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How to Avoid Gut Impaction in Leopard Geckos

What is a Gut Impaction

At gut impaction is were your Leopard Gecko has an obstruction in the stomach and/or intestines that prevents your Leopard Gecko’s gut from functioning properly. An untreated gut impaction will eventually become fatal.

Signs and Symptoms

Symptoms include:

Loss of appetite

weight loss



swollen belly

Faces that contain sand


Gut impaction in Leopard Geckos is caused  by ingestion of substrate. Leopard Geckos in the wild ingest sand to get extra calcium, they will do this in captivity and end up with a gut impaction.  If your gecko eats aquarium gravel, small stones or bark chips they can also get a gut impaction.  Some sources state that mealworms cause gut impaction’s because of their hard exoskeletons. I have never personally heard of this happening and would not worry about it.

How to Avoid Gut Impaction

If you use sand as a substrate it must be very fine grained. Do not aquarium gravel or other substrates your gecko can ingest. Hand feed your gecko or place food in a shallow dish to avoid accidental ingestion of substrate while catching food. Leopard Geckos can be kept on fine grained sand as long as they have enough calcium available. Place a small bowl of calcium powder for you Leopard Gecko to consume. Leaving the bowl of calcium in the cage at all times allows your Leopard Gecko to regulate its own calcium requirements. Leopard Geckos can pass small amounts of fine grained sand without problems. Gut impaction occurs when large quantities of sand or other substrates are ingested


Gut impaction is potentially life threatening and needs to be treated by a qualified reptile vet. Laxatives and fluids are the first line of treatment. If the laxatives do not work within a few day surgery will be performed to remove the cause of the impaction.