7 Possible Reasons Why Your Crested Gecko Is Sneezing

Hearing your crested gecko sneezing will likely alarm you, but fortunately, most of the causes are relatively benign and easy to treat. 

However, prompt action is crucial to ensure your pet doesn’t develop more severe health issues from whatever is causing them to sneeze. 

Keep reading to learn more about the potential reasons your crested gecko is sneezing, how to treat the issue, and how to prevent it from recurring.

crested gecko sneezing 1

Incorrect/Excess Humidity

One of the most common environmental reasons causing crested geckos to sneeze excessively is incorrect humidity settings in their enclosure. 

While these lizards are fairly hardy pet reptiles, they are still reasonably sensitive to sudden changes in their surroundings. 

Thankfully, this issue is usually benign. 

Treating it is relatively simple, provided your gecko hasn’t been sneezing for a long time and hasn’t developed any additional symptoms of potential respiratory infection or other health issues.

More specifically, if the humidity in your gecko’s enclosure is too high, the air will become too moist for them to breathe comfortably and will potentially irritate their lungs. 

As a result, they will sneeze and sometimes also develop a runny nose.

Ideally, the humidity settings in your gecko’s enclosure should always be between 60% and 80% at the absolute highest. 

If the humidity exceeds 80%, hold off on misting the enclosure for a bit until it drops to an acceptable level.

Alternatively, if the air becomes too dry in the enclosure, your gecko will also sneeze due to the dry air irritating their mouth, nose, and lungs. 

If humidity levels drop below 60%, be sure to mist the enclosure more often to increase it to an acceptable level.

To keep track of the humidity in your gecko’s enclosure, you’ll need at least one hygrometer set up somewhere inside the enclosure. 

However, it’s even better to have two set up at opposite ends of the enclosure, so you are able to monitor any fluctuations throughout the setup. 

You more accurately pinpoint particular areas needing more or less moisture.

Opting for a dual thermometer/hygrometer is best, as you won’t need to set up multiple separate thermometers and hygrometers throughout the enclosure. 

Here’s a good dual thermometer and hygrometer we like on Amazon. 

REPTI ZOO Reptile Terrarium Thermometer Hygrometer Digital Display
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  • Easy to install: suction cup can be adsorbed firmly on the side or back of the terrarium
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Incorrect Temperature

The next possible reason why your crested gecko is sneezing is incorrect temperature settings in their enclosure. 

Crested geckos are unique as reptiles as they can comfortably withstand pretty low temperatures. 

However, they will still become irritated and potentially start sneezing if the temperature in their enclosure becomes too low or too high.

In general, the correct temperature range for a crested gecko enclosure is between about 72° degrees Fahrenheit (22° C) and 77° degrees Fahrenheit (25° C). 

As we touched on earlier, although they are relatively hardy and forgiving reptiles compared to most other species commonly kept as pets, crested geckos are still pretty sensitive to their enclosure settings. 

This includes the temperature in their enclosure.

If the enclosure temperature is too low, your gecko will start sneezing because they are too cold and cannot sustain a comfortable body temperature. 

This is especially true if the humidity settings in the enclosure are also too high or too low. 

Discharge from the nose and mouth is also a common side effect of incorrect temperature settings.

On the other hand, your gecko will also likely sneeze if the temperature settings in their habitat are too high. 

This is because the high temperatures will cause the air to become much drier and, in turn, more irritating for your gecko to breathe comfortably. 

High temperatures also commonly cause dehydration in crested geckos, which will further aggravate your gecko’s sinus issues.

Be sure to keep at least one working thermometer (ideally a dual thermometer/hygrometer like the one mentioned earlier) in your gecko’s enclosure at all times. 

It’s even better to have two thermometers set up at opposite ends of the tank. 

Hence, you are able to more accurately monitor any sudden shifts in temperature, make adjustments to any problem areas, and rearrange heat fixtures if needed. 

Dirty/Dusty Enclosure

Another common cause of sneezing in crested geckos is a dirty or dusty enclosure. 

If your gecko’s tank becomes dirty, tiny dust particles in the air will irritate your scaly friend’s nose and throat, in turn causing them to sneeze and potentially also develop a runny nose.

Remember, you should ideally be spot cleaning your gecko’s enclosure at least once a day and deep cleaning it every week or so. 

This means thoroughly wiping down and disinfecting every surface and any items within the enclosure like hides, branches, food and water dishes, etc. 

If you have a bioactive setup, you won’t need to clean quite as often thanks to your “clean-up crew” of isopods and springtails, but you should still be checking surfaces often for grime and dirt and spot cleaning the substrate, and other surfaces your gecko has dirtied up with their waste.

If you’ve fallen behind on your cleaning schedule lately for your gecko’s enclosure, this is likely the cause of their sneezing. 

During deep cleans, remove your gecko from the tank entirely and place them in a temporary holding tank while you properly sanitize their main habitat.

Learn more about crested gecko respiratory diseases and when to be worried.

Mold/Fungal Growth In Enclosure

crested gecko sneezing 2

Mold and various types of fungal growth are somewhat common in crested gecko enclosures due to the very warm and moist settings cresties need to thrive. 

It turns out these warm, moist settings are also ideal for all kinds of molds, mushrooms, and many other types of fungi! 

While many of them are harmless, it’s still a good idea to remove anything you’ve noticed growing in your gecko’s enclosure.

The most common areas for mold and fungal growth to develop in your gecko’s enclosure are essentially all of the warmest and wettest areas of the tank. 

