Why is My Crested Gecko Breathing Fast?

Just like many other land animals, Crested Geckos have a nose and lungs. Geckos breathe in and out through their noses. Air fills the lungs, and from there, the oxygen enters the bloodstream.

However, unlike mammals, a Gecko’s respiratory system differs in one major way.

Geckos’ lungs are less vascularized. Their lungs have a smaller number of blood vessels to transport gases in and out of the blood.

This means that oxygen and carbon dioxide exchanges happen at a slower rate. As a result, Geckos have a slower breathing rate and subsequently, a slower metabolism.

Normally, your pet Gecko will take up to 20 breaths per minute. These breaths should be slow, deep, and steady. You will barely hear or notice them.

But if you pay close attention, you might see the Crestie’s abdominal cavity slightly expanding and relaxing.

When a Crested Gecko begins taking quick, shallow breaths, that’s a warning sign of something gone wrong. This is not a usual behavior in healthy Geckos. Luckily, in most cases, the underlying cause is easy to treat.

But sometimes, quick and shallow breathing might signify something worse. Keep reading to find out more about the most common causes and simple solutions to solve them!

5 Reasons Why Your Crested Gecko is Breathing Fast

Quick breathing is unusual behavior in Geckos. It means that something is not right with your pet.

Note that faster breathing isn’t dangerous by itself. It’s just a symptom of something else. Also, the common causes are treatable.

So, no reason to worry just yet. Here are the most common causes that cause quick and shallow breathing:

– Temperature

Crested Geckos are ectotherms. This means that they depend on external sources of heat to regulate their body temperature. The ideal environment temperature for keeping Cresties is 72-75°F.

These values are the best for maintaining the Gecko’s body temperature, but also its metabolism, immune system, and energy levels.

Exposing your Gecko to suboptimal temperatures will cause problems. This will affect the Crestie’s metabolism and bodily temperature. It can also cause stress, lack of appetite, and drowsiness.

Both low and high temperatures will lead to quicker breathing.

Too low temperatures will downregulate your Gecko’s metabolism and immune system. This leaves your pet susceptible to infections. Quick, shallow breathing is a common sign of infection.

High temperatures, above 80°F, will stress out your pet. With no way to cool itself down, the Crestie will become agitated.

Quicker breathing can mirror this issue. Check the temperature in the enclosure. If it strays too far from 75°F in either direction, this is probably the cause of your Gecko’s problems.

– Humidity

Maintaining optimal humidity levels is crucial for your Crestie’s health. The optimal humidity level for the enclosure is 60-80%.

Down to 60% is fine throughout the day. You should increase the humidity up to 80% for the night when Geckos are most active.

Unsuitable humidity levels can mess up with your Gecko’s hydration. If the humidity is too low, your pet’s skin and mucous membranes will dry out. This includes parts of the body like your Gecko’s nose and throat.

Severe dehydration can lead to a host of respiratory issues, of which shallow breathing is just one symptom.

Excessive humidity, especially if combined with high temperatures, can also lead to respiratory issues. The most common reason is an increased risk of respiratory and skin infections.

Apart from that, the warm and humid air might be difficult for your Gecko to breathe. Your Gecko will start taking shorter, more frequent breaths to compensate for its reduced lung capacity.

If you don’t already, I recommend using a hygrometer. This device is indispensable to any Gecko owner.

A good hygrometer will help you keep tabs on the enclosure humidity. That way, you won’t have to guesstimate when to mist the terrarium.

– Dirty Enclosure

Unsanitary conditions can directly contribute to various health problems. That’s why enclosure maintenance is so important. You should clean the Gecko’s cage thoroughly at least once per month.

This includes wiping down the glass and cleaning any decorations. You’ll also have to either clean or replace the substrate.

Apart from this, you should remove waste and food leftovers every day. You should also clean the food and water dishes in your pet’s enclosure regularly. Any surface in the enclosure that comes into contact with waste or food is a potential breeding ground for bacteria.

