Leopard Gecko Tail Rot: Signs Cause, Treatment And How To Prevent

Leopard gecko tail rot is a common disorder, and many reptile owners have witnessed it. Any time you study leopard gecko diseases is a privilege, and you get to know what to avoid or execute in raising geckos.

Inability to discern tail rot can deceive you into buying a leopard gecko with tail rot, and you fail to notice it. This article intensely covers tail rot in geckos, thus will help you tell apart tail rot from other tail problems.

Please read below to assimilate the signs, causes, and treatment of tail rot in the gecko and how to prevent it accurately.

x
Cute Reptiles as Pets

What is Tail Rot in Reptile?

Since reptiles won the attention of humans as pets, learning about these companions hasn’t stopped. Man wants to know everything about reptile companions to be enlightened on how to accurately care for them and keep them out of any danger.

Tail rot is of considerable concern when it comes to reptiles. This disorder is not fun and has unpleasant impacts. Tail rot is a disease characterized by the death of part of the reptiles’ tail resulting from a combination of factors.

Untreated tail rot gradually advances and spreads out to other body parts as infection, endangering the life of the affected animal. Tail rot is pretty common among reptiles, especially lizards.

Tail rot is overly confused with tail shedding by most people. Tail shedding is a natural thing. A reptile sheds its tail in one piece, but the skin peels in numerous smaller pieces in case of tail rot.

Leopard Gecko Tail Rot
Pet leopard gecko with a rot tail

Signs & Causes of Leopard Gecko Tail Rot

Leopard geckos can get tail rot in a variety of ways. Keep in mind that tail rot is a prevalent condition in geckos and can happen any time without you being aware.

The bad side of this disease is that it can be progressing inside the body tissues with no or minor physical signs being manifested.

If you have seen a gecko with tail rot before, it becomes easy to spot this condition when it arises. Its signs are more apparent and visible.

Do not blame yourself if your leopard gecko has tail rot. This is something that can happen to any gecko.

Tell if Your Leopard Gecko Has Tail Rot

You can detect tail rot in your lizard even without going to a vet. But most people prefer hearing from their vet, which is still a good thing.

More often, a leopard gecko with tail rot has its tail looking dry and rotting. If you suspect your leopard gecko has tail rot, here are the signs to look out for. 

  • end of tail appears darker than the rest and progresses upward slowly by slowly,
  • a leathery look noticeably on the tail,
  • the infected part of the tail is dry,
  • visible injuries on the tail,
  • the infected part becomes insensitive, and the lizard can’t feel it,
  • the tail does not shed,
  • sometimes the tail can break quickly.

Often, a gecko that was recently shedding has a tail that is a little darker than the body; hence, please don’t confuse it with tail rot. The best thing to do when in doubt is to ask for a vet intervention.

4 Causes of Tail Rot in Leopard Geckos

It’s imperative to know situations that expose leopard geckos to getting tail rot and see if you can prevent them.

Leopard geckos get tail rot from various factors, but I will discuss the four leading and most common causes. The aspects can be physical or not physical (resulting from health problems).

signs of tail rot in leopard geckos
One of the signs of tail rot in leopard geckos is that end of tail appears darker than the rest and progresses upward slowly by slowly

Trauma Or Injuries to The Tail

Two or more leopard geckos coming together might break into a fight, and the result can be biting each other’s tail.

A nip from one’s own species or another animal causes injuries to the tail. Likewise, leopard geckos can get their tail caught in a closing tank door and end up getting hurt.

The tail injuries might lead to tail infection and open a perfect chance for tail rot to occur.

Necrotizing Dermatitis

Necrotizing dermatitis simply means scale rot in lizards, and it’s a common condition. Necrotizing dermatitis manifests itself in several ways, e.g., crusty skin on the tail, fluid-filled blisters, and ulceration.

A dumpy or dirty terrarium harbors the bacteria causing necrotizing dermatitis, and the condition starts a fitting storm for tail rot to occur. Improper humidity levels in the tank also favor the growth of bacteria and fungus.

Infections

An infection in the bone can spread out to healthy body tissues through the bloodstream. In worse cases, there will be necrosis of the infected tissues if there is no treatment.

We have so many bacterial, parasitic, fungal, and viral infections affecting leopard geckos. Frequently, a dirty environment or terrarium provides a suitable condition for these disease-causing organisms to thrive.

A leopard gecko living in such an environment is not safe and can become sick at any time, especially if the immunity is weak.

If these infections manage to spread and damage healthy tissues, they expose leopard geckos to tail rot.

Gecko with Necrotizing dermatitis
Gecko with Necrotizing dermatitis being eaten by ants

Weakened Immune System Due to Poor Nutrition and Health

Poor health and poor nutrition weaken the immune system of a leopard gecko, denying it the power to fight diseases.

In case of an infection, animals with low immunity take a long time to heal. Despite taking too long to heal, the damaged tissues put the lizard at high risk of tail rot.

Leopard Geckos Tail Rot Treatments

 The type of treatment for tail rot in leopard geckos can vary depending on the stage of infection or severity of the signs; if tail rot is detected early, it’s possible to give treatment at home with antibiotics.

However, tail rot may demand surgery when at a more advanced stage, and only a specialized veterinarian can handle it.

In more severe cases, tail amputation would be the right course of action to prevent further death of tissues.

