What can you feed baby leopard geckos

Refusal to eat - what now?

Refusal to eat is the most common reason to see a veterinarian.
But first we should fix possible causes - and these are mostly posture errors!

1) Eliminate natural causes

Before food refusal is actively treated, natural factors should be ruled out as the cause, i.e. winter or summer rest periods, cold spells and periods of intense heat.

Refusal to feed can also occur during the breeding season, before and during oviposition, in snakes just before molting. In these cases, of course, no treatment is required.

2) Optimize fluid supply

Regardless of the cause of a food refusal, the first and most important measure should be to improve hydration.

This happens for several reasons: Refusal to eat is usually associated with dehydration. Dehydration brings digestion to a standstill and constipation.
This in turn can cause loss of appetite or perpetuate a pre-existing refusal to eat.

Dehydration also leads to an increase in toxic substances in the blood, which in the medium term can lead to metabolic imbalances and kidney damage.

You can find more information under hydration.

3) Check climatic conditions

Food intake is highly temperature-dependent.
Especially zu cool temperatures are the leading cause of food refusal.

The temperature at the warm-up area is of particular importance. If reptiles are unable to reach their operating temperature there, digestion and metabolism cannot run smoothly.

If the ambient temperature or the temperature at the warm-up area is too low, reptiles shut down their metabolism and completely stop eating below a certain value.

The same applies to too high temperatures, especially when natural temperature regulation becomes impossible due to the lack of a heat gradient. Such conditions exist when there are no cool or shady areas in the terrarium or when the temperatures do not drop at night.

Certain housing conditions can trigger a period of rest in reptiles. This is an instinctive reaction pattern with which they react to generally unfavorable survival conditions.

If kept cool with low light or UV radiation and short lighting phases, it can therefore happen that reptiles enter Hibernation behavior demonstrate.

On the other hand, very dry and warm housing conditions with a low heat gradient, long lighting phases or a lack of night setback can trigger summer rest behavior.

In either case, the animal will decrease or stop feeding, reduce activity, and withdraw.

  • Check that all important climatic parameters meet the needs of the species being kept. You can find detailed information under: Housing recommendations
  • It is particularly important to optimize the temperature at the warm-up area and to create a climate that is appropriate for the species. You can find detailed information under: The species-appropriate terrarium
  • Optimize the lighting by using sufficiently powerful light and UV lamps. Caution: Even suitable emitters cannot fully develop their effectiveness if they only burn for a few hours a day for reasons of cost. You can find detailed information under: Daylight and UV radiation.
  • Unfiltered sunlight can Work wonders, especially for turtles!

4) Optimize feed

Check and optimize the type and dosage form of the feed.

  • Snakes, for example, are often restricted to certain feed animals, feed sizes and feeding rituals. Deviations can lead to food refusal.
  • Many carnivores and insect eaters only react to moving prey and ignore immobile food animals.
  • Some reptiles are conditioned to eat certain types of food and reject everything else.
  • Food can also be refused because it is served too dry, too wet or too cold.
  • For some animals, switching from dry food to fresh food helps.
  • But it can also happen that animals are simply overfed and take a break for several days.

You can find detailed information under: Nutrition

5) Eliminate stressors

  • Stress factors are another common cause of food refusal. In addition to acute factors such as a visit to the vet, reptile exchange or the purchase of a new animal, chronic stress from conspecifics should be considered here.
  • Keeping several animals together is often problematic and almost always stressful, especially for low-ranking animals.
  • In small enclosures in particular, dominant animals displace them from feeding, resting and sunbathing areas and thus develop weakness and deficiency.
  • In territorial species, inferior rivals often stop feeding on their own initiative.

You can find detailed information under Acute Stress and Chronic Stress.

6) Treat possible underlying diseases

Of course, an organic disease must also be considered, especially if there are additional symptoms of the disease.

The best way to do this is to see a reptile-trained veterinarian in your area. If the therapy is successful, the refusal to eat usually goes away on its own.

7) The last feeding attempt

If the measures mentioned are unsuccessful, a final feeding attempt is made. Here you can "Pull out all the stops"to get the animal to eat feed after all:

  • Certain foods are special Feed incentive dar - you can make use of that. Many lizards react particularly strongly to green food animals. Even "crawling" movements have an extremely stimulating effect. Turtles and tortoises prefer red and orange foods. Appropriate coloring can increase the acceptance of certain types of feed.
  • Sweet foods are generally popular, even with carnivores. That is why it is certainly worth trying, for example, to offer aphids or food animals coated with a little sugar solution. This measure does not correspond to the usual dietary guidelines - but under the given circumstances it can be tolerated a few times.
  • After the animal has warmed up extensively, give it a special one Treat at the mouth. This is the best time to try feeding, as metabolism and activity are now maximally mobilized.
  • If you have several animals, you can use the other "Feed envy" use, which sometimes has a surprising appetite-enhancing effect.
  • A trick with snakes: Offer a food animal that a size smaller is as usual. Baby mice are particularly suitable as forced feed.
  • A trick with chameleons: if you are generally reluctant to eat, leave the animal fast for a few days and then offer him food again.
  • A trick with tortoises: Bath the animal in lukewarm water to which you have added 5% sugar. Then offer a special treat. Many tortoises cannot resist watermelon or cactus fruits.
  • A trick with lizards: Lock your lizard together with a food animal in a very narrow vessel. The lizard often snaps annoyed at the food animal and can sometimes get a taste for it again.

