The Symptoms And Treatment of Mouth Rot in Bearded Dragons

Mouth rot, also called infectious stomatitis, necrotic stomatitis or oral inflammation, is caused by micro-organism infections in the mouths of reptiles. It is a fairly common medical condition seen in reptile pets, including Bearded dragons.

This is what the inside of a normal Bearded dragon mouth should look like. Image Kitenutuk (CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported)

What Is Bearded Dragon Mouth Rot?

Bearded Dragon Mouth Rot is a bacterial infection that commonly affects reptiles in captivity, especially Bearded Dragons. This infectious and painful stomatitis (mouth disease) is caused by various gram-negative bacteria such as Aeromonas, Mycobacterium, Pseudomonas, Klebsiella, and Salmonella.

It can also be complicated by a viral infection like Papillomaviridae, Ranavirus, Adenovirus, Herpesviruses, or Picornaviridae. In severe cases of neglect or an inadequate environment (in terms of temperature and humidity levels), fungi may also cause the spreading of the infection to the esophagus or lungs.

Bearded Dragon Mouth Rot can cause pneumonia and even fatal outcomes if not properly treated. That’s why it is essential for reptile owners to regularly monitor their bearded dragon for any changes in appearance or behavior which may indicate illness or disease.

Through proper diagnosis and treatment early on one can help protect their bearded dragon from this potentially life-threatening mouth rot.

Bearded Dragon Mouth Rot Causes

Bearded Dragons are prone to something known as Mouth Rot, an infection caused by gram-negative bacteria. When their immune system is compromised, viruses can be added to the mix and make things worse.

Mouth Rot never occurs on its own but results from long-term stress and poor living conditions. Weakened immunity leads to Bearded dragons being susceptible to infectious stomatitis and other diseases.


While Bearded Dragons can typically tolerate the company of their own age when the tank is adequately sized, overcrowding should be avoided. Overcrowding can lead to increased aggression among the dragons and leave them more exposed to infections like mouth rot, which can easily spread if too many lizards are housed in the same enclosure.

What’s more, Bearded Dragons typically prefer to live independently and overcrowding can strip them of this natural instinct. For all these reasons, it is important that you provide adequate space for your Bearded Dragon in order to ensure its happiness and health.

Oral injuries

Mouth rot is a frequent issue for bearded dragons, and it is often caused by injuries to the mouth. These injuries can occur while your lizard is catching its food, scratching or rubbing its head on the tank wall, or chewing on objects found in its terrarium.

It’s essential that you stay prepared for such situations so that you can be ready to provide treatment any time your pet may have a wound in its mouth. Be sure to give your best effort to treat any wound before it gets too complicated and risks infecting the whole area.

Poor diet and lack of water

For a pet to have a healthy body and strong immunity, poor diet and lack of proper hydration are essential factors that should be taken into account. Without enough water, their bodies cannot efficiently convert the food that they eat into the nutrients they need.

Anorexia is typically the first sign of poor diet and lack of proper hydration that owners notice in their pets. Additionally, excess junk food in their diets can contribute to stomatitis or other health concerns in your furry friend. It’s important to remember that providing good nutrition and access to plenty of clean water is essential for your pet’s well being.

Improper temperature and humidity

Improper temperature and humidity can be extremely detrimental to a Bearded Dragon’s health. Too cold or overheated tanks with low humidity levels can have devastating effects on the reptile, eventually leading to major health issues like mouth rot or other infections if they are not addressed promptly.

It is absolutely essential that owners keep their bearded dragons inadequate living conditions in order to maintain a strong immune system and prevent the onset of any diseases or illnesses.

By monitoring the temperature, humidity, and overall cleanliness of their habitat, owners will be able to ensure that their Bearded Dragons remain healthy and disease-free.

Unclean tank

Maintaining your tank clean is essential not only for the health and well-being of the animals inside, but also to ensure the safety of your family living around. An unclean terrarium can quickly trigger various health issues which can be detrimental, especially mouth rot.

Therefore, it’s important to regularly check and keep your tank clean. Other than that, you should also pay attention to other factors such as humidity levels, temperature ranges, and lighting conditions in order to ensure a healthy habitat for any animal inside. Keeping an unclean tank can cause a variety of diseases and illnesses, so it’s wise to take proper steps ahead of time to prevent them from occurring.

External parasites

External parasites are an unfortunate reality for Bearded Dragons and can have serious ramifications for their health. These parasites attach themselves to the dragons’ skin and weaken their immune system, making them more susceptible to diseases like Mouth Rot and other infections.

