Leopard geckos have a large number of health related problems which you may not know about. Some of these problems may even be oral, which can sometimes be very hard to spot if you’re not looking closely. On further inspection you may actually see leopard gecko mouth rot.

Did you know that leopard geckos are polyphyodont?

No? You may not even be sure what this means, and what’s why we’re about to tell you. Polyphyodont means that leopard geckos continuously replace their teeth. In their tiny little mouths leopard geckos can have up to 100 teeth, and these are replaced every 4 months or so, roughly.

Because if this, leopard gecko mouth rot is quite common.

Leopard gecko mouth rot, also known as Infectious Stomatitis is a disease which affects a leopard geckos gums, and their mouths become infected. Common causes of mouth rot is due so small cuts inside the mouth which become infected or food which is stuck in-between their teeth which is now decaying.

How Do You Spot Leopard Gecko Mouth Rot?

Although your leopard gecko may not show it, mouth rot is actually quite painful. Humans have some oral problems which cause them a lot of pain, and this is no different for leopard gecko mouth rot. You can start by looking around the outside of your geckos mouth for any sign of cuts, bruising or swelling, or stuck food. These same four signs may well be internal (inside the mouth), so can sometimes be harder to spot. 

Either way, be sure to take a close look inside and out for a full check up. 

Stubborn leopard geckos may not always be so willing to open their mouths, specially if they are in pain. However if you gently stroke along their mouths, usually they will soon open up out of irritation, so you may get the chance for a quick look inside.

We would recommend making this a common routine when handling your leopard gecko. Mouth rot can spur at any moment and needs constant checks so that you can deal with it quickly when it appears.

Making this common routine will hopefully become natural for your leopard gecko too, so in future it won’t be so stubborn to open its mouth for you.

Symptoms of Leopard Gecko Mouth Rot

There are many symptoms of leopard gecko mouth rot which you can look out for, which should be fairly easy to recognise. Knowing what to look for then identifying leopard gecko mouth rot could save you little geckos life. The list below shows the 6 main symptoms you should be looking for;

  • Loss of appetite
  • Redness around mouth
  • Thick pus or dead skin tissue around the mouth 
  • Discharge from nose and mouth 
  • Swelling 
  • Stuck food 

Lets take a look into the symptoms of leopard gecko mouth rot a little closer.

Loss of Appetite

When a leopard gecko is suffering from mouth rot, they will usually lose their appetite. Their mouth becomes very sore, so the process of eating may be too painful for your little gecko. Most commonly if a leopard gecko isn’t completely hungry, they will not eat as regularly to save themselves the pain.

Redness/Swelling Around The Mouth

When a leopard gecko has mouth rot, it’s also very common to see redness or swelling around the mouth area. Mouth rot becomes extremely painful and the skin around the mouth dries up and sometimes cracks. This can lead to further infection making the area around the mouth red.

Thick Pus or Dead Skin Tissue

Like previously stated in the last paragraph, the skin around the mouth of your leopard gecko will become very dry. This is most likely to be dead skin tissue if your leopard gecko has mouth rot. However, sometimes this can be confused with it shedding its skin.

Discharge From Nose or Mouth

In some cases you may even see discharge from the nose or mouth area. This sign may be the cause of your leopard gecko not being able to close the mouth properly, and may give the illusion they are drooling.

Stuck Food

Leopard geckos with mouth rot will usually favour one side of their mouth. (The side which hurts the least) When this happens it’s not uncommon to see food residue stuck in the corner of your leopard gecko mouth, as the full movement of their mouth is reduced.

Are There Any Other Non Visible Signs of Leopard Gecko Mouth Rot?

There are no non visible signs of leopard gecko mouth rot which are known, however it is very common for leopard geckos to lose interest in their food and drink. This is due to the main it causes to them for attempting a meal. 

Along with loss of appetite, leopard geckos also become very lethargic due to the lack of nutrients they are consuming. Commonly leopard geckos are very active reptiles so this should be quite easy to spot. For owners, if you are spending enough time with your leopard geckos then you should be able to see any of these changes pretty early on, which will give your pet the best chance of a speedy recovery.

What To Do If You Suspect Leopard Gecko Mouth Rot?

It’s very important that you do not leave it to chance, or leave it to worsen before taking your gecko to a veterinarian. The earlier you catch any disease, the better chance of a speedy recovery your pet will have. Specialist exotic veterinarians are best recommended, however if this isn’t possible then your standard veterinarian will be fine. At best they will know exactly where to find the information needed or have a specialist reptile veterinarian they can call for further advise.

You should never try to treat this yourself. Any home treatments may actually cause further damage and could possibly contain chemicals which could have an even worse affect or even fatal consequences on your gecko.

