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care / articles

07/18/2012

Shedding and Related Skin Problems

Shedding is something we are all too familiar with as owners
of Leopard Geckos. What we need to understand is why they shed and the Do's and Dont's of Shedding.

Leopard Geckos shed like most Reptiles on a regular basis. How often they shed depends on their growth and age.
Most geckos will shed more often if they are younger and are growing. Geckos that are full size may only shed monthly while those younger and growing may shed once, trice or even 3 times in a month.

When your gecko is preparing to shed you will notice for a day or so leading up to shedding the color of your gecko will fade  and start to look whiter as the skin loosen up prior to shedding.

For the most part your gecko will shed its entire skin all at once and then it will eat the skin. Eating the skin is good for your gecko and has huge health benefits. As you should already know, you do need to provide a Calcium based vitamin powder in the cage with your  gecko. This is to assure that your gecko is getting enough calcium which is a vital part of your geckos needs to be able to digest its food and have a healthy digestive system.

One of the big benefits for a Leopard gecko in eating its skin is that it gets the calcium benefit of the skin.

In the wild your gecko gets its calcium from shedding and select mineral nutrients it finds to eat. In captive situations your gecko gets this calcium from the vitamins you provide and the occasional shedding.

Very important to allow the shedding process to take place without your interference.

Let you gecko shed completely, then inspect it to make sure
there are no bits of skin that can cause problems for your gecko.

You need to inspect for the following after each shed:

  • Has the skin been completely removed?
  • Is there any left over skin on the head, tail,
    or feet?

If you find any skin that has not been removed by your gecko, you do need to provide assistance to remove it.

There are 3 areas that tend to be a problem:

  • Head – It is very common to find left over skin on the head after a shed. The concern is that many times this skin can block
    airways, and eyes. I have seen cases where skin was not removed after a shed and the eyes of a gecko are actually sealed over. This can cause eye damage. This skin must be removed by hand after each shed if needed. Just dampen a cotton swab and lightly moisten the skin and pull it loose, removing all of this skin is important. Only use water on the face and head to remove skin. Remember only pure filtered water, no chlorinated water ever.
  • Tail – not so common,  after a shed there is left over skin on your gecko’s tail. This can be a problem as the skin will dry if not removed quickly and
    this skin can actually squeeze your gecko’s tail and can cause it to loose its tail. We have seen this happen several times.  My wife has a very unique solution in these cases. She uses a small amount of Baby Oil on the tail. It will soak into the tail and allow the old unshed skin to be removed easily. If left unattended skin on the tail can dry and be very hard to remove. The baby oil will soak into the old skin and loosen it for easy removal.
  • Feet and Toes – After each shed inspect the feet and toes of your gecko closely. Like a sock the skin will tend to roll down the toes and get caught on the end of your gecko’s toes. If this old skin is not removed it can cause circulation in the toes to be cut off you could see your gecko loose a toe. You will need to be patient when removing this skin as it takes some time and your gecko is not so keen on this process. Again a small amount of baby oil can help allot. Only a very small amount needs to be applied.

 

A good moist hide will usually help with many shedding problems, but not all, so you do need to be vigilant after each and every shedding of skin. We inspect each and every gecko we have after every shed, and this applies to all adults and hatchlings.

 

Take care of your gecko and it will be around for a long time.

 

Embergecko.com and Samshouseofleopardgeckos.com