HEALTH

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Your Gecko's health and well being.

 Crested geckos are generally one of the hardiest pet reptiles that can be kept - rarely suffering with any issues so long as they are kept not too warm - not too cool and cleaned regularly . As long as good cleaning practice is maintained - such as what has been covered in the housing section you should generally never encounter any problems. However feeding exclusively on insects or home prepared fruit concoctions can sometimes result in Problems due to dietary deficiencies - if you use one of the recommended complete diets you should never have any problems at all!

But some ailments and problems can still be encountered - check out the separate sections for more information below.


Metabolic Bone Disease / Cryptosporidiosis / Stress / Shedding



Metabolic Bone Disease (Hypocalcemia)

 MDB is caused when a  geckos diet does not contain enough calcium. In order for the gecko to acquire suitable levels of usable calcium the body begins to extract calcium from its own bones.

Symptoms include rubber-like flexibility of the limbs and lower jaw; deformities of the skull, spine, and tail; inability to feed; paralysis; and eventually death..

With crested geckos being more resistant to complications regarding low calcium you should almost never see this problem so long as you observe proper healthcare procedure. To prevent MBD all you need to be aware of is that you need to add calcium or calcium containing supplements to the live food you feed them and to ensure you have a source of calcium in the tank at all time. BY FAR the best practice is to simply make one of the recommended compete diets their staple food source!

Use of a UV light can be beneficial if you find yourself treating a gecko with MDB - you have rescued one for example.

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Cryptosporidiosis

A parasitic disease caused by Cryptosporidium, a protozoan parasite. It affects the intestines of mammals and is typically an acute short-term infection. It is spread through the fecal-oral route, often through contaminated water. It is one of the most common waterborne diseases and is found worldwide. The parasite is transmitted by environmentally hardy cysts (oocysts) that, once ingested, exist in the small intestine and result in an infection of intestinal epithelial tissue.

In recent years, there has been a trend of captive-bred crested geckos hosting the parasite, which hobbyists typically refer to as crypto. This is more often down to breeders and pet shops keeping their animals in less than adequate housing and conditions - or breeding wild caught geckos without sufficient quarantine procedures.

Lizards afflicted with this parasite often appear to be wasting away, losing a significant amount of weight and regurgitating their food despite good environmental conditions and treatment. Medication, along with nutritional supplements and fluid and electrolyte therapy, can stabilize an infected gecko, but because this parasite can't be totally eliminated, the prognosis is grim for animals that contract it. Also, Cryptosporidiosis can be transmitted to humans, so the use of disposable gloves and effective hand washing is critical when dealing with an animal infected with the protozoan.

Sadly if your stock becomes infected with this parasite there is very little that can be done - although treatable in humans with healthy immune systems where it's duration is short and most often not even noticed - it is more often than not fatal for Cresties. The ONLY  protection you have against this parasite it to purchase your stock from reliable breeders. Ensure proper cleanliness at all times and quarantine new stock for a minimum of 3 months before introducing to the fold.

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Stress

Stress weakens the immune system and makes your  gecko more susceptible to disease. Minimizing stressful conditions is a simple and effective way to prevent it from getting sick.

Many factors, including handling, over feeding, breeding, poor environmental conditions, overcrowding, and being moved to a new enclosure, can cause stress in your gecko. Keep interactions with a stressed leopard gecko to a minimum, and ensure that its surroundings meet its needs to keep its immune system up to par.

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Shedding

A  gecko sheds its skin regularly. If your lizard takes on a dull, cloudy almost ghostly appearance, this indicates that the shedding process has begun. Its skin peels off the body in pieces, which the gecko tugs and pulls off and then consumes. (It's not known if geckos do this for nutritional benefit or to reduce the chance of attracting predators.)

Occasionally, problems can occur while shedding, usually when the skin adheres to the toes. If some of the shed skin becomes stuck on the toes, it will dry out harden and shrink and parts of the toes can become necrotic (dead) and fall off. In this species the tail & toes that have fallen off never grow back. If a toe is lost by a bad shed, put a bit of antibacterial ointment on it to prevent infection.

Shedding problems are mainly the result of low humidity. If the skin won't peel from the toes or other portions of the body, a soak in warm water may fix the problem. To soak your gecko, place it in an escape-proof container with water that just reaches its belly for about 15-20 minutes or until the water cools. (Always supervise a soaking lizard.) Hatchlings in particular, being completely new to this experience - take a few times to learn the procedure and often encounter problems with their first few sheds. I personally never sell a Gecko until I am satisfied that they have nailed the shedding process with no issues.

After the soak I use a moistened cotton bud and gently roll off the sloughed skin from the affected areas until it is finally removed. The hatchlings soon cotton on to what I am doing and invariably joins in the process! Quite often with my crested hatchlings I have to ensure that they get their "gloves" off for a few months until they get the hang of it..

After about 4 months geckos will usually get the process down to an art - but you should always carefully monitor the geckos feet and eyes whenever handling them for signs of bad sheds.


F. Passaro

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