Why Your Leopard Gecko is Breathing Too Fast

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Does your leopard gecko breathe fast sometimes? Do you know what this means? Well, that’s what we are going to talk about today.

The most likely reason your leopard gecko is breathing fast is an infection/inflammation of the upper respiratory tract or chronic rhinitis. This is usually caused by low tank temperatures or a host of other conditions that make it hard for your leopard gecko’s body to function properly. 

Why is my leopard gecko breathing fast?

Generally, breathing problems in leopard geckos are caused by respiratory issues. And unfortunately, these are very common among these geckos. Apart from breathing fast, these conditions can come with symptoms like:

  • Weight loss
  • Lack of appetite
  • Raspy breathing
  • Breathing with an open mouth 
  • Lethargy
  • Mucus bubble coming from the nose
  • Discharge from the nose, eyes, or mouth
  • Wheezing or crackling when breathing

When coupled with fast breathing, these symptoms clearly indicate that your leopard gecko is suffering from a respiratory issue. However, it’s important to keep in mind that fast breathing could in some cases indicate an allergic reaction or pain from an injury. 

What should you do when your leopard gecko starts breathing fast?

You should take your leopard gecko to the vet immediately if you notice that they are breathing fast or have any other respiratory issues. Such situations are considered emergencies and require immediate medical intervention. 

How do vets diagnose and treat fast breathing in leopard geckos?

When you take your leopard gecko to the vet for fast breathing, they will conduct a physical exam, run some blood tests, and even do X-rays when necessary. They may even ask for your gecko’s medical history, do a fecal exam, or take a bacterial sample from their respiratory tract. Once they get to the root cause of your leopard gecko’s condition, they can prescribe antibiotics, probiotics, and/or fluids for hydration. Your vet may even recommend soaking your leopard gecko in some warm water to help them unclog their nostrils. 

How fast should a healthy leopard gecko breathe?

Generally, leopard geckos take up to 20 breaths per minute, depending on their age, weight, and health status. These breaths are usually deep and steady. In fact, if you watch your gecko carefully, you will notice that their chest muscles steadily move up and down when they breathe. And when your leopard gecko gets stressed or anxious, you’ll notice that its breathing speed gets faster. 

However, this is not usually a sign of a problem – problematic breathing is not only rapid but also shallow. There’s one thing you have to keep in mind about leopard geckos’ breathing mechanisms – they are affected by temperature. When these pets are exposed to heat, they breathe deeper and faster, increasing their heart rates. 

This allows more blood to reach their brains, boosting their efficiency and improving their reflexes. Ultimately, this helps leopard geckos effectively hunt insects and escape predators. 

That’s why leopard geckos who are consistently exposed to cold temperatures have problems breathing and even walking.

How can you keep your leopard gecko from breathing fast?

There are several things you can do to keep your leopard gecko from breathing fast or facing other breathing problems. For one, you can ensure that your gecko’s tank has a constant source of heat and conducive temperatures 24/7. For this, you can use heat mats and a reliable thermometer. If you already have these tools, ensure they are working properly.

Keep in mind that the optimal temperatures for leopard geckos are around 70 degrees Fahrenheit at night and 80 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit during the day. Temperatures below these can make your leopard gecko breathe erratically and develop other respiratory conditions. In fact, when temperatures stay under 50 degrees Fahrenheit for long periods, your leopard gecko can end up hibernating. 

As such, ensure you regularly take note of the tank’s day and night temperature – your vet will even ask you for these values if you take your pet to them. To make the whole process easier, you could also choose to get a thermostat for your leopard gecko’s tank. This device will automatically turn your heat source off when temperatures get too high. 

It’s however important to note that short-term exposure to extreme temperatures is not usually enough to get your leopard gecko sick. As long as you quickly correct the issue, your gecko should be fine – long-term exposure to what you really need to worry about.

Another thing you can do to keep your leopard gecko from breathing fast or erratically is to ensure their tank’s humidity is maintained at optimal levels – 30% to 40%. When your leopard gecko is exposed to higher humidity levels for long periods, it can start breathing fast and develop other respiratory issues. So always ensure you use a functional hygrometer to regularly check the humidity levels in your pet’s tank. 

It’s also important to ensure that your leopard gecko gets a balanced diet, lives in a clean environment, and remains free of parasites. Ultimately, the healthier they are, the less susceptible they are to breathing problems. 

What kinds of respiratory conditions are common in leopard geckos?

There are several respiratory conditions that are common among leopard geckos, some of which have fast breathing as a symptom. The most common ones include:

  1. Pneumonia

This condition is characterized by inflammation/infection of the lungs. While it’s usually caused by bacteria, it can also be caused by viruses, fungi. and parasites. As such, it’s usually treated differently depending on the microorganism that caused it. Apart from labored breathing, pneumonia also has symptoms like mucus bubbles on your gecko’s nose. 

To prevent the occurrence of this disease, ensure your leopard gecko gets a balanced diet, lives in a clean environment, and is exposed to optimal temperature and humidity levels. Generally, low tank temperatures and high humidity increase your gecko’s chances of getting pneumonia. 

  1. Chronic rhinitis

This condition can either be an allergic or non-allergic reaction. It is usually characterized by symptoms like a runny nose and watery eyes. 

How can you catch breathing and other health problems in your leopard gecko early?

To ensure that you catch any breathing, respiratory, or general health issues early in your leopard gecko, you should conduct a weekly or monthly health check.

To start with, you can check your pet’s eyes, nose, and mouth – these should be clear and free of any discharge. Secondly, check for any signs of lethargy by offering them feeder insects and monitoring how quickly they hunt and eat. It’s concerning if they do this at a slower pace than usual.

Another thing you need to check is whether your leopard gecko has unshed skin on its toes. This indicates shedding problems and can point to temperature and humidity problems. As such, it can alert you when you need to modify your gecko’s heating setup.

Another effective way to check your leopard gecko’s health is to check its feces. If it has blood in it, take your pet to the vet immediately – this is a sign of illness. You also need to regularly weigh your gecko and monitor whether its tail is losing its fat. While weight loss can simply be an effect of the changing seasons, it can also be a sign of illness. Whatever the case, always record your gecko’s weight and feeding habits.

Also, regularly feel your leopard gecko’s jaw for firmness. If you feel like it’s softening, take them to the vet immediately – this can be a sign of metabolic bone disease. This disease usually makes your leopard gecko’s bones soft and rubbery, rendering them unable to effectively support your pet. 

As such, two of the most common signs of this disorder are difficulties lifting bodyweight and distorted limbs. It’s therefore important to keep your leopard gecko from getting this disorder altogether. Fortunately, this is easy to do.

All you have to do is ensure your pet gets an adequate supply of calcium and vitamin D3 in their diet – something that you can do by simply dusting your gecko’s feeder insects. You can even take things further by always trying to feed your leopard gecko insects with a high calcium to phosphorus ratio. 

Final thoughts

Understanding how fast and deeply your leopard gecko breathes at different times of the day is integral to figuring out whether your pet is currently breathing erratically. Once you find out there’s a problem though, take your reptile to the vet immediately – breathing fast or in any other unnatural way is usually a cause for immediate medical intervention.

Also, be prepared to change your pet’s tank conditions when you bring them back from the vet’s. Ultimately, ensuring that they are living in hygienic conditions and at optimal temperature and humidity levels is integral to their continued survival. 

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