Crested geckos are a fairly hardy and largely trouble-free species. As long as an owner provides all the appropriate care as outlined in this care guide then their gecko should remain healthy and happy. However, there are several common disorders that can arise:
Metabolic Bone Disease
Metabolic bone disease, or MBD for short, is caused by a lack of calcium and vitamin D3 in the diet. Symptoms include brittle “spongy” bones, saggy lower jaw, wavy deformed tail, irregular walking, and loss of appetite. MBD is very serious and can easily be prevented with proper feeding, make sure that both insects and babyfood are supplemented with calcium and/or vitamin powder.
Floppy Tail Syndrome
Floppy tail syndrome, or FTS for short, is a weakness in the area at the base of the tail. It is believed to be caused by insufficient calcium during early growth, or by a lack of tail exercise as a result of not having enough to climb on. Still, others believe it is caused when a gecko sleeps upside down, using their tail as a support. The tail of a crested gecko who has developed FTS will flop to one side while climbing and becomes of little or no use to the gecko.
Autotomy is when a gecko drops his or her tail. Unlike other species of gecko, the Crested’s tail will not grow back. Wild crested geckos rarely ever keep their tail. This ability is a defensive behavior, meant to distract predators while the gecko escapes. Autonomy can also be the result of improper handling, fighting males, breeding, and stress. Stress can be the result of improper habitats, temperature extremes, improper handling, fighting, and breeding.
Impaction is caused when a reptile accidentally eats some of his or her substrate, such as getting a mouthful of dirt when hunting for crickets. Often they cannot pass the substrate and it sits in their stomach. Impaction can be prevented by not using dirt substrate, especially with juveniles, or by feeding in a separate container. Impaction is characterized by loss of appetite, loss of weight, and lethargy. A similar problem can arise from feeding a diet too high in fat, such as too many meal or wax worms. Gecko’s that develop this problem will need to be soaked in water until they are able to pass their solids.
Dystocia is caused when a female gecko is unable to lay their eggs. This can be the result of not providing the gecko with a proper place in which to lay their eggs. It can also be caused by eggs that are too large to pass. Symptoms include weakness and lethargy.
Dysecdysis is caused by improper shedding. Improper shedding is the direct result of a habitat that is lacking in moisture. Shedding skin that gets stuck to the gecko can cause infections, eye damage, and even loss of toes. Other symptoms include lethargy, and difficulty walking and/or climbing. Be sure to mist the gecko directly when you notice they are getting ready to shed (turning pale) and make sure the habitat is moist at all times to ensure proper shedding.
Although crested geckos are a very hardy and trouble-free species there are many other problems and diseases that can arise from improper care. As with all other reptiles, prevention and adequate care is the number one key to health.