Did you know that leopard geckos have very small, albeit very sharp, teeth? With teeth that small, do they serve a purpose? Here’s everything you need to know about leopard gecko teeth.
Leopard Geckos do have teeth. Leopard geckos have 100 teeth in their mouth that they will keep replacing until the day they die. They use their teeth for grabbing prey and for defense. Despite having very sharp teeth, leopard geckos are not prone to biting their handlers.
What Type Of Teeth Do Leopard Geckos Have?
Leopard geckos are polyphyodonts. This means their teeth are continuously replaced by new ones when they lose one or more. This change usually happens to their entire set of teeth every 3 to 4 months.
They also have pleurodont teeth, which explains why they manage to replace their teeth despite reaching adulthood. Pleurodont teeth have longer roots than acrodont teeth and are fused to the inner side of your Leo’s jaw bone.
Acrodont teeth have shorter roots and are not replaceable once the animal reaches adulthood.
If you look even closer, you’ll see that a leopard gecko’s teeth are similar to ours. It also has an enamel covering the dentin. It is then anchored to the jaw bone by the roots.
The only difference is they have three times more teeth than us. That and the fact that their teeth are highly specialized for catching and holding on to prey. Ours are designed for cutting and chewing food.
Do Leopard Geckos Have Sharp Teeth?
Yes. They have really sharp conical teeth. If you look closer, you’ll notice that their teeth have a near-uniform size and appearance from the front to the back of the jaw.
They don’t need specialized teeth like ours and have the same type of tooth running the entire length of their mouth.
How Many Teeth Do Leopard Geckos Have?
Leopard geckos have 100 teeth. This is distributed in an uneven manner. Their upper jaw has more teeth than the lower jaw. A leopard gecko will have grown and replaced over 4000 teeth throughout their lifetime.
Do Baby Leopard Geckos Have Teeth?
Baby leopard geckos hatch with a complete set of teeth. You just don’t see it because they’re too tiny. Despite their diminutive size, they’re just as sharp.
You’ve seen how small an adult leopard gecko’s teeth are. Now, imagine that on an even smaller version of the animal.
It’s near impossible to see. But baby leopard geckos do have teeth. Cute little baby leopard gecko teeth.
Why Do Leopard Geckos Have So Many Teeth?
Why would a leopard gecko need that many teeth for such a tiny creature?
Leopard geckos hunt their food in the wild. One of the highlights of owning a leopard gecko is watching it stalk, grab and eat its “prey” when you feed it.
They rely on their speed and ability to clamp down on their food. Their teeth help them hold on to elusive prey that may squirm free once caught.
This number of teeth guarantees a better hold as they slowly maneuver their food into their mouths.
If the prey item is too big, they’ll repeatedly smash it on the ground or shake their heads to rip pieces out of the food. This can be a very violent spectacle to watch. It’s fascinating, nonetheless.
The sad thing is, your leopard gecko can lose some teeth when they do this. This is why it is highly advised to give them smaller pieces of food at a time.
Do Leopard Geckos Bite and Does it Hurt?
Yes and no. Leopard geckos can bite, but it doesn’t really hurt when they do. This is due to their overall size, weak jaws, and relatively small teeth. When they do bite, it’ll feel more likely like a hard pinch. And that’s reserved for the largest specimens.
A leopard gecko’s bite may not hurt that much, but they have sharp teeth. Usually, their teeth won’t even break the skin. But if their bite draws blood, make it a point to seek medical assistance to avoid any infection. They may not be venomous, but bacteria are still present in a leopard gecko’s mouth.
With All Those Teeth in Their Mouths, Do Leopard Geckos Need a Dentist?
Another obvious thing we have to talk about is, do leopard geckos have dental issues? With so many teeth in their mouth, there’s bound to be a problem that will crop up in the future, right?
With this logic established, taking care of your leopard gecko’s teeth is considered extremely important.
The good news is you don’t need to provide any special dental care for your pet. Leopard geckos are pretty much capable of caring for their teeth. Keeping their enclosure clean and providing them with a healthy diet is all you need to do.
Leopard geckos’ teeth also fall out all of the time. The good thing is, new ones always replace them. This happens naturally or as a result of biting on hard objects.
With the natural process, the back teeth are usually the first to go and progress towards the mouth’s front. This process completes itself over a few months.