8) Forced feeding

Until the veterinarian has made an exact diagnosis, forced feeding is always associated with risks, because this measure can be used if the general condition is poor and there are some diseases (e.g. intestinal obstruction) fatal consequences to have.
This also applies to animals suffering from an acute infectious disease. Here too hasty forced feeding has a weakening effect.
In the case of young animals, very small animals or if they are visibly emaciated, however, force-feeding should be started quickly.
This is always associated with stress and, if carried out improperly, with various risks. Inexperienced owners should therefore first use the Advice onereptilian veterinarian or an experienced breeder.

Attention: After long periods of hunger the Intestinal flora strongly decimated and must first be rebuilt by suitable measures - under no circumstances should it be overloaded with food that is too high in energy!

  • After a longer period of starvation, the animal only receives it on the first day Gut symbionts in the form of yeast or Bird-Bene-Bac ™. This measure is repeated daily and maintained until it eats again on its own.
  • The second day follows Easily digestible liquid food such as Critical Care for herbivores and Carnivore Care or Bioserin for carnivores. (Attention. Bioserin must not be fed to herbivores!)
  • Disposable syringes without a cannula are suitable for administering the nutrient solution. If necessary, these can also be provided with various attachments.
  • A few days later the transition takes place Baby food. You start with light, low-protein strains and gradually move on to high-protein strains. Herbivores receive vegetarian baby food, meat eaters meat-containing baby food.
  • Alternatively, one is suitable for herbivores homemade porridge from fresh garden herbs, vitamins and minerals. Meat eaters get high-protein pureed food made from animal products, enriched with vitamins and minerals.
  • Finally you can the animal small pieces of food Stuff it in its mouth to enable it to transition to eating solid food on its own. Animals that have only been through a short period of hunger can be encouraged to eat feed immediately in this way - without the described mobilization of the intestinal flora.

9) Practical implementation

  1. Use suitable protective equipment and aids for snakes and defensive lizards, such as gloves or grappling hooks. If possible, a second person should assist.
  2. Try to grab your animal quickly and courageously and to fix it securely. A half-hearted approach easily leads to hunting-like scenarios, which can be associated with considerable stress for the animal.
  3. Fix smaller lizards by holding your hand firmly enough. The index finger is below the neck, the thumb above. Snakes and defensive lizards are put in a cotton sack so that only the head is visible.
  4. Many reptiles open their mouths when threatened, so that the syringe can be inserted relatively easily. If necessary, gently pull the skin of the lower jaw or tap the tip of the mouth. If this does not work, it is easier to put pressure on the eyes. As a last option, a few drops of water or nutrient fluid are injected into the corner of the mouth. When the mouth reflexively opens, feeding begins.
  5. Veterinarian Petra Kölle recommends using a soldered safety pin to open the mouth of small reptiles. This is "inserted flat into the gap in the mouth and then set up. A wooden spatula is suitable for medium-sized and large reptiles, and a metal spatula for animals with strong teeth (e.g. warans)."
  6. Warning: give the food in very small portions! Solid or dry food is moistened or softened beforehand to make it easier to swallow. Alternatively, you can rinse with a little water.
  7. Use feeding to simultaneously supply vitamins, medication and preparations to mobilize the intestinal flora.
  8. Forced feeding is continued until the animal eats food on its own again. It should be done as often as necessary but as infrequently as possible.
  9. Force-feeding turtles is particularly difficult. The use of a feeding tube is often unavoidable here. Vitamins and drugs in liquid form, on the other hand, can be administered relatively easily with the help of a trick. To do this, you lay the turtle on its back and drip a portion of the solution under its mouth. This will then, following the force of gravity, run into the mouth by itself.

Natural causes of food refusal

  • Before and during oviposition
  • During the breeding season
  • In snakes: shortly before molting
  • Cold spells or hot spells
  • Upcoming winter or summer rest period
  • Age-related food reduction and emaciation

Postural or illness-related causes


  • Too cool ambient temperature, missing or too weak heat lamp, too little floor heat
  • Unsuitable food
  • Insufficient hydration, fluid loss, chronic dehydration, dry housing conditions
  • Stressfulness, e.g. territorial conflicts, overcrowded enclosures, lack of hiding places, change of location
  • constipation


  • Temporary refusal to eat due to a change in diet, overfeeding, unpopular food
  • Intestinal irritation (dysbiosis) due to unsuitable food, e.g. food that is too moist or sweet. Concomitant symptom: mushy excrement
  • Very warm, dry housing conditions with no heat gradient
  • No temperature fluctuations: no nighttime temperature drop
  • Too little light and UVB radiation
  • After suboptimal overwintering
  • Acute or chronic infectious diseases
  • Injury, infection or degeneration of the mouth and oral cavity, e.g. stomatitis, parrot's beak
  • Diseases of the gastrointestinal tract such as gastroenteritis, liver disease, pancreatitis, biliary tract disease
  • Obstruction of the intestine or intestinal obstruction, e.g. due to thickened faeces, parasites or the ingestion of indigestible substances such as sand, pebbles, remains of fabric
  • Injury to the cloaca, cloacal prolapse
  • Chronic metabolic disorder, e.g. rickets, vitamin A deficiency
  • Laying trouble
  • Progressive organ failure, e.g. lung insufficiency, heart failure, liver cirrhosis
  • After surgery
  • Medicines, e.g. iron supplements, calcium channel blockers