Reptiles, just like the crested gecko can be tricky to decipher. Unlike cats and dogs where you can immediately see if something wrong with them, crested geckos require you to be a keen observer. Even the most normal behavior can mean something else in the world of reptiles.
A simple opening of the mouth of a crested gecko can mean a number of things. It can be a sign of distress or he is trying to regurgitate something. Moreover, it can also be a sign of a serious disease. On the other hand, it can also just be normal behavior.
If you have no idea as to why your crested gecko’s mouth is open, this is the perfect read for you. You will get to know some of the reasons behind this behavior as well as some tips and tricks on how to deal with it. So keep on reading to find out more!
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Why Your Crested Gecko’s Mouth Is Open: The Reasons
Before we go over the different reasons as to why your crested gecko’s mouth is open, you should always remember to not take things into your own hands when things are bad. If you find out that the reason has something to do with a disease, get in touch with your vet immediately.
1. Licking Of The Eyes Or Face
You might be panicking when you always see your crested gecko with his mouth open. But before you panic yourself to death, take a closer look. Your crested gecko might just be licking his eyes or face.
A lot of owners have stressed themselves only to find out that their crested gecko’s mouth is open due to the fact that his tongue is trying to reach his eyes and face. At a distance, it can be difficult to see as their tongues are so little.
When this happens, just let your crested gecko be. He simply does this because he is trying to put moisture back to his eyes and face. As you know, they do not have eyelids so they constantly have to manually put moisture to their eyes.
As cunning as the crested gecko can be, they can still manage to go through all sorts of trouble that may risk their health. One of which is accidental ingestion of foreign materials that are not able to pass through their tiny throats.
Of course, this will cause them a lot of discomfort as something is stuck inside them (the poor things). Good thing, they can regurgitate these things. However, due to their tiny bodies, the process of regurgitation takes a long time.
When we say a long time, it may take three days to a week. Yikes!
The things that they can ingest are leaves, clumps of the substrate, shredded skin, pebbles, etc. What you can do is to try and take a look at the inside of the mouth of your crested gecko.
If you see something at the surface in which it can be easily pulled out manually, you can help your crested gecko.
First off, make sure that he is not under a lot of stress so that you can still handle him. Use a tweezer to pull out whatever it is that is stuck. If the thing is really lodged in his throat, then you should ask for help from your vet to properly take it out.
3. Sign Of Stress
If you finally realize that your crested gecko is not simply licking his eyes or face, it may be a huge sign that he is under a lot of stress. The bad news for this is that, there are also a lot of possible stressors. The following are a few of them.
Stress Due To Handling
If you notice that his mouth is open whenever you approach his enclosure, but his mouth is closed when you are far away, he might be stressed due to your handling. As crested geckos are solitary creatures, they do not like to be held in general.
This is also the reason why it is best to train them early on when it comes to handling. Some veterinary assistants and breeders suggested that it will be great to hold your crested gecko at least 15 to 30 minutes a day, just so he can get used to it.
But again, even if this is the case, they will not warm up to the idea easily. They will express their hesitation to be held by opening their mouth and leave it gaping. They are trying to scare you even though they are scared themselves.
While doing so, they may twitch their tail and also chirp and make squeaking noises. If this is the case, it is better to leave him alone and not handle him. You can try handling him later on when he calms down.
Of course, you do not want your crested gecko to associate “handling time” to being “stressful time.” For more help, read our Crested Gecko Bonding Guide here!
Stress Due To Misting
If you have owned a crested gecko or a bunch of them for a while, you know that their enclosures need occasional misting to keep moisture levels at bay.
If you notice that your crested gecko’s mouth opens while you are doing the misting, you do not have to worry as he probably just feels that you are intruding into his space.
Just like humans, when we are in the zone and busy with whatever it is that we are doing and suddenly someone disturbs us, we will feel slightly annoyed, right? The same goes for the crested gecko.
A good thing to do here is to train your crested gecko to associate misting time with positive reinforcement. If he does not open is mouth while you are misting, give him a cricket. Slowly but surely, he will not become stressed while you are misting his enclosure.
There are a number of environmental stressors for your crested gecko. It can be due to wrong lighting, temperature, humidity levels, or heating. Another one could be the fact that another crested gecko is bullying him.
More than that, their enclosure might be in the wrong room or spot. If they are constantly exposed to too much noise or a lot of passing people and other pets, this may immensely stress your crested gecko who likes to keep to himself.
- You will know if your crested gecko’s tank is too hot when he constantly opens his mouth for too long as he is under heat stress and possibly stroke. This causes him to be dehydrated and lethargic where he no longer has the energy to burrow himself in the ground in order to thermoregulate.
- If the humidity level is too high this can also stress your crested gecko. You should always make sure that the tank is dry before you go in for another misting.
- The use of bright lights during the day can also stress him. Natural daylight is more than enough for him to get the nutrients he needs. Therefore, the use of high UVB lights is unnecessary as we explain here.
- Crested geckos do not need light at night, we explain more on that here.
- Avoid strong vibrations and loud noises – we explain in this article that they can sense vibration and hear loud noises pretty well!
- Constant digging can also be a sign of stress. Read in this article why Crested geckos do that!
- Many people love to bathe their reptiles even though it is not needed. We recommend reading our articles:
4. Sign Of Illness
If the constant opening of the mouth of your crested gecko is paired wit the following behaviors, then he is most probably sick. (We hope not)
- Constant laying
- Refusal to eat
- Soft jaw
- Soft bones
- Back kinking
- Tail kinking
- Inability to sleep
If you see these other behaviors while your crested gecko’s mouth is open, it is time to call in the big guns and immediately call your vet. The most common disease in crested geckos is Metabolic Bone Disease or MBD. Good thing, when spotted instantly the chances of recovery is high.
What Is Metabolic Bone Disease?
MBD is actually a spectrum of disorders. This happens due to a lack of calcium in the body. It can also be caused by calcium imbalance. What happens is that, if there is not enough calcium in the body, it makes up for it by pulling calcium out of the bone mass of your crested gecko.
In turn, this results in your crested gecko having disfigured bones. This can be seen in the tail, hips, and spine. Their limbs will also become swollen. Further, as there will be a lack of muscle contraction, your crested gecko will find it hard to open and close his mouth, thus leaving it open.
This can be remedied by proper diet, medicine, and supplements. Therefore, if you feel like MBD is the reason as to why your crested gecko’s mouth is open, trust what your vet has to say and immediately change his routine into something that can help with his MBD.
Still, if you think that you Crested gecko is suffering from this illness, act quickly! It can lead to death.
Why does my crested gecko stare at me? This is actually a good thing because it means he is showing interest in you. He is starting to trust you and is patiently waiting for the time for you to handle him. Another reason could be the fact that he just wants to observe the things that you do.
Why is my crested gecko staying on the ground? This is a natural behavior of crested geckos. They typically stay on the ground and explore from there. They can also look at the bottom of their enclosure. However, if they are lying flat on the ground, this is a sign that they are distressed.