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All leopard geckos shed their old skin periodically throughout their life cycle. The skin shedding process is called ecdysis, and it is essential for leos. Shedding is completely normal, so you shouldn’t be worried if you notice that your leopard gecko is sloughing its skin.
So, how often does a leopard gecko shed?
The frequency with which leopard geckos shed their outer layer of dead skin varies depending on age. Baby leopard geckos that are between 0-3 months old shed their skin once a week or after every two weeks. Juveniles undergo the shedding process once every four weeks. On the other hand, adult leopard geckos may shed once a month or after every two months.
Young leopard geckos shed more often than adults because they tend to grow faster. The leopard gecko’s health, diet, and environment can also determine the frequency of shedding.
How Long Does A Leopard Gecko Take To Shed?
Shedding involves a series of processes that can take approximately 3 days to complete. This may, however, vary from one leopard gecko to another, depending on the conditions inside the enclosure.
On average, it takes 24-48 hours for a healthy leopard gecko to get rid of its old skin. Nonetheless, shedding can take longer than this if something is wrong with your leopard gecko.
Both young and adult leopard geckos can have shedding problems. Therefore, you should always be prepared to apply the most effective countermeasure. We will highlight some of the things that can cause shedding problems and how you can avoid them later in the article.
Baby Leopard Gecko Shedding-When Do Leopard Geckos Start To Shed?
Most hatchlings shed their first skin a few days after coming out of the egg. This usually occurs in the first 3 or 5 days.
Young leopard geckos often eat their shed to recycle nutrients. Adult leos may also do this to prevent predators from trailing them in the wild. You should expect your baby leopard geckos to shed more frequently during the first three months due to the high growth rate.
Leopard Gecko Shedding Behavior: Why Do Leopard Geckos Shed?
The shedding process is necessary for most reptiles, and leopard geckos are not an exception. It provides leos with a long list of health benefits as you are about to find out.
#1. Leopard Geckos Shed to Make Room for Growth
The outer layer of a leopard gecko’s skin is not elastic because it is made of beta keratin. As such, it cannot stretch to accommodate the leopard gecko as it gets bigger.
By shedding their skin from time to time, leopard geckos can create more room, allowing for optimal growth.
#2. Shedding Allows Leopard Geckos to Renew Their Skin
The topmost layer of the skin is made of dead cells that are of no use to the leopard gecko. Besides, damaged cells are not as efficient when it comes to performing certain biological processes.
Through ecdysis, leopard geckos can safely remove the outer layer of skin. Also, leopard geckos form a new layer of skin even before they start shedding. That being said, the old skin is replaced almost instantly.
#3. Ecdysis Allows Leos to Get Rid of Ectoparasites
Leopard geckos are susceptible to parasite infestations and are more likely to be affected by mites and ticks. Sloughing the external layer of skin can cause external parasites to drop, thus offering relief to the host.
#4. Shedding Aids in the Recovery Process
The shedding process can help leopard geckos heal minor skin injuries. This mainly applies to scratches and bite marks caused by external parasites.
#5. Baby Leopard Geckos Shed to Develop Adult Coloration
Shedding enables baby leos to change their spots during the early stages of development. If you are an observant leopard gecko parent, then you must have noticed that hatchlings develop new patterns on their skin after each shed. However, this will stop once they reach adulthood.
Is It Okay For Leopard Geckos To Eat Their Shed?
It is not uncommon for leopard geckos to eat their shed. Plus, a leopard geckos shed contains essential minerals that can offer a wide range of health benefits. The nutrients obtained can be used to generate new skin.
As such, the shed eating behavior should not be a cause for concern since it’s completely safe for leopard geckos. However, you should consider removing the leo’s skin from the enclosure, especially if you are using a loose substrate. This is because your leopard gecko may accidentally ingest the substrate as they eat their shed.
Loose substrates can cause impaction and other serious health complications in leopard geckos. If the condition is not remediated early enough, it can cause death. If you’re unsure about what subrate to use, have a look at our guide on the safest substrates for leopard geckos.
Why Is My Leopard Gecko Shedding Constantly?
Some leopard geckos shed more often than usual. In most cases, there is nothing to worry about since this shows your leo is growing healthily. Nonetheless, certain factors may prompt your leopard gecko to shed irregularly.
A leopard gecko’s skin can easily get burned if they get too close to heat lamps. Thermal burns can cause serious damage to the skin.
During the healing process, a leopard gecko may shed the skin around the burned area. They may be forced to shed skin from all parts of their body if a large section is affected.
Ticks and mites can inflict painful bites that often become wounds. A leopard gecko may start shedding to facilitate proper healing.
You can keep mites and other parasites at bay by practicing proper hygiene. Pesticides can prove helpful when dealing with large infestations. As a safety measure, you should only use pesticides prescribed by a vet.
Dehydration can cause your leopard gecko’s skin to dry out excessively. As a result, the outermost layer may start peeling over time.
Leopard geckos suffering from dehydration may also have flaky and wrinkled skin.
Why Is My Leopard Gecko Not Shedding?
