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Mouth Rot In Bearded Dragons: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment

bearded dragon mouth rot

Mouth Rot is a challenging disease to detect and can severely harm Bearded Dragons. Therefore, most owners are interested in collecting valuable information to prevent it and adequately recognize early symptoms once they occur. The question is how to treat this infection and save your pet’s life.

Mouth Rot is a bacterial infection typically occurring in Bearded Dragons due to stress and poor diet. Common reasons also include a dirty tank, inadequate temperature and humidity, an overcrowded enclosure, and oral injuries. The best treatment includes antibiotics, but home remedies are also helpful.

This article will show you what mouth rot in Bearded Dragons is and how to prevent it. You should know to recognize symptoms and treat a disease once it appears.

What Is Mouth Rot In Bearded Dragons?

Mouth Rot is an infectious and painful stomatitis in various reptiles, including Bearded Dragons. This infection, typical for reptiles in captivity, is caused by gram-negative bacteria, like Aeromonas, in combination with:

  • Mycobacterium
  • Pseudomonas
  • Klebsiella
  • Salmonella

Since it appears in lizards with weakened immunity, it can be complicated by an additional viral infection. Some viruses are more often associated with this disease, like:

  • Papillomaviridae
  • Ranavirus
  • Adenovirus
  • Herpesviruses
  • Picornaviridae

In severe and neglected cases, fungi can complicate the situation or cause spreading infection to the esophagus or lungs.

When the environment, particularly temperature and humidity levels, is inadequate, you can expect pneumonia, sometimes gastrointestinal disturbance, and even fatal outcomes.

Tip: Are you worried that your bearded dragon might be dying? Read our article on that here!

Bearded Dragon Mouth Rot Causes

what causes mouth rot in bearded dragons?

As I have already mentioned, mouth rot is an infection caused by gram-negative bacteria and is often complicated by viruses when Bearded Dragon’s immune system is compromised.

Be aware that this infection never occurs out of the blue but results from long-term stress and poor living conditions.

Consequently, weakened immunity makes lizards susceptible to various diseases, including infectious stomatitis.

Overcrowding

Bearded Dragons enjoy living independently, and keeping more of them together in the same tank is not wise. In some cases, they can tolerate the company of the same age when the terrarium is of adequate size.

However, you can expect aggression and intolerance in such a case. Additionally, cohabitation is a common reason for infection spreading, including mouth rot.

Oral injuries

Oral injuries are one of the most common causes of mouth rot in Bearded Dragons. Remember that your lizard can hurt itself while:

  • Catching prey
  • Scratching its mouth
  • Rubbing a head against the tank wall
  • Chewing materials found in a terrarium

Be prepared for such situations and give your best to treat any possible wound before it can become complicated.

Poor diet and lack of water

Anorexia is often the first symptom most owners notice. Typically, improper diet leads to a weak body and immunity disturbance, causing stomatitis.

Remember that a lousy diet is not only a lack of valuable nutrients but also excess “junk food” like mealworms.

Improper temperature and humidity

how to identifiy mouth rot in bearded dragons

You may jeopardize your Bearded Dragon’s immune system when keeping it in inadequate living conditions.

That especially applies to a too-cold or overheated tank with inappropriate humidity. Indirectly, that will lead to mouth rot and complications if you fail to notice the first symptoms of infection.

Unclean tank

Most owners are unaware of the importance of terrarium cleanliness. The dirty enclosure can quickly cause various health issues, and mouth rot is at the top of the list.

External parasites

External parasites negatively affect the Bearded Dragons’ immune system and represent a problem to their health. Mouth Rot is only one of the health issues resulting from this condition.

Stress

Stress is a primary underlying condition regarding mouth rot in Bearded Dragons, mainly when you inadequately handle your pet. Moreover, all previously listed causes of this horrible infection are highly stressful for your lizard.

In other words, one or more of the listed reasons result in a stressful environment and may weaken a Bearded Dragon’s immune system, making it susceptible to diseases.

Bearded Dragon Mouth Rot Symptoms

Even though mouth rot is not so common in Bearded Dragons as in other lizards, you should be careful with your pet and be prepared to notice the first symptoms.

Only that way can you react on time and prevent more severe consequences.

A mitigating factor is that this disease comes with typical and quickly noticeable symptoms, and it is practically impossible to confuse them with any other health issue.

Therefore, take your lizard to the vet as soon as you notice any of these signs of infection:

1. Yellowish patches inside the mouth

These yellowish-grey or whitish-gray patches in the oral cavity are the first symptoms of infectious stomatitis.

They are usually small, but you can be sure your Bearded Dragon will noticeably suffer from this unpleasant condition once it appears.

Be careful once these growths occur since they can bleed and are more or less painful. Some lizards may avoid letting you touch the mouth inside once a disease spread.

Sometimes, patches are difficult to notice inside the lizard’s mouth or even absent, but you can suspect mouth rot based on indirect symptoms.

