Wondering how to help a Leopard Gecko shed? This guide is for you!
Leopard geckos start shedding from the moment they are babies, which continues throughout their lives.
Because of their first growth rates, babies shed about once weekly. However, by the time they are adults, their growth rate has slowed, and they shed about once monthly or once every two months.
So, although shedding is quite normal in leopard geckos, it is accompanied by a lot of problems. Most leos become irritable, lethargic, and lose appetite as the process progresses.
You can help your leopard gecko have an easier shedding process by bathing him in lukewarm water. Also, ensure that the humidity levels in the enclosure are optimum. Next, help your pet remove stuck shed skin by gently massaging his skin with a cotton swap. You can also use reputable shedding aid products to make things easier for your leo.
Why Do Leopard Geckos Shed?
Leopard geckos shed as part of their growth process. However, from the moment they hatch, these lizards never stop growing.
Although they don’t increase in size after some point, they still need new skins as the old ones get worn out.
The replacement of the old skin with a new one is the process we call shedding. Before it happens, the old skin turns dark brown or black.
Gradually, it peels off in patches, revealing a young, brand-new skin underneath. As the old skin comes off, leopard geckos are known for eating it.
As we’ll see later, there are very good reasons for this behavior.
How Often Do Leopard Geckos Shed?
The frequency of shedding in leopard geckos depends on their age. Since this is a growth process, the younger leos shed much more often than their older counterparts.
Expect your baby leopard gecko to shed once weekly. As he grows older and becomes a juvenile, his growth rate slows down a bit, and he now sheds about once every two weeks.
By the time he reaches 18 months, his shedding frequency drops to once monthly. Finally, at around 24 months, your leopard gecko sheds about once every two months.
However, some factors can affect how often and effectively your leopard gecko sheds. These include disease, trauma, stress, reproductive status, and feeding schedules.
Why Do Leopard Geckos Have Shedding Problems?
Leopard geckos in the wild have few or no shedding problems. This is because the temperatures and humidity in their habit are always right.
The dry and semi-arid conditions of Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, India, and Afghanistan are perfect for proper shedding.
However, things may be different in captivity, causing shedding problems. The main reasons are poor enclosure temperatures, lack of proper humidity, and poor hydration.
Suppose these problems can be solved to mimic the lizard’s natural habitat. Your leopard gecko will have little to no shedding issues in that case.
Is Improper Shedding a Serious Issue?
It is a serious health concern if patches of unshed skin remain stuck on your leopard gecko. Ideally, shedding should not take more than two days.
If you see any unshed skin after this period, you should urgently intervene to avert a medical catastrophe.
One area you must keep your eyes on is your pet’s toes. This area is notorious for retaining unshed skin for more than two days.
The danger in this is that the unshed skin constricts the blood flow, immobilizing the leopard gecko. Eventually, the affected digits will fall off, creating an avenue for an influx of infections.
Also, keep your eyes on the area around the mouth, nose, and eyes. Unshed skin in this area makes the leo have feeding problems.
Eventually, he becomes weak and dehydrated from starvation. This leads to lethargy, coma, and death.
How You Can Help Your Leopard Gecko Shed Properly
If, after 2 days, you see unstuck skin on any part of your leopard gecko’s body, it means he has problems shedding completely.
You need to step in and complete the shedding process. Here’s how to go about it:
#1 – Give Him a Lukewarm Bath
Put about half-inch of lukewarm water into a shallow basin. This should be enough to cover your leo’s feet but not so much that he may dry.
Let him sit there for about 30 minutes, and they try to loosen the stuck skin with a cotton swap or a Q-tip.
#2 – Message Your Leopard Gecko
Repeat the process in #1 above, but this time incorporates some message. Gently massage the affected area after the leo has been in the lukewarm water for about 15 minutes.
Do not attempt to pull out the unshed skin with your fingers, as this might rip your pet’s skin off, leading to permanent trauma.
Remember, the new skin is still tender and needs to be treated gently.
#3 – Misting Your Lizard
Improper shedding happens due to dehydration caused by poor humidity. Thus, you can solve the problem by gently spraying the problematic areas with a fine mist for about 30 minutes.
As you do this, gently pat the affected area to loosen the skin further.
#4 – Use a Shedding Box
A shedding box is a humid hide that provides the perfect conditions for shedding. Put about an inch of moist sphagnum moss into a hide.
Also, you can put in some damp paper towels or coconut fiber. Finally, ensure the hide is big enough to accommodate the entire leopard gecko.
#5 – Use Shedding Aid
A shedding aid is a fine mist made of water, jojoba oil, aloe, and vitamin E. Spray this mist directly on the affected area, gently rubbing them with a piece of damp cotton ball or Q-tip.
#6 – Set Up a Sauna
This is a way of creating a highly humid environment to help your Gecko shed stuck skin.
Get a plastic container big enough for your leopard gecko to fit in. ensure this container has a lid but plenty of ventilation inside.
Put some warm, damp paper towels into the container. Lower your leopard gecko inside and cover the container with a lid.
Allow your pet to sit here for about 30 minutes. After this period, use a wet cotton ball or a Q-tip to gently rub the skin off.
If all the skin does not come off, put your leo back into the sauna for a further 30 minutes and repeat the process.
#7 – Use Shedding Products
Pet shops have commercial products designed to help leopard geckos shed properly in their stocks. In addition, these products provide extra hydration to loosen the leo’s dry skin.
As always, ensure you’re dealing with reputable dealers when buying any commercial product for your leopard gecko.
Your pet’s safety should always come first.
Has your leopard gecko been experiencing shedding problems? We hope this post has given you helpful insights and ideas on how to go about the situation.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How Long Does the Leopard Gecko Shedding Take?
A leopard gecko’s shedding should be complete within 24 to 48 hours. If this does not happen, you need to step in and help your pet complete the process.
What Are the Main Problematic Shedding Areas?
The areas likely to have stuck skin are your leopard gecko’s face (nose, mouth, and eye areas) and the areas between the toes.
Why Does My Leopard Gecko Eat Its Shed Skin?
Your leopard gecko’s skin is loaded with minerals and nutrients. As such, it’s good that your pet is eating this skin, as it helps him restore the energy he lost in the shedding process.
These nutrients also boost the health and strength of the new skin.
Also, it is a spontaneous thing. Leopard geckos in the wild do not leave their shed skin lying around as this would tip off predators as to their presence.
Should I Take My Leopard Gecko with Shedding Problems to the Vet?
If you have tried all the intervention measures discussed in this post and failed, take your leopard gecko to the vet immediately.
Also, if your pet shows signs of illness, let him be handled by an expert vet.