Crested geckos are a relatively robust species of reptile and will rarely have serious health issues as long as you: 1) buy from a reputable breeder, and 2) maintain a proper diet and adequate living conditions. Not coincidentally, some of the most commonly witnessed crested gecko disorders are a direct result of poor nutrition or improper living conditions... so take good care of your gecko! Learn more about crested gecko care here.
Regularly monitoring your gecko’s appearance and behavior is also vital for its well-being. If your gecko refuses to eat, has abnormal feces, shows sudden weight loss, or appears to have soft bones – these are all signs that your gecko may be unhealthy.
Some of the most common diseases or disorders affecting crested geckos today are:
Metabolic Bone Disease (MBD) -
MBD is typically associated with calcium or Vitamin D3 deficiency, and can leave your crested gecko with soft, bendable bones. It can easily be avoided with a balanced diet and/or adequate exposure to sunlight or UV-B rays.
Although quite uncommon in crested geckos, mites and other parasitic organisms can sometimes be contracted by exposure to other reptiles. It is recommended to quarantine new gecko acquisitions for at least 30 – 60 days. Internal parasites and bacteria can sometimes be found in fecal samples under microscope, but these are common in most reptiles and are kept in check by the immune system. As long as your gecko receives proper nutrition and does not become overstressed, internal parasites should not adversely affect your crested gecko’s health.
Floppy Tail Syndrome -
Floppy tail refers to a condition when geckos are resting head-down on a vertical surface, and their tail flops downward (gravity works) instead of pointing upwards against the side of the habitat. This is purely a physical disorder that may or may not be associated with MBD, but will not put your gecko’s life at risk. Floppy Tail Syndrome can best be avoided by offering plenty of well-positioned resting places for your gecko.
Abnormal Skin Shedding -
More prevalent in hatchlings and juvenile crested geckos, dysecdysis – or abnormal shedding – can be caused by low humidity levels or dehydration. On some occasions, rings of unshed skin around the tip of the tail or toes can constrict blood flow, sometimes resulting in the loss of an extremity. Keeping your gecko’s habitat around 70% humidity, providing frequent misting, and hydrating your gecko will help prevent frequent bad sheds. If you notice your gecko having a bad shed, you can help remove the retained skin with a damp cotton ball, or by first isolating it in a small, humid container – such as a deli cup with ventilation holes and moistened paper towels - for several hours.
Tail Loss -
Unlike many other lizards, crested geckos will not regenerate their tail when lost. Crested geckos can drop their tails if handled too roughly, startled, or overstressed. But don’t worry if your gecko loses its tail… the majority of adult crested geckos in the wild are also tailless; they can be loved with or without it!
No matter what condition your crested gecko may or may not have, it’s always a good idea to know one or two reptile vets in your area. If you don’t know exactly what you’re dealing with or how to treat it, please consult a licensed professional.
Many people are often concerned about the risk of Salmonella when handling crested geckos or other reptiles. Salmonella is shed through feces and if ingested by humans can cause diarrhea and fever. Use common sense and wash your hands before eating, especially after cleaning your gecko’s habitat. Proper sanitation practices, including designating an area other than your kitchen for cleanup, will ensure that both you and your gecko will be healthy and happy.