Like so many other different types of reptiles, leopard geckos shed their skin. This is a natural process that helps them to grow and remove any harmful parasites that might be on their skin.
You will find that your leopard gecko sheds its skin with relative frequency throughout its life.
However, they may be times when your leopard gecko is shedding your skin more often than is normal. A leopard gecko shouldn’t be constantly shedding its skin and it shouldn’t shed its skin too much.
Shedding skin too often can be a sign of an underlying problem that needs attention.
If you’re worried that your leopard gecko is shedding its skin, then take a look at this article. We’ve constructed a list of the xx most common reasons why your leopard gecko is shedding and what you can do to help.
How Often Should A Leopard Gecko Shed Its Skin?
Before we look into the reasons why a leopard gecko might shed its skin, let’s confirm how often this should happen for a healthy leopard gecko.
It’s natural for both young and fully adult leopard geckos to shed and you should only become concerned if the frequency increases.
For young leopard geckos, expect them to shed once every one to two weeks.
For adult leopard geckos, expect them to shed once every four to eight weeks.
With adult leopard geckos especially, you will probably find that your pet will get into its own routine and as its owner, you should be able to quickly spot if the leopard gecko changes from this.
If the leopard gecko does suddenly start shedding more often, that could mean there is a problem.
The 8 Most Common Reasons Why Your Leopard Gecko Is Shedding
Now that we’ve confirmed how often a healthy leopard gecko will shed, we can start to look at the reasons why this frequency can change.
Sometimes, it may appear that your leopard gecko is shedding when in reality it is retained skin that is the problem. This is also something to look out for.
Abnormal shedding is also known as dysecdysis and if your leopard gecko does shed too much, it’s usually a sign that there is another problem.
Consider skin shedding a symptom of another issue in the same way a cough is a symptom of a cold. If you treat the cold, the cough will stop.
Much like our cough and cold example, if you treat the underlying issue, the shedding will go back to normal.
This is arguably the most common reason for abnormal skin shedding and also one of the easiest reasons to fix.
For leopard geckos to smoothly shed their skin, they need to be adequately hydrated. If they don’t get enough water and become dehydrated, it can make their skin dry out. This in turn leads to the skin sagging and eventually peeling.
Skin that is too dry is more difficult to shed as well. You’ll find that your leopard gecko will take longer to shed its skin and there may even be patches that will stick to the new skin layer that is underneath.
Make sure that your leopard gecko has constant access to fresh water. Never let their water supply get low or run out completely.
If there is adequate water but your pet isn’t drinking it, you may need to see your vet to rule out any other underlying issues.
Leopard geckos are prone to mites, also known as ectoparasites. These little creatures can latch onto your leopard gecko and feast on their blood in the same way that mosquitoes can target humans.
They’re tiny little arachnids that are around the same size as a speck of pepper so although they are small, they can be spotted. They’re red in color and this helps them stand out a little if they’re on your leopard gecko.
In some cases, these mites can cause great skin irritation which results in more shedding. More worryingly, they can carry several diseases that can make your leopard gecko ill in other ways as well.
If your leopard gecko does have mites, your first action is to isolate it from any other pets. Mites can jump from one animal to another so you don’t want to risk this happening.
There are several sprays available that can target mites and other small insects that prey on reptiles and many of them are natural and totally safe for your leopard gecko.
Parasites are organisms that survive by living on or in another organism. They get their food and everything they need to survive from their host which can cause a variety of problems.
Leopard geckos are prone to several different types of parasites and most of them are internal ones that make a home in the intestines.
The parasites feed on the nutrients contained within the leopard gecko’s body and this can result in a number of different symptoms, such as skin shedding, weight loss, and appetite problems (see also “Crucial Symptoms That Show That Your Leopard Gecko Is Dying And What To Do About It“).
If left untreated, this can cause serious problems for your leopard gecko. The parasite prevents your pet from getting all of the nutrients it needs and in the worst cases, this can lead to the eventual death of the animal.
If you suspect that your leopard gecko has a parasite, then you need to take it to your vet. A vet can confirm if this is the case and then treat the parasite, leaving your leopard gecko healthy once more.
4. Thermal Burns
Leopard geckos need some warmth in their tanks and this is provided by a heat lamp (see also “Do Leopard Geckos Need A Heat Lamp?“). Although these are very handy, they can also cause some problems.
Make sure that the heat lamp is positioned so that your leopard gecko can’t touch it. Even a fleeting touch can result in your pet getting burned and they will need to shed their skin if it becomes damaged.