Now, if your leopard gecko bites on a hard object, chances are, the teeth will get ripped out. Remember, they have pleurodont teeth. These aren’t the strongest anchored teeth in the world. A hard-shelled prey item can easily make your leopard gecko lose a few teeth.
You don’t need to worry, though. There’s always a new set waiting right below the old ones.
What you really need to worry about is mouth rot.
Leopard geckos are prone to developing mouth rot. Mouth rot is the abnormal proliferation of bacteria in the jaw due to an infection caused by lesions and other factors.
Here are some reasons why your leopard gecko would develop mouth rot:
A Dirty Enclosure and Poor Living Conditions
This is perhaps the biggest reason why mouth rot occurs. A dirty enclosure is filled with bacteria. Leopard geckos are extremely prone to bacterial infections. This can seriously affect the equilibrium in their mouths, leading to mouth rot.
Clean your leopard gecko’s enclosure regularly. This prevents mouth rot, and makes it a healthier place for your pet to live.
Another reason could be poor living conditions. Not providing enough heat spots is one reason why your Leo isn’t getting enough nutrition.
Don’t get me started on a combination of the two. Living in a dirty enclosure with poor living conditions is definitely a death sentence for any creature in your care.
Poor Nutrition or Feeding on the Wrong Food
The second biggest reason for mouth rot is poor nutrition. The lack of calcium, phosphorous, and other vitamins can quickly destabilize your leopard’s gecko overall health. An unhealthy animal is prone to developing unwanted health conditions, one of which is mouth rot.
The wrong food could also bring this condition about. Your leopard gecko could bite on prey items too hard and lose its teeth or experience traumatic lesions in its mouth. Feed them something soft such as crickets or mealworms.
The wrong food could also make your leopard gecko not want to feed, leading to malnutrition and other unwanted medical conditions. Ants are not a great option for leopard geckos.
Note: Mouth rot can be fatal. If not detected early or treated appropriately, your leopard gecko can die.
Taking Care of Your Leopard Gecko’s Teeth
Providing oral care for your leopard gecko doesn’t mean brushing its teeth regularly. That’s counter-productive. Instead, you just need to be observant.
Any changes in its behavior, physical appearance, or routine should be treated as warning signs.
You don’t necessarily need to open its mouth to see if there’s anything wrong. Usually, it’s already obvious from the outside. If you do need to open your leopard gecko’s mouth, all you need to do is gently tap its snout, blow air onto its face, or stroke the underside of its jaw.
You need to be quick, though, because leopard geckos aren’t that cooperative when handled and checked in this manner. Here are other things you can do to care for your leopard gecko’s teeth:
Reptiles are notorious for hiding what ails them. This is because any sign of weakness can lead to death in the wild.
So, always make sure you give your leopard gecko a daily physical and oral check to ensure mouth rot doesn’t ever take place. If you see any signs, take your pet to the vet immediately.
If you have to, keep a daily log to monitor any changes.
Signs That There May Be Something Wrong With Your Leopard Gecko’s Teeth:
Appetite loss and reduced desire to drink water – leopard geckos with dental issues or oral lesions will have no desire to feed or drink because of the pain or discomfort they’re feeling.
Drooling – leopard geckos with an oral infection may produce more saliva than necessary. This is easy to spot as excess saliva will collect and hang or dribble from your pet’s mouth. In addition, they may keep their mouths often to get rid of too much saliva leading to more drool.
Foul smell emanating from your pet’s mouth – an imbalance in the bacteria inside your leopard gecko’s mouth will result in a foul smell. Look out for remnants of their food stuck within their teeth or necrotic flesh that may be causing this.
Remove Food Stuck in Your Leopard Gecko’s Mouth Immediately
A daily oral check should show you if there is any food stuck in your leopard gecko’s mouth. Depending on the size, you can easily remove this with the help of tweezers or by squirting water.
Stuck food can (a) get rotten or (b) rub and cause cuts and lesions inside your leopard gecko’s mouth.
If this is a regular occurrence, change their food to something softer or smaller that won’t snag in their mouth.
Schedule a Regular Visit to the Veterinarian
Like cats and dogs, Leopard geckos benefit greatly from regular visits to the vet. Mouth rot is a severe oral condition that only an expert should handle. Scheduling a regular visit will prevent this condition from ever existing or reaching a point of no return.