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Leopard gecko dropped tail...affecting feeding?

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  • Leopard gecko dropped tail...affecting feeding?

    I woke up Saturday to find my younger leopard gecko had dropped his/her (referred to as a male from here on out for simplicity) tail at some point in the morning. I've done what I've found for care (sanitized tank and decorations, put on paper towel, etc) and let him have a couple of days to calm down, as he seemed scared and flightly when I found him. I'm still trying to think of any reason he'd have dropped his tail.

    Yesterday, I removed his decor and dropped in a couple of crickets and noticed that his feeding response is...off. From when I got him until now, he's been a very accurate hunter and very voracious eater. Now, he's missing the mark on crickets. I held one in some tongs to give him a hand, and while he got it, he seemed to have some trouble getting it down, almost looking like the smallish cricket was choking him.

    Has anyone else seen this with leopards? I've got a reputable vet very close by that is "on standby" if I need to take him in, but so far he seems normal, but confused as to what's happened.

  • #2
    Leos are not known for dropping their tails for no reason, or as easily as other reptiles such as crested geckos. Injury, stress, underlying health problems, rough handling, or threat/fear are usually attributed to a dropped tail.

    Did you inspect the tail at all to see if there are any marks or injuries? Do you ever leave live prey free-roaming in the tank? Does he share the tank with any other geckos? Is there anything going on outside of his tank (other people, animals, loud noises/vibrations/activity, etc.) that may have stressed him out?

    Their tails are also thought to help with balance somewhat. It could be that he's missing the mark due to being slightly off-balance without a tail. He should adapt just fine within a week or so.

    However, the difficulty eating is something I haven't heard of, and makes me wonder if the dropped tail is health-related. It might not hurt to have a vet check him over in case there's something missing.

    Do you have a picture of your gecko? Sometimes appearances can be revealing as well.
    ~Cassi

    www.facebook.com/NaturesAuraPhotography

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    • #3
      Trust me, I'm wracking my brain trying to figure out why he'd have dropped it. My initial feeling was fear/stress, as he definitely seemed freaked out by something and hid for 2 or so days afterward. Normally he's quite tame, and even yesterday after meal time, he climbed onto my hand and walked around a bit.

      To answer your questions:
      - No injuries or other marks on the tail.
      - Leaving live prey loose isn't a problem; he inhales crickets and feasts on mealworms. I have left mealworms in a dish before, but haven't noticed any escapees that weren't quickly dispatched.
      - No other geckos in the tank. I have another leo and was planning on putting them together if they are gender-compatible, but the other one is pushing 70g and a definite male. This one is just below 50 and I haven't gotten a clear determination on gender yet, so he's housed separately.
      - Both leos as well as two Tokays are in a room; not a bedroom but does have my computer. I'm in there once a day for an hour or so. No excessive noise/vibration that I'm aware of.
      - All are in separate terrariums, and have been living in the same room for ~6 months now with no incidents. Not that it means much, but the other leo's terrarium is actually between the Tokay's terrariums, and they all seem oblivious to each other. Neither of the Tokays is very vocal; the smaller one does a half-bark ever so often, but never the ear-splitting mating call that they're known for.
      - I'll get a photo if he'll cooperate. I'm still trying to be as hands-off as possible.

      I figured missing some mass might mess around with balance. I'll make an appointment with the vet and get him checked out to make sure though.

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      • #4
        The little guy wouldn't hold still long enough for a photo, but I did make a vet appointment for tomorrow.

        Comment


        • #5
          It sounds like it could very well be stress/fear-related, but I prefer to err on the side of caution, so I commend you for taking him to the vet. If it was just a dropped tail in the absence of any other symptoms, I wouldn't be too concerned. In my experience, however, the difficulty in eating is not something I've ever seen in any lizard species with a dropped tail though. Difficulty in catching prey, yes, but difficulty in swallowing, no. Unless the cricket was too large for him (which you mentioned it wasn't), that's really the only normal reason I can think of that would account for this. Has he been drinking still? Dehydration may possibly play a role as well.

