Caring for a leopard gecko is not necessarily easy; there are a lot of things that you need to be looking out for, and monitoring your leopard gecko’s physical health is high on the list. Unfortunately, leopard geckos tend to be good at hiding illness as a survival strategy, and this means you may not be aware when your pet needs help, unless you are keeping a close eye on the situation. Leopard gecko tail rot is a common problem that many pet owners have to deal with, and it’s important to know what to look out for and how to prevent this if possible.
Tail rot is an unpleasant condition that can have serious repercussions if you don’t treat it promptly, and it’s one that many inexperienced owners miss, because your gecko will not necessarily change its behavior in response to it. It can cause a variety of issues, including loss of feeling, dry skin, and even loss of parts of the tail. You need to be vigilant and watch for this issue.
Ideally, tail rot needs to be prevented rather than cured, which we will look at later, but it’s a good idea to make a regular habit of handling your leopard gecko and inspecting its tail. This should help you detect any problems quickly so you can deal with them and get your gecko back to full health.
What Causes Tail Rot In A Leopard Gecko?
Tail rot is unfortunately common and has a lot of potential causes, including cysts, blood clots, physical damage, insect bites, hypothermia, or a partially failed shed. Any of these could happen at any time, so you should be watchful, especially if you know that your gecko has sustained damage to its tail. It is unlikely to be your fault if your gecko gets tail rot, but you will need to deal with it promptly, before it gets bad.
It may help to make a list of the things that can cause tail rot so you know what to look out for, and when your gecko is at risk of it. For example, if you know that something has fallen on or trapped your gecko’s tail recently, you can keep a close eye on the situation to see whether any problems are developing. Similarly, if your gecko has got chilled, make sure you are checking for tail rot symptoms.
Tail rot will usually cause the tip of the tail to shrivel up and turn leathery, and often the blood flow will be restricted (as with a blood clot or insect bite), and this can result in open wounds and bacterial infections. Be very aware of these risks and mitigate them as much as possible.
How Do You Treat Tail Rot In Leopard Geckos?
Tail rot will need to be treated by a veterinarian, as there is nothing you can do for your gecko from home; make an appointment as soon as you can with an exotic vet. Usually, the vet will recommend either surgery or medication. Antibiotics may be enough to overcome tail rot issues if they are detected early enough, or may be used in conjunction with surgery in some cases.
Sometimes, surgery will be necessary as the affected part of the tail will need to be removed to prevent the infection from spreading. Leopard geckos do have the ability to regrow their tails, so amputation may not be as drastic as it sounds; the vet will simply anesthetize and remove the bit of the tail that is affected. A thorough and strict cleaning regime will be necessary to reduce the risk of any further infection, so talk to your vet about how you should keep the injury clean.
In some cases, both antibiotics and surgery will be required, but your vet will advise you on this. You should not try to treat tail rot at home; this is not a safe option and could result in the death of your pet if you attempt it. Always get proper medical advice and follow the guidance of a vet to speed up the recovery and reduce the suffering.
How Do I Stop Tail Rot Starting In My Leopard Gecko In The Future?
Prevention is always better than cure, especially with things like tail rot; you need to minimize the risks of tail rot occurring, as this will save your gecko stress and pain, and will reduce the risk of expensive vet fees too. There are plenty of things you can do to minimize the potential causes of tail rot, including keeping your pet’s enclosure at the right temperature and humidity and cleaning it out regularly, giving your gecko high quality food, fixing down the enrichment items in the enclosure so they cannot fall, and not pulling at any loose skin when your gecko is molting.
All of these things should help to keep your gecko healthy and better able to fight off infections, and ensure that there is little risk of damage being done to your gecko’s tail. As long as no damage is inflicted (by any source), your gecko should not get tail rot.
It is important to regularly inspect your gecko’s tail, and to contact a vet immediately if you see any signs that tail rot has occurred; catching it early might mean that you can simply treat your pet with antibiotics, which is cheaper and far less stressful for all parties. Don’t hesitate if you see any dark marks, breakage, leatheriness, or any sign that your gecko has no feeling in parts of its tail.
Unfortunately, leopard gecko tail rot is a very common condition, and it can be dangerous if it is allowed to spread and progress. Make sure you have familiarized yourself with both the causes and the symptoms so you can minimize the risk and take quick action if your gecko does develop this. Do not attempt to help your pet at home; if you suspect it has tail rot, you must take it directly to a vet for treatment.