Your veterinarian will most likely prescribe your gecko some antibiotics or medication to help clear up the infection and fight off the disease. Listen to them carefully and read the instructions before trying to give them to your gecko.

Other Causes of Leopard Gecko Mouth Rot?

Temperature and Humidity levels

Incorrect habitat temperatures and humidity levels within a leopard geckos enclosure can be the cause of an ill functioning immune system and leopard gecko mouth rot. It is important that you have all the tools you need to be able to determine the correct levels needed to keep your gecko safe. Be sure to have a dependable (and fully working) thermostat and hydrometer to keep track of this. 

Our recommendation for a suitable Thermometer and Digital Hydrometer.

Digging

Digging in substrate can also lead to leopard gecko mouth rot. It can sometimes be natural for leopard geckos to dig every once in a while. They are very curious reptiles so this isn’t uncommon. However, if you can an unsuitable substrate inside the enclosure then this can sometimes cause some damage.

Geckos do sometimes graze or cut their mouths when digging. And although this may not actually cause them any real harm, an open cut or wound can become infected very easily. These small cuts can easily become infected and turn into mouth rot, which many gecko owners may not necessarily know.

Chewing on furniture

Finally, chewing on any enclosure furniture is another main cause of leopard gecko mouth rot. As we know, the furniture we put into our leopard geckos enclosures are purposely made for that reason. Many of them may not be completely natural materials, like Exo-Terra branches and plants. They are made from plastics, which are made specifically to be durable enough to not break when being chewed or pulled by your pet reptiles.

For this reason they are pretty tough and your gecko will most likely be doing itself more harm then good. If this is the case, keep an eye on your gecko to make sure they aren’t continuously trying to chew on their furniture. If so, then it may be wise to take it out and replace it with something that looks less edible.

What Can You Do To Prevent Leopard Gecko Mouth Rot?

Checking for leopard gecko mouth rot frequently is probably the best form of defence. Unfortunately they can not check these things themselves so they rely on a caring owner to do it for them. 

Making sure they are housed in an appropriate enclosure will ensure their safety further. Make sure to look for any sharp or pointy bits within the enclosure. Any rocks with sharp edges to it, or climbing wood which has broken off and become pointed. These potentially dangerous aspect to an enclosure can easily penetrate a leopard geckos skin, specially around the mouth where there is less protection anyway.

Giving your gecko a health balanced diet will increase its chance of fighting off any potential disease before it has the chance to develop into something more serious. Make sure to pack its diet full of vitamins and proteins which will help in the repair of abrasions in the skin. 

Treatment of Leopard Gecko Mouth Rot

The first thing you should do is make your veterinarian aware that your leopard gecko may have mouth rot. They will most likely tell you to bring your gecko down for further examination, and give you all the treatments that you need.

However, there are a few home remedies which you can do yourself in the mean time.

At home, the first thing you should do is sterilise the enclosure. Give the enclosure a deep clean by either removing or replacing all its content. You want to remove as much bacteria as possible from the enclosure, to prevent the infection from worsening.

Secondly you can create a home solution to sterilise the infected area. You can do this by creating your own saline mixture, which can be done by simply dissolving salt into warm water. It’s best to dilute salt into boiling water, and let it cool down. If you can use bottled mineral water, that is even better.

Using a ratio of 1 teaspoon of salt to a quarter cup of warm water should be sufficient. Obviously if yo want to do less, just half the amounts.

Using a cotton-bud you can apply the solution onto the mouth of your leopard gecko, making sure you only dab the infected area and not rub the area. Doing this will cleanse the infected until the veterinarians treatment can start.

Conclusion 

It’s fair to say that leopard gecko mouth rot is never a good sign. However it is quite easily curable with a veterinarians advise and provided antibiotics. Checking on your leopard geckos health regularly is the best form of defence in any infection, illness or disease. Keep their enclosure as clean as possible to reduce any chance of infections also.

I’m sure if they could, they would happily climb up onto our shoulders and whisper in our ears their problems. But unfortunately they can’t. Catching these early signs can be the difference between life and death for reptiles. 

Remember to look for a change in behaviour as well, as this will most likely be the first difference you see in your pet gecko. Either way if you are concerned at all about the health and well being of your leopard gecko, get down to your veterinarian as soon as possible.

After searching and testing many different products, we have come up with our list of “Must Have” items for recommendations for both price, and durability for the best enclosure accessories.

Bathing Water Bowl – Click Here

Heat Mat – Click Here

Heat Lamp and Guard – Click Here

Reliable Thermometer – Click Here

Vivarium/Enclosure – Click Here

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