Leopard geckos are ground-dwelling geckos that are nocturnal, docile, and considered easy to tame. They can make very good pets because they require minimal care and are very interesting creatures to watch. Yellow, white, and with black spots, leopard geckos are interesting-looking creatures that shed regularly.
While it is an interesting characteristic, shedding time can also prove to be one of the more stressful experiences for gecko owners if things do not go according to plan. Below is a guide on gecko shedding patterns, what you can do to help, and other questions about shedding.
How Often Should A Leopard Gecko Shed?
This little lizard is constantly growing, and as it outgrows its current skin, the leopard gecko will shed that skin so that it is replaced with better-fitting skin. While most sheds will complete easily and without physical or emotional stress for your gecko, problems can occur and are more common in reptiles that have other and pre-existing conditions and illnesses.
The amount of time between shed cycles varies according to factors like the age and physical condition of the gecko. Its reproductive status also plays a part. Generally, your gecko will shed roughly every four to 8 weeks. Young leopards will shed every week or two because they grow at a much faster rate. Adults will shed every month or two.
How Long Does It Take For A Leopard Gecko To Finish Shedding?
Regardless of whether you have an infant or an adult gecko, the whole shedding process should be complete within 24 to 48 hours. By this time, it should have shed its old skin and may potentially eat the shed.
Should I Feed My Leopard Gecko While It’s Shedding?
Geckos typically eat every 2-4 days, and they may prepare themselves ready for shedding. As such, they do not usually need to eat while shedding, and it is common for the species to eat less or avoid eating altogether during the shedding process. Remove any leftover food from his enclosure. Live food can irritate his sensitive skin while other food can go off and start to smell or stress your leopard out.
Should I Handle My Leopard Gecko When Shedding?
While shedding, a gecko’s skin can become highly sensitive, which means that your gecko can become irritable and grumpy. Even the most placid geckos can become a little aggressive when shedding, quite simply because it could hurt for them to be touched.
At the very least, they will be itchy, and it is not uncommon for shedding animals to want to be left alone. Give your leopard gecko some space for a few days over and immediately after the shedding process. They should be back to normal 2-3 days after shedding has been completed.
Can Leopard Geckos Die From Shedding?
A healthy leopard gecko should not suffer any ill effects of shedding, but shedding problems can be common if your setup is not optimal. A lack of humidity and hydration are among the most common causes of shedding problems, and these problems can include the skin getting caught around a particular area as the body underneath grows.
One of the most common areas for this to happen is the toes. If the skin is left too long, it can cause circulation problems and may even lead to the toe falling off. This, in turn, leads to climbing and other problems. The skin around the face is another problem area and can lead to feeding and hydration problems.
If the skin has not been shed completely after 2-3 days, you may have to take action to assist.
Do not pull the skin because this can cause lasting injury. Bath him in half an inch of lukewarm water and leave him for about a minute. This can help remove the skin from the belly and feet.
Create a humid environment, similar to a sauna, by using damp towels in a warm container. Shut your gecko in the container, ensuring it is ventilated, and shut him in for about 30 minutes. Use a wet cotton ball to very gently rub excess skin away.
Why Is My Leopard Gecko Constantly Shedding?
A lot of the time, because geckos can shed every 4 weeks even as adults, and it takes a couple of days for the whole process from start to finish, it can feel like your Gecko is constantly shedding when it is following a natural shedding cycle.
Keep track of how often your leopard is shedding, Even if it is every couple of weeks, this could be perfectly natural if yours is growing quickly, something which can occur if he is eating more than usual.
Tips To Help A Leopard Gecko Shed
In most cases, a leopard gecko should shed perfectly well on its own and without any assistance, especially if you ensure that its cage and setup are good. In particular, ensure that your gecko is well hydrated and its cage has the right humidity and moisture levels.
Ensure that your gecko has a moist hide. This will provide warmth while the moisture will also offer humidity that your gecko needs. Misting the terrarium when it is shedding time can also help increase the humidity, which then works in a similar way to steaming wallpaper for easier removal.
Also, ensure that your little lizard has a textured surface that it can rub against to help remove loose skin. In the wild, this would likely be a rock, and if all the surfaces in your terrarium are too smooth, this could be preventing him from properly shedding.
Leopard Gecko Shedding: The Bottom Line
Leopard geckos shed simply when they get too big for their skin. While it can pass without incident, and often does, this monthly occurrence can become problematic if your terrarium is not set up properly. Ensure decent moisture and humidity levels, and offer somewhere to rub against.
If all else fails, consider bathing your gecko or even a sauna to help encourage the best shedding conditions. And, don’t worry if your Leopard eats the shed skin. This is perfectly natural if a little gross.
Featured image credit: H. Evan Miller, Shutterstock
Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts’ knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.