Is it necessary for all reptiles to shed as they grow? What if you never see your Leo shedding? Should you be concerned about your Leos well-being, or is there a simple answer to this lack of shedding? Here’s all you need to know.
Diet, age, health, ovulation, and brumation all play a role in disrupting a leopard gecko’s regular shed routine. Double-checking that you have an optimal terrarium environment for shedding is equally as crucial.
Possible Reasons Your Leopard Gecko Is Not shedding
Here are some no-shed explanations to consider.
Can age affect a leopard gecko’s shed?
Shedding skin is normal healthy behavior for Leos starting a few days after hatching and continuing throughout adulthood.
A Leopard Gecko will first shed 5 to 7 days after hatching. Subsequently, young geckos will shed weekly or bi-weekly until the age of one. This frequent shedding is due to your young Leo’s rapid growth and seeing as the process is completed in less than 48 hours, it is particularly easy to miss.
The frequency of your Leos shedding is dependent on their growth rate. A healthy adult Leo will shed once every month or two, and the shedding usually takes 1 to 3 days to complete. As your Leo gets older, this shedding routine becomes less frequent.
Why am I missing my leopard geckos shedding?
The high frequency of shedding in young Leo’s and the less frequent shed in older geckos can make it easy for Leo owners to miss the shedding process.
If your Leopard Gecko grows and looks healthy, they are shedding. It is easy to miss a shedding if your Leo sheds during the night. Furthermore, Leopard Geckos typically shed in their moist hides and eat the evidence right after.
Eating the nutrient-rich shedded skin helps Leo recover and regain their much-needed energy. Eating the shed is also a territorial practice to keep their hide sanitary and eliminate any traces that may attract predators.
To ease concerns of no shed, know the signs of shedding and keep track of your Leo’s growth rate.
Can stunted growth affect a leopard geckos shedding?
A still-developing Leopard Gecko with stunted growth will exhibit a delayed shedding pattern.
The frequency of your Leos shedding is dependent on their growth rate. If Leo is still a juvenile, stunted growth will be easier to identify.
Stunted growth is usually the result of a bad diet. Environmental factors such as tank temperature, stress, bullying, and recovery from a recent illness can affect Leo’s growth and shed. Recording Leo’s shedding dates and weight is an effective means of identifying these growth abnormalities.
If your Leo is not eating or is eating low-quality food with little nutrients, their growth will be affected and, in turn, their shedding. If you are already feeding your Leo a variety of gut-loaded insects, I would recommend reaching out to a vet to identify any missing supplements or ruling out possible illnesses.
Bullying and stunted development
A lesser-known cause of stunted growth and shed delay is if your Leo is under continuous stress from bullying. Bullying will result in an anxious Leo who is too scared to rest or leave his hide to eat. Separating bullies or keeping not more than one male in the same hide will help correct this problem and allow your Leo to get the nutrients needed to grow and shed.
Provide your Leopard Geckos with multiple hides and ensure the tank is large enough for the number of geckos you are housing. Injury and stress from bullying will lead to unhealthy feeding and shedding.
Related: Why leopard geckos shake sometimes
Shed delay and health problems in Leos
Although there is no need for concern, illness can affect the regular shedding routine of your Leo. The nutrients and energy needed for recovery can take a toll on Leo’s weight and growth.
If your Leopard Gecko has not been shedding or is not completing the shedding process within 3 to 4 days, one of these below-listed health problems could be the cause.
Respiratory, Hemipene or parasitic infections can cause a lack of appetite and fatigue in Leopard Geckos. Proper tank cleanliness and humidity control can avoid most respiratory infections in geckos. Parasitic infections are more complex and need vet intervention as they can cause severe diarrhea, weight loss, and growth deficiencies.
A lesser-known type of infection for male Leo’s would be a hemipenis infection. Hemipenis trauma, vitamin A deficiencies, or a lack of cleanliness can trigger the development of a hemipenis abscess. This, unfortunately, leads to appetite loss and fatigue, which usually will be resolved with antibiotic treatment or surgery.
