When your leopard gecko starts shedding, it might make you nervous as a new owner. But like all scaled reptiles, leopard geckos shed their old skins regularly, and it’s completely normal.
Usually, keepers do not need to do much during these times, though you should keep an eye on your lizard while it sheds in order to make sure he stays healthy and content.
In this article, we’ll go over some of the things you can do to ensure that your leopard gecko has sheds that go smoothly, as well as some warning signs to look out for.
About Leopard Geckos
The leopard gecko, a small, easily handled lizard that comes in a range of colors, is a well-liked reptile for beginners.
Leopard geckos are ground-dwelling, nocturnal geckos that live in desert regions of Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan, and parts of India.
They are often calm and simple to train. They cannot scale walls because they lack the adhesive toe pads that other geckos possess, although they do have eyelids.
Leopard geckos often reach lengths of 7 to 11 inches, and given the right care, they can live for 15 to 20 years.
The Shedding Basics
Shedding is a natural biological process that is easy to understand when given the right information. In this section, we’ll explain the basics of your leopard gecko’s shedding behavior.
What Happens When A Leopard Gecko Sheds?
Your gecko’s body will begin to produce a layer of fluid between the topmost skin layer and the layer directly below it a week or so before it begins to shed.
This fluid will act as a lubricant to make it easier for the skin’s outer layer to come off.
The soon-to-be-shed skin layer becomes slightly more pliable after this procedure is finished. Your leopard gecko may start to look “milky” or “faded” as a result of this.
Its colors might not seem as vibrant as they usually are, and your lizard’s pattern might even start to blur.
Your lizard will begin attempting to shed the old skin from his body a day or so later. During this time, your lizard can act abnormally or start chewing his skin.
Remember that this is nothing to worry about; it’s just its way of removing the old skin.
You might see the old skin shed in one single piece, like a snake, but it’s more common for your leopard gecko’s skin to break into several pieces when it sheds.
Why Leopard Geckos Shed?
It is a typical occurrence for animals to shed their skin. It is the fundamental process through which animals get rid of their old skin cells and grow new ones.
In fact, humans also shed their skin, though it does so on a more regular basis and the flakes are typically too small to notice.
Leopard geckos are among the reptiles that simultaneously lose all of their outer skin cells.
Shedding helps leopard geckos more easily heal wounds or skin injuries in addition to replacing old skin cells with new ones.
It allows young geckos to develop as well. This is important as reptilian skin is often not very elastic, so they frequently “upsize” their skin to fit their expanding bodies.
How Often Leopard Geckos Shed?
There are numerous factors that affect the frequency at which it occurs; therefore, different lizards shed at varied rates.
The number of cycles between sheds can vary depending on a number of circumstances, including growth rate, reproductive health, stress, and illness.
Having said that, young leopard geckos typically shed once every two to three weeks. On the other hand, adult leopard geckos typically shed once every four to eight weeks.
You don’t need to worry too much about the interval between your gecko’s shed cycles as long as it seems and acts healthy.
What To Watch Out For
In general, leopard geckos shed without problems and don’t have some of the issues with shedding that some other reptiles do.
However, complications can occasionally occur, and you’ll need to take steps to make sure your lizard doesn’t experience any further problems.
Just keep an eye out for any of the following problems during or right after your lizard sheds.
Retained Skin Near The Eyes
When compared to many other geckos, leopard geckos are a little different since they have eyelids rather than a clear scale covering their eyes.
Your leopard gecko won’t lose his eye scale as a result, but he will lose the skin that covers and surrounds his eyelids instead. If this skin doesn’t come off easily, it could hurt or infect their eyes.
Retained Skin Near The Toes
A leopard gecko’s toes are quite small, and shed skin frequently clings to them. This may result in the loss of the digits if ignored.
After each shed, make sure to inspect your lizard’s feet and toes.
Retained Skin Near The Tail Tip
Your leopard gecko’s tail tip is fairly thin, just like its toes, so when it sheds, old skin could cling to it.
Even though it’s not quite as bad as toes with retained skin, this is something to watch out for and fix if it happens.
Retained Skin Near The Vent
The region next to your leopard gecko’s vent may occasionally be covered in shed skin.
