Crested Gecko Shaking Head? Causes And Treatments
Crested geckos have many behaviors that are totally normal. However, a behavior such as Crested gecko shaking head can be a symptom of an illness such as stress, metabolic bone disease, impaction. However, in most cases it’s nothing to worry about.
If you are looking to establish the cause for Crested gecko shaking head and find a suitable treatment, the following topics will help you do just that:
- Crested gecko shaking head causes
- Related topics Q&A
Crested Gecko Shaking Head – Possible Causes
If you see your Crested gecko shaking head, it can either be a symptom of an illness or your gecko trying to tell you something.
The possible causes for Crested gecko shaking head include:
- Metabolic Bone disease
- Improper handling
- Female breeding period behavior
- Your gecko is telling you to back off
Crested geckos are fragile animals that get stressed very easily. Crested gecko shaking head can be a sign that your gecko is stressed. Other signs of a stressed Crested gecko include:
- Lack of appetite
- Not moving
- Breathing heavily
If you see your Crested gecko shaking head and displaying any other stress signs, we recommend to not do anything further and give them some space.
You can do this by following these steps:
- Don’t handle them for few days
- Put down food during the day whilst they are asleep
- If they are refusing to eat, hand feed them by placing some CGD powder on your finger and putting it closer to their face
To learn more about what causes stress in Crested geckos and what are the solutions, click here Crested Gecko Stress Signs: How To Prevent And Treat Stress
Metabolic Bone Disease
Metabolic bone disease or MBD is a disorder caused by the lack or imbalance of calcium in your Crested gecko’s body. This disease is the result not only from calcium deficiency in your gecko’s diet but also from imbalance of other vitamins & minerals such as vitamin D3 and phosphorus.
If your gecko is not getting the calcium they need, the body starts to take it from their bone mass storage.
One of the early symptoms for Metabolic Bone disease to look out for is Crested gecko shaking head. Other symptoms include:
- Swollen limbs
- Swollen jaw
- Weak jaw that hangs open
- Underbite or overbite
- Humped back and irregular spine
- Kinked tail with multiple zig-zags, especially combined with humped back
- Trembling or twitching
- Lack of appetite
A combination of these symptoms are usually a good indicator of Metabolic Bone disease. However, a single symptoms such as Crested gecko shaking head can be a sign of the very early stages of the disease.
Metabolic Bone disease in Crested geckos is treatable. Your vet will prescribe one of the following or combination of:
- Liquid calcium such as Zoo Med’s Repti Calcium with D3 which can be administered at home
- Change in diet to ensure that your gecko is getting the calcium they need. You can switch to Pangea Breeders Formula just 1 feeding per week. This formula is high in calcium
- A low impact UVB light such as Exo Terra compact fluorescent bulbs = 14 may also be recommended for at-home care
- If you feed your Crested gecko insects, make sure you dust them in Calcium and D3 powder before feeding
Another cause for Crested gecko shaking head is impaction. If your Crested gecko have ingested something that’s stuck in their throat such as food or insect that’s too big, they will shake their head to try and pass it.
Crested gecko often struggle to swallow their food, especially if it’s the wrong size or texture.
Crested gecko shaking head caused by impaction will look like your gecko’s head swaying from side to side. This movement helps your gecko pass the food from the throat to the stomach.
If the food is not only stuck in their throat but it gets stuck inside of their stomach and they can’t pass it as stool, other symptoms will include:
- Rounded belly
- Weight loss
- Loss of appetite
- Absence of stool
- Straining when pooping
- Leg trembling
- Laboured breathing
If your Crested gecko has something stuck in their throat you can help them pass it by doing the following:
- Increase water-to-powder ratio in prepared diet
- Massage belly gently
- Your vet can prescribe a reptile-safe “laxative”
- Olive oil as a natural laxative. Use tiny amounts of olive oil and feed to your Crested gecko through the use of a small pipette
- Sauna. One of the quickest ways to help you gecko pass the masses is by soaking your them in a small plastic box/crate/bowl with air holes. You need to put a wet, lukewarm paper tower on the bottom
- Misting your gecko’s tank regularly will keep them hydrated. Mist twice per day – light one in the morning and stronger in the evening. Use a hygrometer to track the humidity levels
- Hydration. Provide your gecko with plenty of fresh water
Read more about how to help a Crested gecko that’s impacted here Crested Gecko Impaction – Causes, Symptoms And Treatment
One of the more rare symptoms of dehydration is Crested gecko shaking head or trembling.
If your Crested gecko is dehydrated, they might be shaking their body or head as a symptoms of the illness.
Other symptoms of dehydration in Crested geckos include:
- Loss of elasticity in skin
- Wrinkled skin
- Dry and flaky skin
- Hips and ribs sticking out
- Sunken eyes
- Sticky tongue
To help a dehydrated Crested gecko, follow these steps:
- Ensure there is fresh water bowl
- Highly diluted electrolyte solutions such as sports drinks, Pedialyte or Ricelyte can help restore fluids. This should only be used if the gecko is refusing to drink plain water. As these drinks contain sugars, your gecko might be more willing to drink
- Feed your gecko pureed food mixed with water such as puree of papaya, figs and bananas
- Use syringe or eye pipette to administer water/puree into your gecko’s mouth if they are refusing to eat/drink. However, don’t force it as that can cause additional stress
- “Sauna”. One of the quickest ways to restore moisture is by soaking your gecko in a small plastic box/crate/bowl with air holes
- Soaks. If you still have a dehydrated gecko after following the steps above, you should soak your gecko in a lukewarm water a few times a day
Incorrect handling of your Crested gecko can result in stress and even injure them. If your gecko shakes their head when you hold them, it might mean that you’re doing it wrong and it’s causing them stress and discomfort.