As they get older, leopard geckos shed less often. A fully grown leo can go up to eight weeks without shedding its skin.
Additionally, leopard geckos stop shedding when they go into brumation. During this period, they conserve energy by staying inactive.
Stunting can also limit the shedding process in leopard geckos. As you already know, one of the main reasons why leopard geckos shed is to allow growth. Leopard geckos with stunted growth are smaller than their healthy counterparts.
Many leopard gecko parents report that their pets stopped shedding temporarily during ovulation and egg-laying season. This is primarily because the leopard gecko’s body uses most of its resources to form the eggs.
But it could also be that your leopard gecko sheds at night and eats its shed when you are not seeing them.
Signs Of Shedding In leopard Geckos
Leopard geckos are very delicate when they are shedding. As such, you need to provide your leo with proper care during and after shedding. You can only achieve this if you are familiar with the common signs of shedding.
Loss of Appetite
Leopard geckos may stop eating a few days before they start shedding. Still, ensure that you provide your leopard gecko with food and clean water regularly.
You can place live insects inside the terrarium so that the leopard gecko can eat them when they are in the mood.
If you suspect that your pet leopard gecko has stopped eating due to an underlying health condition, you should take them to a vet. Moreover, a lack of appetite is often associated with several health conditions leos.
The skin of a leopard gecko may also discolor during the shedding process. As the old upper layer of skin peels from the new layer, the leo’s skin will turn grayish.
In addition to this, the leopard gecko may appear dull when they are sloughing their skin.
Since the shedding process requires a lot of energy, your leo is likely to become inactive. Lethargic leos often sit in one spot for several hours and may also become sluggish as they prepare to shed.
Most reptile keepers have noted that their leopard geckos become highly irritable when they are just about to shed. Aside from losing interest in food, they may stop playing or engaging in other social activities.
Causes of Shedding Problems In Leopard Geckos
The shedding process usually occurs naturally in healthy leopard geckos. Nonetheless, some leos may have a difficult time sloughing their old skin. This phenomenon is referred to as dysecdysis.
Dysecdysis is commonly known as stuck shed and it can affect all reptile species. Stuck shed can bring about a long list of health problems to leopard geckos. For starters, stuck shed around the toes can lead to the loss of limbs.
Additionally, stuck shed can constrict blood flow to the affected parts of the body. With time, the cells will starve due to a lack of oxygen and nutrients. Dysecdysis can be caused by both internal and external factors.
Below are some of the common factors that may bring about shedding problems in leopard geckos:
Low Humidity Levels Inside the Terrarium
Leopard geckos are adapted to living in arid regions. However, they still need water to meet their moisture requirements. Besides, water is essential for a range of biological processes, including shedding.
When the tank has inadequate humidity levels, your leopard gecko will be more likely to have a shedding problem. Such leos may shed partially, thereby leaving patches of dead skin on different parts of the body.
It is recommended that you keep the humidity levels between 30% and 40%. Anything above 45% may predispose your leopard gecko to scale rot and other skin infections.
Like humans, leopard geckos need vitamins and other essential nutrients to stay healthy. Leopard geckos that are deficient in vitamin A (often referred to as Hypovitaminosis A) will not only have shedding problems but also experience other dietary complications.
To prevent this, you can provide your leopard gecko with vitamin A supplements. Also, ensure that they get enough vitamin D3 and calcium. The good news is that leopard geckos can get most of their nutrients from the live insects they eat.
You can increase the nutritional value of the insects through gut loading before feeding them to your leopard gecko.
Serious injuries, especially those of the skin can inhibit the shedding process in leopard geckos. If your leopard gecko has an open wound, you should schedule an appointment with your vet as soon as possible.
Skin injuries can predispose your leo to both fungal and bacterial infections. These complications are often hard to treat and can also cause death.
Inappropriate Temperature Conditions
The temperature level inside the enclosure has a direct effect on your leo’s skin and overall health. If the tank gets too warm or too cold, your leopard gecko may experience several problems.
A leopard gecko’s enclosure should have up to two temperature zones. And the heat mat should only cover one-third of the available floor space. The warm side should be 80°F to 85°F, while the cool side is 75°F to 80°F.
Leopard Gecko Shedding Tips
Here are some useful tips that can help you avoid the above-listed problems:
You should provide your leopard gecko with nutrient-rich foods and supplements regularly. This can prevent some of the common health complications in leopard geckos.
Misting is one of the best ways that you can keep your leopard gecko hydrated. You can directly mist your pet or its enclosure to increase the humidity levels.
Provide Your Leo With Moist Hides
Moist hides can prove helpful when dealing with dehydration. They will provide your pet with the required moisture without predisposing them to infections.
Use Rough-textured Décor
By providing your pet leopard gecko with rough surfaces, they’ll be able to rub off the old skin from their bodies. Click here to see a rock hide that works well for assisting in the shedding process.
Leopard geckos shed their skin regardless of age. Young leos, however, shed more frequently than fully grown leopard geckos. As you have seen, leopard geckos may experience problems during the shedding process.
The best way that you counter this is by providing your leos with proper husbandry. The tips highlighted above can help you get started.