How to Tell if Your Leopard Gecko is Overweight (And What To Do)

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Is your leopard gecko looking a touch overweight? Are you wondering if it is becoming obese? Is this even possible and should you be concerned? 

In this article have the answers to all of your questions around leopard gecko weight and obesity. 

full length side view of a Leopard Gecko isolated on a white background

Can leopard geckos become obese? 

Yes, leopard geckos can become obese. However, it isn’t common. 

What does an overweight leopard gecko look like? 

There are several physical signs that a leopard gecko is overweight. These include:

Armpit bubbles

Armpit bubbles are small bubbles that show up behind one of your leopard gecko’s legs. They usually look like air sacs or blisters in the armpits. 

Both male and female leopard geckos can get armpit bubbles. They show up suddenly and are used to store calcium, proteins, vitamins, fat, or other minerals. 

When your leopard gecko is obese, they’re filled with fat. On the other hand, they are filled with calcium when your gecko is ingesting too much of this mineral. 

Ultimately, the only way to tell what’s in an armpit bubble is to get a vet to sample it and send it to a lab for analysis. While armpit bubbles aren’t pretty, they aren’t painful or uncomfortable. 

As such, you shouldn’t try to pop them – this will just worsen things. 

Usually, armpit bubbles come and go. Some can stay for only a few days while others can stick around for weeks or longer. 

Just know that those containing fat will go away when your leopard gecko loses weight. 

Also, malnourished and underweight leopard geckos won’t have any armpit bubbles because they don’t have any fat or nutrients to store.  

A wider tail than a head

Leopard geckos store fat in their tails for a rainy day, making them thick. But if your gecko’s tail is wider than its head, things have gotten out of hand, and your pet is obese. 

Fat in belly and legs 

When your leopard gecko is obese, you’ll notice that its legs are fat and look like small sausages. 

Also, your gecko’s belly will look rounder than usual and can look distended or bloated. Sometimes, the belly can have fat rolls as well. 

Keep in mind that all these fat deposits come with fatigue and general disinterest. You may even notice that your obese leopard gecko walks slowly and seems disinterested in hunting.

How much should a leopard gecko weigh? 

Leopard geckos usually weigh 2 to 80 grams depending on their age and gender. As a rule of thumb, babies and juveniles are lighter than adults while males are heavier than females. 

Any leopard gecko weighing more than 120 grams is considered obese. 

However, small leopard geckos can be considered obese at over 60 grams. Ultimately, your leopard gecko’s physical features are a clearer indicator of obesity than its weight. 

Make sure it’s not pregnant

To ensure that your leopard gecko is fat and not pregnant, you’ll have to check if it shows any signs of the latter. 

For one, you have to check whether your gecko is a female. After that, you should check your gecko’s belly for eggs. You can also monitor it for breeding behavior like anxiety and digging. 

Keep in mind that the breeding season for leopard geckos usually runs from February to October of every year. 

What causes a leopard gecko to become overweight? 

The main cause of obesity in leopard geckos is overfeeding. This can occur in two main ways. One way is through regularly offering your leopard gecko too many feeder insects per sitting or feeding them more often than required. Another way is by offering your gecko too many fatty feeder insects, especially when they’re younger than five months.

Remember, fatty feeder insects can be addictive and should only be offered as treats. These insects include waxworms and superworms. It’s also not advisable to predominantly feed your leopard freeze-dried insects. These eliminate the need for your gecko to hunt and exercise, increasing the risk of obesity.  

Another to keep in mind when it comes to obesity in leopard geckos is that it can be hereditary. While an overweight parent isn’t a guarantee that a leopard gecko will be obese, it can make it more likely to happen. 

How often should you feed an overweight leopard gecko?

You should feed an overweight leopard gecko at most twice a week. 

What to do if your leopard gecko is overweight 

If you suspect that your leopard gecko is obese, you first have to take them to the vet to confirm that this is the case. Once it’s confirmed, your vet will advise that you get your gecko on a weight-loss plan. This usually involves placing them on a diet. 

A good weight loss diet first requires you to reduce the number of times that you feed your leopard gecko. However, you’ll have to do this gradually. 

Suddenly cutting down your leopard gecko’s food will make it starve and release a lot of fat into its system. This can overwhelm your reptile’s liver and make it sick. It can also create fat deposits under your leopard gecko’s skin. 

Another integral part of a weight loss diet is cutting off fatty feeder insects like superworms. If your leopard gecko is addicted to them, you’ll have to swap them out for similar worms like Calci worms or black soldier fly larvae to make weaning easier. 

Just ensure that you rotate the insects you’re offering each week to keep your gecko from getting bored. Also, consult your vet if you’re struggling with keeping a picky eater interested. 

What are the consequences of obesity in leopard geckos?

Obesity in leopard geckos can lead to fatty liver disease. As its name suggests, this disease is characterized by an accumulation of fat in your reptile’s liver, eventually affecting its functioning. 

This reduced liver functioning quickly leads to the accumulation of unremoved toxins in your gecko’s body. 

What’s more? The associated fat accumulation compromises the leopard gecko’s immunity system and leaves it at risk for infections. Apart from body fat, symptoms of fatty liver disease in leopard geckos include:

  • Yellow eyes, skin, and gums
  • Lethargy and weakness
  • Edema
  • Anorexia
  • Swollen limbs 

Please don’t try to diagnose your leopard gecko even if they exhibit all of the above-mentioned symptoms. You’ll still have to take them to the vet to get a proper diagnosis. 

Once you’re there, the vet will talk to you about the symptoms, conduct a physical exam, and may even take abdominal X Rays. They may also do some blood tests and conduct a liver biopsy. 

Once they’re sure your leopard gecko has fatty liver disease, they may prescribe antibiotics and administer vitamin supplements. If the gecko is dehydrated and starved, they will feed it using a tube and get it on fluid therapy. 

Final thoughts 

Like all animals, leopard geckos can become obese if overfed or fed inappropriately. As such, it’s important to always provide your reptile with a balanced diet and opportunities to exercise. 

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