          Please keep us updated, I'll be interested to hear what the vet finds.
          ~Cassi

          www.facebook.com/NaturesAuraPhotography

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          • #6
            Funny you say that; he does drink from his bowl (and looks appropriately annoyed when I catch him doing it), but I cleaned and refilled the dish as part of the tank cleanout, and he lapped at it for a good minute and a half. It's like he'd just discovered it.

            The swallowing difficulty came after that, but not more than 4-5 minutes after. Dry mouth perhaps?

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            • #7
              Wait! Of course!
              I found the drinking from the dish cute, and recorded a video! It's in phone-held-vertically quality, but better than nothing.

              http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aax-WA-sTH4

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Matt Bridges View Post
                Funny you say that; he does drink from his bowl (and looks appropriately annoyed when I catch him doing it), but I cleaned and refilled the dish as part of the tank cleanout, and he lapped at it for a good minute and a half. It's like he'd just discovered it.

                The swallowing difficulty came after that, but not more than 4-5 minutes after. Dry mouth perhaps?
                That's what I was wondering too.

                Adorable video btw...your gecko is very pretty!
                ~Cassi

                www.facebook.com/NaturesAuraPhotography

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                • #9
                  Vet appointment is in 2 hours. He just ate a waxworm and 3 giant mealworms.

                  He also cooperated for a few pictures:
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                  • #10
                    Wow. I thought Gargs looked pathetic without a tail, but that dude wins the pathetic gecko award.

                    Hopefully the vet can help you determine what, if anything, is wrong. Good luck!
                    1.0.0 R. auriculatus - Quinn
                    1.0.0 C. ciliatus - Good Hank
                    1.0.0 Mutt - Waldo
                    1.2.0 Cats - Oliver, Dharia and Chloe
                    iherp.com/sarahberry

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                    • #11
                      Hehe, yeah, a leopard without a tail just looks...weird.

                      Just got back from the vet. Physical checked out, fecal is clean (I didn't have a sample to bring with, but little Shithead happily provided one...on the doc's hand), he's on a course of antibiotics to stave off any infections from the wound.

                      Everyone at the office came and checked him out. Apparently they'd never seen one with eyes like his.

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                      • #12
                        And now I'm getting the "dude, really?" stare from him:

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                        • #13
                          Haha love the pic^.

                          Glad to hear he's well, and antibiotics should also help with peace of mind. He should be as good as new soon enough!
                          ~Cassi

                          www.facebook.com/NaturesAuraPhotography

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                          • #14
                            After a few days, I'm happy to report little guy is doing well. He's eating, not quite back to his old appetite, but it's returning. Giving him last night's antibiotics dose, he didn't even pee on me.

                            I may be on to something also...I was in the room for a bit Monday night, and he was roaming his tank. One of the Tokays across the room jumped from one side of his enclosure to the other, making a noise. Blanco Nino was definitely spooked by it. I'm locating another place in the house to relocate him once I can ensure the temps stay within acceptable ranges.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Matt Bridges View Post
                              After a few days, I'm happy to report little guy is doing well. He's eating, not quite back to his old appetite, but it's returning. Giving him last night's antibiotics dose, he didn't even pee on me.

                              I may be on to something also...I was in the room for a bit Monday night, and he was roaming his tank. One of the Tokays across the room jumped from one side of his enclosure to the other, making a noise. Blanco Nino was definitely spooked by it. I'm locating another place in the house to relocate him once I can ensure the temps stay within acceptable ranges.
                              Great!

                              I can believe that, so yes, relocation could be a good idea. That, or if you can put up a view-blocker in the form of cardboard or paper in front of your leopard gecko's enclosure so he can't see your Tokay. One of my crestie tanks is right beside my male Tokay's tank, and every night she creeps on him, but when he leaps to that side of the tank, it definitely gets her a bit edgy and she runs away.
                              ~Cassi

                              www.facebook.com/NaturesAuraPhotography

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