Left untreated, these parasites can cause severe irritability and even death in some cases. That’s why it’s really important for owners of Bearded Dragons to be on the lookout for symptoms of parasites such as itching, discoloration of the skin, loss of appetite, and excessive scratching. If any of these signs appear, it is advisable to take the dragon to a vet as soon as possible.


Stress has been identified as a major contributing factor to mouth rot in Bearded Dragons. Even if your dragon isn’t subjected to any of the other known causes of the disease, inadequate handling, and a stressful environment can still lead to infection.

When your pet experiences stress, it weakens its immune system, making them more vulnerable to diseases like mouth rot.

It’s important that you are mindful of the environment in which you keep your pet and handle them properly – this is key for helping to prevent mouth rot from occurring.

Signs of mouth rot in Bearded dragons

A broad diagnosis of mouth rot is made visually by proper inspection of the oral cavity/mouth. This disease can be classified as early-stage mouth rot and late-stage mouth rot. Early-stage mouth rot is evident when there is significant swelling, redness and bleeding spots around the teeth line. During the later stages the mouth edges are lined with mucous, puss/dead tissue and even blood. In severe cases excretions can be seen coming from the nostrils and eyes and the skin of the lips starts to peel.

Bearded dragon with stomatitis. Image James CritterDr Askew DVM (CC BY YouTube)

Bearded Dragon Mouth Rot Symptoms

Bearded Dragons are relatively lucky when it comes to avoiding mouth rot, however, it’s important that you’re still aware of the tell-tale symptoms in case your pet gets infected. This way you can react and take your lizard to the vet as quickly as possible.

The great thing about recognizing mouth rot symptoms in Bearded Dragons is that they are very distinct and obvious. From excessive salivation to having difficulty eating, these signs of infection will be clear and unmistakable.

Yellowish patches inside the mouth

Yellowish patches inside the mouth are a sure sign of infectious stomatitis in your Bearded Dragon. They appear as small, yellowish-grey, or whitish-gray patches and can cause discomfort for your lizard. The patches may also bleed and be quite painful.

If you notice any of these symptoms, it is important to consult a veterinarian immediately since mouth rot can quickly spread and become more dangerous.

There are also other indirect symptoms such as avoidance behavior when your pet becomes weary of being touched around the affected area that can indicate something is wrong.

It is always best to take precautionary steps when dealing with potential illnesses, so make sure to watch out for any suspicious symptoms in order to keep your lizard healthy and happy!

Reduced appetite or lack of it

When your Bearded Dragon stops eating, it can be alarming. Reduced appetite or lack of it is a symptom of numerous health issues that are accompanied by bloating and not drinking water should not be taken lightly. The best course of action when this occurs is to seek advice from a vet as soon as possible.

If an infection has taken hold, it can make it challenging for your beardie to eat due to a sore mucous membrane in its mouth. As they usually enjoy their food, if you spot them consuming smaller portions than normal then this could indicate there may be an underlying issue that needs resolving.

Refusing to drink water

If you have a Bearded Dragon that is ill, refusing to drink water may be one of the first signs. This is because an ailing lizard may not just avoid drinking water but also reduce its food intake.

Therefore, it’s important to pay close attention to your pet’s drinking habits and recognize any changes in consumption as quickly as possible. When mucous membranes are sensitive, even contact with water can cause pain.

Therefore, immediately get it checked by a veterinarian if you notice your pet refusing to drink water or consuming less than usual.

Bloating and swollen head, particularly face

If you own a Bearded Dragon, you may have been surprised to find your beloved pet suddenly suffering from bloating and swollen head and face. This symptom is paradoxical because of their lack of appetite even when food intake has been significantly reduced.

In most cases, this strange swelling is accompanied by changes in the mouth, such as patches. But even if these changes are absent, it can still be a sign of an underlying infection.

If your Bearded Dragon stops eating and shows signs of becoming bloated, it’s essential that you take them to the vet for proper diagnosis and treatment.

Swollen or bleeding gums

Swollen or bleeding gums are an indication that oral disease may be present. While these symptoms don’t necessarily mean you have mouth rot, it’s still important to pay attention to them.

Bleeding and swelling of the gums are signs of inflammation and can indicate a more serious underlying issue, like mouth rot. If left untreated, it can lead to tooth or gum loss.

