Why Do Leopard Geckos Shed?
Humans shed their skin in tiny pieces. And pretty much all living mammals do shed their skin. Reptiles are no different than mammals in that aspect. Our bodies and yes leopard gecko’s bodies do this as we grow. The new cells need to be replaced; therefore shedding is an element of life.
The big difference however is instead of shedding their skin in tiny pieces, leopard gecko shedding happens all at once.
How Often Do Leopard Geckos Shed?
There is no clear cut answer to this question, because it heavily relies on age and growth rate. Some leopard geckos shed more frequently than others. It makes perfect sense that no two geckos will shed at the same exact rate, we’re all a bit different to each other. When geckos are smaller or babies they tend to shed more frequently. This is because their growth rate is much higher than an adult.
But as a general guide, leopard geckos will tend to shed every week or two when they are babies, and around every month when they are an adult.
You can tell when it’s about to happen because their color will change quite drastically and get much more dull looking. Then the skin will turn a whitish color as it starts to actually separate away from their body.
The first time I saw my leopard gecko, Sly, shed I was actually kind of shocked. I thought she might be sick or something. So it’s good to be aware in advance of what shedding looks like.
Leopard Gecko Shedding Problems
It’s usually a stressful time for your leopard gecko to shed. The reason being is because it takes them 24 hours to shed their skin. Typically, they don’t eat for a day before shedding their skin.
Your gecko can have some problems with shedding which can shorten their life or diminish their quality of life. Typically you will see two different kinds of problems when shedding:-
- The first problem, is where you will see excess skin around their toes. This skin can actually cut off the circulation of blood to their toes. If that goes on for too long they can lose their toe.
- The other problem can be not shedding all the way. Typically, you could see patches where they haven’t shed their skin properly.
How To Help A Leopard Gecko Shed
First and foremost, if you haven’t already checked out my leopard gecko feeding guide I would make sure you have their diet correct. Next, make sure you have their habitat set up correctly.
Assuming you have already read those two articles and your leopard gecko is still having shedding problems I would consider:
Give Them A Bath
You can give your leopard gecko a bath. Make sure the water is lukewarm. They can swim and this will help soften up their skin so they have an easier time shedding.
Make sure you don’t fill the bathtub too high. And always stay with them the whole time – that way if they start to sink you can save them from going under the water and drowning.
Try A Sauna
I know it sounds a little silly, but you can make a little ‘sauna hide’ for your leopard gecko. To do this I would use a tupperware/plastic box, spray bottle, and a paper towel.
To make your gecko sauna:-
- Spray the paper towel.
- Put the paper towel inside the tupperware/plastic box.
- Then put your leopard gecko inside for 30 minutes.
Optionally, you can cut a gecko sized hole in the top of the lid you put on. That way they can crawl out of the hide whenever they want to.
Again, do NOT leave your gecko alone! We don’t want them suffocating in a closed plastic box!
This should help your leopard gecko to shed more easily. You can repeat this process every day if you like.
Give Them A Massage
Additionally, you can use this method to supplement the bath and sauna treatments. You can use a wet cotton ball, and gently rub the the leopard geckos toes, or other problematic areas. Make sure you don’t apply to much pressure because they do have fragile little bodies.
My geckos colors have been dull but not white for about a week. He hasn’t shed in the time I’ve had him (2 weeks). He still eats and is approximately 4 months old. At what point do we try the bath in order to help? He has a humid hide.
Hi, I just got my leopard gecko two days ago. It’s a baby and I got it when it was shedding, the first day it was active and trying to get the shed off, now they’re not trying to get it off and I was wondering if I should help it? I don’t want to stress them out, I have a moist hide for it but it hasn’t gone inside.
My leopard gecko is about 9 months and he hasn’t eaten in 2 days. He’s not shedding because he’s not grey, and there’s no drainage coming from his eyes or mouth. He does have a little shredded skin on the tips of his toes, but it doesn’t seem to bother him. Could it be because I had my fan on and the temperature dropped? He has a heating pad and heating lamp, but I turn the lamp off at night. Or could it also be because I only feed him mealworms?
