Maybe you’ve just adopted a crested gecko and are wondering if its white lips are normal, or perhaps your crested gecko’s colors have changed recently. Either way, you’re probably curious about why your pet’s mouth appears to be white.
So why is my crested gecko’s mouth white? It’s normal for crested geckos to have white lips, and the white coloration may stand out even more when your pet is particularly alert or fired up. But in some cases, white coloration in or around the mouth area can indicate health problems.
Read on to find out what is considered “normal coloration” for a crested gecko. We’ll also go over the reasons why crested geckos change color, including the growth and developing process, shedding, and firing up and down. Finally, we’ll explain a couple of health issues that can make your pet’s mouth appear white.
What Is Normal Coloration for a Crested Gecko?
Many crested geckos have white lips or a white “smile,” and this is absolutely nothing to worry about. It’s good to know some general information about normal coloration for crested geckos, so that you’re able to identify any possible concerns.
There are many different crested gecko morphs, or visually distinct forms of crested geckos. As time has gone on, crested geckos have been selectively bred to create the most appealing visual patterns.
Some crested geckos are patternless, and instead consist of one solid color. This color can range from a pale, creamy shade all the way to almost black. Other crested geckos are bicolor, while others have spots, stripes, and more intricate patterns.
Can Crested Geckos Change Colors?
Crested geckos can absolutely change color, not only throughout the lifespan but even throughout the course of a day!
Color Changes During Development
As your crested gecko grows, its coloration may change. It’s very common for a baby or hatching to have different coloration when it becomes full-grown. Crested geckos are usually born with orange or red coloring that changes over the next several months. Typically, a crested gecko has reached its definitive coloration by the time it’s one year old.
Shedding and Color Changes
Like most other reptiles, crested geckos shed their skin on a regular basis. The shedding process can cause noticeable color changes, but as long as shedding is successful, there’s no cause for concern. A few days before shedding begins, your crested gecko will begin to appear more dull and pale. After shedding, it should return to its usual coloration.
Firing up and Firing Down
Crested geckos change color in a way that’s similar to chameleons. “Firing up” is the term that’s typically used when a crested gecko changes color as it becomes more alert and active.
Although “firing up” might sound a little worrying, it’s actually very normal. Firing up is simply your crested gecko’s reaction to its environment. While sleeping, crested geckos are “fired down” and will appear darker.
However, not all crested geckos fire up and fire down frequently. Each crested gecko is an individual with its own personality and behavioral patterns.
Firing up has many different uses for crested geckos. It helps them to camouflage with the environment if they’re feeling stressed or threatened, and it’s also a way to communicate with other crested geckos. Firing up can also be a direct reaction to a change in light, smells, temperature, or humidity.
Typically, firing up involves brighter and more intense colors. If your crested gecko is yellow, orange, or red, expect its colors to intensify quite a bit. If your pet has a darker base, it will turn a deep brown or black when fired up.
Firing down has the opposite effect and you’ll notice that your crested gecko turns lighter or paler. Some crested geckos turn a shade of light gray that is almost white. Brown, tan, and gray shades are all common when fired down.
Could a White Mouth Indicate Health Issues?
While white lips are pretty typical for crested geckos, there are some situations where a white mouth may be cause for concern.
Calcium Sacs and Calcium Crash
Your crested gecko has calcium stores or calcium sacs which are located in the back of its throat. When they’re healthy, the calcium sacs should appear round and white. But gray or black calcium sacs indicate that your pet needs more calcium in its diet.
Calcium is very important for crested geckos. Having enough calcium can prevent metabolic bone disease. Sufficient amounts of calcium are essential for egg production and breeding as well. Overall, healthy calcium stores will lead to increased health and wellbeing for your crested gecko.
In order to check out your crested gecko’s calcium stores, you’ll need to gently coax your pet to open its mouth. Keep in mind that although it’s a good idea to make sure your crested gecko’s calcium stores are normal, your pet won’t enjoy it very much. It may try to bite you or poop on you in defense, so be prepared!
To get your crested gecko to open its mouth, press lightly on both sides of your pet’s jaw. This should cause your crested gecko’s mouth to open wide. If you see round, white calcium sacs, your crested gecko is doing just fine.
Keep in mind that it’s normal for male crested geckos to have much smaller calcium stores than females. Female crested geckos have larger calcium stores because they use the calcium for egg production.
If you breed your female crested gecko, it’s very important to check on her calcium stores on a regular basis. This is because breeding females can go through a calcium crash, which means that all of the calcium available in the calcium stores is used up at once for egg production.
If your crested gecko isn’t provided with enough calcium, metabolic bone disease can occur. A simple calcium supplement should do the trick to keep your crested gecko healthy.
Mouth Rot/Infectious Stomatitis
Mouth rot, also known as infectious stomatitis, is relatively common in crested geckos. In some cases, mouth rot can cause thick white saliva, making the mouth appear white-colored.
Causes of Mouth Rot
Mouth rot is usually a result of poor terrarium conditions, which lower the effectiveness of the immune system. If the immune system isn’t working properly, it’s harder for crested geckos to manage the bacteria that’s naturally present in their mouths. This bacteria can then develop into an infection.
Symptoms of Mouth Rot
Mouth rot is usually accompanied by the following symptoms:
- Cuts in mouth tissue
- Food stuck in teeth
- Lack of appetite
- Lack of water intake
- Yellow pus or oral tissue
- Swollen gums and oral tissue
- Red oral tissue
- Face and head swelling
Treatment for Mouth Rot
Most crested geckos can recover from mouth rot or infectious stomatitis, but you won’t be able to treat the problem at home. It’s necessary to take a trip to the reptile vet for professional care.
The first thing the vet will do is perform a full physical exam on your pet. Once they’ve verified that your crested gecko is suffering from mouth rot, the vet will clean out your pet’s mouth and administer antibiotics.
If your crested gecko’s case of mouth rot is especially severe, it may be necessary for your pet to undergo surgery so that the veterinarian can take out any damaged or dead tissue. Once you and your crested gecko have returned home, it’s very important to listen to all of the vet’s aftercare advice.
This usually includes instructions on how to clean out your crested gecko’s mouth, as well as how to administer medication.
Many crested geckos have white lips or a white “smile,” and this is totally normal! As crested geckos grow and develop during their first year of life, they often experience interesting and visually appealing changes in coloration.
Aside from color changes during development, crested geckos also change color throughout the shedding process and when they are fired up or fired down. Fired up crested geckos will appear brighter and more vibrant, while crested geckos that are fired down will look more dull.
Your crested gecko has two round, white calcium sacs located in the back of its throat. If these calcium sacs appear gray or black, your crested gecko needs more calcium in its diet. Mouth rot is a serious health issue that can make your pet’s mouth appear white due to the development of thicker saliva.
Mouth rot is treatable, but you’ll definitely want to take your crested gecko to the veterinarian. Be sure to keep your pet’s terrarium clean and maintain optimal conditions in order to promote good health.