My leopard gecko has trouble shedding – How can I help?

Leopard geckos are a very popular pet that are relatively easy to take care of. However, they do need care when it comes to shedding.

The shedding process is easy when they are in their natural habitat but not in a terrarium, if the conditions are unsuitable. 

So, if you want to help your leopard gecko in shedding, you should know that:

Leopard geckos shed their skin easily but often the skin around the toes doesn’t comes off. You can help your gecko shed its skin by increasing the humidity in the cage, massaging it with oil, and giving them a bath with oil and warm water mixture. You can also use tweezers or a Q-tip to peel the old skin off. 


Along with knowing different ways to help your leopard gecko, you should also know how the process occurs and what living conditions they need to shed off easily. 

So, let’s start. 

An overview of the shedding process 

Some animals (reptiles) have the tendency to shed their old skin off and produce a new one. Cool feature? Yes, it is. Because shedding allows to get rid of old, worn cells and replace them with new ones. 

The shedding process takes a few days. The animal hides itself in a safe place where no one can harm it as during the shedding process, as their sensitive skin is exposed. Reptiles shed after regular intervals and during the whole process they assist themselves by biting the old skin and peeling it off. 

Reptiles prefer humid weather to shed their skin. Humidity moistens the skin and allows it to be removed easily. If the conditions are not suitable then a few patches of old skin remain there. Initially, it isn’t a problem but if that old skin doesn’t go away with time then the affected organ gets torn. 

Know what problems a leopard gecko can face during shedding in this video:

Signs your leopard gecko is about to shed its skin

Usually, your leopard gecko does not need much attention. But the shedding process is tedious and the gecko needs some extra care. So, you should know when your gecko is about to shed so that you can make the conditions favorable for them. 

When your leopard gecko is about to shed, the color of the skin will fade away. The color will change into light grey and this is the time you should know that the leopard gecko will start shedding in the next one to two days. 

Also, your leopard gecko will not much be interested in moving around. It will prefer to sit in a hiding place that you have made in his terrarium. If there is no hiding place then you should consider making one as geckos like to shed their skin in peace. 

Ways to help your gecko shed 

In their natural habitat, leopard geckos find it easier to shed because nature provides them with optimum conditions. The humid weather and rough rocks make it easy for them to shed. 

But in your home, leopard gecko needs proper care to shed.

It might happen that due to less humidity, the gecko sheds its skin but parts of old skin remain there. These old skin patches restrict the blood flow and in the long run, the gecko might lose its organ. For example, it’s hard to shed from toes. If the skin doesn’t shed from toes then blood circulation constricts and the gecko can lose its toes. 

The good news is that you can help your gecko lose all of its old skin very easily. Here is what you have to do:

  • Turn the terrarium into a sauna! What you can do is tie wet and warm towels around the cage and also place a bowl of warm (not too hot as you don’t want to burn your gecko) water inside. This will increase humidity and the skin will become soft. This soft skin can be easily removed by the gecko himself. 
  • You can set up a small bathing area for your gecko. Add a few drops of oil in warm water and allow your gecko to move in it. Warm water softens the old skin and the oil lubricates the skin. Both oil and warm water allow the removal of dead skin very easily. You can do this for a few days and see if the stubborn old skin has been taken off or not. 
  • Massaging is also an effective way to ease shedding. Rub some oil in your hands and massage the toe area very softly. You don’t have to be hard on your gecko. Just massage for a few minutes daily. A great way is to first soften the skin with the methods mentioned above and then massage it. Massaging will help remove the old skin quickly. 
  • Once the skin has become soft by bathing and massaging, you can take off the skin using Q-tip or tweezers. You have to be very gentle during the whole process. If the skin is not coming off gently then don’t apply further force. Just leave it as such and allow it to be softened some more. 

When you have tried all the above ways then wait for a few days. If still the skin doesn’t come off then don’t panic. It will shed after a few days when it’s ready. 

Know how to remove the dead skin from your gecko in the video below!

What conditions are difficult for geckos to shed?

Leopard geckos can’t shed properly when there is:

Lack of humidity

Moisture allows the skin to be softened easily. Soft, old skin can be shed off without any efforts. That is why in natural habitat, leopard geckos shed when the weather is humid. 

Health problems

If your leopard gecko is sick then it will find it hard to shed all the skin properly. You have to take it to the vet for proper treatment and then facilitate the shedding process. 

How to improve gecko’s living conditions to ease shedding? 

You don’t have to wait until your leopard gecko can’t shed off its skin properly. From the very start, maintaining optimum living conditions can help shedding skin properly. 

  • Don’t ventilate the cage too much. Humidity is needed for easy shedding. So don’t put the terrarium in an airy place. Try to maintain humidity by adding a suitable substrate (mud). 
  • Give a bath to your gecko on a regular basis. Bathing it moistens the skin and hence the shedding process speeds up.
  • Maintain your leopard gecko’s health. If you find it inactive or sick, then call a vet and give proper medications (if needed). 

Here’s a great substrate for leopard geckos that can help them in shedding from chewy.


What do I do if my leopard gecko is shedding?

Ease the shedding process by providing humid environment. Also, place a hiding area for the leopard gecko to feel safe.

Can you hold a leopard gecko when it is shedding?

Yes, you can. The handling should be gentle and just to ease the shedding process.

Do geckos need help shedding every time?

Not all the time. You should just help your gecko when you see patches of old skin that do not come off easily.

The Bottom line

Leopard geckos shed their old skin and replace it with the new one. This shedding process can become slow due to less humidity or if your gecko is sick. Hence, you have to help your leopard gecko during the shedding season.

You can increase the humidity of the cage, give your leopard gecko a nice bath, and remove the skin gently with tweezers or a Q-tip. 

What happens if the skin does not shed completely? The old skin can restrict the blood flow and as a result the leopard gecko can lose its organ.

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