Whether or not you realize it, your skin is constantly shedding and renewing itself.
These changes to your skin happen on microscopic levels, and it is done so gradually we do not even notice.
A crested gecko’s skin also needs this renewal periodically.
However, the difference between reptiles and humans is that the reptiles shed their skin all at once and at varying intervals during their lives.
But why do crested geckos shed their skin so often?
Shedding is a normal part of a crested gecko’s growth process, and baby geckos shed more frequently than any other life stage because of their rapid growth. The shedding frequency in a crested gecko will begin to taper off as the reptile gets older and its growth slows down.
It is important to monitor your crestie’s behavior throughout shedding to ensure the process goes smoothly for your reptile.
There are several issues a crestie may encounter during shedding, and it may require veterinary care.
Keep reading to learn more about the signs of shedding in a crested gecko and how often the reptile sheds during certain life stages.
Signs of Shedding
There are many signs your crested gecko is about to enter the shedding process, including graying of the skin, loss of appetite, and inactivity.
The first sign of the shedding process for a crested gecko is the skin changing color.
You will notice your crestie’s skin will start to have a gray appearance to it.
The gray areas may be in patches or cover entire body parts, such as the head or legs.
These gray areas of skin on your crestie are the dead skin pieces the reptile will shed.
During this time, your crested gecko will likely start to eat less and become less active.
For more reasons your crested gecko isn’t eating, check out our guide at the link.
The gecko will be using most of its energy to shed, so it will not waste energy by hunting or being active.
It will usually take anywhere between 1-3 days for your crestie to complete the shedding process.
Give your crestie a warm bath for 30-45 minutes to help loosen the dead skin.
The actual shedding of the skin will only take a crestie, around one hour.
The gecko will remove the dead skin with its tongue.
It is essential to monitor your gecko during this time to ensure there is not any stuck shed.
How Often Do Crested Geckos Shed?
As adults, crested geckos will only need to shed once every 2-4 weeks. After the 3-4 year mark, a crestie’s growth rate slows considerably, and the reptile will only shed once per month.
Baby crested geckos have the fastest growth rate.
An average baby gecko will shed at least once or twice per week.
Crested geckos do most of their growing between the ages of 6-12 months, so they are expected to shed frequently during this time.
Once the baby geckos become juveniles, they will reduce their shedding frequency to just twice per week.
Adult geckos will also shed their skin to get rid of external parasites.
If a crestie is infested with many external parasites such as mites or ticks, the reptile will shed its skin more often.
To prevent a parasite infestation, keep your crestie’s enclosure clean.
Spot clean the tank and remove feces every day.
Deep clean the tank at least once per month by washing it and all its contents in hot water and mild dish soap.
Common Shedding Problems & Treatment
The most common shedding problem a crested gecko will face is an incomplete shed. An incomplete shed will lead to other health concerns if it is not treated quickly. A stuck shed between a crestie’s toes may cut off circulation to one or more of the reptile’s digits.
A lack of blood flow to any part of a crestie’s body for an extended period will ultimately lead to necrosis.
In necrosis, the tissues without any blood circulating through them will begin to die.
This will ultimately lead to your crestie needing surgery and possible amputation of the affected areas.
If necrosis spreads from the digits to the leg, the entire limb may need to be amputated.
A stuck shed on a crestie’s tail may cause the lizard to drop the tail completely.
Tail dropping is harmless to a crestie, but the tail will never grow back.
Stuck shed on a crestie’s eyes may lead to eye infections due to a buildup of bacteria.
Treatment for Stuck Shed
Make an appointment with your veterinarian as soon as you notice any stuck shed on your gecko. If you are unable to get an appointment right away, you will be able to help your crestie in the meantime. Provide your crestie with a warm bath for 30-45 minutes every day until your vet appointment.
If your crested gecko has a harder time with a stuck shed, never remove it yourself.
Pulling loose skin from your crestie may cause open wounds and lead to skin infections.
The water should be shallow to keep your crestie from drowning even though crested geckos can swim (learn more), we don’t want to risk it.
The water should be warm for the duration of the bath.
To keep the water warm, add more warm water every 10-15 minutes.
Your crestie relies on external heat to regulate its body temperature.
If a crestie gets too cold, it may have a difficult time warming back up.
The temperature of the water should not be above 85° degrees Fahrenheit (29° C).
The water may feel too cold to you, but cresties are very sensitive to heat.
Prolonged exposure to high temperatures makes a crestie more susceptible to heatstroke.
The warm baths may help to loosen any stuck shed on your crestie, but you must remember to allow the reptile to remove the skin on its own.