Following each shed cycle, you should check your lizard’s whole ventral region, giving special attention to the vent area since retained skin in this area might lead to hygiene issues.
Dealing With Retained Skin
Retained skin can usually be removed rather easily; however, the process will differ depending on where it is.
It’s simple to remove skin from generally non-sensitive places, such as your lizard’s back or the top of his head.
However, caution should be exercised whenever skin is still attached to your lizard’s sensitive bodily areas, including its vent, eyes, or tail tip.
You can start by gently massaging the affected region with a wet paper towel or cloth if the skin is attached to non-sensitive areas.
You can typically release one of the edges with water and light friction. The residual skin can then be gently removed.
Just be careful not to use too much force since this could hurt your lizard. You should stop and try again the next day if the skin doesn’t start falling off after a minute or two of trying.
The trapped skin can typically be worked loose with repeated attempts without harming your pet.
You can also put your lizard in a shallow pan of water and soak it there for around 20 minutes.
Aim to submerge the majority of your pet’s body in room-temperature water that isn’t so deep that your pet has to swim or struggle to keep its head above water.
You can try to rub the skin free with a moist paper towel after you remove your pet from the water. Simply repeat the entire procedure the next day if your initial attempt is unsuccessful.
Usually, if you’re persistent and patient with your approach, you can solve the issue without hurting your gecko.
After a few days, if for any reason you are still unable to remove your pet’s retained skin, you should seek the help and advice of your veterinarian.
While it is rather easy to remove retained skin from your leopard gecko’s body’s non-sensitive areas, you must exercise extreme caution when doing so near your pet’s eyes, toes, vent, or tail tip.
Extreme caution is needed since these places are vulnerable to injury.
If the stuck skin is on your lizard’s vent, tail tip, or toes, you can try the previous method of removing it using a damp paper towel.
Just make sure to do it even more gently, and if the skin doesn’t come off easily, stop right away.
Try soaking your lizard and then gently rubbing it to scrape off the skin if that doesn’t work.
Schedule a visit with your veterinarian if repeated soaks are unsuccessful.
Your vet will be much more equipped to handle the situation and more likely than you to be able to remove the skin without injuring the lizard.
Given that your lizard’s eyes are one of his most delicate body parts, retained skin near the eyes is frequently quite difficult to treat.
We advise beginner keepers to refrain from attempting this and instead ask a veterinarian for help.
How To Prevent Shedding Problems
Leopard geckos often shed easily in their native habitat. This is predictable given that they have evolved to coexist with the environmental conditions of their natural habitat.
Regrettably, it might be challenging to precisely duplicate these circumstances in captivity. As a result, leopard geckos may experience shedding issues.
But there are a few various steps keepers can take to help prevent poor or unfinished sheds.
One of the most frequent causes of leopard geckos’ poor shedding is dehydration.
Always make sure your lizard has access to fresh water, and keep an eye on the temperature, as too much heat will dry out its habitat.
Although it isn’t very common among people who keep leopard geckos, many reptile and snake lovers regularly let their pets soak in very little water, just enough to moisten their bodies but not enough that they need to swim.
This helps to maintain the animal’s hydration and will help to ensure that the skin has enough moisture.
Damp Hiding Spaces
Using a damp hiding place is another way to help make sure your leopard gecko’s skin has enough moisture.
Simply add a second hiding spot to your pet’s home and fill it with some damp moss.
Even though a damp area is important, keep your pet’s “dry” hiding places as well and let it decide which one it prefers at any given time.
The right humidity is essential for shedding health. The optimal humidity for leopard gecko shedding is 40%; however, too much or too little humidity might lead to issues.
Never allow the humidity to fall below 30%. Low humidity dries up the uppermost layer of skin, making it considerably more difficult to remove.
Make sure your gecko has rough surfaces to rub against as it sheds.
Anything from a plastic hide’s edge to stones, rocks, and branches can serve as a rubbing area.
However, they shouldn’t be so sharp as to cut your gecko. These surfaces should just be sufficiently abrasive to remove shed skin.
Many people believe that leopard geckos are nocturnal, and they don’t require specific lighting. However, this is not the case.
