Crested Geckos are lovely and colorful pets that can share our lives for up to twenty years. However, like most pets, they sometimes get sick and require treatment. One of the most common illnesses for gecko species in our homes is mouth rot.
Mouth rot or infectious stomatitis is a bacterial infection that attacks the outer edges of the crested gecko’s mouth. The disease is identifiable by the yellow pus that appears on the gecko’s mouth. Over time the mouth rot can spread to other areas and cause the gecko to get severely sick or die. The leading causes of mouth rot are bad animal husbandry, stress, and an inhibited immune system.
Maybe you noticed abnormalities on your crested gecko’s mouth or yellow and brownish pus. This article will help you determine if you saw mouth rot and what your next steps for treatment should be. But even if your pet is completely healthy, you can still learn much about mouth rot prevention and animal husbandry for crested geckos by continuing reading.
The Impact of Mouth Rot on A Crested Gecko’s Health
A bacterial infection causes mouth rot, hence its name, infectious stomatitis. In essence, stomatitis is any form of inflammation that occurs in the mouth.
Therefore, mouth rot is a general term that describes an inflammation of the mouth. The two most common bacteria that cause mouth rot are Aeromonas and Pseudomonas spp.
Most infections, if left untreated, can spread to other areas. Mouth rot is specific because it impacts the crested gecko’s eating ability. As a result, it can worsen their health condition and immune system.
Besides this, mouth rot can spread to the teeth, throat, and the rest of the head. Causing severe health issues and even resulting in the death of your pet.
The best thing is not to ignore anything that appears in your crested gecko’s mouth.
Identifying Symptoms of Mouth Rot in Crested Geckos
Maybe you noticed your beloved gecko is not eating as much as it did. Or they spend most of the day with their mouth open.
Or you noticed certain abnormalities in and around the mouth. How can you be sure your crested gecko has mouth rot?
There are several symptoms you should look out for:
Yellow or Light Brown Pus
This is the most prominent symptom of mouth rot. Pus is yellow or brown because it is full of protein. The protein originates from white blood cells that are fighting the infection.
As they die in the fight, they accumulate on the mouth and teeth.
Round Spots or Petechiae
Because these spots are small wounds, they will bleed and, as a result, appear red, brown, or purple.
Since mouth rot is a bacterial infection, it causes irritation and tissue inflammation. In turn, this makes the gums swollen and reddish.
Loss of Appetite and Decreased Water Intake
Because of the infection, the crested gecko can experience pain upon eating. Also, since mouth rot is an infection, it causes an immune response in the organism, leading to loss of appetite.
You may notice that your gecko’s teeth are turning black. This symptom indicates that the disease has progressed significantly, and you should take immediate action to treat it.
Treatment Options for Crested Gecko Mouth Rot
Once you determine that your crested gecko has mouth rot, there are two main treatment measures you should take.
First, you have to book an appointment with a specialized veterinarian. Since mouth rot is an infection caused by bacteria, your pet will need antibiotic treatment.
Besides this, the vet can take a sample from the mouth to determine what type of bacteria caused the infection. This will help prescribe a better treatment plan.
However, there are certain things you can do to prevent the further spread of the infection until you wait for the appointment.
You can wash the mouth with a homemade saline solution. To make this solution, you need to boil a cup of water, leave it to cool, and then mix a teaspoon of salt. Then spray this on the affected area with a tube and syringe.
Also, you can use an antiseptic and spray it on the location. Or you can use iodine (click here) and rub it on the gums and teeth.
These options will help prevent the spread of mouth rot and reduce discomfort, but they are not the ultimate cure. The only way to eliminate mouth rot is with the proper antibiotics. Only a vet can prescribe them.
Potential Causes of Mouth Rot in Crested Geckos
The mouth rot infection is caused by bacteria that naturally inhabit the mouth of the crested gecko. But other bacteria that may appear in the gecko’s habitat can also cause it.
The infection can develop because of two main causes.
Either the gecko experiences an immune deficiency due to stress, malnutrition, or bad husbandry. Or your pet gets wounds in the mouth cavity because something in their environment is not suited for them.
Most notably, this can be the bedding you choose to put in the habitat; they may chew on it, creating wounds.
How to Prevent Mouth Rot in Crested Geckos
The best way to combat mouth rot is to prevent it from occurring in the first place. This is achieved by proper animal husbandry. It does not have to be a lot of work, especially if you create a routine and practice it regularly.
Here are a few points that will help you maintain your crested gecko’s environment free from potential causes of infection:
Implement a Proper Feeding Regime
Crested geckos need a selection of insects to sustain a healthy diet. You can provide this with commercial food or by buying insects like waxworms, crickets, and Dubai roaches.
Also, you have to gut-load the insects with nutritious fruits and vegetables.
A study on juvenile Crested Geckos and nutrition demonstrated that a diet consisting of fruits and calcium-dusted insects shows better results when compared to commercial food.
The young geckos showed better growth results when fed fruit and insects.
Clean your Gecko’s Habitat
You have to maintain regular hygiene of your pet’s habitat. This will prevent bacteria from accumulating and infecting any wounds that may appear. To ensure a clean environment, you need a monthly cleaning regime.
One study of 60 individuals in a reptile Zoo in Ireland showed that none of them had any symptoms of infectious diseases because of proper implementation of hygiene measures.
Maintain Proper Temperature and Humidity
The temperature in your gecko’s terrarium should be between 60 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit (22 to 26.5 degrees Celsius).
Also, the temperature should decrease at night to 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit (18 to 24 degrees Celsius). The humidity should be between 50 and 70 percent.
Consider Lighting Options
Even though crested geckos are nocturnal animals, a few experts suggest you use a low-level UVB light in their terrarium.
Use the Proper Substrate
Ensure your substrate is not sharp so your pet won’t cut themselves. Avoid coconut substrate because the gecko can bite the fibers and create wounds. The best option is moss or just a plain cotton towel.
Safe Feeding Practices
Never leave live insects in the terrarium. Feed your gecko all it can eat, and then take the rest out. Crickets can inflict wounds on your gecko, and certain species of larvae can bite them.
Please keep your pet in a calm environment where it will not experience much stress. This will ensure it has a stable immune system.
Even if your pet gets infected, you can be safe knowing that many veterinarians today specialize in the care of rare species. But the best thing you can do to ensure a long life for your pet is to keep them safe and clean as much as possible.