Iguana tail rot: signs, causes and treatments (2023)

Iguanas are huge reptiles with long, thin tails. Although they can be sharp and whip-like, they can rot and die from a variety of issues. Iguana owners often worry about why this happens and whether it's irreversible or treatable.

Iguana tails can turn black and this article provides the possible reasons for this and the basic steps to deal with it.


  • Signs of iguana tail rot
    • What is tail rot in reptiles?
    • Is tail rot contagious to other departments?
    • Does tail rot go away on its own?
    • How long can an iguana with tail rot live?
  • Causes of iguana tail rot
    • Accidents happen when your iguana hits its tail too hard.
    • Embolism: Iguanas become entangled in their tails, cutting off their blood supply.
    • Your iguana will be injured if it falls off a tall structure
    • Your iguana has an abscess on its tail
    • Your iguana is biting its own tail
  • How do you treat tail rot in iguanas?
    • Disinfect the tail wound first.
    • Consult a vet and operate on your iguanas
    • Be sure to keep the incision healthy so the tail can grow back.
  • Will your iguana's tail grow back?
  • Diploma

Signs of iguana tail rot

Signs of iguana tail rot include brown or black areas, dryness, numbness, and brittleness in the affected area, and hard feathers. The various causes include trauma, infection, embolism, dysgenesis, and hypothermia. If the lazy part of the tail is sore, see a veterinarian immediately.

What is tail rot in reptiles?

flow rotortail necrosisIt is a common condition that develops in native reptiles. If left untreated, it can easily spread to the tail and adversely affect the iguana.

The tail is an important indicator of how healthy your pet's coat may be. A malleable and flexible tail has no problem moulting (the reptile will grow a new layer of skin underneath the old one to get rid of parasites), while a tail rot affected tail may become stiff or bend after exercise. .

If you notice dry patches of dandruff on your pet's body, where there usually are no signs of being in good shape, it could mean there is a problem beneath the surface and not normal shedding.

Is tail rot contagious to other departments?

Tail rot is a matter of internal issues. Therefore, it is not considered contagious to other departments. However, the affected part can spread if not treated or treated promptly.

Often iguana owners don't notice the signs of tail rot until they reach the breaking point. You must be alert and careful when handling him.

Iguana tail rot: signs, causes and treatments (1)

Does tail rot go away on its own?

Unfortunately not. Tail rot is a condition where the tip of the tail begins to die off, usually indicated by a change in color. It can be difficult to detect in its early stages, so it can progress if left untreated. It will not go away on its own and should be treated seriously and immediately.

If it is already advanced or has spread to the tail, it can cause the tail to droop or require amputation. Additionally, the iguana may not grow a new tail, and worse, it can lead to further infections, organ failure, and other health complications.

How long can an iguana with tail rot live?

The average lifespan of an iguana is 12 to 15 years. With good care, it can live up to 20 years. However, this can be reduced in the case of tail rot, as it can lead to inflammation and the introduction of bacteria and germs. Ultimately, this can lead to serious health risks and death.

(Video) Tail Rot- Prevention and Treatment!

Causes of iguana tail rot

After examining your iguana for signs of tail rot, the cause can be identified. This can happen due to death ordead necrotic tissuewithout a healthy blood supply. Tail rot is usually attributed to trauma or infection.

That being said, what could be causing tail rot in your iguana?

Accidents happen when your iguana hits its tail too hard.

Accidents happen with movement, especially sudden ones. If your iguana is locked in a cage or enclosure, it may have bumped into a hard object, such as a stone. B. the sides of the enclosure or decorations. This also happens when he misbehaves, is in a bad mood, or is aggressive. It may also have become trapped between doors or other objects in the tank.

Tail flicks can also occur during the breeding season. Blood circulation slows and becomes difficult, causing the tail to stiffen and darken. If it has turned brown or black, the tail may die.

Embolism: Iguanas become entangled in their tails, cutting off their blood supply.

