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Do Leopard Gecko Nails Grow Back?

do leopard gecko nails grow back

It’s not uncommon for leopard geckos to lose their nails. The situation can often result in bleeding and soreness, leaving owners wondering if the nails will ever grow back.

Leopard geckos cannot regrow their nails unless it’s just the tip that has been chipped. Most of the time, they will lose the entire nail and spend their lives without it. This can be caused by issues with shedding and injuries.

This post will discuss everything about whether leos can regrow nails, how they might lose them, the consequences, and what you should do to help your gecko if it does happen and prevent it. Read on!

Leopard Gecko Nails and Their Regrowth 

Leopard geckos have long tiny toes with delicate little nails at the end. These nails are often long and sharp and are prone to breakage.

Unlike most animals, a leopard geckos’ nail cannot grow back. This is because most of the time their nails get ripped off right from the depths of the nail bed (for reasons discussed below), which is why it’s not uncommon to come across geckos with missing toes. 

Since their nail beds get damaged, the nails are unable to grow back. However, if it’s just the very tip of the nail that has been chipped, there’s a high chance it’ll regrow to be long and sharp again.

Does Losing Nails Affect a Leo’s Quality of Life?

what happens if a leopard gecko loses a nail?

Not really. It’s a very common problem among wild and captive leopard geckos, and most of the time they’ll do just fine without a claw or two.

Problems do arise, though, when a leo loses most or all of its toenails. These sharp nails help them climb about, which they absolutely love doing. 

But leopard geckos with few or no nails won’t have the grip needed for climbing, making it dangerous for them to be around high branches or tall decor. They could slip, fall, and get seriously injured.

It might make it difficult for them to walk around on slippery surfaces like tiles and also become a nuisance to dig into the substrate, which they often do for various reasons. More importantly, injury to the nail bed puts them at risk of infections.

For geckos with missing toenails, it’s better to use soft paper towels as substrate because it’s easier on their delicate toes.

However, a gecko who has lost toenails can live a happy and normal life, given that its enclosure is safe and all wounds are safely healed.

Why Leopard Geckos Lose Nails

Knowing what puts them at risk of losing toes and nails can help you prevent the incident from happening. Here are the three most common reasons:

Using Carpet as Substrate

A common mistake that new leopard gecko owners make is to use carpet as substrate since it’s often recommended by pet stores.

Little do they know that a leo’s delicate nails can easily get caught on the carpet fiber, pulling it out of the nail bed. 

Bites

leopard gecko lost nail

Most leos lose nails during shedding when the skin gets stuck on their toes. Since they tend to eat the shed skin to help it get off, they can accidentally bite off their toe if it’s stuck between some stubborn skin. Yikes!

Having a moist hide is key to avoiding shedding problems with leopard geckos

Build Up of Shed Skin

When a piece of skin gets stuck on a leopard gecko’s toes, it can constrict blood flow to that part of the body.

This condition is called avascular necrosis, which doesn’t just result in nail loss, but the entire toe can die and fall off.

Removing the stuck skin in time is essential to save their toes, which can be safely done after soaking them in lukewarm water. Here’s a video demonstrating how:

What to Do if Your Leopard Gecko Has Lost a Nail

If you notice bleeding from your leo’s toes after nail loss, here are some steps you can follow to take care of it:

  • Wipe the toe clean with some betadine and a q-tip
  • Wash it with lukewarm water afterward 
  • If there’s a lot of bleeding and soreness, apply a triple antibiotic ointment like Neosporin (without added painkillers) once or twice a day
  • Replace the existing substrate with soft paper towels for proper healing
  • Remove any sharp objects or decor from the tank till the wound is healed

Note: if the toe is turning dark and seems to be dying off, visit a vet ASAP.

Tip: Also read our article on why you do not have to cut your leopard gecko’s nails!

Final Thoughts 

Losing a nail isn’t usually a big deal with leos, and taking care of the wound can be easily managed at home.

However, it’s better to prevent the issue by ensuring proper humidity levels in the hide and using the right substrate, so it doesn’t escalate to serious conditions like necrosis.

Pierre And The ReptileCraze Team
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