Do Leopard Geckos Sneeze?

Anybody who’s owned a leopard gecko for a while knows that they can be pretty vocal when they want to be.  From chirping to hissing to barking, they make all kinds of different noises.  And while some noises are cute and completely harmless, others noises, such as this, might need to be taken a little more seriously to ensure their safety.  That said, let’s get right into the question.

Do leopard geckos sneeze?  Yes, they do, and the noise they create when they do it is sometimes described as a cough as well.  They’ll sneeze when they have debris in their nostrils, mouth, or when they have a respiratory infection.

Just like a lot of things leopard geckos do, most of their actions and behaviors are usually nothing to worry about.  As we know with humans though, sneezing can indicate a cold, so with that said, it’s worth investigating before brushing it off as a cute noise.  Here are some things that can cause your leopard gecko to sneeze along with steps you’ll need to take if things get serious.

Loose Substrate

Leopard geckos are just like us, whenever dust and debris get kicked around, we start to sneeze like crazy.  With loose substrates like sand (not recommended) and Eco Earth, it’s easy for debris to make its way up into the nostrils and back of the throat when our geckos are walking on it all day.

If your leopard gecko seems to be happy and there are no other symptoms going on besides the sneeze, I’m almost 100% sure that when they do sneeze, it’s just because of what I mentioned above, trapped debris.

If your leopard gecko is healthy, then there’s absolutely no harm in them sneezing or coughing from time to time.  But if it bothers you, then I suggest looking into getting other substrates that aren’t so fine or loose such as slate rock, stone tile, or newspaper.

Not only will these substrates cut back on the amount of debris making its way into your leopard geckos body, but it’s also much safer than other substrates, like sand, if that’s what you happen to be currently using.

I, personally, have my leopard gecko housed on Eco Earth.  But surprisingly, I haven’t had an experience where I’ve seen or heard them sneeze or cough.

Because some leopard geckos react differently to some things compared to others though, that doesn’t mean that what you’re experiencing will be exactly what I’m experiencing even if we do happen to have our leopard geckos housed on the same exact substrate.

If the sneezing persists and is happening frequently and they’re not showing any other symptoms, I suggest starting with a different kind of substrate and then going from there.  There are a couple of reasons why they’ll do it, so in order to find out exactly what the cause is, it may take a little trial and error before figuring it out.

Potential Respiratory Infection

As much as I’d hate to admit it, respiratory infections are more common than some may think they are.  Tons of owners have gone through this type of infection with their reptiles over the years and although I wish it was untrue, misinformed owners are the ones who have and always will be likely to experience this with their leopard gecko.

These types of infections are caused by a plethora of different things such as high humidity, low humidity, and just overall a bad environment for the leopard gecko.  If your leopard geckos sneezing is accompanied by the following, according to this source, it’s likely that what they’re experiencing is, in fact, a respiratory infection:

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

It can also be caused by a poor diet, a type of illness, and parasites.  Once your leopard gecko begins to show signs that what they’re experiencing is a little more than a cute sneeze, at that point, the next best thing that you can do is get in contact with your local herp veterinarian.

Some health-related issues that leopard geckos go through can sometimes be resolved at home, but because this is an infection, the only way you’ll be able to get your leopard gecko through it is to have them be seen by a professional who can give them something to fight against the infection.

In addition to giving them antibiotics, what you’ll also want to do is make sure you’re practicing good husbandry.

This will include making sure your tank is at the right humidity and heat levels, that you’re providing them with a multitude of different feeders for diversity and good health, and that you’re cleaning out their tank regularly to prevent a heavy build-up of ickiness and bacteria.

For humidity and temperature readings, you’ll need a humidity and temperature gauge.  If you’re not sure where your humidity levels should be at, then upon looking at your humidity gauge, it should be around 20 and 40 percent.

For more information on where your temperatures should be at along with the significance in the role they play, check out this article here that I wrote.  For food recommendations, I recommend checking out this page here.

Eating the wrong insects can cause a ton of weight gain in leopard geckos and as a result, they might have trouble breathing because of all of that extra weight gain.  By switching up their diet, you’re not only preventing that from happening, but you’re also providing them with much-needed vitamins that’ll help them live a long and healthy life.

As for cleanliness, I just recommend cleaning out your tank and replacing your substrate one or twice a month.  Over the course of time, fecal matter and urates get tracked all over the tank causing it to become more and more unsanitary as the days go by.  So by cleaning out your tank frequently, you’re really cutting back on that bacteria build-up.

Stress Will Make Things Worse

If you suspect that your leopard gecko does, in fact, have a respiratory infection then while waiting to take them in to be seen by the vet, make sure you’re keeping the stress down as much as possible so that they can have the power to hang in there until they’re able to get seen.

If you didn’t know, stress significantly lowers a leopard geckos immune system.  So doing lots of holding, touching, or anything else that may irritate them in a time where they’re not feeling the greatest will likely stress them out a ton.

Also, avoid feeding them insects that they’ll have to chase as this will also stress them out.  Not only will they likely not be interested in the food, but fast-moving feeders like crickets and locusts can nip at your leopard gecko and cause even more issues than you’d probably like to be dealing with.

Not only can biting feeders induce loads of more stress, but they can also cause your leopard gecko to develop sores and further infections on the body as well.  This can be hard for your leopard gecko to recover from when they’re not feeling under the weather, so imagine how hard it’ll be for them when they are.

That said, I suggest sticking to feeders like mealworms and dubia roaches until they’re feeling better.  If you’re not already feeding your leopard gecko either of these two insects, then I recommend checking out this food list here that I’ve put together.

As you probably already know, leopard geckos will only eat live food.  So after clicking on the link above, make sure that the insects you’re buying are in fact live so that you don’t end up wasting your time and money.

If you do all of these things and really make sure you’re taking extra care of your leopard gecko, I don’t doubt that they will recover in no time.


I’m hoping that everyone who has read this isn’t experiencing anything serious with their leopard geckos as a lot of people who catch their lizard sneezing isn’t, but just to be on the safe side, it’s always good to know all the potential causes so that you can be prepared whenever something serious does in fact happen.

To give you peace of mind, I’ll let you know that most instances I’ve seen where owners have shown concerns about their leopard geckos sneezing have been completely harmless.  Some owners even reported that their leopard gecko had been doing it for years and that their geckos were completely healthy.

Respiratory issues are very common amongst the reptile community though so because that’s a fact, it’s safer to look at all of the possibilities before assuming that what our leopard geckos display whenever they make an odd noise or movement is just a cute gesture that they do for no reason.

As long as you care for your leopard gecko and you provide them with everything that they need, it’s likely that you have absolutely nothing to worry about whenever you happen to catch them sneezing again.

I’m Devin Nunn, an average joe that just so happens to have a deep love and passion for everything to do with reptiles. Because taking care of them for the vast majority of my life wasn’t fulfilling enough, I decided to begin educating others about them through my articles. read more...