Embolism refers to a lack of blood flow that can lead to worse conditions. Shedding can disrupt blood circulation in the tail.

Adult iguanas molt every three to four weeks, juveniles more frequently. From time to time they may let some hair hang down on their toes, head and tail. Coat build-up can impair blood circulation and lead to darker coloring and rotting.

Iguanas need plenty of humidity in the enclosure to shed properly. Low humidity can cause spills. To prevent this from happening, you can keep your iguana hydrated by misting it twice a day and bathing it daily or at least four times a week. And to avoid accumulation of hair on the tail, the iguana can be helped by removing the remaining layers.

Iguana tail rot: signs, causes and treatments (2)

Your iguana will be injured if it falls off a tall structure

Iguanas as natural climbers. They like to climb to higher heights and jump carefree. This happens more often than anyone knows, injuring their limbs and tail.

To prevent this from happening, you can build a vertical cage with accessories that will allow him to walk up and down without risk.

Your iguana has an abscess on its tail

Your iguana's tail may be infected, which will initiate the development of a cyst or abscess. An abscess is an infected area that is swollen. Contains a collection of pus. It can also be hard to notice until it gets bigger and more obvious. You'll soon notice if you suspect a lump in the tail.

Bacterial growth in the open wound can lead to an abscess and if left untreated will lead to necrosis.

If left untreated, the abscess stops blood flow to the tail, leading to putrefaction. The abscess must be opened to remove the pus. The wound must remain clean until it has completely healed.

Your iguana is biting its own tail

If you notice your iguana biting its tail, it could be itchy or about to fall off. However, if it bites so hard that it injures its tail, it could injure it. It can be due to an infection, mites, or stress.


Male iguanas tend to bite their tails during breeding season, while females do so when preparing to lay eggs.

The wound should be cleaned with antibiotic ointment and the tail covered. This would prevent further bites. Your pet's current condition should also be evaluated to determine what may be causing their stress.

Iguana tail rot: signs, causes and treatments (3)

How do you treat tail rot in iguanas?

While tail rot can be prevented, once it has reached the advanced stage it will be difficult to reverse. Left untreated, this can lead to the death of the iguana due to infection and health complications.

If the affected area cannot be treated with medication, it must be amputated to prevent infection and the development of serious health hazards.

Here is a to-do list for treatment:

  • The tail may fall off on its own and turn black if injured. However, it is recommended not to wait for this and to remove the tips immediately. If you notice the black area breaking down, you can help by breaking it at the break point. Make sure it is foldable and dry.
  • If a large part of the tail is injured, it will eventually turn black. To avoid the spread of gangrene, the part where blood circulation is disturbed, you should go to the vet to cut off the dying tail.
  • Amputations should be done slightly above the dead tissue, about one to two millimeters above. Cutting the infected area would allow it to spread.
  • Never attempt tail docking yourself as this poses great risk and pain to the iguana.
  • If a cyst or abscess is present, it must be opened first to wash out the pus with antibiotics.

Disinfect the tail wound first.

Cases that can be performed at home are the smallest, including minor discoloration and minimal injury. You can prevent further infection and aggravation of the wound by taking care of the affected area right away.

Tail rot treatment can be done at home only when the discolored or injured area falls off. You can help by breaking it where it breaks. You must remember to always disinfect the wound so that it heals.

Once you've identified what might be stressing your iguana, you can make any necessary adjustments. You can also adjust your cover to avoid falls and accidents inside. You can also avoid biting by covering the tail.

However, if the tail rot has spread and worsened, a veterinarian should attend to your iguana's needs.

Last updated on 12/29/2022 / Affiliate Links / Amazon Product Advertising API Images

Consult a vet and operate on your iguanas

If home remedies don't work, or if tail rot is spreading or developing, your iguana should be taken to a veterinarian soon.

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If the infection can be controlled without cutting the piece, it can be treated with antibiotics. You need to get a proper diagnosis as antibiotics can damage the animal's organs. You need to keep it sufficiently hydrated so that it can better process the drug. The vet may also recommend an immunity booster to prevent appetite suppression.

