Have you noticed your Leopard Gecko blinking and lying with its eye or eyes closed? Do Leo’s have eyelids, and is it normal that they close their eyes? Understand why Leo’s close their eyes and identify common eyelid problems.
Leopard Geckos are one of 18 species of geckos that have fully functional eyelids. Unlike most geckos, leopard geckos blink and close their eyes when resting or sleeping. Possessing eyelids can also render Leo susceptible to eye complications, resulting in stress, illness, or death if not promptly corrected.
Do Leopard Geckos have eyelids?
Leopard Geckos are part of the Eublepharidae family of geckos that originated in Asia, Africa, and North America. What sets these geckos apart from the rest is that they sport moveable eyelids.
Eyelids are extremely rare in geckos, particularly true for pet geckos. There are more than 1800 geckos without eyelids and only 18 species of geckos without. Some believe Leopard Geckos may have developed their eyelids to cope with their arid and sandy environment.
The Leopard Gecko’s Latin classification and scientific name, Eublepharis Macularius, translates as ‘good eyelid.’ A fitting name for a gecko with eyelids.
Do Leos need to lick their eyes?
Although Leopard Geckos have eyelids, it is not unusual to spot them licking their eyes.
Licking the eyes is normal behavior for geckos with or without eyelids. Licking helps clean the corneas of any debris and aids in keeping the eyes moist and healthy.
If your enclosure temperature is not sufficiently humid, or your Leopard Gecko is dehydrated, they will lick their eyes more frequently. Misting the enclosure and providing water in a shallow bowl for your gecko to cool off will help keep your gecko hydrated. A hygrometer will also simplify maintaining a stable enclosure humidity level.
A dry environment can dry their eyes out and potentially cause their eyelids to stick closed.
Do Leos sleep with their eyes closed?
Don’t be surprised to see your Leopard Gecko lying with its eyes closed. Leos will often close their eyes when taking a daytime nap or sleeping at night.
Occasionally Leopard Geckos can be observed sleeping with one eye open. It is commonly thought this behavior may result from their non-captive days when predators were a threat. Keeping one eye open enables Leo to maintain some level of consciousness and enhanced responsiveness.
If you are uncertain whether Leo is asleep, gently tap their skin. If Leo is sleeping, they should instantly open their eyes. If Leo remains with their eyes closed and does not wake up, you may need to consider other possible problems.
Other reasons Leos’s eyes may be closed
Several common motivations for Leopard Geckos closing their eyes are sleeping, lighting conditions, shed difficulties, and infection. For the most part, these reasons are harmless and easily corrected. Other circumstances require the assistance of an exotic veterinarian.
A Leopard Gecko can blink and close its eyes for various reasons. Find more reasons and explanations for Leos’s shut-eye below.
Leopard Geckos are regularly shedding, and this shedding takes place on their sensitive surrounding eye area and eyelids.
Not unlike standard shed problems, the same stuck shed can occur surrounding the eye area. If the skin becomes stuck under the eyelid, this can cause severe cornea damage and would need veterinarian expertise. It’s no wonder most geckos do not have eyelids.
Skin left behind on the eyelid can irritate and lead to swelling and infection of the eye. If you notice Leo blinking more frequently or rubbing their eye, an eye stuck shed may be the problem.
Keeping Leo’s enclosure humid and moist will help avoid a stuck shed on the eyelids or surrounding eye area. You can attempt to gently rub the surrounding eye area after Leo has been in a humid environment to remove the dry skin. Nonetheless, it is preferable to visit a vet to avoid injuring Leo’s delicate eye area.
Eye injury and infection
If your Leopard Gecko is closing their eyes, it can also be due to pain or injury of the eye. Keep a watchful eye out for any aggressive behavior in your enclosure.
If Leo is housed with several Leopard Geckos, make sure they are not being bullied. This is most common in smaller tanks or tanks with predominantly male or larger-sized geckos.
It is essential to immediately have Leo’s eye looked at after it displays bruising or signs of a scratched cornea. Injury can result from fighting or accidental rubbing against sharp enclosure objects. A scratched eye can lead to infection and possible abscesses or complications leading to blindness or death.
Eye infections can affect one or both eyes. Cloudy eye is a common eye infection for leopard geckos that can lead to severe or permanent eye damage. Infections can be fungal, viral, or bacterial and can usually be treated with antibiotics or antifungals by your nearest exotic veterinarian.
Additionally, if a bump is visible under Leo’s eye, it is best to visit a vet to rule out any abscess resulting from infection or eye damage.
Debris in the eye
Like other animals with eyelids, Leopard Geckos can also get dust particles or sand in the eyes. Since Leopard Geckos spend their time at the bottom of an enclosure, they are more prone to getting sand in their eyes.
If Leo is blinking, closing, and licking their eyes frequently, they may be unable to dislodge the grit. By gently washing Leo’s eyes out with some saline or warm water, you may be able to assist before any damage or infection occurs.
Bright lights or reflections can cause stress and anxiety in your Leo and force them to close their eyes or hide in shaded hides. Leo has sensitive eyes, and if you have an Albino Leo, they will be even more sensitive.
Utilizing a heat mat instead of a heat lamp and moving your enclosure out of direct sunlight can help your Leo’s eye sensitivity and should correct the problem with time.
Leopard Geckos are one of the few geckos with eyelids, enabling them to blink and close their eyes. Never try to open Leo’s sensitive eyes and if you notice persistent eye licking, blinking, or extended periods of eye closure, try to locate the root cause.
Visit a local vet if the irritant continues and you have ruled out light, debris, or shed issues. An experienced veterinarian will be able to diagnose and treat any infections or injuries which may develop and become more critical to Leo’s health.