Sudden death in crested geckos?

I’m here tonight unfortunately feeling devastated. Y’all know I’m a small operation, so I an really attached to all of my animals as individuals and I have very little money and space so I’m very selective about what I buy. I had a red lilly white female growing up here that I was really excited to pair next year, and I just found her dead in her enclosure about 15 minutes ago.

I do checks of my geckos every day, and when I checked on everyone yesterday morning she was acting normally - drank when I spritzed her, she ate for me two days ago, she was fired and moving around normally last time I handled her (just a couple days ago). I have no idea what happened. She was about 25g and in good body condition, I even got some pictures of her about a week ago. She’s housed in the same room with all of my other geckos - adult and baby cresties, sarasinorum geckos, gargoyles - and everyone else is fine. She also passed a 6 month quarantine and has had completely normal bowel movements, eating habits, etc. and had been in my care for over a year. The only thing I can think of was that she dropped her tail about a week ago (during that photo session) but I’ve been watching it and it’s been healing well, no inflammation or swelling that I can see, no blood. Has anyone had a crestie pass away after losing a tail? Or are there other things I should try to check for? It is it truly just a horrible random occurrence? I also had a breeder male ball python pass away suddenly from bacterial overgrowth recently, and I just feel cursed, even though all the rest of my animals are thriving.

The last picture I got of her before she passed. :disappointed:


@ghoulishcresties have you ever heard anything like this?

@inspirationexotics i’m so so sorry that this happened. I can imagine it’s absolutely heartbreaking.


Thank you. I know that deaths happen and that sometimes there’s really nothing we could have done, but to have had two random deaths in animals that seemed otherwise completely healthy in the span of three months is really rough. It’s definitely heartbreaking. Especially when I’m already so selective about what I buy - not only do I get attached to my animals as pets but I don’t have extra money lying around, so I don’t have the financial means to get new animals to replace breeding projects. Most of my animals I save for for months and get really attached to the individuals, not just the genetics they carry.

(I did test the ball python for both nido and crypto, and negative on both - his final necropsy result showed an overgrowth of numerous bacteria species that caused some kind of sepsis. I haven’t tested my gecko collection for crypto, but all of my animals go through a 6 months quarantine and like I said, there was no indication she (or anyone else) was sick - normal eating, normal bowel movements, normal interaction during handling other than the tail drop. And I’ve got a small collection - I only have four subadult/close to adult cresties - she was my fifth, and all animals I got as babies and have had most of their lives.)


I am so sorry this has happened to you :pensive:

Unfortunately some Cresties can pass with no reason, had this myself, any reptile can and unless you take them to the vets for an autopsy you won’t know for sure.

Have you checked the viv for any false widows? I’ve lost a few to them and Infact had someone reach out to me yesterday who’s lost there beauty to one too :disappointed:


Thank you :pensive: I know it’s always a possibility but just feels like a real kick in the teeth, and of course I’m anxious about if I had just checked on her sooner then maybe I could have prevented it? But I doubt it. This is why I check my animals daily but she really seemed perfectly fine. I wish that I could do a necropsy because I know it would give me some peace of mind to know the cause but the necropsy I just had performed for my breeder male ball python passing was nearly $500 and I just don’t have that kind of money lying around so it’s unfortunately not feasible at this time to do another necropsy. I haven’t checked the enclosure specifically for false widows but I’m in and out of enclosures daily and haven’t noticed any spiders. I’m not sure if we even have false widows here - I know we have true black widows and brown recluses, along with lots of jumpers and other house spiders, but I’ve never noticed any spiders inside or even around vivs.

This is the kind of thing where I just find it really hard to stick in the hobby. I pride myself on taking really good care of my animals and all the rest are thriving, so it feels so hopeless when a seemingly healthy animal just passes with no warning. I know it happens, but it definitely sucks. She was my only planned pairing for next year and like I said I don’t have the money to just get another, so who knows how long it will be before I can get that project back on track with another animal. And I had just finally decided on a name for her a couple months ago :disappointed_relieved:


Definitely worth checking, I found out the other day I have some living in backgrounds so I need to know sort that :smiling_face_with_tear:


I get what you mean, when we lost ours it was devastating, planned pairings, and I was lucky enough to have a last clutch in the viv we found a few days later so we still have a piece of one of them here. Infact I lost another girl recently who was paired recently for the first time too, and I’ll never have any babs from her now… I no longer have mum either and I was like why… I held her back and grew her up and she was amazing and the sweetest… And just like that… gone. No idea why either… I’ve got to check that enclosure again too…

It makes you wonder why you do it…
But think of the others, I know it’s hard now but it will get better, maybe with the cresties you do rehome that goes towards another?

I’m a firm believer that everything happens for a reason, no matter how hard it is… :black_heart:


I’m not a big believer in “everything happens for a reason” myself, but I’m trying to not just break down about it and I do appreciate the sentiment. I know that in keeping living animals it’s inevitable that sometimes we end up losing them - just is really hard to deal with, especially when for such a small breeder, that kind of loss puts me back years in terms of breeding projects and finances.

