Leopard Gecko Prolapse: Effective Treatment and Prevention Guide

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  • Prolapse is a health issue affecting both male and female leopard geckos, involving protrusion of organs or tissue.
  • Early identification and understanding the possible causes can help with prompt intervention and treatment.
  • Prevention and treatment options, including proper care and consulting a vet, are crucial for ensuring your gecko’s well-being.


When faced with a prolapse, a leopard gecko may show a pink tube coming out of their bulges, indicating a hemipenal prolapse in males or a reproductive tract prolapse in females.

Identifying the issue early is crucial, as it allows for prompt intervention and treatment. A number of factors can contribute to the development of a prolapse, including constipation, impaction, mating, improper sexing, or a lack of humidity.

While prevention involves providing proper care and management, treatment options may range from visiting a veterinarian to taking care of the prolapse at home.

It is crucial to closely monitor your leopard gecko’s health to address any issues as they arise, and be prepared to tackle prolapse to help ensure the wellbeing of your beloved pet.

Identifying Prolapse in Leopard Geckos

Hemipenal Prolapse

Hemipenal prolapse refers to a condition where a male leopard gecko’s hemipenis (sex organ) fails to retract. To identify this prolapse, observe the following:

  • Check for a pink tube coming out of their bulges
  • Look for swelling around the base of their tail

If the pink tube remains outside the gecko’s body, it is considered a prolapsed hemipenis. Immediate treatment is necessary to prevent complications.

Cloacal Prolapse

Cloacal prolapse, on the other hand, can affect both male and female leopard geckos. The vent area experiences prolapse, potentially due to mating, egg-binding, parasites, or straining during defecation. To diagnose a cloacal prolapse, look for the following symptoms:

  • Swelling or redness near the vent area
  • Difficulty in defecating or discomfort while doing so
  • Straining when trying to pass feces, possibly due to impaction from sand or large food items

When you observe these symptoms, consult a veterinarian for proper diagnosis and prompt treatment to avoid further health issues.

Possible Causes of Prolapse

Environmental Factors

  • Lack of humidity: Inadequate humidity levels can lead to difficulty in shedding skin and cause impaction. Make sure to maintain proper humidity levels in your leopard gecko’s enclosure.
  • Inappropriate substrate: Using the wrong substrate, such as loose particle substrates or sand, can lead to impaction in the digestive system and possible prolapse. Opt for a safer alternative like reptile carpet or tiles.

Biological Factors

  • Mating: Male leopard geckos can experience hemipenal prolapse as a result of strain or trauma during mating. Ensuring that males are properly introduced to females can help minimize the risk.
  • Egg-binding: Female leopard geckos can suffer from prolapse due to egg-binding, a condition where eggs are not able to be laid. Providing a suitable laying area and monitoring for signs of stress can help prevent egg-binding and related prolapse.

Health Conditions

  • Impaction: Constipation or impaction can lead to excess strain on the gecko’s vent, resulting in prolapse. Make sure your gecko is on a proper diet, and monitor for signs of constipation.
  • Parasites: Internal parasites can cause irritation in the digestive system, resulting in straining and possible prolapse. Regular check-ups with a veterinarian can help identify any parasitic infections early.
  • Trauma: Injuries to the vent area, either from improper handling or other geckos, can cause prolapse. Handle your gecko with care and make sure to separate any aggressive geckos in your collection.
  • Hypocalcemia: Low calcium levels, or hypocalcemia, can weaken the muscles around the vent, leading to a higher risk of prolapse. Provide a balanced diet with appropriate calcium supplements to maintain proper calcium levels.

