Why Is My Leopard Gecko Sneezing? (Common Causes)

A photo of a leopard gecko sneezing

All leopard gecko owners know that these reptiles can be vocal. Whether it’s a chirp, hiss or bark, leopard geckos make all sorts of wonderful sounds (If you would like to know more about leopard gecko sounds have a read of my article).

Some noises sound harmless and cute, but others might make you worry and want to check them out. Sneeze and cough sounds are one of the noises that might alarm you, so let’s look straight at the question.

Why do leopard geckos sneeze? If you find your Leopard Gecko is sneezing it will usually be caused by dust from loose types of substrate, this can cause irritation in the throat and lungs. However prolonged periods of sneezing could indicate a respiratory infection in your leopard gecko.

As a responsible pet owner, you’ll know that most leopard geckos’ behaviours and actions are instinctual and you don’t need to worry about them.

Just like when humans have a cold, sneezing can mean a cold so it is always worth checking out. Here are some reasons why your leopard gecko might be sneezing. We’ll also discuss what to do if sneezing is a problem.

Loose substrate causing sneezing

Just like us, leopard geckos can sneeze when debris and dust are kicking around. If you use a loose substrate like sand (which we don’t recommend), it can be easy for particles to make their way into the nostrils and throat when leopard geckos walk around on top of it.

When leopard geckos are healthy, a little sneeze or cough now and then is nothing to worry about. However, if you’re worried and you think it could be down to your substrate, you might want to look at using another substrate that isn’t as loose or fine.

Good substrates are newspaper, stone tile or slate rock. With substrates like this, you’ll reduce how much debris and dust is getting into your pet’s body. These are much safer and easier to clean too.

What works for one leopard gecko might not work for another. Some are perfectly fine with a loose substrate while others react by sneezing a lot. If sneezing happens frequently and persistently and your leopard gecko doesn’t have any other symptoms, starting off with a change in the substrate can help you eliminate one cause of sneezing.

As with many things with your leopard gecko, trial and error are needed here. 

Respiratory infections

Just like coughs and colds in humans, respiratory infections in leopard geckos are pretty common – more so than you might think. Many owners have experienced respiratory infections with their leopard geckos.

There are many different causes for these infections. Not having a good environment makes them more susceptible; humidity that is too high or too low, for example, might put your leopard gecko more at risk.

How do you know if a Leopard Gecko has a  respiratory infection?

When humans have a respiratory infection there are more symptoms than just sneezing. The same applies to leopard geckos. When your Leopard Gecko is sneezing, look for other symptoms from the following list:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Loss of appetite
  • Wheezing sounds when breathing 
  • Lethargy 
  • Weight loss
  • Open-mouth breathing
  • Discharge from nose or mouth

If your pet has these symptoms alongside sneezing, it’s highly likely to be a respiratory infection.

Many infections will not need treatment and your leopard gecko will get better on its own but it’s always best to seek advice from a vet in case treatment is needed.

Depending on the type of infection, antibiotics or other medicines may be required.

What to do if your leopard gecko is constantly sneezing?

As well as getting your leopard checked out for his sneezing, you’ll need to make sure you practise good husbandry.

You should ensure the terrarium is at the right temperature and humidity and clean it out regularly so that there isn’t a build-up of bacteria. To check the temperature and humidity, you’ll need gauges. Humidity should be between 20% and 40%. 

In addition to temperature and humidity, you should provide your leopard gecko with different feeders so that he is in the best health. If you provide the wrong food or too much of one type of food, your leopard gecko can gain weight.

Weight gain can mean difficulties in breathing. Making sure your pet’s diet is varied will prevent weight gain and ensure your gecko is in the best possible health for long life. Please read my ultimate leopard gecko diet guide for more information.

You should replace the substrate in your terrarium every 2 to 4 weeks and clean it out at the same time. As with any pet in a tank or cage, urine and faecal matter can build up over time and with leopard geckos, this can be walked all over the terrarium.

Cleaning your pets home frequently will ensure there is no build-up of harmful bacteria.

How stress can impact your leopard gecko’s health 

If your leopard gecko has a respiratory infection, this means his immune system might be low. Stress can reduce a leopard gecko’s ability to fight off infection as it lowers the immune system significantly. To keep your pet in the best of health, you should try to ensure a stress-free environment. 

My guide about stress and happiness in leopard geckos should help

When your pet does have a respiratory infection, he might not behave in his usual way – much like we act differently when we are ill.

Instead of your pet’s usual love for affection, touching or holding him might irritate him when he’s ill and cause added stress.

Equally, if you often provide live insects like locusts and crickets that they have to chase, you might want to hold back for a few days until your pet is feeling better.

It’s possible your leopard gecko won’t be interested in food but also, fast-moving insects can stress him out and can even nip at him, which will cause more stress when he’s already under the weather.

If he’s not on form, these biting feeders might be able to attack and cause sores or infections on his body, which is definitely not what you need when he’s already ill! Feeders like roaches and mealworms are fine for when they’re not feeling so good.

What does a leopard gecko sneeze sound like?

As I mentioned before Leopard Geckos make plenty of different noises so it is hard to sometimes distinguish a sneeze.

So What does a Leopard Gecko sneeze sound like? When a leopard gecko sneezes, it’s a cute sound that recognisable as a sneeze. Occasionally it sounds like a sneeze and cough combined or it might even have a little whistle sound to it.

Conclusion – why do leopard geckos sneeze?

As we’ve seen, leopard geckos can sneeze and do so for different reasons. The first thing you should check is your substrate and terrarium cleanliness for anything loose and dusty.

You should also ensure it is the right temperature and humidity. If this doesn’t stop the sneezing or your leopard gecko has other symptoms like lethargy, open mouth breathing, nasal discharge, or weight loss, you should get him checked out for respiratory infections.

Just like humans, many respiratory infections will clear on their own but it might be that your pet needs antibiotics or other medication. Finally, ensuring your pet’s environment is stress-free will help him to recover and be healthy.

Whatever the reason for your leopard gecko sneezing, the chances are it will be completely harmless. Many leopard gecko owners report that their pets sneeze frequently and are entirely healthy. As always, it’s best to get things checked out if you’re concerned.  

 

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