Every reptile sheds its skin from time to time, including your beloved crested gecko.
To make shedding easier and prevent stuck shed, it helps to create a warm, moist sauna for them.
We’ll teach you how to create one of these miniature gecko saunas step-by-step, so your pet can remove their old, shedding skin with ease.
Table of Contents
- Paper towels
- Clean, fresh, lukewarm water
- Cotton swabs
- Small deli cup or plastic container with a secure lid large enough to comfortably fit your gecko’s entire body (Available here)
Place Your Paper Towels Inside The Cup
Your first step will be to grab your deli cup or other small plastic container and your roll of paper towels.
We recommend using the deli cups we linked to in the previous section, as they are large enough to comfortably fit most juvenile and adult crested geckos.
This way, your gecko won’t panic or risk any injuries when they are placed inside the eventual makeshift “sauna.”
Additionally, we highly recommend using high-quality, thick, absorbent, and durable paper towels.
The better quality paper towels you use, the better they will facilitate the conditions inside the sauna.
Plus, they won’t fall apart when they become moist or when your gecko moves around inside of the cup.
We’ve found cheaper, thinner paper towels tend to pill up, tear apart, and generally just make a mess as the gecko attempts to remove its shedding, dead skin.
Tear off a couple of paper towels from the roll and fold them into small, tight squares, so they fit snugly in the bottom of the cup.
This is the cup we’ll be using for your gecko’s sauna.
You won’t be taking out your gecko until the sauna is complete and ready for them to use, so just leave them in their enclosure for now.
Place the folded paper towel square into the bottom of the cup, and press them down with your fingers a bit, so they stay in place.
Next, you’ll need to grab your warm water to moisten the paper towels so when you put the lid on top, it creates steam.
Moisten Paper Towels With Warm Water
Once you’ve placed a square of paper towels into the bottom of the cup, wet the paper towels carefully and gradually with warm freshwater.
Be sure the water is not too hot or too cold; the correct temperature should be warm and soothing to the touch but never scalding or painfully hot.
If you use hot water, your gecko will potentially suffer painful burns or generally just be uncomfortable and upset while they are inside the sauna.
If the water is too cold, though, it won’t create the steam your gecko needs to soften their shedding skin.
Remember, your gecko has very sensitive skin, but you will still need the water to be warm enough to create a small amount of steam when you close the cup later.
It helps to use a misting bottle or a teaspoon to gently pour small amounts of water onto the paper towels until they are fully saturated.
The damp paper towels should be fully wet but not dripping.
There should only be a very small amount of excess water pooling at the bottom of the cup.
Poke a tiny hole or two into the lid or the side of the container with your tweezers to allow a small amount of oxygen into the cup (but not so much to interfere with the steam).
Pro tip: Misting the paper towels with a spray bottle is best to moisten them gradually and thoroughly without oversaturating them.
Place Your Gecko Inside The Deli Cup/Container
Be sure you have your lid for the container on hand before removing your gecko from their enclosure.
Next, place your crested gecko carefully inside the cup on top of the wet towels and quickly put the lid on top.
Close the lid down firmly.
Be very careful not to injure your gecko’s tail, toes, or any other body parts while you transfer them from their enclosure to the cup.
Crested geckos are notoriously skittish and jumpy reptiles, so handle them as gently, slowly, and carefully as possible!
Once you’ve secured the gecko inside the cup, observe your gecko briefly to be sure you haven’t injured them in any way.
It is normal for more shy and nervous geckos who haven’t been socialized yet (particularly younger geckos) to be a bit jumpy during this stage.
Give them a few minutes to calm down, and then set the cup aside.
Pro tips: Always handle your gecko over a soft, cushioned surface, and never hold them too high above said surface.
This way, if they happen to jump out of your hands, they’ll have something to break their fall.
This is especially helpful for younger geckos, as they are very fragile during the first few months of their life.
Allow Gecko To Sit For 20 To 30 Minutes
Next, you’ll need to let the gecko sit in the “sauna” for at least 20 to 30 minutes.
After a few minutes, you will notice steam beginning to form inside the cup.
This is a sign you’ve constructed the sauna correctly, and it’s beginning to do its job!
The warm, gentle steam will help loosen any stuck shed or dead skin on your gecko’s body.
This is why it is so important to use warm water, as cool water won’t create as much steam or loosen the stuck skin as effectively.
Keep an eye on your gecko, checking on them every few minutes of the process.
20 to 30 minutes sounds like a long time, but rest assured, your pet will be safe and sound as long as the lid on the cup is properly and tightly secured.
Eventually, you’ll probably notice your gecko tugging at their loose skin more or rubbing their body against the bottom and sides of the cup.
This is also a good sign, as it means your gecko realizes the steam is helping to loosen their stuck shed skin (or partially shed skin).
Remove Gecko From Cup
After 20 to 30 minutes have passed, it’s time to remove your gecko from their session in the new sauna you’ve created for them.
Gently remove the lid on the cup and remove your gecko carefully.
Upon examining their body, you will likely tell right away their skin is softer, and the shedding skin is much easier to remove.
This is perfect for a particularly stubborn “stuck shed” on the gecko’s tail and toes.
Depending on how much skin your gecko has left to shed, they might not need additional assistance removing the skin.
Examine them carefully to decide if the stuck shed has fully come off or if you’ll need to use your cotton swabs and tweezers to help the process along.
In most cases, your gecko will need a bit of help, especially if they are very young or otherwise weak due to genetic issues or illness.
For more details on shedding, check out our guide to crested gecko shedding.
Use Cotton Swab To Remove Shed
Next, grab a few cotton swabs and dip them in some of the warm water you have left over to thoroughly moisten them.
Look for any shed skin peeling from your gecko’s body, and rub the moistened cotton swab along the skin to loosen it and carefully remove it.
Usually, the shedding skin will have a dull color different from the rest of their body.
Be very gentle with your gecko during this stage, as they are likely already a bit confused and nervous after being placed in a steamy plastic cup for almost half an hour.
Check their toes, tail, and belly in particular, as these are the locations where shed skin is most likely to get stuck.
If you encounter any very stubborn pieces of the shed, moisten the cotton swab as much as possible and rub it gently along the gecko’s skin to help the shedding process along.
If it doesn’t remove easily yet, leave it alone for now.
Remove as much as you are able to with the cotton swab before resorting to using your tweezers.
Pro tip: A soft, damp washcloth will also work in a pinch if you don’t have cotton swabs.
Use Tweezers If Needed
Finally, if there are any remaining pieces of excess skin partially stuck to the gecko’s body after loosening them with the steam and moist cotton swabs, use your pair of tweezers to peel and pluck them off as gently as possible.
It is necessary to reiterate how important it is to be gentle and careful with your gecko’s body while removing the most stubborn pieces of the stuck shed.
This part will likely be quite uncomfortable for them and their delicate skin, so be patient if they squirm a bit!
Once you’ve removed all of the remaining pieces of shed skin, congratulations!
You’ve created a sauna for your crested gecko and successfully assisted them with a difficult shed, and your gecko is no doubt much happier and more comfortable as a result.
- Materials Needed: 0:57
- Place paper towels inside cup: 1:32
- Moisten paper towels with warm water: 1:42
- Place your gecko inside the cup: 1:53
- Allow gecko to sit in the cup for 20 to 30 minutes: 2:05
- Remove gecko from the cup: 2:09
- Use a cotton swab to remove remaining shed: 2:14
- Use tweezers if needed: 2:35