Why Is My Leopard Gecko Not Pooping? (Explained By Vet Tech)

Why Is My Leopard Gecko Not Pooping

Leopard geckos are one of the world’s favorite pet reptiles. These little lizards make great pets since they’re small and easy to care for.

Even though leopard geckos aren’t difficult to keep, problems still come up every once in a while. It’s always important to pay attention to any changes you might notice with your leopard gecko. Surprisingly, poop is one thing that can give you an insight into your pet’s health. If your gecko isn’t pooping, it could mean trouble.

Now you might be wondering, why is my leopard gecko not pooping?

If your leopard gecko ins’t pooping it’s probably not eating, which could be a sign that your gecko is sick or not feeling well. Your gecko could be dehydrated, or impacted, or they may have parasites. Additionally, various environmental factors like low temperatures or changes in their enclosure may cause your gecko to become constipated.

In this article, we’ll dive into all of the things that might make your gecko stop pooping regularly. We’ll discuss how to figure out what’s wrong and what steps you can take to address the issue.

Hopefully, by the end of this article, you’ll be a gecko poop expert!

How Often Do Leopard Geckos Poop?

Leopard geckos have slightly different digestive systems than we do.

Leopard geckos don’t eat any plants, like fruits or any type of vegetables. Instead, leopard geckos are insectivores. This means that geckos eat only bugs for their entire lives! Because of this, geckos have shorter digestive tracts that process food quickly.

Ideally, you’ll notice that your leopard gecko defecated shortly after they eat. But this may not be the case.

Young leopard geckos often eat multiple times a day. So, it’s natural that they poop multiple times a day! For older adult geckos, it’s expected that they’ll only eat every two or three days. So, on the days that they eat, don’t always expect to see a bowel movement.

Leopard geckos that are mature may go for three to five days without pooping. But, if you notice that your gecko has had two full meals without defecating, that may indicate an issue.

Why Does Leopard Gecko Poop Look Different?

Leopard gecko poop definitely looks different than you might expect. If your gecko’s poop is white and dark colored, that’s completely normal.

You see, leopard gecko poop has two distinct parts to it. One part is the feces and the other part is the urate. That’s because leopard geckos only have one evacuation hole for waste, the cloaca. So, all waste comes out of that one exit, at the same time!

6 Reasons Why Your Gecko Isn’t Pooping

When you start to notice your pet hasn’t pooped in a while, it can be concerning. Your first thought might be to panic, but the cause of your pet’s constipation might not actually be that serious. Some of the things causing constipation can be fixed within that span of a day.

Let’s talk about all of the things that could be blocking your pet’s digestive tract.

Reason 1: They Might Be Impacted

Impaction is the first cause of constipation on our list that we’ll discuss today.  Impaction in reptiles is a condition caused by a build-up of debris in the digestive tract.  Impaction is common in captive situations and can be caused by almost anything.

Diet, exercise, and environmental conditions also play a big part in whether or not your animal will become impacted. Two things that can easily accumulate in your pet’s gut are substrate and food.

As you’ve probably already heard, sand is not a recommended substrate for most reptiles. This is because sand can get stuck onto food or prey items and can be accidentally ingested by your pet.

Or, if your gecko has some nutritional imbalances, it might ingest rocks or sand on purpose  Obviously, sand is indigestible and can cause blockages on its way out of your gecko.

Food items that are too large for your gecko can also cause indigestion and even impaction. If you feed your gecko a very large bug with a tough carapace, they might try to eat it. However, it will probably pose some issues on the way out.

Food items should never be bigger than the space between your leopard gecko’s eyes. For more information on how much to feed your gecko, read our article all about it here.

So, how do you know if your gecko is impacted?

One of the first signs of an impacted animal is an animal that has stopped pooping. Other signs of impaction include a red and swollen vent, a distended abdomen, and anorexia. If you think your gecko may be impacted, our recommendation is to visit your veterinarian as soon as possible.

Reason 2: They Might Have Parasites

If your leopard gecko isn’t pooping at all or has really abnormal bowel movements, it may be dealing with internal parasites.   Parasites may even cause your pet to lose control of their poop completely and defecate on you!

