5 Reasons Your Leopard Gecko is Dragging its Back Legs

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No matter which kind of pet you have, it’s important to keep an eye out for any physical or behavioral changes. One such thing to look out for is leg dragging. 

But what makes your leopard gecko drag its legs?

Leg dragging could indicate your leopard gecko is spreading its scent to mark its territory. Alternatively, it could have arthritis due to old age. Finally, your leopard gecko could be injured, constipated, impacted, or suffering from metabolic bone disease. 

Why Your Leopard Gecko is Dragging its Back Legs

This could be happening for a variety of reasons. Frequent occurrences of this behavior are more likely to signal a serious health issue. The 5 top reasons for this behavior are:

1. Scent spreading

If your leopard gecko is male, it could be voluntarily dragging its back legs so that it can spread its pheromones on the ground. Leopard geckos usually do this to inform other geckos of their presence. They mostly do it when they see or sense another leopard gecko around – it’s not a daily habit.

2. Old age

Another reason your leopard gecko could be dragging its back legs is it is getting older and becoming slower. This is often caused by age-related arthritis, resulting in worn-out joint cartilage, inflammation and discomfort. However, this is usually a sign that your leopard gecko has lived much longer than it would have in the wild.

3. Constipation and impaction

When food and other ingested particles back up your leopard gecko’s digestive system, it can slow down, resulting in constipation.

Eventually, this can lead to full-on blockage and even swelling – a condition known as impaction. This condition is often caused by the ingestion of loose substrates or oversized food particles.

Whatever the cause, impaction can exert pressure on your leopard gecko’s spinal nerves and cause paralysis on its back legs. 

Fortunately, it’s easy to tell whether your leopard gecko is constipated or impacted. In the former case, you’ll simply notice that your gecko won’t poop as much as it usually does.

When it comes to the latter, you’ll notice some abdominal swelling. To check for this, use your fingers to massage your gecko’s abdomen gently. If you feel some swelling, your reptile is impacted. 

To solve the issue, there are some things you can do at home, particularly if it’s caught early:

  1. Try giving your leopard gecko a warm bath while giving them a belly massage.
  2. Use a syringe to feed your leopard gecko a few drops of natural oil. This oil can line your gecko’s digestive system enough for it to move the blockage along. Be careful not to use too much of it though – it can take a while to go through your Leo’s digestive system and can even hinder nutrient absorption. 

If those options don’t work, take your reptile to the vet immediately. Remember, impaction can be fatal if left untreated.

4. Injuries

Spine and limb injuries can also make your leopard gecko drag its back legs. Such injuries are usually caused by falls, dashes into the tank, or impact with a falling object.

As such, it’s important to use high quality furniture and accessories in your Leo’s tank.

Moreover, you need to keep an eye on your gecko when it’s hanging out outside its tank. And if you do notice that your reptile is injured, take it to the vet’s office immediately – they will give them an X-ray and diagnose them accordingly. 

5. Metabolic Bone Disease

When your leopard gecko’s blood doesn’t have enough calcium and vitamin D3, calcium from bones leaches into it. This makes the bones weaker and prone to deformities. This is what is referred to as Metabolic Bone Disease.

Ultimately, this disease can lead to reduced mobility in the back legs and force your leopard gecko to just drag them along as it moves. 

Fortunately, you can easily keep your Leo from getting this disease by feeding it insects with  high calcium to phosphorus ratio and ensuring you dust them with calcium and vitamin D3 supplements beforehand.

After all, your gecko’s body needs vitamin D3 so that it can absorb calcium. That’s why exposing your leopard gecko to UVB can also help prevent Metabolic Bone Disease. Don’t overdo it though – this can make matters worse. 

If you think that your leopard gecko already has this disease, take them to the vet immediately.

While they may advise you to provide some calcium supplements and UVB, they may also prescribe some emergency interventions. A common one is soaking your reptile in a mixture of water, calcium, and Pedialyte for 20 to 30 minutes twice a day.

Since leopard geckos and other reptiles can absorb fluids and electrolytes through their vents, soaking them like this can help them absorb calcium.

Another popular emergency intervention that vets prescribe is mixing some pure meat baby food with a little bit of calcium and then applying a drop of this on your Leo’s snout. This mixture will replenish their strength and calcium reservoirs if they lick it. 

What should you do if you notice that your leopard gecko is dragging its back legs?

If you notice that your leopard gecko is dragging its back feet, monitor it to see if it’s a regular occurrence. If it’s regular yet your Leo is young, check for signs of constipation, impaction, injuries, or Metabolic Bone Disease.

These conditions always come with other symptoms like swelling, bleeding, or deformed jaws.

However, whether you find anything or not, it’s a good idea to take your pet to the vet. After all, they are better suited to identify what is wrong and assess the severity of the situation. 

Final thoughts 

While occasional dragging of the back legs may be caused by mere scent spreading, regular repetition of this behavior can signal myriad health issues in leopard geckos. So just to be safe, address this issue as soon as you notice it!

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