I do find it really suspicious that she passed a week after dropping her tail. I know that cresties drop tails all the time and it’s not an issue, but this is the first one I’ve ever had drop a tail (aside from one of my hatchlings who left his in the egg) and it just seems like too much of a coincidence that she suddenly passed after the tail drop. I don’t know if that sent her body into a shock spiral, or if it was too much stress and she just couldn’t recover, or if it is really just completely unrelated. Had anyone else ever had a crestie pass soon(ish) after dropping a tail? I know most of the time they recover fine, I just can’t help wondering if that triggered something.


Likely it was something internal. If you want answers a necropsy will be needed. They will be able to see if there was any internal issues going on. I have had a few sudden deaths over the decades and those necropsies have found some strange things internal. The tail drop was likely a coincidence. This is something that unfortunately happens from time to time so don’t beat yourself up too much.


Thank you for explaining your experience. I do normally keep extra funds in case medical care or necropsies come up but I just spent that money barely two months ago on another completely unrelated necropsy, so I just don’t have the money right now (my local vet charges $3-400 for them). But I guess I can try to feel secure knowing that I really didn’t notice anything off that would make me suspect she was sick with anything that would put the rest of my animals at risk.


I’m so sorry this has happened to you. My sweet little PetSmart crested dropped his tail about 6 months after I got him and he is around 2 years old now. IMHO, if PetSmart animals can survive life at the store before getting purchased, they are pretty tough animals to begin with. Lol!

That being said, it’s reasonable to assume that your little girl would have a much better chance of survival living in your care. As @ghoulishcresties said and I will reiterate here “everything happens for a reason”. It really does. I know your heart is broken now but it will heal in time, as time heals all. Trust me, I know firsthand. So if you will keep your heart open and keep looking up, you will understand that reason and it will either guide you to continue down this path or set you on another path.

Please understand that I say this to you with heartfelt sympathy and sincerity so please don’t take it the wrong way. :heart::pray:


I know exactly how you feel. My very first boa died just three months after her arrival with me. I couldn’t afford an autopsy, but she received some pretty serious trauma during shipping due to courier misconduct and all of the tests we did on her prior to death to rule out other possibilities were negative. She stopped eating, lost so much weight, she was so weak… I had to hand feed her and carry her over to her water. And then one day she just gave me this look, I will never forget it. I can’t describe it, but i KNEW in that moment that she had given up. Nothing a snake has ever done to communicate with me before or since has ever been so clear. It’s was like she was telling me “I’m tired, mom…”
I broke down into tears.
She died days later.

And then months later. My rat snake died. I still don’t really know why. He died at 2 years old.

It’s so hard. So so hard. Your Lilly White was so beautiful. And she obviously had a happy life with you, however short. I’m sure your ball python could say the same. In the end, i think that’s what matters. You did a good job. You’re doing a great job. It’s okay to feel like you’re not good enough as a keeper. I know i did, you’re totally not alone in wanting to quit right now. just know, while this is a hard moment in your life, it is temporary. Refrain from making any big decisions regarding your collection until this passes. You will get better, and your current animals will help you get there.

Best of luck!


All these stories are so sad and I’m really sorry this happened.

Sometimes this just happens, it’s whether you will be happy to carry on with our without knowing.

I love all my geckos and have had one gecko really struggle with being paired to another gecko. I spent so much time on her to get her comfy again and she won’t ever be bred. She will remain my pet through to the end. It’s horrible to see them this way. But to have a Gecko just drop dead, I’d be devastated.


Thank y’all. It is really tough. I think I’m struggling a lot epecially because I’ve been breeding for three years and keeping for quite a bit longer than that and these are the only two unexplained deaths I’ve had, and they both happened just a couple of months apart. Ultimately I can’t afford a necropsy this time, so I am just going to set her enclosure outside for a while and do a bunch of deep cleaning, and take solace in the fact that I really do keep a close eye on my animals and I didn’t notice anything with her body condition, behavior, or anything else that would have indicated she was sick or I could have prevented it. I’m really just devastated to lose an animal, both because all of mine are loved pets and companion animals but also because a loss like this sets me back years in terms of breeding projects. I’m sure I will grieve and move past it, just suck sometimes to care for and love animals that can at times be so fragile. I was curious if sometimes the stress of losing a tail might send a gecko into a spiral, but it doesn’t seem anyone has heard anything about that.


We all feel for you as we have all lost beloved pets as well. And it’s natural to second guess yourself……


Unfortunately I don’t think so.

I had a Crestie loose her tail couple weeks ago and she’s doing fine, had with a few others too and even a couple babs x


Yeah, I think the loss of tail is unrelated, however could of been a sign that the Gecko wasn’t feeling itself


I’m so sorry for your loss. It’s awful when it happens, and knowing that it can isn’t really much comfort when it does. Hugs and prayers.


The only reason I think there may be something to the tail loss is because I also hatched a baby this year that left its tail in the egg - just came out without it - and that gecko also later ended up passing away, the only one out of my 16 babies this year to not thrive. Which I guess could have also been an indication that that gecko had other issues, rather than the tail drop causing death. But it makes sense to me that maybe occasionally an animal just wouldn’t recover well from a tail drop, even though the vast majority do.


Did the but area get infected? If so then yes it is possible for them to not recover. But I’ve never heard of a Gecko dying because of a healthy tail drop.

Sadly without taking your gecko to the vet, there is no answer