Shedding is a natural occurance for leopard geckos and is crucial to their growth and development.
As a leopard gecko owner, understanding why your gecko sheds its skin is essential for its care and well-being.
Why Do Leopard Geckos Shed Their Skin?
Leopard geckos shed to accommodate their growing bodies and maintain healthy skin. Shedding removes old, damaged, or worn-out skin, making way for new, vibrant layers. This process, known as ecdysis, is a natural and essential part of their life cycle.
Shedding also helps them:
- Remove external parasites
- Develop their adult coloration
- Heal from injuries or damage to the skin.
By recognizing the signs of shedding and providing proper care, you can ensure your leopard gecko remains healthy and happy during this important stage of their life.
Reasons Why Leopard Geckos Shed
Growth and Development
Your leopard gecko sheds its skin mainly to accommodate its growth and development.
As they grow, their old skin becomes too tight, and shedding allows them to remove this restricting layer and replace it with new, healthy skin.
Shedding is essential for their physical growth and also plays a part in their overall health and well-being.
Another reason for shedding is skin repair. Your leopard gecko’s skin can become damaged due to injuries, scratches, or exposure to external parasites.
It’s essential to monitor your gecko’s shed and check for any signs of shedding issues, such as retained shed on their toes, tail, or eyelids.
Signs of Leopard Gecko Shedding
As your leopard gecko begins to shed, you will notice several changes in its physical appearance. The skin will start to look dull and pale, almost grayish, as the outer layer prepares to shed.
Its colorations and markings will begin to fade while it is shedding. You may even see small cracks or tears in the skin as it separates from the new layer underneath.
Leopard geckos may exhibit some behavioral changes during shedding.
For example, they often become more lethargic or shy, hide frequently and become less active.
Your gecko may seem irritable, so it’s best to avoid handling them until at least three days after shedding is complete, as they might be more prone to stress.
Additionally, your leopard gecko might show an increased interest in certain areas of its habitat, especially where humidity levels are higher.
This is because a humid environment helps facilitate the shedding. A moist hide is essential for a healthy and smooth shedding experience.
By recognizing the physical and behavioral signs of shedding in your leopard gecko, you can ensure that you provide the proper care and support.
It’s essential to be aware of these changes, as they help to keep your gecko healthy and comfortable throughout their shedding cycle.
How to Assist Your Leopard Gecko During Shedding
Creating a Humid Hide
To help your leopard gecko during shedding, it’s essential to create a humid hide. This provides a damp environment for them to spend time in, ensuring they have adequate moisture to shed properly.
To do this, add a hiding container to your pet’s habitat and place a little damp (not wet) moss inside.
Don’t remove your pet’s “dry” hiding space; instead, allow them to choose which one they prefer at any time.
Ensuring Proper Nutrition
Maintaining a well-balanced diet is crucial. Ensure they receive various insects, such as crickets, mealworms, and waxworms.
Dust these insects with a calcium supplement to ensure their skin stays healthy and pliable during shedding. Also, please provide them with fresh, clean water at all times.
Monitoring and Gently Assisting With Shed Removal
Keep a close eye on your leopard gecko during shedding to ensure they don’t encounter any issues.
If you notice any rough or stuck shed areas, you can try gently rubbing and massaging those sections.
Moisten a Q-tip, paper towel, or cotton ball, and gently rub around the affected areas. Remember to avoid peeling, picking, or pulling off the skin. This method is most effective when paired with a bath or sauna treatment.
By creating a humid hide, ensuring proper nutrition, and monitoring your leopard gecko, you can effectively assist them in having a smooth and stress-free shedding experience.
Potential Shedding Problems and Solutions
One common shedding issue faced by leopard geckos is stuck shed. This occurs when a piece of skin doesn’t come off during shedding.
Stuck shed can result from a lack of moisture, vitamin deficiency, illness, stress, or improper temperatures.
To solve this problem, you can try the following approaches:
- Increase humidity: Providing a damp hiding space and misting your gecko’s habitat can help provide the necessary humidity for proper shedding.
- Basking light or warm room: Ensuring that your leopard gecko has access to appropriate heat sources can also help.
- Shedding aid: You could also use a commercial shedding aid, such as a shedding spray or soak, to help your gecko shed more quickly.
Leopard geckos may risk infection if the stuck shed covers their eyes, nostrils, or other bodily openings. In these cases, it’s crucial to intervene and help your gecko remove the stuck shed. Some ways to assist them include:
- Bathing: Gently soaking your gecko in a shallow bath of lukewarm water. This can help loosen the stuck shed.
- Misting: Spraying your gecko with water can increase humidity and help to soften the stuck shed.
- Gentle rubbing: Use a damp cloth or your fingers to rub off the stuck shed gently. Do this cautiously, as applying too much pressure can harm your gecko.