Once necrosis begins, it affects neighboring cells and does not require treatment. The only option is to cut off the necrotic part. The vet may also resort to surgery if tail rot has spread and appears dangerous for the iguana. Wait about half an inch to remove them.

However, it is also up to you as you will also be asked if you are happy with the length. The veterinarian may administer anesthesia under sterile conditions for amputation or abscess removal.

Here is oneVideohow to safely dock your iguana's deadly tail at home.

Be sure to keep the incision healthy so the tail can grow back.

Unlike other animals, iguanas do not show any signs of pain. It remains important to support recovery after surgery and reduce pain by administering medications such as meloxicam, tramadol and ceftazidime.

You must ensure that the iguana's enclosure or general environment is extremely clean to prevent wound infection and at a warm temperature, which the iguana prefers.

The iguana must have a complete, balanced and nutritious diet to avoid deficiencies. Conditions should be improved by reducing factors that can cause stress in your iguana. This can include reducing noise and maintaining a peaceful environment.

Iguana tail rot: signs, causes and treatments (6)

Will your iguana's tail grow back?

With good housing conditions and proper care, most iguanas will grow tails. However, this depends on the age and the place of publication. Younger iguanas are more likely to grow back.

The newly created queue will look different in color and shape than the previous one. The size of the new queue is smaller than the lost one. And the color becomes darker like gray or black.

Its tail is more likely to grow back if severed at the fracture site.


Iguana tail rot is an often fatal condition that can be prevented by knowing the signs, causes, and treatments. It's important that you can catch this infection before your iguana becomes seriously ill or dies.

To prevent this from happening, make sure you provide your iguanas with a warm environment. If they seem lethargic or have trouble wagging their tails, get them to a veterinarian as soon as possible for treatment and hopefully a speedy recovery.


How do you treat tail rot in iguanas? ›

Treatment involves removing the "ring" of dead, unshed skin, or in severe cases, amputating the affected tail or toe in an effort to stop the spread of the necrosis. Most pets recover well and lead normal lives after the surgery.

Why is my iguanas tail turning brown? ›

When an iguana is in severe stress, its color changes from green to dark brown, then black. The color change begins with the animal's body and head, then its tail, legs, and belly, and finally its tail and legs. The belly and sides may first go green before turning brown and black, then brown and black again.

Why is my iguana tail black? ›

Iguana's Tail Turning Black/Discolored

If your iguana's tail darkens or turns black, it can be a sign of tail necrosis (tissue death) or infection with bacterial or fungal organisms.

How do you treat fungus on an iguana? ›

Antifungal medicines are used to treat the reptile's infection. Unfortunately, a full recovery of the animal rarely occurs. Surgery to remove the fungal mass in the area of infection can prove successful. However, an antibiotic treatment is usually recommended following surgery to prevent any secondary infection.

How do you cure tail rot? ›

We recommend using a broad-spectrum antibiotic known as erythromycin that is effective against fin rot. If your fish has also developed a secondary fungal infection, methylene blue is an appropriate antifungal treatment. Keep your fish's environment very clean and comfortable to ensure a quick recovery process.

How do you treat tail rot at home? ›

Soak the tail ONLY, not the body, in the solution for 5 minutes daily. Pat dry with cotton swab and apply Neosporin original formula (*with no pain relief) to the affected area. Continue this treatment for a few days and monitor the tail until you notice the tail rot isn't spreading toward the body.

What causes tail necrosis? ›

An unbalanced diet lacking biotin, tryptophan, salt, protein or some other specific amino acids may favor tail necrosis. Excess energy and intestinal discomfort can also be contributing factors.

What is tail necrosis? ›

Tail necrosis in growing pigs

Necrosis of the extremities is a common sequel to systemic infection as a result of arterial damage restricting the blood supply or it can occur as a type III hypersensitivity type reaction where accumulation of antigen/antibody complexes blocks terminal capillaries.

