In memory of Willow the Leopard Gecko.
Keep reading for Willow's story and how you can help.
Willow was rehomed to Crimson Exotics in early March of 2022. Willow’s previous owner was having trouble with her eating habits and her neurological issues due to Enigma Syndrome.
When I received Willow, the first thing I noticed was she was a bit underweight, which I had presumed was due to her unusual eating habits. I got her set up in quarantine and started noticing many odd behaviors. Willow struggled to catch prey and was extremely off-balance. She only wanted to eat waxworms, which are definitely not a staple food. I would offer a variety of feeder insects, and she only wanted waxworms and an occasional tiny mealworm. She also did not like being handled, as it clearly stressed her out. She would even try to roll over (death-roll). I kept handling her to a minimum.
Unexpectedly, things startled seeming off with Willow. She seemed really tired, lethargic, and was on a food strike. I called my trusted exotic veterinarian and scheduled an appointment. In the meantime, I gave her small doses of Repta-Boost to ensure she was receiving some nutrients and staying hydrated.
Unfortunately, the Vet diagnosed Willow with Gout and kidney failure. The vet also stated how difficult a basic examination was for Willow due to her severe neurological issues associated with her Enigma Syndrome. She was in clear pain and very uncomfortable. Euthanizing her was highly recommended by the vet, as treatments would not be beneficial to her.
Willow was loved by everyone in her life and is truly missed.
—Bella, Willow's foster parent
About Enigma Syndrome
Enigma Syndrome is a neurological disorder that affects leopard geckos' motor skills, balance, and cognition. Enigma syndrome is directly linked to the enigma morph in leopard geckos, meaning all enigma-morph leopard geckos possess the syndrome to some degree. According to Gecko Time, "[Enigma Syndrome] affects brain cells responsible for coordinated movement. Because one copy of the gene is nonfunctional, it produces proteins that are misfolded, such that when they interact with normal proteins they clump up and lead to a toxic disruption of structural organization."
It is likely that Willow's illness was made worse by her neurological disorder. We believe that other leopard geckos shouldn't have to suffer like Willow did when an easy solution exists: stop breeding enigma leopard geckos. There are hundreds of leopard gecko morphs available, and most of them are healthy. The only reason enigma leopard geckos are still bred is to make breeders money. We believe this is unethical and must stop.
What can you do?
We will all need to work together to stop the breeding of enigma leopard geckos. Most people who purchase an enigma leopard gecko are unaware of Enigma Syndrome, which is why we are taking an educational approach to #EndEnigmaSyndrome.
Share the story of your enigma leopard gecko.
Please make a post on social media to share the story of your enigma leopard gecko. How has their life been impacted by Enigma Syndrome? What do you wish other people would know before purchasing an enigma leopard gecko? Be sure to tag Crimson Exotics so that we can share your post. (We are @crimsonexotics on Instagram.)
Sign our pledge.
Please sign our pledge to never purchase a leopard gecko from a breeder who sells enigma leopard geckos. Money is the only reason people still breed enigma leopard geckos, so we believe it's the only way they will stop.