Leopard geckos are popular pets known for their docile nature and unique appearance. But did you know that they have teeth?
This blog post will explore the presence of teeth in leopard geckos, their function, and what it means for their diet and overall health. Whether you’re a new or seasoned pet owner, you won’t want to miss this fascinating insight into these fascinating creatures.
Do Leopard Geckos Have Teeth?
Yes, leopard geckos have teeth. Their small, needle-like teeth are used to hold onto their food while they swallow, but they are not used for chewing. Instead, they swallow their prey whole and rely on digestive enzymes to break down their food.
Well, most geckos and lizards have teeth that are adapted to grab insects and worms.
As you well know, leopard geckos are insectivorous and they need special teeth for hunting, holding, and self-defense as well.
A leopard’s gecko teeth are hard to notice, but they have more than a hundred of them. Of course, they are tiny and are neatly arranged to suit their specific method of eating.
Now you know that ‘leos’ have teeth, but is that all? Nope! Keep reading to find out about their teeth structure, teeth replacement and whether these geckos can bite.
Leopard Gecko Teeth Structure
Teeth development in leopard geckos usually starts at an early stage and does not stop until the gecko dies. This gecko starts developing teeth even before it is hatched.
Studies show that their teeth develop from ectodermal cells. These cells are adapted to thicken and grow inward thus forming the dental lamina.
The dental lamina will then connect the gecko’s teeth to the oral cavity epithelium.
As is the case with most geckos, leos have rows of small, cone-shaped teeth that line the dentary bone (located in the lower jaw) and the maxillary and premaxilla bones (located on the upper jaw)
Geckos tend to have more teeth on the upper jaw as compared to the lower jaws. The exact number of teeth is hard to determine because of repeated tooth loss and replacement as well.
A healthy leopard gecko should have an average of 50 to 100 teeth in total.
Leopard gecko Teeth Replacement
As mentioned above, leopard geckos do not stop developing teeth until they die. Besides, they are always losing their teeth every now and then, meaning they have to be replaced in order to survive and feed normally.
According to Development Biology Interactive, leopard geckos have teeth families that form rows in the mouth. These rows harbor new generations of teeth that form constantly during a gecko’s lifecycle. These teeth will grow beneath the jaws surface and will continue doing so until they pop out and displace the existing teeth.
Tooth regeneration for leopard geckos is a vital element. This explains why these geckos replace their teeth every 3 to 4 months. Geckos must have fully functional teeth in order to hunt, eat and defend themselves.
Do Leopard Geckos Bite?
A leopard geckos is just like any other animal and it can bite if it feels threatened. Note the word “threatened”. So you should not expect your gecko to just bite your finger or arm out of the blues.
In fact, leopard geckos like to be held and they will remain calm as long as they are enjoying it. The problem arises if you start overdoing it or holding it against its will.
From my experience with leopard geckos, babies, and juveniles are more likely to bite you as compared to their adult counterparts. Luckily, the aggressiveness will wear off as the gecko grows and gets used to handling.
Some leopard gecko’s bites can happen by accident. For instance, geckos can bite you when hand-feeding them. This is why we prefer using tongs instead of bare hands.
Do Leopard Gecko Bites Hurt?
If you are looking to keep a leopard gecko pet, then you sure want to know if their bites hurt. Everyone fears bites from other animals including geckos.
Although leos have close to 100 teeth, their bites rarely hurt. Remember that their jaws are not strong enough to exert power. Besides, their teeth are too small to penetrate the skin. This means that a leopard gecko bite will rarely draw blood.
In fact, most people who’ve been bitten by these geckos say that their bites feel like a mere scratch. You have no reason to fear leopard gecko bites.
Are Leopard Geckos Poisonous?
Assuming that a leopard gecko has bitten you and pierced your skin, what will happen? Well, the bite might draw some blood, but the good thing is their teeth do not carry any poison.
You don’t even have to visit a hospital to get treated. Just rinse the wound with water and soap and you’ll be fine.
From our detailed write-up, it’s clear that leopard geckos have special rows of teeth on the upper and lower jaw. They use their complex teeth to hunt and hold insects. Besides, they can use them as a defensive mechanism if they feel threatened or cornered.