Another unfortunate leopard gecko issue

So after the last couple months being on the up and up for Bazel, I found him cold and passed away today. I am just in shock; I literally just weighed and fed him at 9pm. He was bright, alert and active at that time. I just can’t believe it.


If you can, I would get a necropsy done to figure out what was wrong with him (make sure to refrigerate and not freeze him). Something tells me the breeder sells unhealthy animals from the sound of it. Sorry for your loss.


I’m so sorry to hear that. I don’t think any of these deaths are from husbandry, I worry that there could be a disease of some sort passing through your collection. I agree that a necropsy should be done.


Just dropped him off at the vet for the necropsy. Should get results today.


Dang, I’m so sorry to hear that. I hope the necropsy gives you some closure at least.


I’m so sorry to hear of this, he was a beautiful boy and you are a very dedicated owner. :broken_heart:

I agree with @ashleyraeanne that the breeder may be (unintentionally) selling animals with health issues, or with @erie-herps that there may be a disease present that’s affecting your collection. It’s possible that there is disease present throughout your collection, and that it’s killing the newly arrived animals so quickly because their immune systems had no chance to build up any sort of resistance. Meaning (theoretically) that the affected animals you already have are able to survive longer because they have mounted an immune response that gives them some degree of resilience.

I sometimes have a poor memory, so please excuse me if I’m incorrect- I think I recall that you’ve had mysterious deaths in your reptile collection before. If I’m right in my recollection (and I could be wrong), I would be extremely concerned about the possibility of a communicable disease already having been present. I don’t have my medical texts unpacked yet- I’m in the middle of moving- but I’m pretty sure there are quite a few deadly pathogens that can affect multiple species of reptile. So it might be wise to request that your vet take appropriate samples to test for any highly contagious diseases that could account for any previous deaths as well. Testing for bacteria, parasites, fungi, or viruses (especially viruses) often has specific requirements for sample handling and lab submission, but your herp vet should be familiar with all that.

I’m so sorry this has happened, truly. :pensive: I just lost a very beloved leopard gecko of mine myself. The gross necropsy results came back extremely weird, so I had three samples sent out for histopath. I’m still waiting to hear back. It can be pretty expensive to have diagnostics like that run, but I’ve never regretted having things sent out to a lab. I have so many leos I want to make sure that there’s not any communicable disease or husbandry problems I need to address.


Thank you all. Yes I am very concerned with some sort of communicable disease at this point. If I remember right I had issues starting January of 2019 with the purchase of three snakes from one vendor. The pine snake from then died suddenly and was a non feeder. The speckled king from there developed neurological issues and was euthanized. The third is a Florida king who has had no issues. Then my ackie monitor later that summer died due to some sort of infection after extensive treatment. My other leopard gecko that I got from the same seller was fine with zero issues for 6 months and then suddenly declined. That one had a necropsy that came back with a gastrointestinal rupture.

All of my established animals have not had any noticeable symptoms or issues thus far.


I would alert the vendor you got the snakes from with the possibility of a viral or bacterial infection. Once you get necropsy results you might be able to see if there are patterns with how they died and if there’s a cause for concern possibly present them to a university or very experienced vet or lab with bacterias/viruses. I also would avoid selling animals or going to reptile expos or handling other people’s animals.


I doubt the vendor I originally got those snakes from would hear me out. I originally was lead to believe that they were reputable, but they ended up being flippers. They couldn’t even assure me that the pine snake I bought was the proper species, as it was mislabeled on the box though it did appear to be the snake I bought from the ad. Overall not a good experience.

My vet has been working with me on these issues and thus far they are skeptical that these cases are related. I didn’t hear from the vet today on the necropsy so hopefully I’ll get answers tomorrow.


If they’re flippers that would increase the chances that these problems are caused from them. I wonder if the reptiles were fighting off bacteria and there was another problem that appeared to be the main one but only was a problem because they were weaker from fighting off the bacteria (I really have no idea, I’m just throwing ideas out there). Maybe there’s a way to find the white blood cell count for reptiles to see (or if there is even a baseline to compare it to).
@mblaney, what are your opinions on the bacteria being the primary cause, possible or highly unlikely?


I’ll also put out there that I do a minimum 4 week quarantine at a separate house for all new animals or longer if there are any issues. The two snakes that initially passed, the pine snake never made it out of quarantine and the other speckled king did but after symptoms showed the snake was moved out of that room again. That was my first IBD scare, so everything that snake touched was thrown out. Luckily the histopathology came back without evidence of IBD. The first leopard gecko that was from the same breeder as Bazel also was suspected crypto, but as mentioned he came back with an intestinal rupture and not crypto.


Got some results of the necropsy. She said that there were some irregularities with the liver, lungs and heart (particularly the shape of the heart). To determine anything further we would need to send out the samples for testing. I definitely want to just a really sucky time financially. They let me have a couple days to figure things out.


It’s definitely possible to run labs on reptiles for things like white blood cell count (part of a CBC) and organ function (part of a Chem panel), I’ve had a lot of labs run on my geckos over the years. There are reference numbers available, and the vet should be familiar with that.

There’s no way for me to know if bacterial, viral, fungal, or parasitic causes are more likely without the relevant, disease-specific diagnostics. Plus, as I mentioned, all my veterinary texts are still packed in boxes. Off the top of my head, I’m worried most about easily transmissible viruses, but I am not a reptile vet.