Another way to help your crestie with a stuck shed is to provide the lizard with a personal sauna.
Use a plastic container with a lid, and place a wet, lukewarm paper towel on the bottom.
Allow your gecko to be closed up in the mini sauna for 10-15 minutes, leaving the lid slightly open to allow for ventilation without releasing too much moisture from the container.
Here’s our how-to guide to making a crested gecko sauna.
A veterinarian will remove any pieces of stuck shed very carefully, and special ointment may need to be applied to soothe the skin and prevent infection.
Maintaining Optimal Humidity
Higher humidity levels are extremely important in ensuring a smooth shedding process for your crestie. While optimal humidity levels are typically between 50%-60% during the day, you will need to raise them to 80% for a day or two during shedding.
Raise the daytime humidity levels the same way you usually do at night.
Lightly mist the plants and the sides of the enclosure with a spray bottle of water.
If you are not available to regularly mist the tank throughout the day, invest in a reptile fogger.
Reptile foggers work by releasing a mist of water in the enclosure at regular intervals.
These foggers usually come with timers, and some even allow you to adjust the length of time between mistings.
It is essential to use a hygrometer to monitor the humidity levels in the enclosure, especially if you are frequently changing them.
After 1-2 days, it is crucial to lower the humidity back to its normal daytime levels.
Prolonged exposure to high humidity levels will make your crestie more prone to upper respiratory and skin infections.
Fungus and bacteria thrive in humid areas, and they may create an unsafe environment for your crestie.
If the humidity in the enclosure is too low, your crestie will experience stuck skin.
Low humidity levels may also cause your gecko to become dehydrated more easily as well.
If you live in a dry climate, add a humidifier to the room to ensure the crestie’s enclosure reaches proper humidity levels during the day.
Crested Gecko Shedding Tips
There are several things you are able to do to help your crestie with the shedding process aside from maintaining optimal enclosure conditions.
Add a rock or a piece of rough tree bark to the enclosure.
This will give your crestie something to rub on to help get rid of shedding skin.
Rough surfaces will also help prevent incomplete skin sheds by loosening the dead skin from the crestie’s body.
Keep a shallow dish in the enclosure to keep humidity levels stable and give the crestie a place to soak its body.
The water should be lukewarm or at room temperature, and you may need to change it several times a day when it becomes dirty.
Fresh, clean water will need to be given every day.
The water dish will need to be thoroughly washed with soap and hot water every day as well.
Use mild dish soap to wash the water bowl, and be sure to thoroughly rinse away any leftover soap residue.
When you first start to see signs of shedding in your crestie, you will need to raise the humidity levels in the enclosure.
This is done by misting the tank several times per day or leaving a reptile fogger on for longer than usual.
To encourage your crestie to shed, add a shed box to the enclosure.
A shed box is a small hide filled with damp sphagnum moss.
The sphagnum moss should be damp but not completely soaked to provide a humid hide for shedding.
If the moss is too wet, fungus or bacteria will start to grow on it.
A fungal or bacterial overgrowth will significantly increase your crestie’s chances of getting a skin infection.
Commonly Asked Questions
Can you hold a crested gecko while it is shedding?
Crested geckos typically become lethargic, shy, and irritable when they are shedding.
Your crested gecko will probably start to hide as soon as the shedding process starts.
When a crestie hides, this is a sign the animal does not want to be held.
Give your gecko the space it needs during the shedding process, and only handle the reptile if it has any issues with shedding, such as a stuck shed.
It is also a good idea to avoid handling your crestie until at least three days after the shedding process is completed.
This waiting period will give your gecko some time to calm down and re-establish its routine.
Do crested geckos shed in patches?
Unlike other species of reptiles, crested geckos do not shed their skin in patches.
When cresties shed, they shed their entire skin all at once.
This does not mean a crestie’s skin will come off all in one piece.
Your crestie will still remove the dead skin in sections, starting with the head and neck and ending with the tail and feet.
Crested geckos tend to be fired up for most of the shedding process, so you will see your gecko looking its best when the process is finished.
It is important to monitor your crestie during or soon after skin removal to prevent any stuck shed.
Allow your crestie to remove the dead skin on its own, and remember never to pull any loose skin from your gecko.
Pulling away loose skin when it is not ready to come off may lead to skin tears and infection.
Do crested geckos eat their shed skin?
Since crested geckos typically shed during the night, you may not even know it has happened.
This is especially true because it is unlikely for you to find any dead skin in the enclosure.
This is because cresties usually eat the shed skin they remove from their bodies.
Eating the dead skin supplies your gecko with a few nutrients, and it helps to make up for its lack of appetite at the beginning of the shedding process.