I have one leopard gecko who will go 4-6 weeks without eating. The first time, I was very upset and force fed her after a couple of weeks. But over the years, I discovered this is just her pattern — she’ll go very long without eating, and then all of a sudden she’ll start eating like a pig again. I always offer a little food so I will know when she’s back on. I have other geckos who will go for a week or two without eating, but she takes the prize! (mine eat mealworms) I would try to gently soak the toes to get that skin off so he doesn’t lose toes. Enjoy your pet!
Hey, my gecko seems to not like water. Am I doing something wrong, or is it natural?
Leopard geckos normally don’t drink water. They get most of their water from their food. If they seem dehydrated, you can put some water in a syringe and put a drop on their nose.
Hi, my leopard gecko has been shedding but I see parts of his skin falling off but he hasn’t eaten them up. He looks very weak as he’s breathing really slowly and his eyes are half open. Is there something wrong?
I’m not an expert, but I would suggest taking your little gecko to the vet. That sounds like a bad sickness!
Thank you so much for all the great info. I’ve given my leopard gecko a warm soak and helped to peel the skin off her toes. However, after a week, there’s still what looks like toenails at the very end of some of her toes. I’m not sure if this is dead skin? One is very long and looks like dried blood. She reacts very negatively when I try to remove it and seems in pain. Any advice? Thanks so much.
That is probably infected skin in which case take her to the vet and they will probably give you a solution to bathe her in, DO NOT IMPROVISE. Do not just look up how to DIY this, take her/him to the vet and listen to them. Again hope she/he feels better and try not to irritate them too much and leave them alone till they go to the vet!
I have 2 leopard geckos who are both almost 2 years old. I noticed both had dead skin on their toes, but one had way more. I read up somewhere that putting them in a warm bath and using tweasers to pull of the dead skin should do the trick. I tried it and IDK if there wasn’t enough dead skin or not but he has a really small little boo boo on a part of a toe. It doesn’t look too bad or anything but IDK if there is a special way to care for it or what. I am going to do the sauna later today but I just want to know if there is something I should do or not?
Why is Mr. Tango shedding every week but he is still eating, but I have to hand feed him.
My leopard gecko also sheds every week or two and still eats. This might be because he feels comfortable shedding and is not stressed out while shedding. And hand feeding is normal to be needed, my gecko Yogi does this also when he sheds (needs hand feed) but if he doesn’t eat for a little while I wouldn’t be surprised if his habits changed.
My sons gecko has being shedding for weeks – he won’t eat, he is so weak, what can I do to help him? We put him in water for 20 mintues and it’s not working. We feed him worms and crickets and nothing is working. I need him to eat, he is very weak.
I would take him to the vet if he is still not eating.
I suggest not using crickets – leopard geckos can sometimes just change what they like to eat out of the blue. I would go and buy a small assortment of a lot of types of food and line them up for him/her. Mine used to exclusively eat meal worms but recently she stopped eating and now she only likes super worms. To make sure they are getting the right amount of nutrients check their tail, if it is nice and plump that means they are getting a good amount of nutrients, if it is skinny that means they are unhealthy. Finally, after it sheds make sure you get all the stuck shed because that could lead to infection. If he/she seems really sick bring them to a vet immediately, best wishes I really hope they get better.
We just got our first LG. Waiting to tell the sex as it’s still young, but just turned grey so I’m assuming it’s staring the shedding process. I did buy it a moist hide and put moss in it. Since I put it in the tank it hasn’t come out. I’m so glad I found your site because all this info was so informative. It’s my 6yr olds so we named it Lou. If it’s a girl he will call her Lou Lou and if it’s a boy he will call it Louie.
My gecko hasn’t eaten in a while and he used to eat 2 to 4 super worms per day. It is pink now and doesn’t like to shed on it’s own. The bright yellow and speckled has lost to the pink undertones. I changed the substrate and put in a reptile carpet. Any thoughts to bring back his color?
