Crestie's Eat Dirt?

SgtSparkles

Arachnosquire
Joined
Oct 10, 2011
Messages
147
My little crested gecko just died from eating a stomach full of dirt. He was a fairly recent acquisition but he was doing really well. His diet consisted of organic baby food with calcium added daily and vitamins added every other day. He was housed in an arboreal enclosure with coco fiber substrate at between 75-85% humidity and around 80 degrees. My LPS has had 3 of their recent batch of 4 crested geckos do this and they said that in the four years since they've been carrying them they've never seen this so they asked if i could try and find out for them.
 

pitbulllady

Arachnoking
Old Timer
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May 1, 2004
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2,290
Where did he get the dirt from? I've never known any Crestie breeders to keep any soil inside their enclosures. More than likely, he accidentally ingested the soil particles either while tongue-flicking or eating.

pitbulllady
 

SgtSparkles

Arachnosquire
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Oct 10, 2011
Messages
147
Where did he get the dirt from? I've never known any Crestie breeders to keep any soil inside their enclosures. More than likely, he accidentally ingested the soil particles either while tongue-flicking or eating.

pitbulllady
it wasn't a little bit of substrate. it was a stomach and mouth full. Coco fiber was the substrate in the enclosure that he ate, and he definitely ate and swallowed it
 

Aviara

Arachnoknight
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Jun 26, 2012
Messages
262
This is a great example of why crested geckos should never be kept on any loose substrate. Paper towels are the safest, and are a cheap way to avoid impaction altogether. An additional note, Repashy Crested Gecko Diet, a properly formulated meal replacement powder, is the best diet for a crested gecko. Even with the added calcium and vitamins, any brand of baby food if woefully inadequate for the geckos.
 

pitbulllady

Arachnoking
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it wasn't a little bit of substrate. it was a stomach and mouth full. Coco fiber was the substrate in the enclosure that he ate, and he definitely ate and swallowed it
Coco fiber isn't "dirt", because it's not soil, but as Aviara pointed out, it's not good to put Cresties on any sort of loose substrate. I know several Crestie breeders, and none keep their lizards on any sort of loose substrate. They all use either paper towel or special "reptile mats" that are washable. None feed baby food, either, and it's likely that the animal was eating the substrate in order to compensate for something it wasn't getting in its diet.

pitbulllady
 

Arianji

Arachnosquire
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Jan 26, 2012
Messages
74
I am sorry for your loss, pitbulllady and aviara are both right in improved diet will probably prevent the lizard from trying to supplement his diet with the cocofiber. As for the papertowels they are a very effective substrate, but they are ugly, if you are concerned about that try slate next time. If you go to landscaping places they will most likely give you the "chips" (which are still really big) that fell off their slate for free. Then you can take it home, boil it, and use it in creating a very attractive, more safe, enclosure for your next crestie.
Yet again though I am sorry for your loss, you didn't know better and we all make mistakes, but do not let it discourage you from the hobby. We have all done it at some time or another, and you can't linger on it, just learn from it, and move on as a more experienced person.
 

Alejandro45

Arachnosquire
Old Timer
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May 22, 2009
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114
I am so confused why is it that we keep these reptiles and do not provide them with materials they know how to use?

There is nothing wrong with using soil within their cage, they know what it is and they know what its for. Sheets of paper and mats are not normal and cocofiber as a substrate is a poor substitute.

My bet is the lizard was dehydrated over a period of time perhaps even before you got it and then impactions are even more likely.

It is very natural for omniverous reptiles to literally eat soil, do a little diging and you will find monkey tail skinks, torts, iggs, cyclura and agamids all have been documented eating soil and passing it as if it were food, why do they eat it? as pitbulllady said compensating for something missing in its diet is the best guess.
 

jayefbe

Arachnoprince
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Sep 20, 2009
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1,355
There is nothing wrong with using soil within their cage, they know what it is and they know what its for. Sheets of paper and mats are not normal and cocofiber as a substrate is a poor substitute.
The whole "It's better because it's natural" is a simple but misguided argument. The majority of wild animals die. They die at a rate far higher than any captive animals. So why should it be necessary to completely replicate their natural environment. This is a species that has been bred for multiple generations in captivity. "unnatural" products are used because they are simple, and most importantly, because they work.

I don't have much time so I'll let Stan finish it off. http://people.ucalgary.ca/~schultz/NaturalAndOrganic.html
 

Aviara

Arachnoknight
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Jun 26, 2012
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Actually, there have been a lot of fatalities in crested geckos, especially juveniles when using coco fibers, peat, soil mixes, etc. etc. Generally, what happens is the crested gecko is hunting insects, and gets a mouthful of substrate either from a missed strike or along with the insect. Other lizards do fine with more natural substrates, but it is dangerous to put Rhacodactylus ciliatus in a cage with loose substrate. Impaction is too much of a risk, and too often fatal.
My geckos have been living on paper towels their whole lives, and have not suffered from it. They spend a good deal of their time hanging out and napping on the bottom of the cage, and have never suffered abrasive injuries or appeared stressed. Why risk their health, when there is no harm in using paper towels? They also make maintenance much easier, and you can be more certain that all wastes are removed. Additionally, crested geckos require elevated humidity, and a loose "soil-like" substrate is more likely to mold or to attract pest species than paper towels. The same can be said of slate, although I have not personally used it. I keep all of my snakes on paper towels as well due to the simplicity and ease of cleaning, except for my kenyan sand boa who prefers a substrate that she can burrow in. (She is kept on snake-safe aspen bedding).
 

Crysta

Arachnoprince
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Feb 18, 2005
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In the wild, do crested geckos live continuously in the trees or near ground level?
 

Caitlin1692

Arachnopeon
Joined
Jun 27, 2017
Messages
1
My baby created gecko just did this two nights in a row. We found her choking when we got up in the morning before work and dug most of her substrate out but she swallowed most of it im sure. Thinking she seemed fine the rest of the day and night we thought all was good. The next morning woke up and found her with her mouth stuck open and filled with substrate again. We took all the substrate out and replaced it with wet paper towel and again dug most out of her mouth. We feed her the proper gecko powder food with 1 part powder 2 parts food and change it every two days or when it gets harder. We spray her cage and her down 2x a day and keep good humidity and temp in her cage. We bought her from a reptile store and her cage and substrate, everything. I read it could be dry rot mouth but I don't know how this is possible since we spray good amount 2x daily. She eats her food, licks water off leaves and seems healthy and active. Anyone help?! It's like $200 to take her in to the vet and I need others advice or to know if this has happened to anyone else with a baby gecko? Thanks!
 

Galapoheros

ArachnoGod
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Jul 4, 2005
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8,985
I might use something like large pieces of slate instead of loose fine material. You might even be able to have some cut to size.
 

CWilson1351

Arachnobaron
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Jan 23, 2017
Messages
454
While it's not a Crested, it is somewhat similar. I have a young Gargoyle gecko and I first used Coco fiber for substrate. After the first cricket was fed I switched to paper towels. Poor baby caught the cricket, but also got some substrate with it. I had to watch very close for the next two weeks just to be sure all was well. Since the paper towels have been put in, no worries. They help keep humidity up just as well and no accidental ingestion.
 
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