Mouth rot is a serious and often fatal disease that affects bearded dragons. It is caused by a fungus that can invade the mouth, throat, and digestive system. Symptoms include drooling, loss of appetite, weight loss, swollen mouth and throat, difficulty breathing, and eventually death. In this article, we will discuss what causes mouth rot, how to diagnose it, and how to treat it.
What is Mouth Rot in Bearded Dragon?
Mouth rot, also called Infectious stomatitis is caused by poor husbandry by the owner, resulting in excessive stress for the Bearded Dragon.
Your Beardie gets stressed if you keep it in a small tank, don’t give it enough hiding places, handle it too much or keep the temperature too low in its terrarium.
When your Bearded Dragon is under stress, its immune system gets weaker and this makes it more susceptible to disease.
The image below shows Bearded Dragon diagnosed with mouth rot.
With a weak immune system, Beardies become prone to bacteria that would normally not make them sick. The most common bacteria associated with infectious stomatitis are Pseudomonas, Aeromonas, Klebsiella, and Salmonella.
This bacteria is found in the environment, especially in stagnant water. It can enter your Bearded Dragon’s body through the nose or mouth and cause an infection.
This bacteria is also found in the environment, usually in stagnant water. It can cause skin infections, gastroenteritis (inflammation of the stomach and intestines), and septicemia (blood poisoning).
This bacteria is found in the environment, especially in soil and water. It can cause respiratory infections, urinary tract infections, and skin infections.
This bacteria is found in the environment, usually in poultry or other animals. It can cause food poisoning, gastroenteritis, and septicemia.
The most common cause of mouth rot is bacteria, but a fungus can also be the culprit. The bacteria or fungus invades the Bearded Dragon’s mouth, throat and digestive system through an open wound. In most cases, the cause is a combination of both bacteria and fungus.
Causes of Mouth Rot in Bearded Dragons:
Poor husbandry practices:
The most common cause of mouth rot is poor husbandry. If you don’t take care of your Bearded Dragon properly, it will become stressed and its immune system will weaken. This makes it susceptible to infection.
If your Bearded Dragons keeps having unchewed food materials by the side of their mouth, these could become entry points for bacteria and fungus. The image below shows an example of how food material can remain in the mouth for long;
Improper feeding practices:
Another common cause of mouth rot is improper feeding practices. If you don’t feed your Bearded Dragon properly, it can lead to malnutrition. This can weaken its immune system and make it more susceptible to infection.
Some common feeding mistakes include not offering enough food, not offering a variety of food, and not offering the right size food.
Inadequate cage conditions:
If you don’t provide your Bearded Dragon with a well-ventilated and spacious cage, it can lead to respiratory problems. This can weaken its immune system and make it more susceptible to infection.
Cage conditions that are too humid can also lead to infection.
If you handle your Bearded Dragon too much, it can become stressed. This can weaken its immune system and make it more susceptible to infection.
Role of low levels of ascorbic acid (vitamin C):
Vitamin C is important for the development and repair of body tissue. It also helps the immune system function properly. Vitamin C is found in green vegetables, fruits and some supplements. If your Bearded Dragon doesn’t get enough vitamin C, it will be more susceptible to infection.
A deficiency of vitamin C can lead to a weakened immune system, which makes your Bearded Dragon more susceptible to infection.
A lack of vitamin C can also cause poor wound healing, which can lead to mouth rot.
Research has found an association between low levels of ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) and the development of Mouth rot.
What are the early signs of mouth rot in Bearded Dragons?
The early signs of mouth rot include:
-Anorexia (loss of appetite)
-Inflammation and redness of the gums
If you see any of these signs, take your Bearded Dragon to the vet as soon as possible.
What you’ll see on their mouth:
One evidence of developing mouth rot disease in beardies is the changes of color in their mouth. The mucous membranes will redden and swell. As the infection progresses, you might see white or yellow pus building up on the gums and teeth. In more severe cases, the pus might drain out from the corners of their mouth.
Your bearded dragon’s eating habits:
Another sign that your bearded dragon might have mouth rot is when they stop eating or eat less than usual. They will also lose weight even if they’re eating the same amount as before. This is because the infection prevents them from digesting their food properly.
As the infection gets worse, your bearded dragon will start to regurgitate their food. You might also see them drooling more than usual.
Mouth rot can also cause behavioral changes in your bearded dragon. They might become lethargic and less active. They might also spend more time hiding than usual.
How is mouth rot diagnosed?
To diagnose mouth rot, your vet will take a sample of the discharge from your Bearded Dragon’s mouth and send it to a lab for culture and sensitivity testing.
This test will identify the type of bacteria or fungus that’s causing the infection and which antibiotics will be effective in treating it.
Your vet will also do a physical examination of your Bearded Dragon. They will look for signs of dehydration and malnutrition. They will also check for any other underlying health conditions that might be contributing to the mouth rot.
Evolution of mouth rot disease in Bearded Dragons:
- Early Stages: At the early stages of the disease, the gingival tissue will become reddened in color. The oral mucous membranes will also start to swell.
- Middle Stages: As the infection progresses, you might see white or yellow pus building up on the gums and teeth. In more severe cases, the pus might drain out from the corners of their mouth.