My leopard gecko won’t shed herself anymore. We had to start helping her two years ago after a severely bad shed which cost her 1/3 of her tail because she chewed through it because of the skin cutting off circulation. It healed after lots of work and care but we started helping her shed, and now she won’t shed herself or eat her shed skin. Lately I’ve noticed she’s been shedding more frequently, like almost weekly, where before they would shed every 12 to 16 days. She’s the only one of four that is shedding this frequently and I just want to make sure she’s ok and it’s nothing major? I’ve heard stress can make them shed more often, but I don’t know what would cause more stress? Nothing has really changed, we got a new baby two months ago but the shedding weekly only just started this month so I’m not sure if the two things are related?
Hmmm very strange. How old is it?
I was away for college and I went home for a break. My sister texted me that she saw my leopard gecko start to shed when she left for volunteering. When we went home and I saw my leopard gecko for the first time in months, she already had 3 black toes from unremoved shedding! What should I do now? How should I treat my leopard geckos wounds?
No, leave it ALONE! It will fall off and be fine.
My leopard gecko is not as yellow as he used to be. Like his color faded. Am I doing something wrong?
No, right before shedding their colors are much more faded or duller.
Very good tips, I didn’t know you can help your gecko to shed its skin. Baths, saunas and massages will surely provide comfort for pet geckos when struggling to shed their skin.
Yep, it sounds a little odd, but if you got to do it you got to do it 🙂
How long should you give them a bath for?
About 10 or 15 minutes. I kind of think that geckos kind of like water. They seem to have fun in the bathtub.
Wow! Great information! I never knew Geckos could lose their toes if they don’t shed their skin properly.
Yep, I have never had a leopard gecko lose their toes before, but I have seen neglected ones before. It’s really sad.
Thanks for a hugely helpful Leopard Gecko Shedding post Garen!
Never thought of a bath or sauna before and really enjoyed the photo of the little guy in his bath tub.
You mentioned spraying down the paper towel with water. How does this work? Should the water be warm?
Also, would having more rough objects or more coarse sand in the habitat aid with removing the old skin on their toes?
Lastly, I assume we wouldn’t want to help our leopard Gecko’s by pulling on the shedding skin to remove it? 😉
Sorry for all the questions. Looking forward to your response.
Yep, I love that picture of the leopard gecko in the coffee cup.
I would use warm water, but after about 30 minutes it will be room temperature. The water raises the humidity in the hide which is what leopard geckos need to shed. You really don’t need anything coarse to help them shed their toes or anything. They like to rub against rocks, hides, etc. to help them shed.
You can help your gecko shed his/her skin, but I would recommend giving them a warm bath to soften up their skin. Just keep an eye on them while they are in water. Shedding shouldn’t ever be a problem if you are giving them enough calcium, though 🙂
Hey! I am personally fascinated by geckos. The first time I saw my first kinda gecko was in the woods by the river.. there was a salamander! I was so close to catching it haha.
My gecko is named Meg, ya I know it’s so original. But it’s hard watching her shed. Sometimes I would like to help her just rip it off. I really like the bath idea and the sauna.. although I couldn’t really picture the sauna in my head with the tubberware.. could you explain it a little more for me? Thanks 🙂
Hi Garen, fascinating article, well written and extremely informative. I don’t know anything about Geckos, or I should say I didn’t until I came across your site. It’s interesting to learn about shedding problems – I wonder how many people who have Geckos are actually aware of this issue, or of all the ways they can help. Do you know if shedding issues are more common in captivity rather than in their natural habitats?
Sadly, a lot of leopard gecko owners are not aware of this problem until it to late and their gecko is missing toes or has some health problems. I would have to say shedding problems are probably more common in their natural habitat. But, people typically probably are not like “Hey lets go help that gecko who isn’t shedding correctly”…LOL!