Owning an exotic pet is exciting. It is also a good experience for beginners. However, every exotic pet enthusiast should provide safety for themselves and the people handling these pets.
For these reasons, this article is going to cover leopard gecko teeth. We will discuss in depth if leopard geckos have teeth if they bite if the bite is poisonous, and how much it can hurt.
Remember, it is your responsibility as a leopard gecko owner to understand your pet’s health issues and how you can help them. Thus, we are also going to discuss oral health issues that might affect your leopard gecko.
If you didn’t know, “The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance; it is an illusion of knowledge”. Thus, this article is for you whether you know nothing or just a little about leopard gecko teeth. Keep reading!
Do Leopard Geckos have Teeth?
Yes, leopard geckos have teeth. However, they do not have normal teeth as other mammals. Instead, they have sharp and little teeth that they use to grip their food.
Leopard geckos are known to be polyphyodont. It is because of their multiple sets of teeth that are replaced throughout their life. Unlike most other lizards, leopard geckos have teeth that form rows in their mouth.
Within these rows, new generations of teeth are formed continuously throughout their life. Continuous teeth generation in leopard geckos could be as a result of stem cells that are present in their dental lamina.
Stem cells cause tooth proliferation. Thus, the fact that leopard geckos can grow new teeth continuously indicates that their epithelial stem cells can divide many times to form new teeth.
It takes 3-4 months for the leopard geckos to replace their old teeth with new ones.
How Many Teeth Do Leopard Geckos Have?
Leopard geckos have approximately 100 tiny teeth at birth. And, leopard geckos being polyphyodont, they do not keep the original teeth till death.
Instead, they continuously grow new teeth to replace the old. It takes the new teeth seven stages to grow. And all these stages take 3-4 months to complete the cycle.
These stages include
- Formation of the odontogenic band
- Aggregation of epithelial cells that condenses the mesenchymal
- Formation of dental lamina
- The budding stage
- Cap/bell stage
- Differentiation of late bell stage
- Eruption stage
Are Leopard Geckos Poisonous?
Now that you know that leopard geckos have teeth, you must be worried if the bite is poisonous. well, the answer is, NO, leopard geckos are not poisonous. They are also not venomous. Thus, leopard geckos are safe to own, even in a family setup with children.
Most people will tell you that an insect’s brightness or a reptile indicates how poisonous they can be.
And, in many cases it is true. Think of coral snakes, poison-dart frogs and many others. They are quite colourful and bright and very vicious.
However, leopard geckos despite being colourful and bright, they are docile, tamable, and non-venomous.
Therefore, if you wish to own a non-poisonous, colourful lizard, leopard geckos make ideal pets.
Do Leopard Geckos Bite?
Yes, leopard geckos can bite. But, before you start quaking in your boots, leopard geckos have small jaws and teeth. Thus, their bite cannot inflict massive damage in your skin.
It is rare for leopard geckos to bite unless provoked, scared or threatened. Leopard geckos would rather flee than bite. Thus, it is possible to avoid leopard gecko’s bite if you understand why and how they bite.
Here are some of the reasons that might lead your leopard gecko to bite you.
Territorial especially the male
During the breeding season, it is obvious for male leopard geckos to fight for mating mates. Thus, if you own several male leopard geckos, you should not handle one and then the other without washing your hands.
Leopard geckos can smell the scent of another male. Thus, they may attack you if they mistook your hand for another male.
Therefore, you should always wash your hands after and before handling your leopard geckos.
Have you ever heard, “A hungry man can’t see right or wrong, he just sees food?” It is so with a hungry leopard gecko.
If you try to handle a hungry leopard gecko, your fingers can only trigger their hunting instincts. Thus, a hungry leopard gecko is more likely to bite you.
To prevent your leopard gecko from biting, you should ensure to feed them first. If you must handle your leopard gecko before feeding, distract it with one hand and then use the other hand to pick it up from behind.
Stressed, Scared, or Provoked
If your leopard gecko perceives you as a threat, it is normal for it to try to bite you. Thus, it is critical for you first to tame your leopard gecko before handling.
Additionally, it would be best if you started handling your leopard gecko only after it assimilates with its new environment and it’s no longer scared of you.
Again, remember to handle your leopard gecko in a manner that you do not scare it off or hurt it.
Overly Aggressive Leopard Geckos
While most leopard geckos are tamable, some are naturally aggressive and remain that way forever.
Thus, if you have been having your leopard gecko for a while and doesn’t seem to stop being defensive, it can be a sign it’s in their nature to bite.
You can tell your gecko is defensive if it raises and waves its tail like a snake. It can take several days for your leopard gecko to calm down, but if it doesn’t, you could be having an overly aggressive pet.
Additionally, young leopard geckos are more likely to bark and snap at you. However, they become tame as they get older.
Does a Leopard Geckos Bite Hurt?
How much a leopard gecko may hurt depend on a few variables. For instance, if the victim is young, their skin might be susceptible to piercing.