Internal parasites are no joke, but they’re also not uncommon in reptiles. Hookworms, roundworms, and tapeworms are all common parasites that your pet may have picked up from the breeder, pet store, your other pets, or even the grass outside.

Some signs that your pet might have internal parasites are weight loss, dehydration, lethargy, and changes to their feces. They may have diarrhea or may stop pooping completely.

The only real way to diagnose internal parasites is to get a fecal examination at a vet’s office. Then, you’ll be prescribed some sort of antiparasitic, depending on what’s going on with your pet. Usually, parasites are easy to resolve and don’t do any permanent damage to your gecko.

Now that we’ve talked about impaction and parasites, let’s move on to the more general reasons your gecko might not be pooping.

Reason 3: They Could Be Too Cold

Leopard geckos, like all reptiles, are cold-blooded. Cold-blooded animals or ectotherms rely on external sources of heat to maintain their body temperatures and biological mechanisms. These types of animals still need to maintain a good range of internal temperatures, they just don’t have the metabolism to do it themselves.

Even though this seems counterproductive, ectotherms are efficient at conserving energy and surviving through long cold spells. However, long cold spells cause reptiles to become almost dormant, they won’t move much and definitely aren’t pooping.

If your leopard gecko is too cold they will start to slow down. They will become lethargic and eat less and they will eventually stop pooping. If you notice that your gecko hasn’t pooped in quite a few days, make sure to check the temperature in their enclosures.

Leopard geckos should always be kept in a range of temperatures from 70F – 90F. One end can be the cool end of the enclosure and the other can be the basking end.

If your gecko’s enclosure is too hot, it can lead to issues like dehydration, tough sheds, and panting. But, if your pet’s enclosure isn’t warm enough, they’ll stop eating, drinking, and pooping and go into a state of dormancy.

If you haven’t seen your leopard gecko poop for a few days, make sure their environment is warm enough.  That will help their metabolism get going and kick-start their digestive system!

Reason 4: They’re Probably Dehydrated

Dehydration may be the most underrated and easily treated the cause of constipation.

Dehydration is common in leos in captivity. In the wild, leopard geckos are found in dry, arid, desert-like climates. This often leads people to believe that they need to recreate a desert setting for their leopard gecko.

Sometimes, these little lizards will end up in hot enclosures with no access to water. Unfortunately, this often leads to dehydration, which can cause your leopard gecko to stop pooping among other things. Dehydrated leopard geckos often look pale and dry. Their eyes may have a sunken in appearance and their skin is loose and wrinkly.

Dehydration is a huge cause of constipation. This has a lot to do with the function of the large intestine. As waste moves through the large intestine, it removes fluid from the waste. If the large intestine removes too much fluid, the waste will become dry and impacted. So, dehydration could definitely make your gecko stop pooping.

We’ll talk more below about ways to combat dehydration and make sure that your leopard gecko is pooping regularly.

Reason 5: They Might Not Be Eating Enough

Another sort of obvious cause for your gecko to stop pooping is that they’ve also stopped eating.

Loss of appetite usually signifies a serious issue in captive animals. When your pet stops eating and pooping, you’ll want to take a good long look at them!

It’s almost always a symptom of something else going on. Maybe your gecko is sick with some sort of respiratory issue and they’ve stopped eating. They could also be in pain and don’t feel up to hunting.

Whatever the cause is, if you notice that your leo has stopped eating and pooping completely, it’s time to visit your veterinarian. Since these lizards are so small, a few missed meals can actually put them into a pretty bad state. Hopefully, you’ll be able to figure out what has put them off of their food and get them pooping again.

Reason 6: Something In Their Enclosure Changed

The last thing that may make your gecko stop pooping is a change in their enclosure.

Have you ever noticed that your leopard gecko poops in the spot in their enclosure every time? Some leopard geckos are like cats and choose to defecate in the same location multiple times. This is sort of a way to mark their territory, even if they’re living alone. It’s instinctual!

So, when something in their enclosure changes, it might really throw their poop schedule off.

Some of the things that may change in your gecko’s enclosure are food or water dishes, plants, structures, hides, substrate, and even new tank mates. If you’ve rearranged anything, it may take a few days for your leopard gecko to get their bearings. They might need time to pick a new poop spot.

