The longer you keep a pet, the more you notice its weird habits. For instance, you may notice that your leopard gecko sploots a lot.
But why does your leopard gecko sploot?
Leopard geckos mostly sploot to retain their body heat and take in more heat from the sun. However, they can also do this due to illness or digestive problems.
What is Splooting?
Splooting is the act of your pet lying on the ground flat on its belly and then spreading its legs behind its body.
This behavior is not unique to leopard geckos, though – dogs, cats, and other pets also do it. In fact, cats and dogs can even do other variations of the sploot.
For instance, they can choose to kick only one leg behind their bodies and leave the other one beneath them. This is sometimes referred to as the classic sploot.
Another variation of the sploot is commonly referred to as the slide sploot. To pull this one off, your pet must leave one foot underneath its body and kick the other out to the side.
Reasons Why Leopard Geckos Sploot
The top 4 reasons leopard geckos sploot include:
Heat retention and absorption
This is the main reason leopard geckos sploot. Since these reptiles depend on external heat for their body temperatures and bodily functions they’ll usually do this when cold.
So if your leopard gecko is healthy and keeps doing this, check its tank temperature.
Ensure that the daytime temperatures are maintained at around 80 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit with a basking spot of 90 to 94 degrees Fahrenheit. Keep nighttime temperatures at around 75 degrees Fahrenheit.
To achieve these temperatures, use heat mats and bulbs. They are the best way to heat up your leopard gecko’s tank without causing heat burns.
Leopard geckos struggling with digestive problems like constipation and impaction usually experience discomfort that makes moving difficult.
As such, they may choose to sploot for long periods. To make matters worse, they may drag their back legs when they do finally try to move.
When leopard geckos are sick, they are usually tired and weak. As such, they may sploot and remain inactive for longer than usual. However, this behavior is usually accompanied by other symptoms.
Leopard geckos can start splooting when they are overwhelmingly stressed. The situation can be caused by temperature changes, loud noises, habitat changes, improper lighting, and extreme competition for food.
Signs that your leopard gecko’s splooting is normal
The top 4 signs that your leopard gecko’s splooting isn’t an indication of any underlying health issue include:
Normal levels of activity
If your leopard gecko maintains their normal activity levels, don’t worry if they lie down and sploot sometimes. They could just be resting.
As long as your dog is not eating substantially more or less than they usually do, their splooting is not a sign of disease.
While there can be a small deviation from this, it’s not usually a big and regular difference.
Ultimately, major deviations can be a sign of diseases, many of which can cause splooting.
Healthy sleep patterns
Leopard geckos usually sleep during the day for around 12 hours. A major deviation from this, when coupled with splooting, can indicate a health or habitat issue.
When should you worry about your leopard gecko’s splooting?
When your leopard gecko’s splooting is accompanied by any of the following symptoms, you need to be concerned:
A restless leopard gecko is anxious and even keeps splooting in odd spots. These geckos don’t seem to feel comfortable anywhere and at any time.
Generally, restlessness is caused by disease or prolonged stress.
Interestingly, these situations can also cause sluggish behavior that can contribute to frequent splooting.
When your leopard gecko is splooting and also has trouble moving, it could be constipated or impacted.
After all, these conditions have been known to exert pressure on your gecko’s spinal nerves, making movement painful. As such, they may avoid moving altogether, drag along some of their legs, and/or do both.
When splooting is coupled with trembling could indicate a myriad of issues such as stress and Metabolic Bone Disease.
MBD is particularly common among leopard geckos who don’t get enough dietary calcium. Other symptoms of this disease include loss of appetite, bowed legs, limping, softening of the jaw, and bumps along the spinal column.
Why is your leopard gecko lying on its back?
Leopard geckos with Enigma Syndrome are known to lie on their backs regularly. They particularly sporadically circle their heads, tilt them, look up, and then drop on their backs in seizures.
During this time, these leopard geckos lose control of their muscles and can’t move without shaking. They particularly struggle with moving their tails and heads.
While many people believe that only the enigma morph can have this disease, this is false.
This neurological disease is genetic – as long as your reptile has the faulty gene that causes it, it will surely develop it.
To make matters worse, Enigma Syndrome can’t be cured – but the symptoms can be treated with the help of a vet.
This disease affects the brain from the time your gecko is born, pushing it off balance.
However, the effects of this disease are more prominent among adult leopard geckos. You can help reduce the severity of symptoms by reducing environmental stressors like:
- Excessive handling
- Tank mates – the fewer they are, the better
- Foot traffic and loud noises
- Frequently changing the tank setup
If things get severe, you may also have to hand feed your leopard gecko for the rest of its life. Because of how debilitating Enigma Syndrome can be, it’s not advisable to breed a leopard gecko that has it.
Leopard Gecko Sleeping Positions
Leopard geckos will usually sleep in the splooting position. While sometimes they will hide their heads in the warm spots of the tank, other times they will just leave them out in the open.
Interestingly, some geckos will even choose to sleep on top of their hides instead of inside them. Others may go as far as sleeping in odd spots like water and food bowls.
However, leopard geckos never sleep while standing up.
Which other reptile pets sploot?
Apart from leopard geckos, the most popular reptile pets that sploot are bearded dragons. For the most part, they do it for the same reasons leopard geckos do. However, they can sploot for other reasons like:
When baby bearded dragons or those who are yet to build a strong immunity system get parasites, they can sploot.
However, this is more common in the wild than in captivity, particularly because the former environment is less hygienic than the latter. The most common parasites associated with this behavior are bearded dragon mites.
Fortunately, you can easily tell whether your reptile has these parasites by checking its skin using a magnifying glass.
If these parasites are present, you will not only see live mites on your leopard gecko but also notice that its skin is red/scratched.
Other symptoms associated with parasite infection are weight loss and increased appetite.
One interesting thing about leopard geckos and other lizards is that they sploot when scared. As such, it’s common for wild geckos to sploot or lay on their back when they sense a predator nearby.
On the other hand, pet geckos can do this when they see a new person/pet/toy or hear a loud noise. Other signs that your gecko is scared include:
- Tail and body coiling
- Rapid heartbeat
- High-pitched sounds
What other habits are part of a leopard gecko’s body language?
Apart from splooting, leopard geckos are also known to exhibit the following behavior:
- Quick tail flicking – this is usually a sign of excitement.
- Swishing the tail slowly – your leopard gecko will do this to wave you away. Most times, it will do this while arching its back and standing on its tiptoes.
- Barking – your leopard gecko will do this when they are hungry.
- Screaming – this behavior is more common with juvenile leopard geckos than adult ones. It is commonly used to scare off predators.
- Squeaking and chirping – if your leopard gecko does this when you’re handling them, it means that they want you to stop.
- Clicking – leopard geckos do this to communicate with other geckos.
If you notice that your leopard gecko keeps splooting, you first should check its tank temperatures and monitor them for a while.
If they are fine and you can’t find any symptoms of stress, illness, or digestive problems, your reptile is probably fine.
However, never stop seeing a vet if you are still bothered by the behavior or it has escalated recently.