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Ulcerative Stomatitis - Mouth Rot

Stomatitis, Infectious Stomatitis and mouth rot are other names that can also mean Ulcerative Stomatitis.

Ulcerative Stomatitis (Mouth Rot)

Stomatitis, Infectious Stomatitis and mouth rot are other names that can also mean Ulcerative Stomatitis.

Ulcerative Stomatitis (Mouth Rot)

What Is Ulcerative Stomatitis (Mouth Rot)

Ulcerative Stomatitis (Mouth Rot) is a symptom of systemic infection of the mouth characterized by swollen spongy gums, excessive oral mucous, ulcers, and loose teeth. Stomatitis is a secondary infection indicating the reptile has a predisposed condition.

Ulcerative Stomatitis Causes

Many things can cause Stomatitis in reptiles. Stress, improper husbandry, overcrowding, parasites, trauma, and poor nutrition are known triggers. Ulcerative Stomatitis can also be caused by bacteria, viruses, and fungi such as Pseudomonas, Salmonella, Klebsiella, and Aeromonas (among others).

Ulcerative Stomatitis (Mouth Rot) Lesions

Ulcerative Stomatitis Signs

The signs will vary depending on the various stages of progression in which the infection is spreading. Some signs to watch for include swelling, excessive mucous in the mouth, cheese-like discharge from the mouth, reddening around or in the mouth, reduced or inactive tongue flicking, difficulty closing the mouth, anorexia, and necrosis. In advanced cases, swelling of the head as the infection spreads to the jaw and/or cranium has occurred.

Ulcerative Stomatitis (Mouth Rot)

How Is Ulcerative Stomatitis Diagnosed

Clinical signs of Ulcerative Stomatitis will help define the diagnosis. Cultures and a sensitivity test of the oral cavity may be required for declaration as well as to determine treatment protocols. While mild cases may be more difficult to diagnoses than severe cases, both are indicative of underlying problems. Infectious Stomatitis is a secondary infection. Once diagnosis is made on the Stomatitis a more comprehensive exam may be required to help pinpoint the root cause. Blood work and additional cultures may be required. A fecal test may also be suggested.

Ulcerative Stomatitis (Mouth Rot)

Ulcerative Stomatitis Treatment

Several options are available when treating a reptile with Infectious Stomatitis. The first thing that must be treated in all cases is the identified underlying issue. Since Ulcerative Stomatitis is a secondary infection it leaves us with the predisposed issues to deal with first or in rhythm with the treatment for the Stomatitis. Without treating the primary cause of the Stomatitis you will never be completely rid of it and re-infection is likely.

An antibiotic regiment is likely to be prescribed. Some common antibiotics used to treat Ulcerative Stomatitis include Amikacin, Cephalothin, Piperacillin and Trimethoprim-Sulfadiazine. An oral rinse regiment should run in rhythm with the antibiotic treatment. Oral rinses may include diluted chlorhexidine (0.25-0.50%), diluted povidone-iodine (1%), diluted acetic acid (vinegar)(0.5%) or hydrogen peroxide. Each of these rinses should be followed by an all water rinse. Topical Silvadene should then be applied following the rinse cycle.

In instances where the disease has manifested and permeated for an extended period of time hospitalization may be necessary. Your pet will likely be started on a fluid therapy treatment plan (IV Fluids), be placed in an incubation type environment maintaining the reptile at 85-95 degrees and possible force feeding. In addition to that, additional medication may be prescribed (Enrofloxacin).

Reptile receiving aminoglycosides should be placed on an IV Fluid regiment to help prevent renal damage. If the reptile isn't responding accordingly to the treatment plan, then cultures testing for an anaerobic infection should be considered. If an anaerobic infection is present, a treatment plan consisting of clindamycin, metronidazole, or tetracycline is likely.

Ulcerative Stomatitis Prevention

Improper husbandry and diet account for a large number of Ulcerative Stomatitis cases. If you are meeting the needs of the animal in accordance with its natural environment you will likely be able to avoid an Ulcerative Stomatitis onset.


Author: Richard Brooks
Snake Mouth Rot - © Gretchen E. Kaufman, DVM
Mouth Lesions © RVC [CC-BY-SA-3.0]
Ackerman, Lowell. Biology Husbandry and Health Care of Reptiles. TFH, 1997.
Boa Mouth Rot 1 & 2 @copy; Jennifer McKee
Mader, Douglas. Reptile Medicine and Surgery SE. Saunders, 2005.
Messonnier, Shawn. Common Reptile Diseases and Treatment. Blackwell Science, Inc., 1996.