Leopard Gecko Mouth Rot 101: Signs, Causes and; Treatment

Leopard Geckos are one of the most lovable creatures to have as a pet. But similar to other pets, they also come with their own set of difficulties and health concerns. I have personally had a Leopard Gecko for the past five years and have faced similar challenges and learned how to provide leopard geckos with a happy and healthy life.

Infectious stomatitis, also known as mouth rot, is a bacterial infection that can affect the mouth of leopard geckos due to stress or injury. It generally occurs when the immune system is under high stress and there is an infection. 

Leopard gecko mouth problems can take a severe turn if there is an imbalance of bacteria in their mouth. And can also lead to tremendous damage if not treated. In this article, we will discuss the various Leopard Gecko mouth problems and how to prevent and recognize them.

What Is Mouth Rot in Leopard Geckos?

What Is Mouth Rot in Leopard Geckos?

Mouth rot is exactly how it sounds; it is a contagious affliction that needs to be treated as soon as possible. So, if you detect mouth rot in your leopard gecko, it is crucial to keep them separated from your other reptiles and to wash your hands thoroughly after cleaning the tank.

You should be relieved to know that the leopard Gecko mouth problems are non-transferable to humans or any other pets apart from reptiles. Mouth rot generally happens as a secondary infection if a leopard gecko is under stress. Leopard gecko mouth problems could result in something very serious if left untreated. It could result in bacterial infections spreading throughout the body and disrupting critical systems such as the respiratory and digestive systems.

9 Signs of Mouth Rot in Leopard Geckos

9 Signs of Mouth Rot in Leopard Geckos

Coming from someone; who has a leopard gecko as a pet, even after the best care and attention, they might develop mouth rot. You should check your leopard gecko’s mouth from time to time to ensure its safety. Some of the most common signs are visible puss, loss of appetite, and swelling.

You can also check for any food stuck in between their teeth or any cuts on the gums or mouth.   Here are some of the symptoms that will help you determine if your leopard gecko has mouth rot or not:


Bacterial infections can lead to swelling as the body sends a large number of cells to the affected area to fight and facilitate healing. This swelling is usually observable around the mouth and gums.

So, swelling of any part of the leopard gecko’s head may be an indication of mouth rot. You should pay close attention to the gums or mouth tissue surrounding their teeth. If the gums are red and swollen, then it may be a sign that your pet is starting to develop an infection.

Yellow pus

The presence of pus is a major symptom of mouth rot. Pus is a fluid that contains both white blood cells and bacteria. This pus might cause discomfort to your pet and loss of appetite.

If your leopard gecko is secreting pus from the mouth or nose it is a definite sign that they have developed an infection. The secretion is usually foul-smelling and very easy to detect. After detecting this problem, you should seek the help of a vet immediately.

Bleeding Gums

Bleeding Gums

If you have failed to notice the previous symptoms and if the infection is severe enough, it may cause some bleeding. Bleeding gums happen mostly because the infection has spread a lot, and the gum flesh has worn out.

Loss of appetite 

Due to all the pain and discomfort caused by the mouth rot, leopard geckos face a loss of appetite. It is particularly bad when they are trying to eat or drink, so if your leopard gecko is not eating well it may be a sign of a mouth infection.

It may be hard for the leopard gecko to eat due to the inflammation and the infected gum tissue. Keep a track of your pet’s eating patterns so you can point out any signs of mouth rot. It’s also advisable to check their mouths for any possible injuries.

Eating from just one side of the mouth

If your leopard gecko is only favoring one side of the mouth, it might be a sign; that there is an infection on the other side. If you detect this problem, then make sure you get them checked up for mouth rot.


Excess of saliva excretion from the mouth may be a visible sign of mouth rot. Drooling is due to the leopard geckos being in pain and discomfort and not being able to close their mouth completely.

Yellow Plaque 

Plaque on your leopard gecko’s mouth can indicate an onset of mouth infection. Feeding your geckos with insects containing hard exoskeletons might help reduce plaque.

Dead Tissue 

Dead Tissue 

If you find dead tissue having a foul smell inside your gecko’s mouth, it is a sign of mouth rot. A visit to the vet would be the best solution to this as they will administer an antibiotic treatment.

Difficulty in breathing

As there is a lot of mucus secretion, your leopard geckos might face difficulty breathing. If you see this occurring, it is a sign of an onset infection.

What Causes Mouth Rot in Leopard Geckos?

What Causes Mouth Rot in Leopard Geckos?

Well, it is also better to know the cause of a problem to avoid it from the beginning. Some things that can cause your leopard gecko to get mouth rot are poor hygiene, the wrong environment, trauma, poor nutrition, and parasites

Leopard geckos generally develop mouth rot when they are stressed. Stress weakens their immune system allowing bacteria to build up in their mouth. In most cases, leopard gecko’s mouth problems are related to stress. It can be due to the wrong temperature, parasites, wrong humidity lever, or poor nutrition. Some of the causes that can cause mouth rot are as follows:

Poor hygiene

Poor hygiene is one of the most common causes of mouth rots. Dirty enclosed spaces contain a lot of bacteria which can later create an unsafe environment for your pet. 

Cleaning your leopard gecko’s tank every week will help maintain a hygienic environment for your pet. Also, make sure you sterilize all the cleaning equipment to bring no bacteria from outside the tank. You should store all the leaning equipment in a lean and dry habitat to ensure the safety of your leopard gecko.