Can you use Neosporin on iguana? ›

If you treat the wound at home, try soaking your iguana in a warm bath with diluted Betadine for 15 to 20 minutes to clean and disinfect the wound. After the soak, try some Neosporin on the wound to prevent infection.

What does a stressed iguana look like? ›

An iguana shows that they are stressed by breathing more heavily, opening their mouths, thrashing their tail, and generally trying to escape from the activity. Baths are more important during shedding periods. Like other reptiles, iguanas periodically shed their skin.

Is hydrogen peroxide safe for iguanas? ›

Even the mildest of human medicines can be dangerous to your pet, so never medicate on your own. Hydrogen peroxide, for example, can destroy the delicate healthy tissue in your reptile's mouth.

Can you wash an iguana with Dawn dish soap? ›

Don't use soap or bubble bath on your iguana. If your iguana has dirt or feces stuck to him after soaking for a while, you can use a few drops of baby soap and a washcloth or toothbrush on that area, but otherwise, just use plain water. Also, never leave your iguana alone in the tub.

Will tail rot heal itself? ›

If caught early, fin rot can be treated, and your fish's fins will slowly grow back with care and time. In more serious cases where the fin rot has reached the body of the fish, the tissue will not regenerate.

Can stress cause tail rot? ›

Fin and Tail Rot is always environmental in nature and brought on by poor water conditions. Fish stress is also a contributing factor in Fin and Tail Rot. When fish are handled, moved, subjected to overcrowding or housed with more aggressive fish, they are more susceptible to Fin and Tail Rot.

Will tail rot fall off? ›

Tail rot is a serious condition in which the tail of a reptile begins to actually rot away, due to an internal infection. The tail will actually fall off if not attended to, and can even spread the infection up into the body, damaging internal organs.

How does tail rot start? ›

Causes Of Tail Rot

This could be a bite from another lizard or even just a bad cut. Its tail could also be pinched, crushed otherwise injured. After an injury occurs, it usually isn't long before an internal infection sets in. Other known possible causes of tail rot include poor nutritional status.

How long does it take for a tail to heal? ›

How long does it take to heal a broken tail bone? Healing time will vary based on the exact nature of your dog's injury and the treatment plan you and your vet have undertaken. Minor fractures or sprains may heal in as little as a week or two, while more serious injuries may take a month or more to completely heal.

How long does fin rot take to heal? ›

This depends on how bad the problem is to start with. By using King British Fin Rot & Fungus Control there should be an improvement in 4-5 days. Due to fish having open wounds it is very important to keep water quality pristine, to prevent secondary infection taking place.

What are signs and symptoms of necrosis? ›

Pain, warmth, skin redness, or swelling at a wound, especially if the redness is spreading rapidly. Skin blisters, sometimes with a "crackling" sensation under the skin. Pain from a skin wound that also has signs of a more severe infection, such as chills and fever. Grayish, smelly liquid draining from the wound.

How do you treat tail tip necrosis? ›

Therapy. If the tissue cannot be saved, the necrotic part of the tail will have to be amputated. Antibiotics need to be administered concurrently for an extended period of time, even after the operation is complete.

Can necrosis be cured? ›

Treatment can slow the progress of avascular necrosis, but there is no cure. Most people who have avascular necrosis eventually have surgery, including joint replacement. People who have avascular necrosis can also develop severe osteoarthritis.

What does the first stage of necrosis look like? ›

Early symptoms of necrotizing fasciitis can include: A red, warm, or swollen area of skin that spreads quickly. Severe pain, including pain beyond the area of the skin that is red, warm, or swollen. Fever.

What happens if necrosis is left untreated? ›

Untreated, avascular necrosis worsens. Eventually, the bone can collapse. Avascular necrosis also causes bone to lose its smooth shape, possibly leading to severe arthritis.

