Leopard Geckos

Leopard Gecko Stargazing – What Does This Mean & The Precautions You Should Take

Have you noticed something different about your leopard gecko. Is your leopard gecko stargazing? Have you noticed that your leopard gecko sometimes just stares into space, in its own little world. 

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Well, sometimes leopard geckos do tend to stargaze from time to time, just like us humans do when we’re thinking about something, and staring at the same spot. This is absolutely nothing to worry about if it happens every so often, and seems like a bit of an anomaly. However, if this stargazing actions seems to be happening all the time, then there might be some health issues related to it.

What exactly is Leopard Gecko Stargazing?

The definition of stargazing is “the quality or state of being absentminded”. Put simply, this basically means when your mind is elsewhere other than what it should be focused on. 

You know when you’re at work or in class, and your mind drifts away, you start thinking about your weekend plans. Then suddenly snap out of your daydream and realise you have no idea what has happened in the last 5 minutes around you. That’s absentminded.

This is common from time to time, specially with in reptile species. However, if this seems to be happening more than the occasional time, then it could be something a bit more serious than lack of attention.

If your leopard gecko stargazing persists, then it could well be a health issue called Enigma Syndrome, or ES for short. ES is a neurological disorder which is closely related too, or the equivalent to Autism. Just like autism, enigma syndrome has a spectrum level, so this can vary for every individual from mild to severe.

As you can imagine, the more severe your leopard geckos is on the spectrum, the more care you will have to provide for them. So this should be taken very seriously, and should always be taken into consideration when thinking of buying specific leopard gecko morph, or when breeding.

Stargazing and Enigma Syndrome – Everything You Need To Know

Let’s start off with, What is Enigma Syndrome?

Enigma Syndrome is a neurological disorder within enigma leopard geckos, both morphs and crosses. ES in incurable, but it can be managed by reptile owners. Because this health issue is incurable, you should reframe from breeding such geckos. We say this because commonly leopard gecko owners won’t even realise their gecko is Enigma, so they won’t care for it as well as they should. There are a number of different steps you need to take when caring for a leopard gecko with Enigma Syndrome. There are a lot more factors you need to take into consideration.

How is Enigma Syndrome inherited through leopard geckos?

This is where it gets a little complicated, so get ready for some science. ES is transmitted through leopard geckos cells. So it is passed down through generations if parental leopard geckos are affected with the Enigma gene. 

There are 19 pairs of chromosomes in a leopard geckos cell. Every leopard gecko has two copies of each gene, and these are called alleles. Only one single copy of the Enigma gene can cause symptoms to ES.

Those of which have that gene are either heterozygous or homozygous dominant. So to make it easier to understand, if “E” = Enigma, then “EE” and “Ee” leopard geckos are affected. You can say these leopard geckos have Enigma Syndrome.

Homozygous leopard geckos can be seen as “ee”. This means they are 100% Enigma (E) exempt, and therefore can not pass the Enigma trait on to its offspring.

Most leopard geckos which have the Enigma gene are Heterozygous. This is seen as “Ee”, which means they are affected by the Enigma gene. 

Leopard geckos which are “EE” are completely Enigma and classed as lethal. At this point, most leopard geckos will have miscarriages. If their offspring is lucky enough to survive, then they will also be “EE”. 

How you can care for a leopard gecko with Enigma Syndrome?
  1. You should always house leopard geckos with ES alone. Pairing leopard geckos with ES can cause bullying from the other housemate. This will cause your gecko with ES a lot of stress, which will only make the disorder worse.
  2. Try not to handle a leopard gecko with ES too often. This again will cause a lot of stress which in tail will worsen the disorder.
  3. Set up the enclosure in a quiet room. A room with no TV or pets which roam free. The flashing lights from the Tv and the threat of a predator will case more stress.
  4. Train your leopard gecko to eat from tongs from a young age. Doing this from a young age will help in future is the disorder worsens.
  5. Remove any bright UVB lights from the enclosure. If you d have them, make sure they are on a low brightness. 
  6. Provide a healthy diet every day and make sure to use supplements. Supplements can play a bug part in the management of ES.
  7. The enclosure sound be simply set up. No high branches or rocks in which the gecko can fall from height. 
  8. Include extra hides for your gecko. They will likely need more than one places to hide so offering at least two or three should be sufficient. 
  9. Only take your gecko out of its enclosure if it’s necessary.
  10. Don’t breed any leopard geckos with Enigma. Breeding is very stressful and can sometimes leave to death in both mother and offspring.  

Other reasons which may be misunderstood as stargazing?

Although stargazing is one of the easiest tell tale signs of Enigma Syndrome, other reasons why may not be so concerning as a misconception. There are a few more reasons to why your leopard gecko may be stargazing or staring at you which we’ll take a closer look at.

Just Being Curious

Sometimes, just like you and I, your leopard gecko will just stare at something they’re interested in. It’s quite natural for a leopard gecko to be inquisitive, so if you place something new around or in sight of its enclosure, then they may well just be checking it out. Any new objects could trigger this “stargazing”, specially motionless object, as they won’t see them as a predatory threat. However they will naturally still be curious, so they’ll want to keep a close eye on it.

After a while the stargazing should start to diminish, as they because less threatened by the new objects. If this is the case, try bringing them out of their enclosure to do their own detective work. Let them roam around freely in the secured room. No doubt they will go inspect the objects further to reassure they’re not threatening.

They May Possibly Feel Hungry

Another reason why leopard geckos stargaze is for hungry purposes. It won’t take longer, from a very young age, for a leopard gecko to make the connection between its owner and being fed. They will realise pretty quickly that you are their means of food. So when you enter a room, they may stare at you constantly, believing that you are about to bring over some food for them.

It can even sometimes be an indication that your leopard gecko is hungry, specially if they are close up against the glass, clearly stargazing. A good connection between owner and gecko would lead to noticing these types of characteristics and what they mean.

Purposely Being Still 

Leopard geckos have amazingly acute eyesight. They are placed in such a position of their face, they can see nearly 270 degrees rotation at any one time. For these reason, they can stay completely motionless and still be able to see exactly what is going on around them.

This feature is great when trying to evade predators. It means a leopard gecko can keep their eye on the danger at all times whilst staying completely still. Any movement could highlight their location and would but them in further danger.

On the flip side, this also helps when hunting for food. With its main source of food being small insects, these finds are usually quite quick. Roaches and Crickets are very agile, so will be able to evade capture if they notice their predator before being seen themselves.

Commonly leopard geckos will stay completely still when hunting until its prey walks straight in front of their face. As a leopard geckos strike distance isn’t that big, they need their prey to come as close as possible before they attack.

Conclusion 

There we have it, our thoughts on a leopard gecko stargazing. Stargazing is one of the symptoms for Enigma Syndrome and should be cared for respectively. Follow the steps previously shared, for the appropriate care for Enigma Syndrome.

Remember to decipher whether your leopard gecko is stargazing or not. Sometimes there may be other reasons and factors which may seem like stargazing, when really it’s not. Knowing the difference will help to create a better relationship with your leopard gecko.

If you are unsure to why they may be stargazing, then please visit a veterinarian as soon as possible and they will be able to clear any further queries for you.

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