You should also double-check the temperature in the tank as if it runs too high, this can also result in burned skin and excess shedding.
Think about how human skin reacts to temperatures that are too hot and you’ll see how it can hurt leopard geckos as well!
5. No Hide Area
When you set up your tank for your leopard gecko, you should ensure that your pet has places it can hide. Leopard geckos love having dark places with little to no light that they can hide in, especially during warmer parts of the day.
It’s also important that these hiding places can retain moisture. You can offer your leopard gecko a cave or box to hide in but it should be lined with a moist substrate such as sphagnum.
A hide area will allow your leopard gecko to escape the heat and get some more moisture, two things that are important for healthy skin.
6. Low Humidity
This is partially related to our first point about dehydration but relates to the water in the atmosphere instead of the water consumed. Your tank needs to have a humidity range between 40 to 60 percent.
If it is less than 40 percent, then your leopard gecko’s skin can begin to dry out. This can lead to both excess shedding and difficulty shedding.
If a leopard gecko becomes stressed, this can result in abnormal shedding. Sometimes even our best attempts at caring for our pets can cause stress and the reasons for the stress will differ from animal to animal.
For some leopard geckos, too much handling can cause them undue stress whereas other leopard geckos might love regular handling.
If you have more than one leopard gecko in the tank, they can cause each other stress, especially if one animal is more aggressive than the other.
Stress can result in eating problems, lethargy, or abnormal skin shedding.
To shed their skin healthy, leopard geckos need the right nutrients in their diet. If you notice your leopard gecko isn’t shedding their skin on a normal schedule then one of your first actions should be to check its diet.
Make sure that your leopard gecko is getting all of the nutrients it needs from the food you provide (see also “How Long Leopard Geckos Can Go Without Food“). If it isn’t, change the diet immediately.
How To Treat Excess Skin Shedding
If your leopard gecko is shedding its skin in an abnormal manner, then there are two main things you need to do.
Help Your Leopard Gecko Shed Its Skin
The first step is to help your leopard gecko with the skin it is currently trying to shed. You need to help your pet remove the outer layer of skin while also hydrating and preparing the layers underneath so that they’re healthy after the shedding has been completed.
You will need to remove the dead skin that the leopard gecko is shedding, but you will need to do this very carefully.
Dead skin can stick to the animal and become difficult to remove but take great care when you remove this as you can injure your pet.
If the skin is too dry, you should never attempt to remove it as this can cause your leopard gecko pain and can result in healthy skin being removed as well.
The skin must always be moist so instead, use a moist paper towel and gently rub the skin. This will help the dry skin become damp and shed in a safer manner.
While your leopard gecko is having trouble with its skin, you can also treat it to regular spa days! A 20-minute daily bath will help to hydrate your pet and remove any dead skin.
You can use just lukewarm water or you can purchase a bath treatment that is specially formulated to help reptiles shed their skin.
Treat The Cause
As we looked at the reasons for abnormal shedding we gave a few suggestions for how to treat the underlying causes. Here are some more general suggestions that you can try as well.
- Environment – your leopard gecko needs to have the right environment if it is to thrive and shed skin normally. The humidity should be between 40 to 60 percent at all times. You should also make sure that the tank is at the right temperature. At night, it should not fall below 64 degrees Fahrenheit (20°C.) During the day, the hot side of your tank should provide a gradient that falls between 82 degrees Fahrenheit to 95 degrees Fahrenheit (28°C to 35°C), whereas the cool side should be 75 degrees Fahrenheit to 79 degrees Fahrenheit (24°C to 26°C)
- Diet – there are many things you can feed your leopard gecko, but a steady diet of mealworms and crickets are the best option. You can also add some dietary supplements such as vitamin D3, calcium, or multivitamins.
- Substrate – you should adapt your substrate to match the age of your leopard gecko. For juvenile animals, paper is fine. For adults, give them a mix of clay, sand, and lime-free, sterilized sand. Adult leopard geckos love to burrow and this will let them burrow away.
- Other Leopard Geckos – you can have more than one leopard gecko in a tank. However, if you do keep several together, you should ensure that none of them act in an aggressive manner toward the others. Aggression and violence can cause stress and a variety of issues including abnormal skin shedding.
In this article, we addressed the eight most common reasons why your leopard gecko is shedding.
Both young and adult leopard geckos naturally shed their skins but this should be regular and well-spaced. Any abnormal shedding can mean that there is an underlying problem.
Thankfully, many of these problems can be resolved with alterations to your leopard gecko’s environment. If you’re ever uncertain about the cause or what you can do to help, consult with a vet.