One of the most common but overlooked causes of mouth rot is trauma to the mouth. If there is even a small incision present in your leopard gecko’s mouth, it is enough for the bacteria to breed in. Cuts can easily occur while you feed your leopard gecko. You should overlook whether the substrate or live insects you are feeding are safe or if they are causing any difficulty to your pet.

It is recommended to feed substrates that dry and harden with time and avoid any accidental ingestion. Choose bugs that are soft or have a hard exoskeleton. Insects with hard exoskeletons are rich in nutritional value. Make sure the size of the bug is smaller than the space between the eyes of your leopard gecko. In my recommendation, medium-sized crickets serve as the best food for adult leopard geckos.

Wrong environment 

As leopard geckos are ectotherms they require an external heat source. This external heat source fuels all the bodily functions of your pet. The same goes for the overall schedule of when to turn it off. Leopard geckos can not just see the clock and tell the time. So they treat their lighting schedule to make sense of their day and night.

Any light change tells your leopard gecko when to eat and sleep. Also, if the humidity levels are too high it creates the perfect environment for bacteria to breed in. Monitor their humidity levels with the help of a hygrometer to always keep them at an optimal temperature. Another thing to remember is to always dry them before putting them back in their tanks.

Poor nutrition

Make sure that; you serve leopard geckos with a rich and healthy diet.  A good nutritional diet will boost their immune system and help them fight any infections. Feed them with rich exoskeleton insects to provide them with all the necessary phosphorus and calcium.

You should also maintain a proper basking temperature. Basking ensures that your leopard gecko gets all the nutrients to fight all the bacteria buildup in its mouth. Hence, boosting their immunity and keeping them healthy.


If your leopard gecko is eating healthy and well and you still find infection buildup in their bodies, then that is a sign of internal parasites. Parasites absorb all the nutrients leopard geckos consume.

You should visit a vet if your leopard gecko has internal parasites. The vets will conduct a fecal egg count (FEC) to see if your pet has internal parasites. If detected, the process for curing leopard geckos is pretty simple.


Stress is the biggest factor and indication for mouth rot in leopard geckos. If the environment is too noisy or any of the above factors can create a very stressful condition for your leopard geckos.

Stress lowers their immunity system like in any other animal. Hence, making your leopard geckos weak and ill and increasing more chances of mouth rot and infections.

Ways to Treat Mouth Rot in Leopard Geckos?

Ways to Treat Mouth Rot in Leopard Geckos?

If you have noticed any signs of mouth rot in your leopard geckos, the first thing is to seek out the best treatment for them. You should visit the vet to make sure your leopard gecko does have mouth rot. The leopard gecko should seek treatment as soon as possible so they do not get any serious damage. 

Vets will give your leopard gecko mouth rot medicine which will help your pet fight off any infections.  You can start by cleaning their tank thoroughly. Do not forget to dry the leopard gecko before placing them back in the tank. Sterilizing the enclosure will prevent any more bacteria build-up from around your pet. At home, you can also create a saline base for cleaning the tank.  You can make the solution by putting in one teaspoon of salt and 1 cup of warm water. 

The saline base will clean all the micro bacteria and help heal the leopard gecko rapidly. You can also treat the infection with betadine to fasten the healing process. Regular betadine will act as the perfect antiseptic to cure the infection quickly.

If the infection is a lot then you should see the vet immediately. They will prescribe your pet antibiotics, serving as the perfect leopard gecko mouth rot medicine. You might get the antibiotics in cream or oral medication form. Make sure to use fresh cotton every time you put anything on the infected area.

If the infection is severe the vet will prescribe a liquid diet to ensure your pet’s health. As it might be facing difficulty eating or drinking. Do not force instruments into the gecko’s mouth, as it might cause incisions and cause more discomfort to your pet.

Prevention of Mouth rot in Leopard Geckos

Providing your leopard geckos with a healthy diet, optimal temperature, and a hygienic environment lowers the risks of mouth rot tremendously. You should also provide your leopard geckos with a minimum enclosure of twenty gallons to prevent mouth rot.

You should always keep the humidity levels at optimal ranging between 30-40%. Notice if they are feeling uncomfortable eating and clean their tanks weekly. Also, check their mouth for any infections or cuts. Avoid causing them any stress as this will lower their immunity.

Ensure that they are on a nutrition-rich diet and have no internal parasites. Feeding leopard geckos with the right bugs will help them stay healthy and prevent mouth rot automatically. Sterilize your utensils and bring no foreign objects to their enclosure. As it might deliver the bacteria that they have no immunity against.

Make sure you have a lighting schedule as they heavily rely on it to sleep and eat on time. You can also make a timely visit to the vet to get them checked up for any possible infections or internal parasites.


Does mouth rot go away on its own?

In mild cases, mouth rot might go away on its own, but severe cases are unlikely to improve without the help of any medication or treatment. A visit to the vet might be the best option, where they will provide your pet with antibiotics and anti-inflammatory creams.

What are the early signs of mouth rot in leopard geckos?

Early signs might include yellow pus, loss of appetite, redness, and swelling. Visit a vet immediately if you see any of these symptoms. It is better to stop the infection at this stage before it becomes more severe later on.


Mouth rot can be fatal, but now we are aware of the various symptoms, causes, and treatments for this illness. Make sure to keep an active check of their living conditions and take them to a vet immediately if you notice any symptoms of mouth rot. I hope this article will help you prevent and cure leopard gecko mouth problems and provide your pet with a happy and healthy life.

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