@fatalis , I’m kind of worried that your vet hasn’t suggested testing for pathogens that could be responsible for all the deaths because that’s a pretty huge number of deaths for one household in a short time. It strikes me as improbable that none of the deaths are related, unless the pets were all geriatric or you have way more animals than I realized. The only other issue would be the most common- husbandry stuff. I am not going to speculate whether that could be an issue or not, only mention that it’s the number one cause of health problems in reptiles.

The shape of the heart being abnormal could possibly be the result of a congenital defect or from something having caused heart failure. Honestly this situation is a puzzle to me and I don’t have many answers, I’m sorry.

My one big tip would be that, should another animal pass away, be ready to pay the big bucks to send it out to an academic institution for necropsy and any and all advanced testing they suggest. Don’t have the same vet do the next necropsy. I took my geckos to the same vet for years, until one day I discovered the practice had made terrible mistakes and missed some obvious things that, if addressed promptly, could have saved up to 3 of my geckos. I only found out because I had a suspicion and submitted an animal to an academic veterinary pathology lab through another practice.

It just sounds way too much like your collection could be getting wiped out by a single pathogen making the animals susceptible to secondary health issues. For example, the gastrointestinal tract doesn’t just rupture on its own, there has to be a cause.

In the meantime, I agree with @erie-herps , don’t get anymore pets, give away or sell any pets, go to any reptile expos/stores, nor handle any other animals elsewhere.


I am just very tired and almost ready to give up at this point. I feel like everything I have worked towards in my collection is falling apart.

The vet I take my reptiles to are one of the best in the state as far as I’m aware. They send vets out to some of the zoos around here even. The vet did say more on the phone but I am at work so I was a bit distracted and didn’t catch everything. I am hoping to have a more in depth phone call about everything that has happened in my collection over the past couple years when discussing sending off the samples.

As far as husbandry, I have 5 other leopard geckos that I care for the exact same way as these two that did not make it. They all have thermostat regulated heat mats, are fed gut loaded/supplemented insects, and are cleaned regularly. My oldest one is about 9 years old and my 2 year old female tangerine has had no issues (whom I had gotten around the same time as the first male tangerine who passed). I know that doesn’t mean anything for sure couldn’t be a problem husbandry wise but I am at a loss where the issue could be.

My collection is at around 30 animals currently. Anyone that I got prior to these geckos as of right now are healthy with no sign of any issues. There are a couple snakes that I have gotten in between but they were never in the vicinity of where I keep my lizards.


I wonder if their immune systems are lowered? A bacteria/virus could lower their immune system and when another problem comes along it’s deadly when it normally wouldn’t be. It’s similar to COVID-19, the mortality rates are typically very low and not a major concern to a healthy person (in theory, I’m keeping it simple for sake of example). However, someone with asthma, pneumonia, or a compromised immune system is much more likely to die from the virus. To connect it to your geckos, if two geckos are infected they are both surviving, they both seem perfectly fine while their bodies are fighting it off. One gecko gets another bacteria or minor health issue, normally it would be able to fight it off but since it’s affected with another bacteria/virus it can’t. Then, while the gecko tries to fight them both off they get out of control and the gecko, seemingly for no reason (it’s virtually impossible to visually determine internal issues for leopard geckos), dies. I highly doubt that these deaths are from husbandry, you seem to be experienced and doing a great job.


Took a while to get a hold of the vet, every time I called I only got a busy signal before work. We are starting with a PCR test for crypto and then going from there.


The PCR test came back negative. We are sending out the rest of the samples for a full histopathology in a couple days.


That is fantastic news- I’m crossing my fingers for you to get answers. :crossed_fingers: :heart:


Finally have an update. Here is the text directly from the report of the histopathology.

"One of the submitted specimens represents a core of an abscess. This lesion is comprised of necrotic cellular debris, degenerative heterophils, and fibrin surrounded by a zone of degenerative heterophils and few macrophages.

Heart: A vegetative focus of granulocytic inflammation, fibrin deposition, and necrosis is present on the atrioventricular valve. Inflammation extends throughout the ventricle and is associated with thrombosis in the atrium.

Blood vessels: Blood vessels in all tissues have marked leukocytosis with left shift and necrosis of some cells. Cellular phagocytosis is occasionally seen.

Bone: The interstitium is expanded by an infiltrate of large numbers of granulocytes and histiocytes, and some of the pneumocytes are hypertrophied and contain phagocytized cell debris.

Liver: Sinusoids are filled with leukocytes, and an infiltrate of heterophils is present around or within melanomacrophage centers. Diffusely, hepatocytes have mild to moderate fatty change.

The following tissues are histologically within normal limits: stomach.


  1. Heart based abscess. 2. Vegetative endomyocarditis. 3. Severe interstitial pneumonia. 4. Sinusoidal leukocytosis with hepatitis and hepatocellular
    lipidosis. 5. Peripheral leukocytosis with left shift and cellular
    phagocytosis, peripheral blood.

Histologic findings are consistent with sepsis likely originating from the abscess. No infectious agents were seen, but this lesion likely has a bacterial component. Salmonellosis is an important differential."

When discussing this report with the vet, she said that she suspects that there is a combination of him having had a suppressed immune system likely due to a congenital defect which was in tandem with these other problems found but it’s hard to say what the ultimate source of his issues was. She agreed that the source or some of these issues were likely present when I received him from the breeder.

I am going to try to reach out to the breeder and hopefully they will work with me as they knew this animal was not healthy when I received him (in regards to losing weight and appetite issues). In the mean time no other animals have had any issues crop up and everything this gecko had touched will be tossed or extensively sanitized.


@mblaney @erie-herps

Was just wondering if you guys had any thoughts or comments on these results.