Rearranging their enclosure can be great because it’s mentally stimulating. However, if you noticed that your gecko holds their poop every time you reorganize, you may want to slow it down a little bit.

If you are trying to give your pet leopard gecko a new tank mate, proceed with extreme caution. Leopard geckos are solitary creatures and don’t usually want or need company except in particular circumstances. A new tank mate could definitely make your gecko hold their poop until they feel comfortable enough to defecate.

With so many things that might cause your leopard gecko to stop pooping, it can be hard to figure out what to do for them.  We’ll talk about some easy first steps you can take to help your constipated gecko now.

How Can You Help Your Leopard Gecko Poop?

It’s never a good feeling when your pet is sick. Not only do you hate to see them in pain but you also feel like you’ve done something wrong. Constipation is not totally avoidable but it is usually pretty easy to treat and prevent. Every cause of constipation requires a slightly different treatment.

If They’re Impacted

If your gecko has stopped pooping and you think they’re impacted, the best option here is to go to a veterinarian.

Impaction can be serious. If you try to help your gecko poop by rubbing their belly, you might cause more harm to their digestive tract.

At a vet’s office, they’ll usually take a series of radiographs to figure out what has accumulated in your gecko’s belly.  Then, they’ll proceed with whatever method is most appropriate.

Please don’t try to treat sand, rock, or food impactions at home as you may seriously hurt your pet.

If They Have Parasites

If you think your gecko has stopped pooping because of parasites, the solution is pretty simple! Give them whatever antiparasitic medication your veterinarian has prescribed. That should take care of not only the adult parasites living in your leopard gecko but also the larva and eggs!

To prevent parasites in the future always practice good husbandry with your leopard gecko. Make sure to wash your hands before and after handling them. Keep them away from other pets and keep their tanks as clean as possible.

If you give them outside time, make sure it’s in an enclosed space that not only protects them from picking up parasites but also wards off predators as well.

Keep Humidity Levels High Enough

Maintaining humidity levels is so important for all captive reptiles. Even if your leopard gecko hasn’t stopped pooping, you still need to keep the humidity levels right for them.  Leopard gecko humidity should always be around 40% relative humidity.

If you live in a dry area, you’ll have to make an effort to keep humidity levels high enough. A few tricks to raise humidity are adding live plants and offering a larger water dish. For more insight on how to raise the humidity, read our article about it here.

When humidity levels are accurate, your leopard gecko should be able to have smooth and easy bowel movements.

Always Offer Water

If you think your leopard gecko doesn’t need water, you’re wrong!

Though leos are desert-dwellers, they should always be offered water in captivity. Even if they don’t drink from their dish, they might choose to sit in it to cool down or to rehydrate their skin.

A water dish is a great way to maintain your gecko’s hydration because they can use it as needed. As we know, a hydrated gecko will poop more easily than a dehydrated one!

Give Them A Bath

Bathing geckos can be a controversial topic.

In a perfect world, your gecko shouldn’t need any bathing or misting to help them poop regularly.  But, if your gecko is dehydrated or constipated, a warm water bath can be a quick and easy way to help your leo poop.  They may even poop right there in the water if you’re lucky!

If you’re not sure how to bathe your leopard gecko, check out the video below for some helpful tips.

After the bath, you’ll still need to address the root cause of the dehydration.

Try Adding Supplements

Adding supplements to your gecko’s food might seem a little strange at first, but it can really help keep them healthy and happy.

In captivity, geckos don’t always get the nutrients that they normally would in the wild. Adding a calcium and vitamin D3 supplement to your pet’s meals can decrease the risk of metabolic bone disease. It can also help your pet’s body function better overall and help prevent constipation before it even happens.

Final Thoughts

When you notice your leopard gecko isn’t pooping it can be really scary! Even though there are quite a few causes for reptile constipation, the most common are impaction, parasites, dehydration, cold temperatures, and a change in their environments.

In some cases, these issues can be easily fixed with a slight adjustment to your pet’s tank. However, with impaction and parasites, you’ll have to make a trip to the vet.

Hopefully, this article helped you to get a better idea of why your gecko has stopped pooping and what you can do about it!