Can necrosis be reversed? ›

Necrosis cannot be reversed. When large areas of tissue die due to a lack of blood supply, the condition is called gangrene. Meningococcemia is a life-threatening infection that occurs when the bacteria, Neisseria meningitidis, invades the blood stream.

How can I tell if my iguana is dehydrated? ›

Signs of Dehydration in Reptiles
  1. Wrinkled and/or saggy skin.
  2. Dented/cracked scales.
  3. Trouble shedding.
  4. Loss of skin elasticity.
  5. Sunken eyes.
  6. Yellow/orange urate.
  7. Loss of appetite.
  8. Lethargy.
Feb 27, 2021

What does a dehydrated iguana look like? ›

If you notice that your iguana's eyes are sunken in, it's a sure sign that it needs more water. Dehydration can also cause an iguana's skin to appear dry and wrinkled. This is because when an iguana doesn't have enough water in its system, its body will start to conserve moisture by drawing water from its skin.

What does a dehydrated lizard look like? ›

What does a dehydrated lizard look like? Skin becomes dull and takes on a “wrinkled” appearance – often deeply wrinkled around the neck and along the sides of the body. Dry, flaky skin. In some snakes, you may notice a single skin fold that runs the length of the body.

What is tail rot iguana? ›

Tail rot is a common ailment among iguanas and other lizards. It is caused by a bacterial or fungal infection and is characterized by the shedding of the skin on the tail. If left untreated, tail rot can lead to amputation of the tail. Treatment for tail rot typically involves antibiotics and antifungals.

Is coconut oil good for iguanas? ›

In order to counter-balance this, I apply coconut oil daily to the full-length of my iguanas (as recommended by my veterinarian). I also mist them and placed a large pan in the bottom of the ReptiBreeze cage that I keep at least one inch of water in at all times. This helps them stay hydrated and shed easily.

Can iguanas heal themselves? ›

While all lizards are able to repair superficial wounds, and some species can regenerate a lost tail, no lizards have the ability to regenerate digits or limbs.

What antiseptic is safe for reptiles? ›

Chlorhexidine. Chlorhexidine is a popular antiseptic and disinfectant. That means it's safe to come into contact with living critters - like you or your lizard! It's effective against a wide range of bacteria and viruses.

What do iguanas do when scared? ›

These large lizards like to bask in open areas, sidewalks, docks, seawalls, landscape timbers, or open mowed areas. If frightened, they dive into water (green iguanas and basilisks) or retreat into their burrows (spiny tailed iguanas).

What do iguanas like in their cage? ›

Large rocks in the cage also allow for basking. Iguanas also typically love a place to hide. Artificial plants or live, non-toxic plants also can be arranged to provide a hiding place, as can clay pots, cardboard boxes, large pieces of bark, split hollow logs, and other containers.

What diseases do iguanas have? ›

Common conditions of pet iguanas include metabolic bone disease, fungal skin infections, infectious stomatitis (mouth rot), external (skin) and intestinal parasites, respiratory disease, and hypervitaminosis D.

What kills fungus the fastest? ›

Concord Foot Doctor Explains How to Eliminate Toenail Fungus Naturally
  1. White Vinegar. White vinegar other wise known as Acetic Acid can help eliminate fungus when diluted in lukewarm water. ...
  2. Listerine and White Vinegar. ...
  3. Tea Tree Oil. ...
  4. Urea Paste. ...
  5. Pau D'arco Tea. ...
  6. Vicks VapoRub. ...
  7. Time.
May 5, 2017

Can vinegar cure fungus? ›

Vinegar on fungus

Aside from its antibacterial properties, vinegar has been effective in treating fungal infections.

What is toxic to iguanas? ›

Some of these include: spinach, romaine lettuce, onions, beets, beet greens, celery stalk, Swiss-chard, carrots, bananas, grapes, lettuce, kale, Chinese cabbage, broccoli, turnips, cauliflower and brussels sprouts. However there are some plants that are to be avoided all together.