While they are capable of growing just about anywhere, the main problem areas for mold and fungi include:

  • On or around plants in the enclosure
  • On and around your gecko’s food and water bowl
  • Hides, especially your gecko’s moist hide for shedding
  • Near heat fixtures
  • On substrate, especially loose substrate

Again, as we touched on earlier, make sure you’re cleaning your gecko’s enclosure regularly. 

Daily spot cleans are essential and allow you to quickly check areas of the habitat that might be fostering mold or fungal growth. 

If you spot anything unusual growing in the tank, promptly remove your gecko from the enclosure and place them in their “holding tank” while you remove the growth, sanitize the area, and remove and replace any affected substrate immediately. 

There’s a good chance spore will be rustled up and spread around temporarily while you clean the area, so keeping your gecko in a separate enclosure in the meantime is a good safety measure. 

After all, these spores in the air spread by the mold or fungal growth were likely what was causing or at least contributing to your gecko’s sneezing in the first place.

Additionally, it’s a good idea for you to wear gloves and a mask to prevent yourself from potentially breathing in any spores and spreading them even further.

Check out this full list of common crested gecko diseases.

Dusty or Unsafe Substrate

Another common cause of sneezing in crested geckos is a dusty, dry, or outright unsafe substrate. 

This is especially common with certain loose substrates such as wood chips and shavings, and sand. 

However, it is also possible with safer substrate options like cypress mulch, coconut fiber, and orchid bark if they are not cleaned properly.

If you’re not cleaning your crested gecko’s enclosure often enough, it won’t matter if the substrate you’ve selected is generally safe for them. 

This is because all substrates, even solid ones like paper towels, collect dust and dirt over time, and the dirt and dust particles in the air stirred up by your gecko moving about the enclosure will cause them to sneeze.

To prevent your gecko from sneezing due to dirty or dusty substrate, be sure to spot clean daily and deep clean every week or two. 

Depending on how active your gecko is, the size of their enclosure, and the substrate you’re using, you will need to clean slightly more or less often. 

Keep an eye on their enclosure for any waste, uneaten food, or other debris like shed skin, which you’ll need to periodically remove.

When it’s time to deep clean your gecko’s tank, you’ll need to completely remove all of the substrates from the floor and from inside your gecko’s hides. 

Even if it doesn’t look particularly dirty to your naked eye, there are plenty of tiny dust and dirt particles that have built up over time on the surface of the substrate and coated the surfaces of the enclosure.

Be sure to also check your enclosure’s humidity and temperature settings regularly whenever you clean the setup. 

This will allow you to quickly make adjustments when needed. 

Particularly dry conditions or temperatures that are consistently too hot or cold will often further the development of dust and dirt in the enclosure.

Impaction

While impaction probably isn’t the first thing you think of when it comes to your gecko sneezing, it is a more common cause than you’d imagine. 

Specifically, if your crested gecko is sneezing and grunting, especially when they are attempting to pass a bowel movement, impaction is very well likely to blame.

Impaction is the technical term for a blockage of your gecko’s digestive tract. 

Usually, this condition is caused by one or more of the following:

  • Eating insects or fruit too large for the gecko to comfortably pass on their own
  • Ingesting small amounts of a substrate over time
  • Dehydration
  • Improper temperature or humidity interfering with your gecko’s digestive function
  • Ingesting a foreign object like a decoration or piece of a branch in the enclosure

If you suspect your gecko has accidentally ingested something they shouldn’t have or has eaten something too large for them to pass on their own, there are a couple of home remedies you have access to. 

Specifically, soaking your gecko in warm water and offering a small amount of olive oil by mouth are known to alleviate mild cases of impaction. 

If you’ve administered these treatments with no results after a day or two, call your vet as soon as possible for further instruction.

Additionally, if your gecko has a more severe case of impaction, it will likely require veterinary treatment and possibly even surgery to clear the blockage. 

Keep an eye out for the following symptoms of severe impaction to determine if a vet visit is necessary:

  • Swollen abdomen
  • Lack of bowel movements
  • Lack of appetite
  • Trembling limbs
  • Sudden weight loss
  • Lethargic or unusual behavior
  • Regurgitation
  • Difficulty breathing

If you suspect impaction is to blame for your gecko’s sneezing, don’t wait to begin treating the issue! 

Use the aforementioned home remedies in the meantime until you are able to see a veterinary clinic or, in more mild cases, the issue resolves itself.

Respiratory Infection

One of the more severe causes of sneezing in crested geckos is a respiratory infection. 

There are many causes for respiratory infections in crested geckos, though usually, a combination of the aforementioned conditions (improper humidity/temperature, dirty enclosure, mold, etc.) is to blame.

While sneezing alone isn’t necessarily indicative of respiratory issues in crested geckos, it almost always is a sign of respiratory infection if it presents alongside additional symptoms. 

Some of the most common signs and symptoms of respiratory infections in reptiles like crested geckos are:

  • Labored breathing or gasping sounds
  • Frequent mouth gaping or open-mouthed breathing
  • Lethargic behavior
  • Loss of appetite or no appetite
  • Runny discharge from the eyes, nose, or mouth
  • Sudden weight loss

If you’ve noticed your gecko is presenting more than one of the following symptoms in addition to sneezing, it’s best to see a reputable reptile veterinarian as soon as possible. 

You won’t be able to treat this health condition alone or at home, as antibiotic medications will likely be necessary. 

Additionally, your vet will potentially need to screen your gecko for the presence of parasites or other possible health conditions contributing to the respiratory infection. 

This is also something you won’t be able to reliably do at home without veterinary assistance.

Once your gecko has been treated for its respiratory infection and shows signs of improvement, be sure to double-check all of its enclosure conditions, such as temperature, humidity, and overall cleanliness, to prevent it from recurring.

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