First, Disinfect at Home

Disinfecting a scratch, bite, burn, or wound is an appropriate course of action to help prevent infection. 

Taking such action prevents not only infections but also tail rot from occurring. Always take time to disinfect your gecko if you notice it has injuries. Diluted betadine ointment is effective for this purpose.

Last update on 2021-11-01 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

See A Veterinarian and Surgery Your Leopard Gecko

A veterinarian is good to treat tail rot since they examine both the physical and internal damages.

If you notice any signs of tail rot in your gecko, proceed to inform the vet right away because the internal tissue may be damaged already or have progressed necrosis.

The vet will examine the lizard, prepare it for surgery (if necessary), give an anesthetic, and then clean necrotic tissues. There’s an amputation of the tail, but you shouldn’t worry since the tail will regrow.

Suturing of the wound isn’t always recommended, but in case it happens, the suture needs to be removed after a few days.

Medication

After treatment, the vet recommends medication to stop the risk of infection and relieve pain.

He can advise you to use some antibiotics and painkillers. Always make sure to stick to the vet’s recommendations.

The length of time your pet is on medication can vary, e.g., for severe damage of tissues, treatment can last even for a month or more.

Ensure You Keep the Incision Healthy So the Tail Can Regrow

After amputation, you have a lot of work to do as the owner. Keep the lizard’s environment always sparkling clean to prevent contamination of the wound and infections.

Keep the wound free from dirt; you can clean it with dilute betadine and apply a topical antibiotic, e.g., Neosporin.

Line the cage with a paper towel to protect the wound from contacting debris and loose substrates. The tail will then regrow without having anything to stop it.

3 Tips to Prevent Tail Rot in Leopard Geckos

Prevention is always better than cure since you get to avoid many things, treatment costs and amputations being the leading factors.

Some of the best ways to prevent tail rot in leopard geckos include practicing the highest level of hygiene, good husbandry, and giving proper nutrition.

Good nutrition is viable to help strengthen immunity and help the gecko fight infections effectively.

Breeds: Always Buy a Healthy Leopard Gecko

When buying a leopard gecko, make sure to purchase the healthy one. Go to breeders and pet shops with a good reputation as they can barely deceive you.

Having a healthy leopard gecko from the start reduces the animal’s chances of contracting unnecessary diseases, e.g., tail rot.

Keep Healthy Environment

A healthy environment guarantees some safety from many bacterial, fungal, parasitic, and viral infections.

A suitable terrarium, proper heating, and humidity will go a long way to help prevent many leopard gecko infections.

Remove any safety concerns from the enclosure, e.g., sharp objects and heavy rocks. In case of heavy items, secure them to prevent falling and causing accidents.

If possible, avoid reptile carpets with looped fibers as they can snag the geckos’ tail or limbs and cause injuries.

Set up a suitable habitat with ample space and provide multiple hiding places to prevent unnecessary fights if your geckos are housed together. It will help to prevent injuries among the geckos.

Concerned About the Health Problems of Leopard Geckos

A healthy diet and proper nutrition will significantly help prevent many illnesses associated with leopard geckos. These lizards are insectivores and require high-quality foods and follow the correct feeding frequencies.

Give quality insects such as crickets, roaches, and gut load, or dust them with supplements, e.g., multivitamins, calcium powder, and vitamin D3.

When shedding, always leave your gecko to shed on itself. To prevent shedding issues, provide moist hides and give occasional warm baths to help hydrate the skin and ease the shedding process.

It’s recommended to keep an eye on your leopard gecko when shedding and pay attention to improper shedding. A complete and successful shedding prevents tail rot while improper shedding attracts it.

In addition, correct humidity (30-40%) and vitamin A supplements can also assist in shedding. Make your vet know immediately in case you suspect your lizard has tail rot or you spot its signs.

FAQs

Why is my leopard gecko’s tail turning black?

A leopard gecko’s tail is likely to turn black in case of shedding and tail rot. Often, tail rot is associated with a dark tail tip, which spreads upward slowly with time.

Sometimes the tail is darker than the body when a gecko is shedding, and the black color disappears gradually.

When should I take my leopard gecko to the vet?

It’s essential to consult a vet immediately if you notice any signs of tail rot in your beloved gecko.

Note that the lizard could be showing minor physical signs of tail rot when damages have advanced in the internal tissues.

Can a leopard gecko regrow its tail?

Yes, leopard geckos can regrow their tail once it is amputated. With proper medication, hygiene, and correct nutrition, any gecko will recover soonest.

Most of the treatment goes for about one month, and the lizard heals completely. The tail will regrow to its standard size and shape.

Wrapping Up

Tail rot or necrosis is a common condition in Leos. If the signs of tail rot manifest in your gecko, it’s already late to execute prevention, and therefore requires you to take the lizard to a veterinarian.

Tail rot in leopard geckos can result from many different factors, including improper shedding, tail infection, trauma to the tail, injuries, blood clotting in the tail and restricting blood movement, poor habitat, etc.

In worse situations or at an advanced stage, tail rot can result in surgery and tail amputation. Fortunately, tail rot is preventable by ensuring your gecko gets the best care possible. Give proper diet, the correct setup in the enclosure, and good hygiene.

Buying a healthy leopard gecko from the pet shops and breeders with a good reputation ensures you raise a healthy animal-free from many diseases.

Good health and a proper diet boost the immunity system and help your Leo to fight infections successfully.