Since this species is most active at dawn and dusk, it gets natural sunlight in the wild. They require UVB light as pets because it aids in the conversion of calcium into vitamin D.
The presence of UVB facilitates your lizard’s easier shedding. Additionally, it aids in full food metabolization and prevents vitamin deficiencies.
Checking And Treating Parasites
External parasites are one of the most frequent causes of shedding issues, next to dehydration.
Mites resemble a tiny, moving speck that is around the size of a black pepper flake and might be red or black.
Regularly check your lizard for mites, and if you find any, contact a veterinarian.
Keeping Your Gecko Stress-Free
Leopard geckos may exhibit ecdysis in response to extreme stress.
Fortunately, you can typically avoid this if you give your lizard a suitable environment with at least one hiding place and don’t handle it excessively.
Calling Your Vet
As already indicated, sickness might result in poor shedding. Poor shedding may also serve as a valuable warning indicator that alerts you to the presence of a potential issue.
As a result, if your efforts to boost hydration and get rid of stress or parasites don’t help your pet’s shed, seek veterinary help to identify the underlying cause.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is It Normal For My Leopard Gecko To Eat Its Old Skin?
As unpleasant as it seems, a leopard gecko eating its old skin is completely normal and a natural habit that it would also carry out in the wild.
Many lizards, including leopard geckos, regularly eat their shed skin. This is because old skin contains important minerals that help your leopard gecko generate new layers of healthy skin.
Furthermore, old skin attracts predators in the wild, so leopard geckos eat their skin to avoid detection.
How Long Does It Take For A Leopard Gecko To Shed?
It will take between one and three days from the time you first notice your pet’s poor coloring for the shed to be finished.
It might only take ten minutes once the process begins to move forward. However, it can take up to a day for some leopard geckos to finish.
What Should I Feed My Leopard Gecko?
Leopard geckos must eat live insects as their primary food source because they are insectivorous.
The length of the insect that needs to be consumed should match the space between the lizard’s eyes.
Leopard geckos can be trained to hunt with crickets, but other insects, such as locusts, can be provided as a treat for variety.
Every time the insects eat, lightly sprinkle them with a calcium carbonate supplement. The insects must be lightly powdered with a vitamin D3 supplement on alternate days as well.
Feed as many insects as your lizard can eat throughout the course of the night, and the next morning remove any that aren’t eaten from the enclosure.
Should I Feed My Leopard Gecko While It’s Shedding?
While some leopard geckos will feed normally in the days leading up to and immediately following the shedding, others will abstain from food for several days.
As usual, you can provide food, but don’t pressure them to eat it. They will continue feeding again when they are ready.
Can I Handle My Leopard Gecko While It’s Shedding?
While they are shedding, leopard geckos can become agitated and even aggressive.
Geckos that are already stressed out can develop problems like stuck sheds as a result of unnecessary handling and anxiety.
Simply provide the best conditions for your leopard gecko and let nature take its course.
How Do I Handle My Leopard Gecko?
Leopard geckos can be handled, but you should exercise patience because they can become anxious and jumpy.
They can drop their tails as a form of defense if they become frightened. Although the tail will grow back, the process causes the animal great stress.
Animal handling should always be done under adult supervision, and you should take special care not to drop your leopard gecko while handling.
When you first bring your leopard gecko home, give them at least 24 hours without handling so that they can get used to their new environment.
It’s important to use an antibacterial hand wash before and after touching your leopard gecko for hygienic reasons.
Why Isn’t My Leopard Gecko Shedding?
Your leopard gecko will shed less frequently as it gets older. This change doesn’t follow a set rhythm.
Older geckos may also have a kind of growth spurt and shed slightly more frequently than usual. They could, however, cease shedding for a prolonged length of time just as often.
It may indicate stunted growth if your young leopard gecko is not shedding.
Make a chart that will help you keep track of your geckos’ length, weight, and shedding dates so you can monitor this.
You may find it concerning as a new owner when your leopard gecko starts shedding, but there is nothing to worry about!
With this guide, you’ll learn everything you need to know about leopard geckos and their shedding process.