Should I spray my iguana with water? ›

Iguanas And Water: How To Keep Your Iguana Hydrated

It is critical to mist your iguana and its environment on a daily basis to help it maintain hydration, while also providing water droplets for it to drink. It may take some time for iguanas to adapt to being sprayed with water because they do not like it.

Can you give iguanas antibiotics? ›

Antibiotics should not be used indiscriminately in reptiles because of the risk of creating antimicrobial resistant organisms. Combination therapy (i.e., aminoglycoside and an extended-spectrum penicillin) are often very effective in the treatment of retiles.

How long should I let my iguana soak in water? ›

Most iguanas defecate every day or every other day. Others do so twice daily, and still others regularly skip two days. If it seems as though your iguana is not defecating as often as it should, then soak it for 20-30 minutes in lukewarm water.

Should I mist my iguana? ›

You can increase the humidity in the cage by providing your iguana with a large pool of water (at least ⅔ the size of the enclosure), or by purchasing a mister. You should mist your iguana at least twice a day to increase the humidity and to promote skin health.

How long should you soak an iguana? ›

Soaking in the bathtub weekly is also a good idea. The tub should have warm water to iguana shoulder level. Allow him to soak for about 20 minutes.

Can scale rot go away on its own? ›

For mild scale rot, you can easily treat it by sterilizing the enclosure and cleaning the blisters. Once the enclosure is clean and dry, and the blisters are properly treated, the snake should heal in no time.

What causes tail rot in lizards? ›

Causes Of Tail Rot

This could be a bite from another lizard or even just a bad cut. Its tail could also be pinched, crushed otherwise injured. After an injury occurs, it usually isn't long before an internal infection sets in. Other known possible causes of tail rot include poor nutritional status.

What causes tail rot? ›

Fin and Tail Rot is always environmental in nature and brought on by poor water conditions. Fish stress is also a contributing factor in Fin and Tail Rot. When fish are handled, moved, subjected to overcrowding or housed with more aggressive fish, they are more susceptible to Fin and Tail Rot.

What antibiotics treat scale rot? ›

One of the ways to treat scale rot is to use a betadine solution. Betadine is a liquid antibiotic that is readily available online and in pet stores around you. Immerse your snake in a betadine solution bath, twice a day for 20 minutes until the condition clears.

What does scale rot look like? ›

Scale rot can turn the scales red, yellow, brown, or greenish black. To not confuse the red with the colouration change that shedding can cause - the appearance is almost as though the scales have been burned. Blisters - Blisters initially develop without infection usually.

How fast can scale rot happen? ›

One of the earliest signs of scale rot is discolored scales. As such, you'll want to pay special attention to your snake's scales on a regular basis as this discoloration can pop up quickly, sometimes in a matter of a few days!

How do you save a lizard when it is dying? ›

  1. In a saucepan, mix equal parts pediatric electrolyte beverage and sterile water, making enough for use in the plastic container or dishpan. Gently heat the solution to lukewarm.
  2. Place the plastic container or dishpan on a folded towel. ...
  3. Place the lizard in the container and allow him to soak.

How do you reverse scale rot? ›

If your snake has scale rot, you can help them by gently cleaning the affected area. You can use a chlorhexidine solution or a trusted reptile wound solution to gently clean the affected scales twice each day. Alternatively, you can soak the affected scales in a diluted betadine solution.

What antibiotic is good for skin fungus? ›

Common names for antifungal medicines include:
  • clotrimazole (Canesten)
  • econazole.
  • miconazole.
  • terbinafine (Lamisil)
  • fluconazole (Diflucan)
  • ketoconazole (Daktarin)
  • nystatin (Nystan)
  • amphotericin.

Can you take amoxicillin for fish? ›

When fish are under the weather, they can be treated with antibiotic pills, which are popped into their tanks and absorbed through the skin. Ailing fish are often given the same antibiotics—amoxicillin, ciprofloxacin, penicillin—that humans take, Maya Wei-Haas reported for Smithsonian in 2017.


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