Crested Gecko Tail Rot: Signs, Causes & Treatment

Have you ever noticed your crested gecko’s tail turning black and dry? If so, you might be dealing with a serious condition called tail rot. Tail rot is a bacterial infection that causes the tail to decay and eventually fall off. It can also spread to other parts of the body and lead to death.

Tail rot is one of the most common and dangerous diseases that affect crested geckos, so it’s vital to know how to prevent and treat it.

In this post, we will show you what causes tail rot, how to spot the signs and symptoms, and what to do if your crested gecko has it.

What Is Crested Gecko Tail Rot?

Crested gecko tail rot, also known as necrosis, is a condition where the tail of the gecko becomes infected, leading to tissue death and decay. This issue typically starts at the tip of the tail and can progress upwards if left untreated.

When a crested gecko experiences tail rot, the affected area becomes discolored, hard, and dry. As the infection progresses, the tail may become increasingly brittle and may even break off. Besides being visibly unpleasant, tail rot can cause a great deal of discomfort and pain to your gecko.

Moreover, if the infection spreads to other parts of the body, it can lead to severe health complications and, in extreme cases, can be fatal.

Early detection and treatment can help prevent this from happening. An untreated tail rot might result in the need for amputation, which, although not life-threatening, can be a stressful and painful experience for your gecko.

In addition, geckos with a dropped tail may feel more vulnerable and stressed, as their tail serves as a primary defense mechanism.

Is Tail Rot Painful For Geckos?

As much as we love our little scaly friends, their inability to communicate their discomfort in a language we understand can make it challenging to ascertain if they’re in pain. However, based on my observations and knowledge in the field, tail rot does indeed seem to cause discomfort for our gecko pals.

First and foremost, it’s important to remember that crested geckos, like many reptiles, are masters of disguise when it comes to hiding signs of pain or illness. They’ve evolved this way to avoid appearing weak to predators.

But that doesn’t mean we can’t pick up on subtle signs of discomfort. As a pet owner, you’ll start noticing changes in your gecko’s behavior. A gecko experiencing tail rot might become less active, show a decreased appetite, or even exhibit changes in its usual demeanor.

From my own experience, I once had a gecko named Lily who was typically quite energetic, but when she developed tail rot, she became noticeably less vibrant. Lily’s change in behavior was an indication to me that something was wrong, prompting a visit to the vet where the tail rot was diagnosed.

Moreover, we can infer pain from the fact that tail rot is an infection. Like infections in other animals, including humans, it’s reasonable to assume that it causes discomfort. The affected area can be sensitive, and in advanced cases, the gecko may react protectively if the area is touched.

Tail rot also affects a gecko’s mobility. The tail plays a crucial role in a gecko’s movement and balance. So, when a gecko has tail rot, its ability to navigate its surroundings can be compromised, which could lead to frustration and further discomfort.

How To Identify Crested Gecko Tail Rot

Source: Reddit

Identifying tail rot in crested geckos can be a bit tricky, but with a keen eye and some knowledge, you can spot it early and get your gecko the help they need. Remember, it’s all about understanding what’s normal for your gecko and being attentive to any changes.

Visual Symptoms of Tail Ror

Let’s start with the visual clues. Crested geckos usually have plump, smooth tails, but tail rot can cause noticeable changes.

  1. Color Changes: You might notice a discoloration, typically a darkening, towards the end of the tail. This can range from a subtle change to a stark black, depending on the severity of the rot.
  2. Texture Changes: The texture of the affected area may appear rougher or drier than the rest of the tail. You might also notice a distinct line separating the healthy part of the tail from the affected area.
  3. Signs of Necrosis: In advanced cases, parts of the tail may appear shriveled or start to wither away. This is a clear sign of necrosis, which is essentially the death of the tail tissue.

Behavioral Changes Due to Tail Rot

Our geckos can’t tell us they’re feeling unwell, but their behavior can give us clues. Watch out for:

  1. Changes in Eating or Sleeping Habits: If your gecko starts eating less or sleeping more than usual, it might be feeling under the weather.
  2. Lethargy: Tail rot can make a gecko feel pretty lousy, leading to a general lack of energy or enthusiasm.
  3. Agitation: On the flip side, your gecko might become unusually agitated or restless, particularly when you handle its tail.

Even with the best intentions, identifying tail rot can be challenging for us pet owners. If you suspect your gecko might be suffering from tail rot, it’s important to consult a vet as soon as possible. Early diagnosis can prevent the rot from spreading further up the tail and potentially save your gecko from a lot of discomfort.

Causes Of Crested Gecko Tail Rot

Tail rot or tail necrosis in crested geckos is typically caused by an internal infection, which can be the result of various factors. The following are some of the most common causes of infections that lead to tail rot in crested geckos:

1. Injuries Leading to Untreated Open Wounds

Sometimes, our little pals can get a bit rough during play or may accidentally hurt themselves, leading to open wounds. If these wounds aren’t treated promptly, they can become a breeding ground for bacteria, which, unfortunately, can result in tail rot.

I remember when my gecko, Lizzy, had a small cut on her tail. I immediately consulted with a vet to ensure proper treatment and, thankfully, we managed to avoid any complications.