Broken or loosened teeth

Broken or loosened teeth are a major cause for concern in Bearded Dragons. They are almost always a sign of advanced disease and prevent regular nutrition and water intake. Without quick action, this can result in further health risks that can lead to other illnesses like mouth rot.

That’s why it’s important to take your pet to the vet as soon as you notice these signs. The sooner they’re diagnosed and treated, the more chance you have of preventing further damage and further illness down the road.

Plus, if it is an advanced case, your vet can provide you with advice on how best to manage their daily nutrition and hydration with the broken or loosened teeth issue.

Excessive and thick saliva and yellow pus inside the mouth

When a Bearded Dragon is unwell, one of the warning signs you might observe is excessive drooling. The saliva may also be noticeably thicker than usual, and in some cases, yellow pus can be seen inside and around their mouths.

This pus buildup can indicate that the animal is seriously ill and requires care from an experienced veterinarian

Extreme symptoms

Bearded dragons can suffer from extreme symptoms if their illnesses go undiagnosed. In these cases, skin peeling, excretion coming out of the nostrils and eyes, as well as pneumonia may develop.

Additionally, keep an ear out for any weird noises coming from your bearded dragon while they are breathing; this could be a sign of them suffering from a respiratory infection. Symptoms to be on the lookout for include snoring, wheezing, and gurgling.

It is important to remember that beardies don’t usually make any noise when they’re healthy – it’s only when something isn’t right that there might be a sound coming from them!

What to do if your Bearded dragon has mouth rot

If you suspect that your Bearded dragon might have mouth rot, the first two things to do is to isolate it from other Bearded dragons and to consult someone who will be able to help with staging, identification of the cause and proper treatment. The best is to take it to an experienced reptile friendly veterinarian or herpetologist. To see a veterinarian, an upfront booking will probably be required.

It is also important to practice proper hygiene whilst handling infected Bearded dragons. The most important hygiene principle when it comes to handling a sick (or healthy) Bearded dragon is by cleaning/washing your hands and using a proper disinfectant. Also see Bearded dragon owner hygiene for more information.

What Is The Treatment For Bearded Dragon Mouth Rot?

It’s critical that all bearded dragon owners understand how to diagnose and treat a mouth rot infection in their pet. If you have multiple bearded dragons, it is essential that you separate the one infected with mouth rot from the others so as not to spread any contagious virus, fungus, or bacteria.

Seeing a veterinary professional as soon as possible is paramount. Through exact diagnostic tests, the vet will be able to identify any underlying cause and properly prescribe antibiotics or antifungal treatments through injection, rinse, or ointment.

Tooth rot in bearded dragons may be caused by an infection, stress, or bad living conditions. So, addressing these issues is essential to treating it effectively.

In extreme cases of mouth rot, your beardie may become dehydrated and refuse to eat entirely.

How to treat infection

Treating a reptile’s mouth infection requires professional help from your veterinarian. Your vet can effectively diagnose the issue and provide the appropriate antibiotics to clear it up.

They will also teach you how to cleanse the infected areas in your reptile’s mouth so that the infection clearing medicines can do their jobs better.

It is essential to follow your veterinarian’s instructions precisely, as human medication can be dangerous for pets. This is especially true when using hydrogen peroxide – it can severely damage healthy tissues if used incorrectly.

When providing treatment, be mindful of accidental aspiration or inhalation – these can lead to complications that require more attentive care than you may have planned for. With proper training from a certified vet, proper treatment will result in a healthy pet!

How to prevent infections

Preventing infections in your reptile pet is easy if you adopt simple preventive measures. Start by taking him for yearly checkups, which will help you identify any potential problems before they become too serious.

You should also maintain a proper environment temperature and humidity in his habitat, as well as provide adequate space. Make sure he has a hide box or shelter to rest in and make sure to provide him with plenty of healthy food.

When inspecting your pet, watch out for signs of mouth rot; if you don’t see them but do spot food particles or grains of substrate stuck in his mouth, use a soft cotton bud to gently remove them — being careful not to injure him during the process.

Just remember that smaller reptiles are more fragile than their larger counterparts, so be extra gentle when handling them! If you’re unsure about how to handle reptiles for examination purposes, your vet should be able to give you some tips.

Treatment of mouth rot in Bearded dragons

Before treatment for mouth rot is started, the type of micro-organism needs to be established. Veterinarians will be able to do swobs and have access to laboratory services to get the exact organism and the best choices for antibiotic and antifungal medicine. Very often, the underlying cause (see below) will also have to be rectified. In the majority of cases, mouth rot will be caused by bacteria, but fungal infections are also known to appear from time to time. These infections are treated with the appropriate anti-microbial medicine in the form of injections, rinses and/or ointments.

