Shedding is a completely normal and healthy occurrence for many lizards that will happen multiple times throughout their life as they grow older, but the frequency of shedding depends on the type of lizard, along with a few other factors.
When it comes to leopard geckos, they shed very often when compared to other lizards, so it’s crucial as an owner to know how frequently it occurs since there are plenty of ways that you can make the experience as comfortable and easy as possible for your reptilian companion.
If you’re wondering how often leopard geckos shed, and what you can do to help make sure that the shedding is done correctly without any damage being dealt to the gecko’s body, we have everything you need to know right here.
How Frequently Will A Leopard Gecko Shed?
This largely depends on how old the gecko is and how close it is to reaching maturity. Baby and juvenile leopard geckos will shed every week or 2 weeks, while adults will shed every 4 to 8 weeks.
An adult is a leopard gecko that has lived for at least 12 months, however, keep in mind that leopard geckos won’t stop growing until they are 18 months of age, so even after it has reached adulthood, it will still be shedding its skin as it grows larger.
If you’ve recently bought a leopard gecko and aren’t sure how old it actually is, you can make a pretty accurate guess by measuring how long they are.
At birth, male and female leopard geckos will be around 3 inches long, and they will grow about 1 inch longer after a single month.
By 3 months, they will be around 5 inches, and at 6 months, they will be approximately 6 inches long.
If they are an adult and have lived for about 12 months, the gecko will be 7-8 inches long, and when they have reached their full growth at 18 months, they will then be 10 to 12 inches.
Why Do Leopard Geckos Shed Their Skin?
Shedding makes it easy for leopard geckos, and other reptiles to repair wounds or skin damage, alongside replacing old skin cells with brand new ones.
It can also get rid of any external parasites that might have been bugging the gecko for quite some time, and shedding will also conserve nutrients which is vital for when the lizard is growing.
Shedding is also necessary for geckos to be able to literally grow into their new skin since reptilian skin is very hard and not very elastic, so they need to consistently update the size of their skin so that they can feel comfortable and move around freely without any restrictions.
How To Know When A Leopard Gecko Is About To Shed
There are a few clear signs that can let an owner know that their leopard gecko is going to start shedding soon, which is always helpful since it can let you know to start preparing the cage so that they can feel as safe and comfortable as possible when they do.
The biggest giveaway is when you notice that the leopard gecko is starting to look pale and much more white and clearer than usual in its appearance.
This change in color will occur once a layer of lymph fluid begins to form between the old and the new layer which is what will begin pushing the old skin away.
Once the leopard gecko can feel that this new layer of skin is beginning to take shape, it might start getting a little irritable and will commonly rub up against rough objects in its cage.
If you do notice this happening, it’s completely normal and not a cause for concern, just so long as the gecko isn’t doing it for more than a few days and isn’t injuring itself in the process.
Ways You Can Help A Leopard Gecko When It’s Shedding
While you won’t be able to physically remove the old skin from the lizard when it begins shedding, there are still multiple ways you can help the process go by as fast as possible and ensure that it’s completely safe for the gecko.
Here are some of the best ways you can help your leopard gecko out when it’s shedding time:
Never Pull Off The Skin Yourself
This is a huge mistake that many new lizard owners will make, but it should always be avoided because pulling the old skin from a leopard gecko can damage the new skin that has started pushing through which will still be extremely delicate since it has not yet fully formed.
Shedding can sometimes be quite difficult for a leopard gecko since the old skin can become very dry and hard to remove, which is why bathing is the perfect way to help them out.
Simply fill up a small plastic container with roughly an inch of water, and let the gecko soak for between 5 to 10 minutes. Once the gecko steps out, the old shedded skin will be much more fragile and easier to remove, especially on its tail and underbelly.
Provide A Humid Hide
Leopard geckos require high humidity in order to shed properly, so it’s never a bad idea to provide them with a humid hide where they can feel comfortable shedding off their skin.
You can buy many pre-made humid hides online, which will usually be called ‘shedding boxes’ and will contain substrates such as coconut fiber, peat moss, or sphagnum moss to assist in moisture retention.
Misting works much the same as bathing a lizard, providing them with enough water to help loosen up the old skin so that it can fall apart easier.
But you should never spray directly into the lizard’s face, and after you have sprayed, leave the lizard for at least 30 minutes before you spray again so that they have enough time to move around and shake off the skin.
If it looks like your leopard gecko is going to begin shedding their skin pretty soon, make sure to give them some space, provide them with water, and place a humid hide in the cage so that they are as comfortable as they can be until it’s over.