Crested geckos are very fragile and you can easily hurt them or frighten them during handling.
To avoid Crested gecko shaking head whilst handling, you need to know what is the safe way to handle your gecko.
Follow these steps to ensure your gecko enjoys being handled:
- Ensure that your surroundings are not loud such as many people around, TV, radio, etc
- Don’t make any sudden movements that can cause stress to the gecko
- When holding your Crested gecko, don’t hold it over hard surfaces such as tiles, wooden floors, concrete etc. Even a fall to a carpeted floor from a height can cause damage and stress. You should hold your gecko over a coach or a bed, just in case it wriggles its way out of your hands
- Practicing hand walking technique which allows the gecko to walk around on your hands and arms
Learn more about hand walking technique in this article How To Hold A Crested Gecko: Tips On Handling Crested Gecko
Female Breeding Period
Female Crested gecko shaking head can be a sign that they are going through breeding period.
Some owners report that during the female’s breeding period you can observe the following symptoms:
- Crested gecko shaking head
- Chirping noises or squawking
- Shaking tail like vibrations
- Eating less
During the female breeding period, Crested geckos should be left alone to avoid any additional stress. This includes less or no handling.
Your Gecko Is Telling You To Back Off
Sometimes Crested geckos don’t feel like interacting and some geckos are more sociable than others. If your gecko is not feeling like being picked up or they felt frightened out of nowhere (this happens often with Cresties), you might observe your Crested gecko shaking head.
This is their way of telling you that they are not in the mood and should be left alone.
It’s important to be able to recognize the signs when your gecko is telling you to back off. The same as humans, your gecko won’t always be in the mood to interact. Therefore, we want to respect their space and to keep them happy.
Signs to look out for include:
- Crested gecko shaking head
- Noises such as hissing
- Arching back to make itself look bigger
- Tail slithering and moving from side to side. This also means that your gecko might drop their tail
- Gaping – opening their mouth wide
- Jumping at the glass
If you notice any of the signs mentioned above, you should leave your Crested gecko alone and give it space.
Next time you approach them, don’t make any sudden movements and be very careful when you hold them.
Taking preventive steps is key to ensuring that symptoms such as Crested gecko shaking head are not the result of poor husbandry.
It’s important to know how to prevent any future health problems by providing your gecko with the care they need.
Good Crested gecko care include the following:
- Temperature and humidity levels in the tank. Temperature gradient of 72°F to 75°F. Humidity levels need to be kept at 60% during the day and at 80% during the night
- Misting twice a day – light mist in the morning and a stronger one at night
- Well balanced diet. Recommended is a staple diet such as Repashy or Pangea with occasional treat of dusted insects and healthy fruit purees
- Feed your gecko foods that are no bigger than the distance between their eyes
- Correct habitat setup such as using safe substrate, correct tank size, safe decorations, etc
- Safe and proper handling
- Avoiding any possible stress factors such as loud noises, sudden movements, housing multiple geckos that don’t get along
In this article we looked at all the possible causes for Crested gecko shaking head. In most cases is nothing to worry about and it can be any of the following:
- Your Crested gecko is telling you to back off
- Female Crested gecko behavior during her breeding period
- Your gecko has food stuck in their throat and they are shaking their head to get it to pass. If they can’t get the food to pass, you’ll have to intervene and help them
On the other hand Crested gecko shaking head can also be a symptom of an illness such as:
- Early sign of Metabolic Bone disease
It’s important to know what is a normal and what is not in your Crested gecko’s behavior. If you are worried that your Crested gecko shaking head can be the result of an illnesses, look out for any other symptoms and ensure that you’re providing them with good husbandry.
If this behavior continues and you’re worried, you should take your gecko to the vet for further tests and advice.
Related Topics Q&A
Why Is My Crested Gecko Shaking Their Tail?
Your Crested gecko can be shaking their tail for many reasons. However, if they are slithering their tail in a wavy motion, there is a chance their tail will drop.
This happens when your gecko is feeling stressed, especially during handling. That’s why it’s so important to know how to handle your Crested gecko in a safe way to not cause it any stress.
Even if your Crested gecko drops their tail, it doesn’t affect their health and they can continue life as normal straight away. However, you want to find out what has caused them to become so stressed to drop their tail. Prolonged stress can have a negative impact on your gecko’s health.
What Causes Stress In Crested Geckos?
Crested geckos get stressed very easily. Unfortunately, with Crested geckos, there are many factors that can cause stress.
Crested geckos can get easily stressed for any of the following reasons:
- Not used to being handled or handled incorrectly
- Humidity and temperature levels
- Disrupted sleep and/or incorrect diet
- Incorrect habitat setup
- Position of the enclosure
As long as you’re providing your Crested gecko with good husbandry, your gecko should be happy and calm.