Prevention of Prolapse

Dietary Guidelines

To prevent prolapse in your leopard gecko, it’s essential to provide a well-balanced diet. Here are some guidelines:

  • Offer a variety of insects, such as crickets, mealworms, and dubia roaches
  • Dust insects with calcium and multivitamin supplements to maintain proper nutrients
  • Avoid overfeeding as it can lead to obesity and increase the risk of prolapse

Proper Habitat

Maintaining the right conditions in your leopard gecko’s habitat can prevent prolapse. Ensure these aspects:

  • Humidity: Maintain humidity levels between 40-60% to help in shedding and prevent hemipenal prolapse
  • Substrate: Use a safe substrate, like reptile carpet or paper towels to reduce the risk of impaction
  • Temperature: Provide a temperature gradient, with a warm side at 88-92°F (31-33°C) and a cool side at 75-80°F (24-27°C)
  • Moist Hide: Include a moist hide filled with damp sphagnum moss or similar material to aid in shedding, as shedding complications can also lead to prolapse

Sexing and Mating

Taking care when sexing or mating your leopard geckos can minimize the risk of trauma and prolapse:

  • Sexing: Do not purposely extract hemipenes to determine their sex; instead, look for pre-anal pores present in male geckos
  • Mating: Monitor mating sessions to avoid excessive aggression or potential injury
  • Husbandry: Ensure proper care and observation, making necessary adjustments to minimize stress and contribute to overall wellbeing

By following these guidelines and maintaining proper husbandry, you can reduce the risk of prolapse in your leopard gecko.

Treatment of Leopard Gecko Prolapse

Home Treatment

If you notice a prolapse in your leopard gecko, there are some home treatments you can try before consulting a veterinarian:

  • Sugar bath: Prepare a solution of warm water and dissolved sugar. Soak your gecko in this solution to help reduce swelling and encourage retraction of the prolapsed tissue.
  • Moist environment: Keep the gecko in a moist, warm environment to prevent the prolapsed tissue from drying out and causing additional complications.

Veterinary Treatment

In some cases, home treatments may not be sufficient, and you should consult a veterinarian for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan. Possible veterinary treatments include:

  • Physical examination: The veterinarian will examine your gecko’s overall health condition and determine the cause of the prolapse.
  • Surgery: In severe cases, surgery may be required to reposition the prolapsed tissue or to address underlying issues causing the prolapse.
  • Medicine: Depending on the diagnosis, your veterinarian might prescribe antibiotics or other medications to help treat any infections or related conditions.

Remember to monitor your leopard gecko’s condition closely and consult a veterinarian if you have any concerns or if the prolapse does not improve with home treatment.

Possible Complications

Leopard gecko prolapse can lead to several complications if not addressed promptly and properly. In this section, we will discuss those complications and their effects on your gecko.

Swelling and Pus

  • If the prolapse isn’t treated quickly, swelling around the cloaca or hemipenes can occur.
  • Pus formation may indicate an infection, which could spread to other parts of your gecko’s body.


  • Bacterial or fungal infections can develop in the prolapsed tissue, further complicating your gecko’s condition.
  • Left untreated, these infections can lead to systemic illness or even death.

Hemipenes Damage

  • In male leopard geckos, the prolapse of hemipenes may lead to serious damage or loss of function, making breeding impossible.
  • This can also cause intense pain and stress for your gecko.

Cloacal Damage

  • Prolonged prolapse may lead to damage in the cloacal area, which can affect waste elimination.
  • This complication can potentially be life-threatening if not addressed quickly.

Amputation or Surgical Resection

  • In extreme cases, surgical intervention may be necessary to address the prolapse.
  • This can involve the amputation of necrotic (dead) tissue or the resection of the prolapsed area.
  • Although such procedures may save a gecko’s life, they can be expensive and have their own risks, such as infection or anesthesia complications.


  • If blood flow to the prolapsed tissue is severely compromised, necrosis can develop.
  • This dead tissue can lead to infection or further damage in your gecko if not treated promptly.

In conclusion, it is crucial to monitor your leopard gecko closely and seek veterinary care if you suspect a prolapse. The complications listed above can have severe consequences for your pet’s health and well-being.


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