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Mouth Rot in Reptiles

December 15, 2013

The medical condition in which a reptile’s mouth becomes inflamed is commonly called mouth rot. Lizards, snakes, and turtles can be affected by this disorder. Learn more as your Black Hills veterinarian discusses the disease below.


Reptiles can come down with mouth rot from a variety of causes. Once your pet’s immune system is weakened, it can’t keep the normal mouth bacteria under control, and an infection blossoms. Your pet’s immune system could be compromised because of improper temperature or humidity levels in the terrarium, poor diet, or oral injuries.

Over time, a mouth infection can spread into the esophagus and eventually the lungs, leading to a host of other problems.


Signs of mouth rot include a loss of appetite, visible dead tissue in the mouth, pus coming from the mouth and/or nose, and red, inflamed mouth tissue. Contact your veterinarian immediately if you notice any of these symptoms, or if your reptile seems unusually lethargic or depressed.


Once your veterinarian has confirmed the presence of mouth rot through a physical exam, a treatment of antibiotics and a thorough cleaning of your pet’s mouth will likely follow. In severe cases, surgery might be required to remove dead or intensely damaged oral tissue.

In surgical cases or other instances in which your reptile’s mouth is recovering, fluid therapy and food support may be needed for your pet to eat and drink. Ask your veterinarian about these options.


Simply keeping your reptile healthy is the best way to prevent mouth rot in reptiles. Make sure your reptile’s diet is a quality and healthy one. Keep the terrarium environment clean with weekly disinfecting sessions and daily checks for dirty spots or uneaten food. Also make sure your pet’s living space is maintained at the proper temperature and humidity level. Call your Black Hills veterinarian’s office to ask about these factors as well as more questions you might have on your reptile’s oral health.


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