Do Leopard Geckos Shed Skin?
I have seen this question being asked a lot on gecko Facebook groups and answer forms like quora as well as other sheading-related questions like what do I do with stuck shed, how often does a leopard gecko shed, etc.
So I decided to use my knowledge and research to answer the question do leopard geckos shed and give a full rundown of leopard gecko shedding.
Do Leopard geckos shed?
The Short answer is Yes, like most reptiles in the world, leopard geckos do shed their skin quite often!
At least once a month for a fully grown adult and more often for a still-growing Baby.
This can be an exciting and fantastic thing to watch firsthand if you are lucky enough to see it in action.
How Often Do Leopard Geckos Shed?
Adult leopard geckos should become fully grown when they are about one year old then they will shed about once per month,
However, younger geckos and juveniles will shed more often as they are continually growing in size,
The constant growth will cause the geckos to shed more often because they are literally growing out of their skin.
The faster the gecko grows and the bigger it gets, the more often it will shed until it reaches its full adult size.
Leopard gecko shedding process
When a gecko is getting ready to shed you will notice that its skin will start to dull and turn Gray in color,
The shedding will be more noticeable in geckos with vibrant colors like orange and yellow,
the skin will start becoming a white, almost transparent color when the gecko is about to shed.
When the gecko is ready to shed, it will need a moist place to sit for a while to ensure enough moisture to loosen the skin to help with the shedding process.
Leopard Geckos shed all of their skin in one go instead of small bits and pieces over time the shedding usually starts from the face and the shed peels back kind of like a banana skin.
It is almost as if they are leaving a small geckos suit behind if they have a good shed and nothing gets stuck, virtually the same as some snakes.
When the gecko starts to shed, it will aid the shed by pulling the shed off with its teeth and eating it.
Leopard geckos eat their shed
Leopard geckos eat their shed for a few reasons,
one reason for a gecko to eat its shed is that shading can take a lot of energy out of the gecko as if it was doing a good workout,
The animal will need to replace its energy somehow and to eat its skin is by far the more accessible option as it is right there in front of them.
Another reason leopard geckos eat their skin is that,
like every other domesticated animal in the world Leopard geckos were once wild creatures,
the eating of their skin is a form of survival tactic,
Leopard geckos are quite small and can become prey to larger animals very quickly, so to make them harder to track,
Leo’s will eat their skin to leave no trace behind and eating their skin is easier and faster than burying it.
Leopard geckos can go off food near shedding time
When a Leo is getting ready to shed it can go off food for a short time before its shed,
once it has shed and eaten the shed, it can also be a few days to a week or more before it eats again.
Just keep providing food to your gecko as normal. See what do leopard geckos eat here . it will eat as much food as it needs to when it wants it.
There are several reasons for a gecko to go off its food with shedding being one of them a few other reasons can be stress, change in environment,
temperature changes, and brumation. (Kind of like hibernation when the temperature drops to about 60F – 15.5C)
Shedding Problems That Can Happen
Sometimes when a leopard gecko sheds it can have issues with some stuck shed,
the stuck shed is mostly caused by the skin being too dry and not having enough moisture in the skin before the shedding starts.
To remove stuck shed your gecko may try and rub itself again on a rough surface to remove the shed,
Rubbing against a rough surface can sometimes result in the gecko damaging the fresh skin under the shed
leaving a wound that will need to be kept clean, and you may need to take your gecko to a vet to be checked out
Another comment problem with shedding is the toes if the gecko doesn’t have a good shed
it is most likely that shed sticks and builds up around the toes if left this can result in the gecko losing toes
What happens if a leopard gecko has a bad shed
If you notice that your leopard gecko has shed and it still has some stuck shed you can help remove the shed for your pet as you don’t want it to hurt itself or lose any toes.
DO NOT just grab the skin and try to pull it off, if the skin is stuck on hard this can hurt the animal and do more damage than good,
Instead what you want to do is dampen the skin a little to help it peal of easier,
If the stuck shed is around the head/face area, you want to be extra careful not to damage the eyes and ear holes,
wet your fingers and with your damp fingers gently peel off the loose skin keeping your thumb close to the geckos head and run it along the geckos head towards the nose slowly detaching it from the skin,
and be extra careful around the eyes
you can also use a reptile shedding aid spray to help loosen the skin one like this (Reptile shedding aid)
What to do with stuck shed on toes
When I bought my first 2 leopard geckos one of the females, A white and yellow, mac snow named Volcano by my daughter
Had really bad shed stuck on her toes to the point it looked like she had webbed feet on 2 of her feet and she had already lost a few toes
I had to take action in order to stop her from losing any more toes by removing the stuck shed
Volcano’s toes when I got her from a breeder
To remove the stuck shed from toes again you have to dampen the area.
You can do this by putting your Leo in a shallow bowl of water or even on a damp paper towel for 10 – 15 mins.
After that take a damp cotton bud (cue tip) and gently run it down the geckos, toes one at a time,
this can be a slow process depending on how thick the shed is
This is probably the most common form of shedding problem for leopard geckos
because the toes are small and delicate areas making it easy for the shed to get stuck,
If the Leo has a bad shed 2 or 3 times in a row without the shed being removed from the toes
the gecko can and will lose its toes making it hard for it grasps things when climbing,
Even though leopard geckos are generally not big on climbing,
they still do it from time to time. It also helps them grip things like your shirt or top if you put them on you as a lot of people do.
What leopard geckos need to have a good shed?
For a leopard gecko to have a good shed, it will require the setup (its enclosure) to be set up optimally
and have the necessary thing it needs to help with loosening the skin.
The enclosure will have to have a hot side of about 90F – 32.2C provided by UTH (Under Tank Heating) from heat tape, heat pads, or heat cable,
and a cold spot of around 80F-26.6C the exact temperatures can vary by a few degrees either way and still be okay,
The primary purpose of the temperature difference is so the gecko can move around from hot spot to cold spot as needed to self-regulate their temperature.
The enclosure will have to have a moist hide ( A place for your gecko to sit and let the moisture loosen its skin)
a moist hide is made up of some kind of box, container, or cave-like tunnel with a damp substrate on the floor,
the 3 most commonly used substrates for a moist hide are…
- Paper towel
Paper towels are the best for new gecko owner and young juvenile leopard geckos because it is cheap, easy to use and easy to keep damp and replace when needed.
- Coco Fiber
Coco Fiber is also a good option but would use it more for fully grown adult geckos as adult geckos will be less likely to swallow it causing
impaction. Coco fiber is good because it is easy to keep moist, it can last a long time without having to be replaced, and it is relatively cheap if you buy a big brick of it.
- Sphagnum moss
Sphagnum moss is also another alternative that people use for their moist hide it is around the same price as coco fiber or just a little more expensive depending on where you get it from,
Sphagnum moss is more natural and can hold moisture more than the other two but because of this it is more likely to mold.
I use damp paper towels for all baby to juvenile leopard geckos,
then change over to coco fiber once the gecko has reached maturity and has to be moved to a larger enclosure.
I spray the moist hide bedding/substrate with water as needed, usually once every few days or so.
I would like to thank you all for reading, and I hope you found the answer you were looking for.
If you have any comments or questions, leave them below, and I will do my best to answer!