If your Crested Gecko comes into contact with these bacteria, it might develop a life-threatening infection. No part of the body is spared.

Bacterial infections can affect the respiratory system, the digestive tract, the skin, the eyes, and so on. Rapid breathing is a clear sign of respiratory infection. It’s also a symptom of other types of infections.

– Stress and Fear

Stress and fear lead to behavior changes in Geckos. They also cause other bodily responses, such as quicker breathing.

You can tell if stress is the issue if the quick breathing is accompanied by the other following behaviors:

  • Tail wagging
  • Firing up (Gecko turns a darker color)
  • Frequent hiding
  • Keeping eyes closed
  • Aggressive posture (mouth wide open)
  • Vocalizing (barking, shrieking)

Stress and fear can arise for multiple reasons. You’ll have to observe the Gecko more closely to figure out what to do.

The most usual culprits include frequent or rough handling, unsuitable enclosure size, unsuitable temperature or humidity, too much light exposure, too much noise, improper diet, or underlying health problems.

– Respiratory Disease

A more serious and chronic problem would be respiratory disease. Unfortunately, Crested Geckos are prone to respiratory disease.

This issue is exacerbated by the high humidity they need to stay hydrated. On the flip side, respiratory diseases are easily treatable if caught in time.

Respiratory disease is caused by an infection of the respiratory tract. The most common symptom is quick and shallow breathing.

Your pet is likely suffering from such an infection if you can identify other additional symptoms, such as:

  • Raspy breathing
  • Bubbles coming out from the nose
  • Breathing with the mouth open
  • Lethargy
  • Lack of appetite and weight loss

If you suspect your Gecko suffers from respiratory disease, you should consult a vet asap.

The treatment for respiratory diseases will include the administration of antibiotic drugs and maintaining proper enclosure hygiene and parameters.

It’s very important to keep your pet protected from harmful bacteria. The enclosure temperature should also be maintained on the upper end of the ideal range.

Low temperatures are a known factor leading to respiratory infections.

Is Crested Gecko Breathing Fast When Dying?

A sick Crested Gecko will breathe fast or have trouble breathing. This is a common symptom of infections, especially respiratory and digestive infections.

Labored breathing is a sign that the infection has spread and it could be life-threatening.

Other serious signs of life-threatening illness include:

  • Lethargy
  • Prolonged loss of appetite
  • Rapid weight loss
  • Sunken eyes
  • Abnormal or lack of stool
  • Swollen limbs
  • Abnormal gait

If the underlying problem doesn’t receive any attention, the Gecko is very likely to die. However, even if infections have progressed to this point, you can still heal your pet.

You should contact the vet immediately to begin treatment with antibiotics. The sooner, the better!


Normal breathing in Crested Geckos is slow, deep, and steady. It should be barely audible or noticeable. Fast, shallow, or labored breathing is an indication of either an acute or a chronic problem.

Most of the common underlying causes are acute (they have a sudden effect). They’re also easy to take care of.

These include suboptimal parameters like temperature and humidity, unhygienic living conditions, and stress. Temperatures and humidity levels that are too low or too high will predispose your pet to all sorts of infections.

These factors can also raise stress levels. Lack of hygiene is another risk factor for infections.

Sadly, respiratory infections are a common occurrence in Geckos. The high temperature and humidity levels create a breeding ground for bacteria and fungi.

Other worrying signs of respiratory infections to watch out for include raspy breathing, mucus bubbles coming out of the nose, breathing with an open mouth, lethargy, and weight loss.

If you notice any of these symptoms in your Gecko, contact a vet immediately!

avatar William
William is a respected pet enthusiast with expertise in reptiles and birds. With extensive experience caring for these animals, he shares his knowledge through engaging and informative articles in various publications. He is an active member of pet-related organizations, volunteering regularly at shelters and promoting animal welfare and conservation. read more...

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