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Looking for input from experienced Gecko keepers that have cared for Geckos with MBD or impaction so we know what to watch and be prepared for with our new adopted Leopard Geckos.

The Good Both look visually healthy(plump tail, clear eyes, posture and skin looks good in pics). Owners were adults who fed, cleaned tank and handled them 2-3+ times per week and really tried to do the right thing with limited knowledge. They say they have never been sick ( no runny poop, lethargy, mobility issues, cloudy eyes or poor appetite).

The Bad: they were never given calcium and half the 20 gallon tank is sand (not always reptile sand). Help! They seem healthy now but we are preparing for possible health issues(MBD or impaction) based on their history. What do we need to watch for, plan for and is there anything we can proactively do? If they stay healthy for a certain amount of time are they still at risk for either later in their lives?

The Other They don't know the temp they were incubated so genders aren't known yet, no signs of aggression to each other(we'll separate them if they are both males or if there is any sign of an issue) Question?:If they are male/female should we separate them until they are a little older? We are OK with babies and have a lay box and are prepped for that but I'm not sure if they are too young or if we should avoid letting them bred because of the other potential health issues. Input?

Their History: They are 7-8 months, found on craigslist, originally bought from Big Pet store (can I say the name?) as small juveniles and owners were not given care instructions and salesperson couldn't answer any questions. They set them up with mealworms, water bowl, sand, 1 hide, astroturf and a basking light and rock and gave no warning that if they ended up both being males that they should plan to separate them :(

Our History: Our family, primarily my teenage son ("the reptile whisperer"), were educated by a reputable local reptile guy on Skink & Gecko husbandry and have a couple very healthy thriving Leos right now but working with ones that may have issues is new to us.

Here's what we do with ours: Tanks: 10gallon for 1 Gecko, 20gallon for (2)Geckos (2 females or male and female if they get along and are healthy). Substrate we use is usually ECO earth coconut fiber or kitchen roll. Primary heat (Undertank Pad covers about 40% of tank) and we have low heat lamp(not a basking lamp!) that we rarely use - only if the tank temps are off between hot and cold side. 3 hides: 2 warm/hot (one moist) and one cold, water bowl, small bowl with a little calcium(most of the time), light controlled to promote good sleep cycles, temps on both side of the tank monitored.

Diet&care: Fed gut-loaded crickets daily or every other day, dusted with calcium w/D3 2-3+ times per week, infrequently a Hornworm treat, and tank cleaned frequently. Moist hide and water are checked every other day. Handled 3 -5 days per week - very bonded and comfortable. Son weighs them every couple weeks sometimes more frequent when they were younger. He also makes sure if there are (2) in the tank that both are eating - when younger he separated them to eat: one was a faster hunter (not aggressive just faster). He also has needed to help one of our females get extra shed off occasionally if she doesn't get it all after a couple days - I'm amazed she totally lets him help with no squirming and she's usually very active its like she totally gets it.


Follow-up questions:

  • What is Egg binding?
  • Do you have any idea if a radiograph is common and whether it's really expensive?
  • We are planning on taking them to our reptile guy but just wondering what kind of cost to expect ?
  • What about the possibility of impaction from the sand?
  • Is there anything proactive and not too invasive we can do to help reduce the possibility ?
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What do we need to watch for?

Signs of metabolic bone disease are:

  • lumps and bumps along their backs
  • Bone deformities such as kinks in their spine.
  • Constipation
  • Swollen arms or legs (pop-eye arms)
  • Lethargy + Inappetence

Is there anything we can proactively do?

Yes! Start with good husbandry and your regular calcium supplementation. If you are very worried you can make an appointment with your exotics vet for an assessment. There are no concrete blood tests to monitor for MBD however you can take a radiograph to look for any bone degeneration.

If they stay healthy for a certain amount of time are they still at risk for either later in their lives?

If husbandry is correct they have no risk of acquiring metabolic bone disease

If they are male/female should we separate them until they are a little older?

I'm always weary to house two reptiles together, if two males they will fight for territory and if male and female they will breed. Breeding can be aggressive and they can hurt each other quite easily. If you plan on breeding keep them separate until they are fully grown, the bigger the female the better it is for her.

Complications from breeding are:

  • Prolapsed penis (male cannot retract penis)
  • Egg binding
  • Injuries from fighting if female is not receptive.

If you have 2 females they typically get along quite well, be sure to have enough space for both and a few basking options.

Additional info:

I'm very pro UVB for all reptiles, including our nocturnal fellas - if they choose not to sit in the sun they will hide for the daylight hours. This at least gives them the chance to naturally acquire D3.

Be careful with under tank heat, be sure to have a good layer of substrate in between the heater and the geckos. We've had a number of reptiles come in with abdominal burns who sleep in their hides that are above the under tank heaters.


Follow-up Answers

What is Egg binding?

Egg binding is when the female cannot lay her eggs, they become stuck. This is mainly caused by hypocalcemia (lack of calcium in the body).

Do you have any idea if a radiograph is common and whether it's really expensive?

Radiographs aren't overly common and can be expensive (prices vary from locations), some people do it as a health screen for bone density if they have concerns.

We are planning on taking them to our reptile guy but just wondering what kind of cost to expect?

This also depends on the region, always ask for a quote before doing any procedures to make sure it's in your budget.

What about the possibility of impaction from the sand?

Adults don't tend to get impacted, we mostly worry about the babies eating sand by accident.

Is there anything proactive and not too invasive we can do to help reduce the possibility?

Always feed your geckos in an area with no sand, this lessens the chances of them getting a few mouth fulls. Keep your gecko well hydrated and have good husbandry, your average reptile needs higher temps for digestion.

  • I have (2) more questions: What is Egg binding ? Do you have any idea if a radiograph is common and whether it's really expensive? We are planning on taking them to our reptile guy but just wondering what kind of cost to expect ? Great info: We're on the same page regarding putting two leos in same enclosure. Only if they get along ok and only male/female together for breeding purposes if they were healthy enough (and heavy enough) to handle it. – Mom with Geckos Dec 15 '17 at 14:16
  • What about the possibility of impaction from the sand? Is there anything proactive and not too invasive we can do to help reduce the possibility ? – Mom with Geckos Dec 15 '17 at 14:41
  • @MomwithGeckos I have edited your question and my answer with your follow up questions. – Rebecca RVT Dec 16 '17 at 1:17

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