Leopard Gecko Shedding (Explained)


Leo Shedding

Why Do Leopard Geckos Shed?

Shedding (or ecdysis) is the process where an animal naturally removes layers of dead skin to make a new room for new layers. This is a natural and normal occurrence in the life of reptiles such as Leopard Geckos. During this process, the old skin is molted (also known as sloughed) in whole or in fragments and plays a vital role in the growth of your Leopard Geckos.

Gecko’s shed in order to renew the skin and because of the growth of the lizard. Shedding will also remove parasites such as ticks and mites which are attached to their skin so it is also a way for the gecko to stay healthy. 

Skin is a sophisticated organ that is regularly renewed and regenerated. The frequency of shedding will depend on the growth rate of your geckos. Usually, younger geckos shed more because their growth rate is faster compared to adult leopard geckos. 

Common Problems With Shedding

Shedding is normal in the life cycle of a gecko since this process indicates that your gecko is healthy and growing.  However, there are also instances where shedding problems arise.

The most common issue with shedding is when it gets stuck to the layers below. This happens when the old piece of skin has not detached properly and remains stuck to the gecko’s body. Some of the reasons for stuck shed are vitamin deficiency, health issues and stress as well as lack of moisture or poor living conditions.

The stuck skin can be harmful to your geckos because it may result in restriction of blood circulation resulting in hardening. 

Tails and toes are the most common areas where the old skin gets stuck. This is normally seen as whitish in color and firm when touched. In severe cases, it can result in serious infection or loss of the body parts altogether!. 

How To Help A Leopard Gecko Remove Stuck Shed

In order to help your geckos remove the stuck shed, you can help them by soaking or bathing them in warm water. This can help soften the skin and in turn allow them to remove it. Sometimes it may require a number of baths over several days before the skin is soft enough for them to remove. 

How To Prevent Shedding Issues

Ideally, you want to avoid the skin getting to a point where it has hardened and the gecko requires bathing. You can help prevent this by misting the enclosure, providing a humid hide, good hydration and proper nutrition.

Misting

Light misting is great for increasing the humidity inside the enclosure and will help their shedding, however, remember their natural environment, it is dry and arid so you should maintain humidity inside the enclosure around 40%, and no lower than 30%. Below 30% can make shedding problematic.

Adult leopard geckos enclosures can be misted twice a week when you see them showing signs of shedding to help them prepare. Hatchlings or Juveniles, on the other hand, should be misted more frequently

Humid hides 

Humid  hides can help retain the humidity inside the enclosure and often stops the need for misting the enclosure because the substrates contained in the hide absorb moisture and creates a humid area for the gecko to go. Substrates such as sphagnum moss or coco peat are great choices to use in your humid hides as they are very good at holding moisture and creating humidity to help your geckos shed. Within the hide you can easily maintain a humidity level of 70-80 % which is optimal for shedding.

The temperature in the humid hides should be around 83-90 degrees Fahrenheit to prevent the hides from getting wet. As a result, avoid positioning it in the cool side of the enclosure  

A word of warning – excessive misting and soaking will result in a high levels of humidity which can cause respiratory issues with your geckos.

Hydration 

Dehydration is one of the most common reasons for poor shedding. Thus, providing clean water at all times will help ensure they stay as hydrated as possible.

Some Leopard geckos will directly drink directly from a water dish and others who drink from water droplets as a result of misting, either way, ensure your geckos are hydrated to help them to shed properly.

Good Nutrition

Vitamin A is essential for the shedding process. This is because Vitamin A maintains the health of the leopard gecko’s skin as well as the mucus membranes and soft tissues of the body. 

Low calcium and low vitamin D3 accompanied by a high concentration of fat in the diet may also result in fast growth but weaker bones and poor shedding conditions.

To ensure the health of your geckos, make sure you feed them a balanced diet. Provide an adequate amount of vitamins and minerals to their diet as well to aid shedding.

Avoiding Stress

Stress can cause a lot of problems with a reptile’s health, not just shedding but a stress lizard will spend most of its time hiding and avoiding its normal routines which include eating, drinking and shedding. Ensure you have their environment setup correctly with multiple hides and they will feel safe, secure, and be unlikely to get stressed.

How Often Do Leopard Geckos Shed?

The frequency of shedding depends on the maturity of your geckos as well as their physical and health conditions. Generally, they shed every 4-8 weeks.

Adult leopard geckos shed every 1-2 months while young will shed every 1-2 weeks.

Signs of Leopard Geckos Shedding 

The most common indicator that your gecko is about to shed is when they change their behavior. Some of the most common behaviors include: 

  1. Spending most of their time in the moist hide.

This is because geckos who are about to shed need more humid conditions. Staying in the moist or humid hide will soften their skin and make shedding easier.

  1. Skin becomes pale or dull

Dull or pale skin is a normal indicator that your gecko is about to shed. As your geckos shed, the outermost layer of the skin detaches from the body in order to make room for the new skin, which will be beautiful and rich in color.

  1. Lack of appetite 

Lack of interest in eating is also a common sign that your geckos are about to shed. This is because they are focusing their energy on generating new skin. Lack of appetite can also cause weakness or lethargy in your geckos but this is normal and within a few days will be eating as normal.

  1. Rubbing hard on surfaces or rocks

Rubbing its body or head on a hard surface or hard objects will initiate the shedding process. Here, the skin on the head will peel off first and then, it will start pulling its shed using its mouth. 

It is very common for Leopard Geckos to eat their old skin so it may be that you wake up in the morning and see a sparkly new gecko without even seeing them shed their skin. This is all very normal for healthy geckos. 

How Long Does Shedding Take?

Normally, the shedding process will take 1-3 days from the date the skin turns pale to being removed. Once the skin of your gecko starts to detach, the shedding process will be done with about  24 hours.

In cases where shedding takes longer, check the conditions, you may want to increase humidity to help them out.

Leopard Gecko Shedding Tips

Don’t remove the stuck skin forcibly.

Partial shedding can be problematic for gecko owners. However, trying to remove the shed may be dangerous for your pets. Trying to pull the remaining old skin may even cause more damage than good as their new skin is sensitive and fragile. 

Always opt for warm baths to soften the skin. If it is still not loosening you can try gently pushing the old skin using wet cotton. 

The best solution to help your geckos remove the stuck skin is by providing them with the right environment, humidity, hydration and diet.

What should I do If my leopard gecko is not shedding

Leopard Geckos who are not shedding may be due to parasites or poor living conditions. However, if your geckos are eating properly, energetic and defecate regularly, you don’t have to worry as it will shed naturally when it needs to. 

Illness, on the other hand, may result in difficulty shedding and if you observe continuous strange behaviors, you should  contact your vet for advice. 

Final Thoughts

Since shedding means growing, this is a good sign that your pet is healthy!

It will enable the leopard gecko to remove their old skin and replace it with new more colorful and supple skin. As they undergo this process, they may encounter problems and difficulties. As pet owners, we should be ready to give a helping hand.

Always remember to monitor the behavior of your gecko so that you can intervene and prevent problems arising.

Help your Leopard Geckos by making sure that they are well nourished, hydrated, stress-free and have an enclosure with adequate humidity.

Lastly – watching your geckos shed is really fun. It can be a little frustrating watching them so avoid the urge to help, but it really is an amazing process, you just may have to watch them during the night.

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