Why has your vibrantly colored Leopard Gecko suddenly turned pale? Is shedding the only logical reason, or are there other likely explanations? Understand the root cause of this milky grey appearance and find out all you need to know to support your Leo during this time.
A leopard gecko turns pale when it is time to shed its skin. Careful observation and behavior monitoring of your Leo will allow you to identify other less likely causes. External and internal environmental factors, stress, food, water supply, and illness can all trigger discoloration.
Why is my Leopard Gecko pale?
Countless Leopard Gecko owners panic at first sight of their Leopard Gecko turning a whitish-grey color. This color change is related to shedding nine out of ten times and will repeatedly occur throughout your Leo’s lifetime. This process is also termed sloughing.
Roughly two or three days before shedding your Leo will start getting paler as part of their shed preparation process. This shedding process is when your Leo outgrows their old skin to make room for their new skin as it develops and grows.
Discoloration due to shedding is no reason for concern and will occur every few weeks when Leo is juvenile and reduce to every four to six weeks in adulthood. The whole shed process is quick and only takes a couple of days, after which your Leo’s skin color should return to normal.
Making it easier for your Leo during shedding
Shedding is a stressful time for your Leo, and a lot of energy is used up during this process. Your gecko’s appetite will decrease, and eating may stop for a couple of days. Your Leo may also be grumpier than usual and will appreciate being handled less frequently.
Leo will resume eating after shedding, and their first meal is usually their shed nutrient-rich skin.
Be patient, limit physical contact and provide your Leo with additional calcium and nutrients when first noticing a discoloration. Provide your Leopard Gecko with rough objects and a moist, humid hide for privacy and to encourage an easier shed.
If your Leo has shed, but some old skin is leftover, you may consider visiting a vet. Alternatively, soak your Leo in shallow warm water and carefully remove any soft excess skin with tweezers. Never force the skin off your Leo, as this is both painful and could injure your gecko.
What to do if your Leopard Gecko turns pale?
Firstly, don’t panic and monitor your Leo for a couple of days.
Your Leo is most likely getting ready to start shedding. If your Leopard Gecko does not shed, try to identify other environmental, diet, or health-related reasons for the discoloration. Visiting an exotic vet for a check-up will also help rule out any illnesses.
Other Possible Reasons Your Leopard Gecko Has Turned Pale:
Consider whether your Leopard Gecko’s enclosure is in direct sunlight or if the enclosure temperature is higher than 30 degrees Celsius (86 degrees Fahrenheit). Both sunlight and temperature can dry Leo’s skin due to the moisture loss and bring about discoloration.
Ensure to maintain an enclosure temperature of approximately 25 to 30 degrees Celsius ( 77 to 86 Fahrenheit) and a humidity level of between 30 and 40 percent.
Using a thermometer and hygrometer is usually beneficial, and misting the enclosure from time to time or installing a fan for air circulation will also improve conditions.
If a Leopard Gecko feels stressed or threatened, its skin may pale. Stress can be triggered by factors inside or surrounding the gecko’s enclosure.
Newly purchased Leopard Geckos will take a week to get used to their new homes and environment. It is best to limit physical contact and allow Leo to settle in. Their color should return to normal once they are better settled and used to you as their owner.
Consider the size of your enclosure in relation to the number of geckos you are housing. If you have more than one Leo, ensure to include multiple shelters, food, and water locations to reduce confrontation.
Avoid housing different sized or aged geckos together. Housing more than one territorial male Leopard Gecko in an enclosure is looking for trouble unless you have a large enough tank.
Similarly, look for surrounding stresses such as loud noises, pets, and bright lights that may be making your Leo anxious and make the necessary changes.
Your Leopard Gecko’s diet
Your Leopard Gecko may be turning pale due to malnutrition.
Leopard Geckos need a variety of good quality live proteins, fats, and moisture-rich foods to remain healthy. Coat your insects, worms, and roaches with nutrients and feed the correct size and quantity of insects based on your gecko’s age and size.
Leopard Geckos will not eat insects that are too large and can feel threatened if too many insects are offered to them at the same time. Not providing a variety of food options could also result in your gecko not getting enough or too much protein or fat.
Check the quality of the food purchased and ensure your food comes from a responsible exotic pet supplier before offering it to your Leo. Diet will not only affect your Leopard Geckos’ skin color but can also have profound effects on their health.
A bad diet can produce a condition called hepatic lipidosis in Leopard Geckos. Medical intervention is required whereby feeding takes place via tubes for up to two months before Leo is ready to feed on its own again.
Leo’s water requirements
Your Leopard Geckos’ health can be severely affected by a shortage of accessible water or reduced moisture levels. If your Leo is dehydrated due to lack of moisture, their skin will turn pale and papery. This color and texture will remain until the dehydration has been addressed.
Leopard geckos maintain their moisture levels mainly from their food. Despite this, shallow water bowls should be provided in their enclosures on hotter days to allow them to sip and bask in the water to cool down. Maintaining suitable enclosure humidity levels will also let Leo get the water from droplets on the sides of the tank. You can also mist your leopard gecko.
Your Leopard Gecko is ill.
In certain instances, when your Leopard Gecko is unhealthy or ill, its skin will turn pale. I have already explained the dangers of chronic malnutrition, but other issues can produce the same discoloration.
If your Leo loses weight, has lost interest in food, is lethargic, and their eyes look sunken, it may be time to visit your nearest exotic vet to rule out possible illness.
Here are several common illnesses to look out for.
Leo has mouth rot
Mouth rot or stomatitis is a painful bacterial infection that, if not treated, can be fatal to Leo. Refusal to eat or drink is common, and paler-looking skin is likely due to the associated stress and malnutrition.
Due to stress, incorrect enclosure temperature control, or injury, a weak immune system is the main reason mouth rot develops in Leopard Geckos.
Good housekeeping, monitoring enclosure temperature, and eliminating sources of stress will help fix the problem. In severe cases, a vet may need to prescribe medication or remove the dying tissue.
Parasites can live and feed inside the body of the Leopard Gecko, depriving them of the nutrients needed to stay healthy. It can take months before you notice any sign of discoloration or lethargy in your Leo; promptly identifying the problem is very challenging.
Your vet will be able to confirm a parasite infestation by inspecting their feces. Fortunately, medicine is available to eliminate the pests, which will correct Leo’s coloration.
Egg binding in female Leos
A condition where female Leopard Geckos can not deliver their eggs. This stress may lead to a lack of appetite and a paler-skinned Leo. Ensuring your food is gut-loaded and dusted with calcium will prevent and treat these egg-binding issues.
Egg binding needs to be addressed immediately as it can be fatal for your gecko. A vet can x-ray your Leo or shine a bright light on them to confirm the gecko is carrying eggs and that egg binding is the concern.
Impaction due to ingesting hard or large foods can cause lethargy, constipation, and a lack of appetite. This stress and lack of food also lead to skin discoloration.
A vet can usually confirm if impaction is the source of the problem with an x-ray. Luckily impaction is easily treatable but should be addressed by a vet as soon as possible or corrected with at-home treatments such as warm baths and gentle abdomen massages.
Discoloration and pale skin on a Leopard Gecko should be monitored but is usually no need for concern. Shedding is usually the main culprit for the color change and is both a natural and regularly occurring practice for Leos.
If your Leo is not shedding, examine their behavior and environment for cues of possible stress triggers. If lethargy and food interest remain low after making changes, a visit to an exotic vet to rule out any illnesses is recommended.