But generally, a leopard gecko’s bite should not hurt. However, if the victim panics and tries to rip off the gecko, they can injure themselves more and even hurt the gecko.
Therefore, if your leopard gecko bites, stay calm and let it loose your skin independently. That way, you will avoid major damages on your skin.
Here are few tips on how you can avoid your leopard geckos from biting you.
Don’t handle your new leopard gecko.
New leopard geckos tend to be stressed and scared. Thus, you should give them at least three weeks before handling them.
During this time, you should only interact with your leopard gecko when feeding and cleaning its tank.
Baby leopard geckos tend to be more stressed and aggressive. Thus, it’s advisable not to handle them regularly to prevent bites and protect them from dropping their tails.
Don’t scare your leopard gecko.
Remember we said earlier one of the reasons that a leopard gecko bite is when it’s scared. Therefore, you should ensure that you don’t scare your leopard gecko when you are about to handle it.
A good thumb of the nail is to approach your leopard gecko’s cage slowly and ensuring that your leopard gecko can see and hear your soft voice.
The sudden approach stresses leopard geckos, and it can end up getting defensive and thus bite you.
Don’t stop handling your leopard gecko if it bites.
In the beginning, it is likely for your leopard gecko to bite you to keep you off. If this happens, you should not drop or return your leopard gecko immediately.
Instead, it would be best if you continued handling it without showing any sign of panic. Sudden drop can hurt your leopard gecko while the immediate return to its cage will make it always bite you when it wants you to let it be.
Avoid hand feeding or be careful when doing it.
Hand feeding is a good habit, especially when you are trying to bond with your pet. However, your leopard gecko can mistake your finger for food.
Thus, if a leopard gecko’s bite frightens you, avoid hand feeding or be careful when doing it.
Avoid handling during shedding.
Shedding for most reptiles, including leopard geckos, is a stressful process. During this period, leopard geckos tend to get aggressive, especially when pulling off the skin.
Therefore, you should avoid handling your leopard gecko until the shedding is over.
Leopard Geckos Teeth Issues
Did you know that leopard geckos also suffer from oral health issues? As we said earlier, leopard geckos are polyphyodont and have approximately 100 teeth. These teeth are replaced every 3-4 months.
The teeth are tiny and can almost not be seen unless you observe closely. Sometimes leopard geckos get oral infections from small cuts especially from stuck food in their mouth.
These oral infections include,
Mouth rot is the most common health issue that your leopard gecko is likely to encounter.
It affects your leopard gecko’s gums and mouth. Fortunately, it’s easy to tell if your leopard gecko is infected with mouth rot if you observe any of the below symptoms.
- Loss of appetite
- Unusual substance around its mouth
- Swelling around the mouth or head
Mouth rot in leopard geckos can be fatal if not detected early. Thus, regular checkup for these signs and symptoms can help you save your leopard gecko.
Oral Care for Your Leopard Geckos
It is your obligation as a pet owner to keep it safe and healthy. Thus, it is critical to ensure that you provide good oral care to keep mouth rot at bay.
You can adopt several habits to prevent, treat, or avoid recurrence of oral infections. These habits include:-
Most health issues, including mouth rot, can be fatal. However, if detected and treated during the initial stages, they are manageable and do not cause much damage.
Therefore, frequent checkup for any health issues in leopard gecko can help you keep it safe.
You should always check your leopard gecko mouth every time you are handling it.
Remove stuck food immediately.
Stuck food and cuts from food are the major causes of mouth rot in leopard geckos. Thus, it is important to regularly check and remove any stuck food in your leopard gecko’s mouth.
Luckily, it is not difficult to check your leopard gecko’s mouth. All you have to do is gently strike its mouth repeatedly, and out of irritation, it opens its mouth. You can now peek at its mouth to observe the teeth and gums.
Provide adequate housing and setup
Improper cage setup can cause health issues to leopard geckos. Thus, it is critical to provide adequate temperatures and humidity to prevent these issues.
It is also important to ensure that your leopard gecko’s cage is clean and free from pests.
Provide a proper diet
Lack of proper diet can also cause health issues in leopard geckos. Therefore, you should always ensure that your leopard gecko’s diet includes a balanced diet full of vitamins.
Take your leopard gecko to an exotic vet immediately.
If you observe any mouth rot symptoms, you should immediately take your pet to an exotic vet for treatment.
The early treatment guarantees complete healing and prevents major damages in leopard gecko’s mouth.
Additionally, it would be best if you never tried to treat mouth rot in your leopard gecko at home. Some chemicals you might be thinking are safe to treat your leopard gecko can cause serious health issues.
Leopard gecko’s teeth are extremely tiny. Thus, it is almost impossible to hurt you. Also, leopard geckos are docile and social. And, most of their bites are accidental and never intentional.
It is, therefore, unnecessary for you to panic if they bite. Instead, you should stay calm and continue handling it for some time.
Since leopard gecko’s bite is neither poisonous nor venomous, you should only clean the wound with antibacterial soap and disinfect the wound with hydrogen peroxide.
We hope that you will have a good time with your leopard gecko. All the best!