Leopard geckos (Eublepharis macularius) may exhibit the same basic signs of parasite problems as most other lizards do, including intestinal disturbances, lethargy, weight loss and inappetence. However, some leopard geckos may not demonstrate any symptoms of parasites, so it is a good idea to have your veterinarian test your lizard for parasites annually.
Parasites can cause leopard geckos to produce watery, foul-smelling feces. In cases of extreme infection, blood may accompany the stools, or the distal end of the intestine may prolapse – meaning it protrudes from the lizard’s cloaca. Over time, lizards suffering from diarrhea become dehydrated, which complicates their recovery further.
When leopard geckos suffer from high parasite loads, they often become malnourished and weak. This can cause your pet to remain in his hide box even after his cage lights turn off. Leopard geckos are nocturnal, and not usually active during the day. When they're not active at night, either, they may be ill.
Weight loss accompanies a variety of parasitic infestations, especially Cryptosporidiosis, which is caused by single-celled organisms. While healthy leopard geckos store fat in their tails, those suffering from Cryptosporidiosis or other intestinal parasites often have extremely thin tails. This phenomenon – called “stick tail syndrome” by leopard gecko keepers – indicates that your pet is suffering from a serious problem.
Parasites can impair a leopard gecko’s appetite. Sometimes, you may be able to coax parasitized leopard geckos into eating if you hand-feed them, but often, they refuse food entirely. This failure to eat often exacerbates your pet’s health problems, making his decline more precipitous.
You will need veterinary assistance to help rid your lizard of parasites. First, your vet will try to determine which parasites are living inside your gecko, by analyzing his stools or performing other tests. A course of antiparasitic medication and an increased emphasis on hygiene will end most parasite infestations in a few weeks, but some – such as Cryptosporidiosis – cannot be completely eradicated. Instead, your vet can prescribe medications to reduce the parasite population, which may allow your leopard gecko to survive, even though he will be contagious for the remainder of his life.