Even if you’re the most attentive pet keeper, your leopard gecko can refuse to drink water. This can be quite alarming, especially for first-time gecko keepers. So to ease your worry, it’s important to understand why leopard geckos do this.
Why is my leopard gecko not drinking water?
Your leopard gecko may not be drinking water because they’re getting what they need from their food, are being picky, or are struggling to adapt to a new environment. Whatever the case, it’s always good to be patient with your gecko as you try to get them to drink more.
5 Reasons Why your leopard gecko is not drinking water
Before we dive into the reasons your leopard gecko may not be drinking water, we need to remind you to confirm that this is actually what is happening.
Many leopard geckos drink water when their owners are not watching. Some people have had their geckos for years and have never seen them drinking water. So if your leopard looks healthy, is acting normally, and eats well, they may be just fine. But if you’re still worried, continue reading this article to get answers.
If that’s not the case then here are some of the most common reasons your leopard gecko is not drinking:
1. Your gecko is getting all the water its need from its food
While insects may not look like much, they can pack a lot of moisture. In fact, some insects are made up of over 50% water. So if your leopard gecko regularly eats them, they may not need to drink more water. Some insects that can provide your gecko with a lot of water include Dubia roaches, crickets, hornworms, waxworms, and superworms.
As such, they can be fed to leopard geckos who are dehydrated to get their water levels up. However, since they are rich in fat, waxworms and superworms should only be given as treats.
2. Your leopard gecko is struggling to adapt to a new environment
When you first bring a leopard gecko home or switch them into a new tank, it will take a while before they can drink any of the water you make available. This is because leopard geckos are generally skittish, paranoid, and don’t like change. So it will take some time for them to get used to a new person or environment.
In the beginning, they will keep to themselves until they are comfortable enough to explore. And while it may seem like a good idea to try to persuade them to get out of their shell, it’s not an effective strategy. It’s much better to give them space to figure things out. Eventually, they will warm up to drinking water from the bowl you laid out.
3. Your leopard gecko prefers water from misting
If there’s one thing you should know about leopard geckos, they can be extremely picky. This means they may refuse to eat a certain food or even use certain pieces of equipment. Picky geckos may even refuse to drink any water provided in a bowl and opt for absorbing water from misting instead.
If you have such a gecko, consider getting them a misting system. These systems spray water on the walls of your gecko’s vivarium so that they can lick it. Some geckos prefer this because it’s similar to how they get water in the wild – by licking moisture off rocks and other objects. While the water they lick tastes the same as the water in their bowls, the former is more natural to them.
Fortunately, you can order misting systems online on eCommerce sites like Amazon, and the process of assembling them isn’t difficult either. What’s more? They can be super silent and have water capacities of up to 10 L. It would be best if you were mindful when using them, though. If you go overboard with misting, your gecko’s vivarium may become too humid and negatively affect their wellbeing.
As such, it’s best to aim the sprayer at only one side of your gecko’s vivarium and keep the spray times to only once a night. This is because the humidity rises quickly after spraying and will decrease over time. So if you keep spraying the whole vivarium the whole night, the humidity will become too much for your leopard gecko to handle. Keep in mind that the most conducive humidity for a leopard gecko’s vivarium is 30% to 40%.
4. Your leopard gecko is getting their water from moist hides instead
Although moist hides are supposed to be used for shedding, some leopard geckos will drink water from them. This is because they are usually rich in condensation due to the heat lamp or heat mat present in your gecko’s vivarium. Ultimately, geckos who eat moisture-rich insects and drink water from their hides can live for years without drinking a single drop from their bowls. And they will be healthy and thrive.
5. Your leopard gecko thinks their water bowl is only for dipping
If your leopard gecko is getting moisture from other sources, they may view the filled water bowl you provide as only a dipping spot. And while this is good for their skin and can help with shedding, it can make you worry about their hydration levels. Ultimately, your leopard gecko’s demeanor will tell you more about its hydration levels than whether you have seen them drinking from their bowl.
Related: 9 Reasons Your Leopard Gecko is Throwing Up
How long can leopard geckos survive without water?
Leopard geckos can go for two to three days without water. If they go longer than this, they can get dehydrated and even die. As such, you should always provide a bowl of water in your gecko’s vivarium even if they don’t seem interested in it.
How to offer your leopard gecko a bowl of water
When offering your leopard gecko water, there are some things you need to keep in mind. You need to ensure that any water you offer is chlorine-free. Chlorine can make leopard geckos sick and even kill them. Another thing you need to remember is to use a wide, shallow bowl – this will protect your leopard gecko from drowning.
Since these reptiles aren’t exposed to much water in the wild, they don’t know how to swim and can easily drown. You can even place a clean rock in the bowl to safely lure your gecko to the water. Whatever you do, ensure that the bowl is clean and free of harsh soaps – dirt and harsh chemicals can negatively affect your gecko’s health.
To avoid contamination, aim to refill the bowl with cold water every day or every other day. And always place it on the cool side of the vivarium to avoid evaporation.
As long as leopard geckos eat moisture-rich insects, have access to a bowl of water, and look healthy, you shouldn’t worry about their hydration. The fact that you’ve not seen them drinking from the bowl isn’t enough reason to worry. Dehydration signs like muscle loss, a stick mouth, and dry, flaky skin are what you should really be on the lookout for. These pose a serious health threat and indicate that you need to intervene immediately.