How to Treat a Leopard Gecko’s Dropped Tail

Photo by: Bigstockphoto
Photo by: Bigstockphoto

It’s normal for lizards to drop their tails. This is a defensive mechanism called “autotomy.” Autotomy occurs when the lizard senses predatory danger. It will literally use its own tail to distract predators. Don’t worry, no matter how severe the wound looks, the tail will grow back!

Of course, it’s equally important to observe certain things to ensure your pet recovers from a dropped tail without complications. In today’s post, we are giving you tips on how to treat your leopard gecko in case of dropped tail:

First Aid Treatment

As soon as your lizard dropped its tail, soak the affected area in a mixture of Betadine and warm water. The solution will inhibit bacterial growth and heal the open wound. You should soak the creature for 15 to 20 minutes. Change the soak if the water gets too cold or if the lizard urinated or defecated in the water.

After soaking the affected area, flush the stump with more Betadine. Then, apply triple antibiotic ointment on the affected area. Do this each night for a week or as long as it takes for the open wound to heal over.

Note: If the tail did not break closely to the gecko’s body, you can treat the wound on your own. However, if the tail broke too closely to its body, it’s best to let a vet handle the treatment. For incomplete tail breakage, it might require stitches or amputation. Again, rush your pet to the vet in such cases. Your pet will require emergency medical attention if it’s bleeding profusely.

Healing and Re-Growth

To promote proper healing and prevent complications, keep your pet’s cage clean. Remove all contaminants that could infect the wound. Also, the temperature should be within the optimal range.

In addition, boost the calcium intake of your pet. This will hasten the healing process. Do not put your pet gecko in any stressful situation as it heals from its wound. Provide all the necessities your pet needs to heal, including a hide box or a cage carpet.

When the wound starts to heal, a new tail will start forming. The exposed bundle of muscle will fold over the bone. The stump will dry out and form a cap. At first, the affected area becomes swollen. By the week’s end, swelling will go down. Eventually, new skin will start growing.

Younger lizards will grow their tail quickly. Assuming that you gave your injured pet the proper treatment, the tail will grow back quickly, even in older lizards. But don’t be surprised if the new tail is not the same color or length as its old tail. New tails might come with abnormal scales or patterns too. A regenerated tail has a rod of cartilage rather than bone. At this point, the new tail can no longer be dropped.

Preventing Dropped Tails

It’s important to determine the reason why your pet lost its tail to begin with. This condition could’ve been a result of stress, an unknown predator, infections or diseases and environmental stressors. You want to remove any irritants that could lead to another incident of tail dropping. Create a safe environment for your pet so it won’t feel threatened or stressed out.

Finally, do not just grab your lizard carelessly. Give your pet enough time to get accustomed to your presence. Never hold the creature by its tail or catch it even as it struggles.