Leopard Geckos require extra energy and nutrients to repair a recently amputated tail. Leo’s may eat less and move slower to conserve their energy. Their power is reserved for tail recovery, resulting in a lack of shedding.
Fortunately, your Leo’s tail should regrow within 1 to 2 months, and with proper care, they will return to a healthy shedding routine.
Metabolic Bone Disease
A painful condition where your Leo’s jaw is so sore it struggles to eat. Supplements can avoid the beginnings of this disease by ensuring they get the recommended calcium and vitamin D3 amounts. Optimal tank temperatures will also ensure that your Leo benefits from the nutrients.
Injury caused by other males bullying your Leo or sharp tank décor can stress and affect your Leo. The energy used to recover from an injury like this one can affect your Leopard Gecko’s appetite and, in turn, their ability to shed.
Can terrarium conditions affect the shed?
A lack of humidity and moisture can delay or cause complex shed problems such as stuck shed in Leos’.
Controlled humidity and moisture, in addition to rough surface décor, are essential for regular healthy Leopard Gecko shedding. A humidity of around 40% will avoid dried-out difficult to shed skin. In addition, a shedding box or hide filled with moist substrate ought to do the trick.
Coconut fiber, peat moss, or dampened sphagnum moss added to your chosen box or hide will aid in maintaining a humid environment for optimal shedding. Misting can also be a good idea if the environment is too dry. Wet paper towels can also be used but are not a recommended long-term solution.
Moreover, ensure that the warmer hide has a small opening to reduce evaporation and use a hydrometer to keep humidity levels stable. Lower humidity can cause shedding skin to stick, and too high humidity levels can result in respiratory problems leading to stress.
Ceramic tiles, slate, reptile carpets, and other rough surfaces should be added to Leo’s enclosure to assist with shedding. Avoid sharp surfaces, which can lead to infection and other health problems which can delay shed.
Can Diet Stop a Leopard Gecko Shedding?
If your Leo is pale but not shedding and you have considered all environmental conditions or possible illnesses, you could very well be dealing with a dietary issue.
Nutrient deficiencies and poor diet can delay or cause abnormal shedding in your Leo. Chronic malnutrition, vitamin A deficiencies, and other diet shortcomings can make your Leo stop shedding or falsely believe it should be shedding. This may lead to an incomplete shed or a pale fatigued Leo.
Coat your Leo’s food with supplements and ensure a variety of gut-loaded insects. Calcium, vitamin d3, and multivitamins are good dietary additions for juvenile and adult geckos. Regularly incorporating an oral low-dose vitamin A supplement to your Leopard Geckos food also avoids abnormal or half shedding.
A high protein diet with less fat is recommended for healthy adult Leopard Geckos. If your Leo is suffering from malnutrition or recovering from an illness, then providing your Leo with additional mealworm treats will help to boost their energy reserves.
A Leopard Gecko with a healthy weight and energy levels will shed regularly and quickly. If your supplementation and food changes are not working, it is recommended to seek advice from your nearest vet.
Ovulation and Brumation
Your female Leo needs to stop shedding and conserve their energy during ovulation. Shedding will only recommence a couple of days before they lay their eggs.
If your Leo stops to shed from January to June or July, their appetite and movements are slower; they prefer the cooler part of your terrarium and are grumpier than usual; they may very well be ovulating. If you are careful, you can also see and feel the eggs on their swollen abdomens.
This low activity hibernation type state is known as brumation and, although unnecessary, can be used briefly to prepare your Leo for breeding. The cooler tank temperature required for brumation is not ideal for shedding.
It is easy to miss Leo’s shedding, considering it is a quick process often completed in hiding. Age, health, diet, and environment all play a role in whether Leo’s shedding is normal or delayed. No shedding during brumation and ovulation is natural, and is no need for concern. If severe illness and stunted growth are delaying shed, veterinarian assistance is advisable.
Related: Why Do Leopard Geckos Have Bumps?