- Later Stages: In the later stages of the disease, the mouth rot will start to affect the bones and tissues around the mouth. The infection can also spread to the throat, esophagus and lungs. This can lead to pneumonia and other serious health complications. Your Bearded Dragon might also stop eating altogether and lose a lot of weight.
How is mouth rot treated?
Mouth rot is treated with a combination of oral and topical antibiotics. Oral antibiotics are given to treat the infection. The topical antibiotics are applied to the affected area to help heal the tissue.
Your vet might also recommend giving your Bearded Dragon a course of oral steroids to help reduce the inflammation.
In severe cases, your Bearded Dragon might need to be hospitalized so they can be monitored closely and given IV fluids and antibiotics.
The topical application is a more gentle way to treat the mouth rot and will be less likely to cause further damage to the affected tissue.
Your vet might also recommend giving your Bearded Dragon vitamins and supplements to help boost their immune system. They might also recommend changes to their diet,
Flush your Beardie’s oral cavity:
A chlorhexidine solution, diluted at 1:10 with saline is an excellent solution to flush your Beardie’s oral cavity.
Perform this procedure 2-3 times per day until the mouth rot has resolved.
In severe cases, surgery might be needed to remove the infected tissue. This is usually a last resort and is only done if the mouth rot has spread to the bones and tissues around the mouth.
Criticism of oral medications:
- The mouth tissue is debilitated and its ability to absorb and process oral medication will be limited.
- There is a risk of inducing additional damage to the affected tissue from trying to force open the Bearded dragon’s mouth to administer the medicine. Aminoglycosides are preferred for beardies with debilitated mouth tissue. They are topically applied and don’t require the mouth to be opened.
Your Bearded Dragon will also need to be treated for dehydration and malnutrition. They will be given fluids under the skin or in their vein. They will also be given vitamins and minerals to correct any deficiencies.
After treatment, it’s important to monitor your Bearded Dragon closely. The infection can come back quickly if it’s not completely eradicated.
You should take your Bearded Dragon back to the vet for a check-up 2-4 weeks after treatment is completed.
After treating your Bearded Dragon, their mouth will look like the one in the image below;
How can you prevent mouth rot?
The best way to prevent mouth rot is to keep your Bearded Dragon healthy. This means feeding them a nutritious diet, providing them with adequate UVB exposure, and keeping their enclosure clean and free of parasites.
Feed diet with Vitamin C:
Make sure to include foods rich in vitamin C in your Bearded Dragon’s diet. Some examples are:
providing them with a UVB light:
You should also provide your Bearded Dragon with a UVB light. This will help them to synthesize vitamin D3, which is essential for calcium absorption.
Without any parasites:
It’s also important to make sure that your Bearded Dragon doesn’t have any parasites. If they do, their immune system will be weakened and they will be more susceptible to infections.
Some parasites such as mites are hematophagous, meaning that they feed on blood. This can lead to anemia, which can make your Bearded Dragon even more susceptible to infections. They also transmit bacteria pathogens such as Aeromonas hydrophila, which can cause mouth rot.
To prevent parasites, you should:
-Quarantine new animals before introducing them to your current animals
-Regularly clean and disinfect their enclosure
-Take them to the vet for regular check-ups and parasite testing
You can have your Bearded Dragon’s vet check for parasites during their regular wellness exams. You should also check their enclosure for signs of parasites on a regular basis.
You should also take care of your beardie’s gum as explained in the video below;
Regularly cleaning the enclosure:
Last but not least, you should regularly clean your Bearded Dragon’s enclosure. This will help to prevent the build-up of bacteria and other organisms that can cause infections.
You should clean their enclosure at least once a week. If you have more than one dragon, you should clean it more often.
You should also disinfect their enclosure with a bleach solution (1 part bleach to 10 parts water) on a monthly basis.
While mouth rot can be a serious infection, it’s important to remember that it’s treatable. With prompt treatment, most dragons make a full recovery.
Mouth rot is a serious infection that can quickly become life-threatening. If you think your Bearded Dragon might have mouth rot, take them to the vet right away.
Q: Will my Bearded Dragon die from Mouth Rot?
A: Mouth rot can be fatal if it’s not treated promptly. However, with prompt treatment, most dragons make a full recovery.
Q: How long does it take for Bearded Dragons to recover from stomatitis?
A: It can take several weeks or even months for your Bearded Dragon to fully recover from stomatitis. However, with prompt treatment, most dragons make a full recovery. Expect the recovery to take at least 3 weeks but can last for up to 8 weeks depending on the severity of the infection.
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Hi there! My name is Ben Domb, an owner of two pets and I am one of the co-founders of OurPets HQ. I have several years of experience as a pet care professional in the New England region having spent time in various roles including a stint at a veterinary hospital in Upstate New York, Syracuse area. I am a certified pet care professional and mostly spend my time researching pet nutrition and sharing my thoughts in various blogs and columns. With quarantine and COVID restrictions, I have been spending a lot of time a lot with my dogs and cat and loving it! I also run a small consulting business providing advice to parents on pet nutrition, and especially safe homemade options to try. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org