2. Malnourishment Due to Improper Diet

A balanced diet is key to a healthy crested gecko. Lack of proper nutrients can weaken their immune system, leaving them susceptible to infections like tail rot.

I’ve always been cautious about Lizzy’s diet, ensuring it’s packed with the right balance of insects, fruits, and commercial gecko food.

3. Incomplete Shedding Leading to Health Complications

Crested geckos, like all reptiles, shed their skin. Sometimes, though, they may struggle to completely shed the skin on their tails. This leftover skin can cut off blood circulation, leading to tail rot. Regularly observing your gecko during its shedding period can help prevent this.

When I notice Lizzy having difficulty shedding, I make sure to create a more humid environment to aid the process.

4. Incorrect Temperature in the Habitat

Geckos are ectothermic, meaning they rely on their environment to regulate their body temperature. If their habitat is too cold, it can slow down their metabolism and immune response, making them more prone to infections like tail rot.

That’s why I always keep a careful eye on the temperature in Lizzy’s terrarium.

5. Too Much Moisture Leading to Bacterial Growth

While crested geckos thrive in a humid environment, too much moisture can lead to the growth of harmful bacteria and fungi. These microorganisms can cause infections such as tail rot.

It’s a bit of a balancing act—Lizzy’s terrarium needs to be humid, but not overly so. Regular cleaning and proper ventilation can help maintain the right balance.

How To Treat Crested Gecko Tail Rot

Now, if you’ve noticed signs of tail rot in your gecko, don’t panic! There are a few things you can do right at home. The first step is gently cleaning the affected area with a mild antiseptic solution. You’ll want to be as gentle as possible to avoid causing any further discomfort. Ensure the area is completely dry before returning your pet to its enclosure. It’s as simple as that!

However, and I can’t stress this enough, it’s crucial to get your little buddy to a vet as soon as you suspect tail rot. I know, I know, trips to the vet can be stressful, but trust me, it’s the best thing for your gecko.

The vet will likely conduct a thorough examination and may even take a small tissue sample to confirm the diagnosis. It’s always best to be prepared for this. Remember, they’re there to help!

Once confirmed, the vet will propose a treatment plan tailored specifically for your crested gecko. This can range from antibiotics to, in more severe cases, surgical intervention.


It’s great news if your vet prescribes antibiotics, you have caught the tail rot in time, which means your crested gecko won’t need to undergo amputation. It’s important to keep your gecko hydrated while on antibiotics as this can help their kidneys process the medication more easily.


Surgery is typically recommended in cases where tail rot has progressed to help reduce the extent of tail loss by removing the infected tissue before the infection spreads any further.

Now, don’t let that scare you! I know “surgery” sounds intimidating, but these procedures are routine and have high success rates. And, of course, your vet will explain everything to you in a language you can understand.

How to Prevent Tail Rot in Crested Geckos

Prevention doesn’t just spare your crested gecko the discomfort of tail rot, it also contributes significantly to their overall wellbeing. A healthy gecko is a happy gecko, and we all know how their happiness can light up our lives, right?

Regular preventive measures help ensure that our little friends lead long, comfortable lives, allowing us to create countless memories with them.

A Detailed Preventative Measures Owners Can Take

  1. Proper Habitat Maintenance: Make your crestie’s home a haven. Clean the enclosure regularly to prevent bacterial growth. Replace the substrate frequently and keep the humidity levels in check. Remember, a clean home is a happy home, especially for our geckos!
  2. Regular Health Checks: Be proactive about your gecko’s health. Regularly examine your crested gecko’s tail for any signs of rot, wounds, or discoloration. Early detection can help nip the problem in the bud, so don’t skip those health check-ups.
  3. Safe Handling Practices: Be gentle with your crestie. Their tails are delicate, and rough handling can lead to injuries. Always supervise children and make sure they understand the proper way to handle these gentle creatures.


The signs of tail rot can be subtle at first, making it all the more important to maintain a keen eye and a deep understanding of your gecko’s normal behavior and appearance. A change in tail color, texture, or your gecko’s overall demeanor can be a silent cry for help. And yes, it is painful for them, which is why early detection and intervention is so crucial.

While treatment is possible, the process can be stressful for both you and your little friend. Visiting a vet, administering antibiotics, or in severe cases, tail amputation, are all part of the journey to recovery.

The key takeaway, however, is that prevention is always better than cure. A balanced diet, correct habitat temperature, appropriate moisture levels, and attention to the shedding process can keep tail rot at bay. As a fellow crested gecko enthusiast, I can’t stress enough how vital it is to create a safe, comfortable, and healthy environment for our pets.

Writing this article has been a labor of love, driven by my passion for these fascinating creatures and my own experiences in caring for them. It’s my hope that you’ve found the insights shared here valuable, and that they’ll serve as a guide in your journey as a crested gecko caregiver.

Remember, these creatures depend on us, their human caretakers, to understand and meet their needs. When we rise to this responsibility, we’re rewarded with the joy of watching our crested geckos thrive. Let’s continue to learn, share, and grow in our knowledge, making the world a better place for our reptilian companions.

Filled under: Lizards

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