Is your Leopard Gecko having shedding problems?
Have you noticed excess patches of skin around its toes, eyes, or mouth?
If so, we’re here to help!
Today we’re going to show you how to help a Leopard Gecko shed, plus give you some background on why Leopard geckos experience shedding problems. Let’s get started.
Help your Leopard gecko shed by bathing it in lukewarm, shallow water, placing it in a container with warm, damp paper towels, gently rubbing the excess skin with a damp Q-tip or cotton ball, or administering shedding aid products.
Table of Contents
Why Do Leopard Geckos Shed
Leopard geckos, like other reptiles, shed the outermost layer of their skin, replacing old and damaged skin and allowing for growth.
Leopard geckos are notorious for eating their skin after shedding.
While this may sound gross, they have several good reasons for doing it.
First, suppose a Leopard gecko leaves his shed skin lying around in the wild.
In that case, it will alert predators of its presence, so eating the shed is a precautionary safety measure protecting it from potential predators.
Second, the shed skin has vital nutrients and minerals stored inside it, and by eating it, the gecko avoids wasting any of these nutrients and gets an extra boost to help it grow and support its new layer of skin.
How Often Do Leopard Geckos Shed
Leopard geckos shed their skin as they grow, meaning young and growing Leopard geckos will shed much more often than adults.
Expect your baby and young juvenile Leopard gecko to shed about once every 7 to 14 days.
Adult Leopard geckos will most likely shed their skin every four to eight weeks.
However, their growth rate, stress, injuries, illnesses, and reproductive status can all affect the time between sheds.
Why Leopard Geckos Experience Shedding Problems
Leopard geckos usually shed their skin without any problems in the wild, but in captivity, this is not always the case.
Why? The main reason why Leopard geckos experience shedding problems in captivity is due to a lack of humidity and hydration.
Leopard geckos need the right balance of heat, humidity, and hydration to shed correctly.
Their native environments (dry and semi-desert regions in Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, and northwest India) are perfectly suited to their shedding needs.
This means in the wild they typically shed without any difficulty.
However, if your husbandry doesn’t mimic the natural hot and humid environment they are adapted to, your captive Leopard gecko may experience shedding problems.
Read our guide on leopard gecko husbandry for some tips on creating the perfect environment.
What Happens If a Leopard Gecko Doesn’t Shed Properly
If a Leopard gecko doesn’t appropriately shed (i.e., patches of skin remain after two or three days of the initial shedding process), serious health issues may arise if nothing is done to help remove the excess skin.
One of the most common problem areas for incomplete sheds is around the Leopard geckos’ toes.
If excess skin remains around the toes for too long, it can lead to circulation problems, and eventually, the toe can even fall off.
Excess skin on the feet and toes can prevent Leopard geckos from climbing correctly.
The skin around a Leopard gecko’s face and mouth is also a common spot for shedding problems.
Excess skin in this area can cause your Leopard gecko to refuse food, bringing on a host of other health problems.
In short, if you notice patches of leftover skin on your Leopard gecko after two or three days of its first shed (look carefully around the mouth and toe areas), you’ll need to address the problem immediately to prevent other health issues.
How to Help a Leopard Gecko Shed
When a Leopard Gecko sheds, all of its skin should come off within about 24 to 48 hours.
If you still see patches of skin remaining (especially around its face, mouth, and toe areas), you’ll need to step in and help it complete its shed.
But first, never try to pull off the excess skin.
If you attempt to pull off leftover skin, you will rip or tear your Leopard gecko’s skin and cause severe and lasting injury.
Give it a Bath
If your Leopard Gecko has patches of excess skin on its feet or belly area, try bathing it.
Add roughly one-half inch (enough to cover its feet but not so much it’s swimming) of lukewarm water to a shallow dish and place your gecko inside.
Leave your gecko in the bowl for about 30 seconds to one minute.
This should loosen the skin and help it come right off.
Set Up a Sauna
Line a small container with warm, damp paper towels.
Place your gecko inside the container and place a lid on top (ensure there’s plenty of ventilation inside).
Let your gecko sit inside for about 30 minutes.
This creates a highly humid environment, perfect for helping stubborn skin come off.
After 30 minutes, use a Q-tip or wet cotton ball to rub the excess skin off gently.
If the skin doesn’t want to come off, place the gecko inside the sauna for another 30 minutes, and try again.
Massage it Up
Another way to assist your Leopard gecko’s shedding process is to gently rub and massage the rough shed areas.
Moisten a Q-tip, paper towel, or cotton ball and gently rub around the affected areas.
Again, never try to peel, pick, or pull off the skin.
This method works best when paired with the bath or sauna treatment.
Try Shedding Products
There are some products on the market today designed to help reptiles like Leopard geckos shed their skin.
Products like the one below provide extra moisture to loosen your gecko’s dry skin and help remove the stubborn shed.
- Aids in removing dry sheds from snakes and lizards
- Conditions your reptile's skin and provides a visible sheen
- Helps keep the skin moist and pliable
Take it to the Vet
If you’ve tried all of the above methods and ensured your gecko’s enclosure has the right balance of humidity and heat, but still the excess skin won’t come off, it may be time to take it to a reptile vet.
As mentioned earlier, incomplete sheds can cause future health problems for your Leopard gecko, so it’s essential to address and treat the problem as soon as possible to prevent any adverse side effects.
If your Leopard gecko is having shedding problems, we hope this article on how to help a Leopard gecko shed gave you some helpful ideas and insight.
Try bathing it, setting up a sauna, massaging the affected area, or administering shedding aid products.
Keep in mind, incomplete sheds can cause future health problems if left untreated, so if you’ve tried all the above methods and the shed still won’t come off after a week or so, you may need to take it to the vet.