Mouth rot in Bearded dragons is very often as a result of stress. Sick, injured and incorrectly kept Bearded dragons are mostly at risk for this disease. A major factor contributing to mouth rot in Bearded dragons is incorrect husbandry, e.g. incorrect humidity/temperatures, overcrowding and unhygienic practicesBite injuries on the lips can also spread to the inside of the mouth. For successful treatment of mouth rot, these factors also need to be addressed.

Apart from treating the disease and the environmental factors, Bearded dragons with mouth rot might also need ‘supportive treatment’. Many of these reptiles will be dehydrated and anorexic (not eating). In severe cases, the mouth rot organism might also spread to other parts of the body such as the lungs or intestinal tract. Because of its potentially life-threatening consequences, guidance from an experienced reptile friendly veterinarian comes highly recommended.

How To Prevent Mouth Rot In Bearded Dragons?

In order to prevent mouth rot in your bearded dragon, it is important to practice good husbandry with their enclosure. This includes investing in a thermometer and hygrometer to make sure you can monitor the humidity and temperature of their habitat accurately.

The humidity should typically be between 20-40%, while the ambient temperature should stay between 75-85° F (29° C). To provide them with warmth, make sure you have a suitable basking spot that reaches 88-100°F (38° C).

Furthermore, you should also provide them with proper light cycles using a UV lamp. Doing so exposes them to essential nutrients as well as regulating their day/night cycle.

Additionally, providing your pet with mineral and multivitamin supplements helps boost their immune system and keeps bones healthy and strong– which also prevents illnesses such as upper respiratory infections and metabolic bone disease.

On top of this, having a varied diet consisting of fruits, vegetables, and gut-loaded feeder insects will ensure your beardie is always in optimal health and has high levels of immunity.

Mouth rot is a serious health concern for bearded dragons, and can be deadly if left untreated. The best way to prevent mouth rot in your beardie is to keep its habitat clean and free of bad bacteria or fungus.

This means regular cleaning and disinfecting of the enclosure, as well as making sure that your pet has a hiding spot so it feels safe from stress.

Additionally, frequent check-ups with a vet are recommended, as they will be able to detect any signs of illness early on and ensure proper care is given to your pet. Lastly, an adequate diet is essential.

Bearded dragons should eat a varied diet high in nutrient-rich proteins and vegetables that can help support their immune system and reduce their chances of developing mouth rot.


Is Mouth Rot Painful For Bearded Dragons?

Bearded dragons suffer from a painful condition called mouth rot, which is similar to what humans experience when dealing with dental problems or other oral issues.

How do you clean a bearded dragon’s mouth?

A bearded dragon’s mouth should be cleaned twice a week by using a wet cotton bud or ball. Wipe around the teeth and gums with this.

Does Mouth Rot Go Away Over Time?

Sadly, mouth rot doesn’t just pass without treatment. Antibiotics, a deep clean, and even surgery may be necessary to help cure the condition.

Can Humans Get Mouth Rot?

Though humans cannot get the same type of mouth rot as lizards and other animals, a condition known as ‘trench mouth’ can occur in teenagers and younger adults. This rare disease is associated with poor living conditions, so thankfully it’s very rarely seen today.

Trench mouth causes painful ulcers and irritation to develop on the inside of the cheek and tongue, resulting in inflammation, bad breath, and even fevers. If you think you have a trench mouth, be sure to see a doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment.

Can Bearded Dragon die of Mouth Rot?

Mouth rot occurs when a bacterial infection takes over the reptile’s mouth, leading to an abscess or pus in the area. If left untreated, it can cause further complications like dehydration and even death.

To prevent this from happening, be sure to watch your Bearded Dragon for any signs of illness such as bubbling or purulent lesions in the corner of its mouth.

If you do notice signs of potential illness, take it to a veterinarian immediately for antibiotics and other treatments so that it does not succumb to the infection and die prematurely.


Mouth rot in bearded dragons can be a serious problem that affects their overall health and wellbeing. Taking proper care of your dragon may help to prevent mouth rot but it’s important to remember that issues can still arise.

Educating yourself about the signs and symptoms of mouth rot is extremely important to ensure early detection and fast treatment for your beloved pet. With early intervention, you can help keep your bearded dragon healthy, happy, and active for many years to come.