Crested Geckos, Diet and Food, Geckos

2 Reasons Why Is My Crested Gecko Eating Dirt 2022

Updated On

by The Pet Engineers


Having a crested gecko as a pet comes with its own intriguing shenanigans. Sometimes your crested gecko may seem to not move from a spot, some other times it may not eat for a whole week.

All these idiosyncrasies of a crested gecko are part of what makes it such a delightful and exciting pet to have.

One such curious behavior of crested geckos is when you observe your crested gecko randomly eat dirt out of nowhere.

Why does your crested gecko eat dirt? Is it something to be concerned about? Read along as we navigate these questions and more in this article.

Why Is Your Crested Gecko Eating Dirt?

It surely is not a part of normal crested gecko behavior to eat dirt out of sheer will.

Moreover, eating dirt or loose substrate can actually be fatal to crested geckos – so they don’t do it willingly unless there is some other problem at the root.

There are 2 main reasons why your crested gecko may seemingly be eating dirt or loose substrate from the tank:

Reason 1 – Accidental ingestion because the substrate is very loose.

What have you been using as substrate matter for your crested gecko’s tank? Is it something really loose like coconut shavings or sand?

If so, then you should immediately change the substrate and switch to something more reliable and safer like reptile mats or paper towels.

The reason behind being so mindful of the substrate you use in the tank of your crested gecko is that if you use anything which is very loose, your crested gecko may accidentally ingest it.

This could make your crested gecko more prone to impaction, which, if not treated swiftly, can often be fatal.

This kind of accidental ingestion can happen when the crested gecko “hunts” the live food that you provide, misses the insect by accident, and so gets a mouthful of the substrate instead.

Accidental ingestion of dirt is a possibility
Accidental ingestion of dirt is a possibility

Reason 2 – Your crested gecko is lacking some nutrients.

Another reason why your crested gecko will eat the substrate is that the diet that is being provided is not fulfilling the nutrient needs of the crested gecko.

In this case, your crested gecko will intentionally take a mouthful of the substrate or dirt and ingest it.

So, if you observe your crested gecko willingly eat dirt or substrate, it is an indication that you need to change its diet immediately.

In cases of your crested gecko eating dirt or substrate, finding a swift solution is significant because substrate ingestion can cause impaction and even lead to death.

What To Do If Your Crested Gecko Eats Dirt?

First and foremost, if you see your crested gecko ingest a mouthful of dirt or substrate in front of you, then you should immediately remove as much of the dirt or substrate from your crested gecko’s mouth as you can.

Do not let your crested gecko eat dirt or substrate as it can lead to fatalities.

If your crested gecko has completely swallowed some amount of substrate or dirt, then you must keep a vigilant eye out for any signs and symptoms of impaction.

A few signs and symptoms to look out for in the next few days are:

  • Unusual reduction in appetite
  • Unable to, or seemingly hasn’t pooped for over a week
  • Swelling and tightness around the abdomen and belly
  • Vent prolapses
  • Excess or unusual lethargy

If over the next couple of days, you observe any of these signs and symptoms, you should consult your vet.

Impaction is a serious problem in crested geckos and can lead to severe health problems and even death if it is not cured promptly and swiftly.

Can Crested Geckos Choke On Dirt?

Yes, crested geckos can choke on dirt. They go through a process called regurgitation, wherein, when they choke over something such as dirt or substrate, they try to slowly take it out of their body through their mouth.

Your crested gecko can choke on dirt
Your crested gecko can choke on dirt

This process is, however, very slow and painful, as it may take anywhere between 3 days and a whole week for your crested gecko to completely regurgitate whatever is stuck in their digestive tracts.

If you do observe your crested gecko seemingly choke on dirt, try to remove as much dirt as you can, manually, from your crested gecko’s mouth.

However, be careful while doing this as you wouldn’t want your hand or tweezer to cause them more discomfort.

How Do You Get Dirt Out Of A Crested Gecko’s Mouth?

If your crested gecko has ingested a mouthful of dirt or substrate, then you should try removing as much as you gently can.

  1. Handle your crested gecko gently.Since it is already seemingly choking on the dirt or substrate, your crested gecko is already scared, uncomfortable, and stressed. So, it is very important that you handle your crested gecko gently to avoid any sudden leap from your hand to any surface in the room.
  2. Turn your crested gecko sideways.
    Once you have a firm and gentle grip on your crested gecko, you need to simply turn it sideways.
  3. Rinse the mouth of your crested gecko.
    Use lukewarm running water to rinse the mouth of your crested gecko. Remove as much substrate or dirt as you can.
  4. Gently flush the mouth with running water.Try to gently flush out any remaining dirt or substrate from your crested gecko’s mouth.
  5. Place it back in the enclosure and observe for a couple of days.
    Even after you have removed and flushed out most of the substrate or dirt that your crested gecko must have ingested, it is still pertinent that you keep a vigilant eye on the lookout for any signs and symptoms of impaction or other health problems.

How To Prevent Your Crested Gecko From Eating Dirt

In order to prevent your crested gecko from eating substrate or dirt, or being at risk of impaction, consider the following:

Do thorough research before opting for a substrate.

When building the enclosure for your crested gecko, do your research well.

You can either opt for going without any substrate and use alternatives like reptile mats and paper towels, or you should look for a substrate that is relatively easier for your crested gecko to digest.

So, if the crested gecko does ingest some amount accidentally, it won’t be at a big risk of impaction.

Be a keen observer and monitor your crested gecko’s health regularly.

Always monitor the health of your crested gecko regularly. Be a keen observer. Look out for early signs of your crested gecko ingesting substrate or being impacted.

Be very mindful of the balance of nutrients in your crested gecko’s diet.

Ensure that the diet that you provide to your crested gecko meets all the nutrient requirements of your crested gecko.

A deficiency in any nutrient or vitamin is mostly the reason behind a crested gecko willingly ingesting mouthfuls of substrate or dirt.

Feed your crestie with nutrition dense foods
Feed your crestie with nutrition dense foods


It is not a part of normal crested gecko behavior for it to eat substrate or dirt willingly.

While small amounts of accidental ingestion of the substrate while eating its food won’t do much harm to your crested gecko.

You should ensure that your crested gecko is not ingesting large amounts of substrate or dirt frequently.

Crested geckos can end up suffering from impaction, which, when not treated swiftly, can become fatal and even lead to the death of your crested gecko.

The problems that arise from your crested gecko-eating dirt or substrate are completely avoidable.

A little mindfulness from your side will go a long way toward ensuring the health and safety of your crested gecko.

The Pet Engineers

A team of pet lovers. We have owned various pets over their years. From dogs to reptiles, etc. Our love of pets, strive to us to create up-to-date and accurate helpful guides on pets.

Follow Us