Any of them is not a warning sign when appearing alone, but a few typical symptoms that simultaneously occur may indicate something is wrong.

The thumbnail and 0:53 show you what the beginnings of mouth rot looks like.

2. Reduced appetite or lack of it

Lack of appetite is a symptom of numerous health issues, but combined with bloating and avoiding drinking water can be alarming. In such a case, the best option is to be cautious and ask your vet for advice.

Once the infection appears, your Bearded Dragon will have difficulty eating because of the sore mucous membrane in the mouth.

Since beardies enjoy eating, you should be worried when noticing that it consumes less food than until that moment.

3. Refusing to drink water

In most cases, an ill Bearded Dragon will avoid drinking water along with reducing food ingestion. You should understand that even water can cause pain in contact with susceptible mucous membranes.

4. Bloating and swollen head, particularly face

bearded dragon mouth rot symptoms

Paradoxically, your lizard will have increased problems with bloating, despite a lack of appetite and a lower amount of ingested food.

In fact, you can notice bloating and head, face, and gums swelling regardless of whether it has eaten or not.

In most cases, this symptom goes along with patches inside a mouth. However, it is a sign of this particular infection, even when changes in the mouth are absent.

You should go to the vet when your typically gluttonous Bearded Dragon stops eating and suddenly becomes bloated.

5. Swollen or bleeding gums

Bleeding and swelling gums are not typical symptoms of mouth rot, but their existence can show you how advanced the disease is.

6. Broken or loosened teeth

Teeth loosening or even falling out is the most extreme symptom of mouth rot in Bearded Dragons. They are almost always a sign of advanced disease stage.

Loosened and broken teeth prevent regular nutrition and water intake, so you should take your pet to the vet.

There is one more problem. Such teeth are a significant health risk and can be one of the primary causes of diseases like mouth rot besides being a symptom.

7. Excessive and thick saliva and yellow pus inside the mouth

When your Bearded Dragon is seriously ill, you will notice excessive salivation, while saliva is thicker than usual. In neglected cases, it is possible to see mucus or yellow pus inside and around the mouth.

Extreme symptoms

If you fail to notice that your Bearded Dragon suffers from this horrible disease, it can lead to more severe problems, including:

  • Skin peeling
  • Excretion from nostrils and eyes
  • Pneumonia

Note: If your bearded dragon is also making weird noises while breathing, it might be that your beardie is also suffering from a respiratory infection. Here are some noises beardies should and shouldn’t make.

Bearded Dragon Mouth Rot Treatment

bearded dragon mouth rot treatment

The rule of thumb is to take your lizard to the vet as soon as you notice suspicious symptoms indicating mouth rot.

The goal is to start with the treatment immediately to reduce or completely cure the infection, depending on the lizard’s condition.

1. Antibiotics (injections)

Since mouth rot is primarily a bacterial infection, the vet will recommend proper antibiotics for your pet. Since the condition can be severe and oral application can be challenging, they will start the treatment with injections.

2. Antiseptic and supplements

Mouth Rot in Bearded Dragons is a painful infection, so you should be prepared for supplemental feeding.

Besides, it is required to use antiseptics, like Iodine (click here) or Octenisept solution, to disinfect the mucous membrane and stop the microorganism growth.

3. Home remedies

Some home remedies can be highly effective in curing mouth rot, particularly when noticing the infection in the very beginning.

Remember that this treatment type can help when symptoms are still mild, but you shouldn’t cure your pet without consultations with the vet.

Start by mixing a small cup of Betadine or Nolvasan solution with a larger cup of warm water. Then, moisten the cotton swab with this solution and gently rub the affected surface inside the mouth.

Let it sit before rinsing a created layer of the agent and loose pieces of infected tissue.

If you start treatment on time and repeat the process twice a day, symptoms should fade after two days. Otherwise, take your Bearded Dragon to the vet for antibiotic therapy.

The video below shows how to do it on a leopard gecko, but it is the same for bearded dragons.

4. Buildup removing

In some neglected and severe cases, the vet must remove the existing buildup and clean your Bearded Dragon’s teeth. It is also necessary to take out some teeth in particularly severe cases.

5. Surgery

Surgery is the ultimate solution in particularly severe mouth rot infections. The goal is to remove damaged, rotten, and necrotic tissue from the lizard’s mouth.

Be prepared that your Bearded Dragon will require a liquid diet during recovery.

How To Prevent Mouth Rot In Bearded Dragons

Like in most cases, prevention is always a better option than mouth rot treatment in Bearded Dragons. Therefore, you should fulfill some requirements to prevent this horrible infection, like providing the following:

  • Clean environment
  • Temperature and humidity regulation
  • Healthy and balanced diet
  • Enough clean water
  • Brushing teeth
  • Stress prevention
  • Ample space and places to hide and rest
  • Preventing overpopulation
  • Annual veterinarian checkups
  • Regular monitoring for possible symptoms
Pierre And The ReptileCraze Team
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