Leopard Gecko Shedding Guide
Leopard geckos go through a process known as shedding or molting, where they push and rub off old skin. Some will eat this replenishing nutrients in the process. This article will go over in detail the signs, duration, frequency, and steps needed to ensure a healthy cycle.
Signs Your Leo Is About To Shed
Oftentimes, new leo owners will ask how to tell if their leopard gecko is about to shed. There are plenty of ques to look for such as dulling in color, peeling of skin in certain areas especially the head or arms, and refusal of food. They also won’t defecate as much or not at all due to not eating much. Some geckos opt to stay in their humid hide for long periods of time.
Others will express cranky or moody behavior and can be outright aggressive during this time. They will grey out looking almost ashy. This will be followed by constantly rubbing and moving around to break loose the old skin. Once finished, they will look much more vibrant in color and almost glowing.
- Be sure not to handle or disturb them too much during this process as it can cause issues like stuck shed.
- Don’t take it personal if they try to bite or become defensive, they are expelling lots of energy and are physically exhausted.
- They may or may not eat the excess skin.
- Most lizards will stay in their moist hide until they are finished.
- Will not eat usually for 24-48 hours before and after the cycle.
- Can sometimes be lethargic.
- Will transition from greyish looking to semi-white and finally flaky white as the skin starts to peel.
- One way to tell if your leopard gecko has recently molted is if it looks unusually vibrant and bright in color. They will generally dull out a little a couple days after returning to their natural hue.
From the time your reptile starts looking pale, it will take roughly 48-72 hours to complete the overall process. If you are lucky enough to catch them peeling, it will usually take 24 hours or a full day for them to completely remove their skin. It’s fairly common to see them “flaking” and rubbing everything in sight. Their cages will likely be a mess so I tend to remove any food items and water bowls.
- If husbandry is correct (temps, hydration, and humidity) your leos will be done within 3 days.
- Once they start to rip off old skin it will take 1 day to finish.
- If disturbed, this can lengthen and be detrimental to the process.
Frequency Of Sheds
How frequently or often your leopard gecko removes it’s skin depends on how old it is which correlates also with growth rate. The more your herp grows, the more they will shed. So naturally, hatchlings and juvies will tend to do this more than mature leos. In my experience, my babies and sub-adults usually undergo this process every two weeks. Adults will do this less frequently occuring every month to month and a half. As long as you’re seeing healthy growth rates and your herp is eating I wouldn’t worry too much about how often they do it.
- All geckos will change their skin at different intervals
- I’ve noticed differences in clutch mates as well, some do it more often than others.
- Most important factor is reptile growth and not so much shedding.
- Younger herps are less inclined to eat their excess skin. As they get older, they will consume it more frequently.
- Hydration is important especially when undergoing the process. This is why you must always have a water bowl available.
Common Areas Where Stuck Shed Can Occur (How To Solve Them)
Sometimes we as reptile owners must deal with issues in order to provide a happy and healthy life for our reptiles. Although frustrating, issues that arise can teach us valuable lessons on husbandry and care. I have compiled a list of common problems when it comes to shedding and offering solutions on how to correct them.
Stuck or Partial Shed
This occurs when your leo undergoes the process of skin removal and has difficulty replacing certain parts on its body. For example, stuck shed is usually found on toes, nostrils, tip of tail, and eyes. If left untreated, the dried skin can constrict flow of blood to the limbs causing them to ultimately lose their toes or other appendages. I’ve seen this happen with neglected geckos. Partial skin left over on the nose can restrict breathing and on the eyes can cause temporary blindness. Furthermore, the skin will harden and become more difficult to remove the longer it’s left untreated.
This is due to skin building up on top of the original layer.
- First thing to do would be to check the humidity levels. A relative humidity level should be around 20% with a humid hide of around 50%.
- Be sure to add a moist hide if you haven’t done so already. I have provided pictures below on creating a humid hide.
- Purchase a spray bottle and be sure to spray the paper towels or substrate when you notice the hide has dried out.
Removing Stuck Shed (Sauna Method)
I will show you how to create a reptile sauna which is very effective in removing dried skin. You will need some simple household items. Follow the list below:
- a container with holes punches in the lid
- Lukewarm water
Make sure to clean out your Tupperware by rinsing it with dish soap.
Pat dry then add your gecko.
Place lukewarm water in the container about half an inch or up to your geckos elbows.
Place cap over sauna and wait for 10-15 minutes.
Keep an eye on your gecko to avoid injuries.
Remove your lizard and immediately start to rub the dried skin away.
Shed should have loosened by this time however it may take another bath to completely remove all traces.
Diy Humid Hide (To Avoid Stuck Shed)
Having a humid hide will help avoid these issues in the long term. As stated, problems occur only when relative humidity levels are not met.
- You will need a container
- Cut a hole on the side of the container and flip upside down (lid down)
- Place slightly damp peat moss or paper towel into the container
- Be sure to moisten the substrate every week to prevent drying out
I’ve placed some pictures below for examples.
Lastly, you want your leo to have something it can rub on such as cork bark. This will aid in removing dead skin from their bodies.