order to survive in instances that require them to go a long time without eating.

Because the process is so interesting, I highly suggest you check out the article I wrote on it here to give you a better idea of why they go through it and what all you can expect besides what I’ve already stated.

They’re Pregnant

If you don’t cohabit two leopard geckos of the opposite sex together then you can skip past this reason for why they won’t eat, but if you do, then this may be a cause.  Just like the other reasons on the list for why they’re not eating, leopard geckos will show many symptoms while they’re in their pregnancy.

Because there are so many, I can’t fit them all in this one article, but if you haven’t guessed it already, not eating is one of those symptoms.  While this is not true for every leopard gecko that becomes pregnant, it’s not unusual.

The reason why this happens is because when they’re pregnant, a lot of the energy that they had before is no longer there because of the toll that it’s taking on them to carry their eggs around.  It drains them of their energy so much that they sometimes won’t eat for long periods of time because they just don’t have it inside of them to do so.

Again though, just like how they display the same symptom of not eating when they’re about to shed, it’s completely normal and isn’t something that you should worry about as long as they’re getting their vitamins and nutrients.

To get the full scoop on exactly what you can expect when dealing with a pregnant (gravid) leopard gecko though, I suggest going over and looking at this article here to give you a ton of more information on that so that you’re not so thrown off guard whenever or if ever it happens to you.


There are many reasons why a leopard gecko could be starving itself, but it’s up to us to figure out exactly what’s wrong with them so that we can take the steps necessary whether the cause for them not eating is treatable or not.

I’m Devin Nunn, an average joe that just so happens to have a deep love and passion for everything to do with reptiles. Because taking care of them for the vast majority of my life wasn’t fulfilling enough, I decided to begin educating others about them through my articles. read more...