Part of the fun of having a leo is you get to observe all their funny, interesting, and sometimes concerning movements. And occasionally, you catch them doing things that make you scratch your head.
Why leopard geckos eat their shed skin? The act of shedding skin is a tough process. It takes a lot of a leopard gecko’s energy to do this. The gecko might be so tired and hungry after this process takes place, that the shed serves as a good thing to eat afterward as it will restore energy.
Leos may also eat their shed because, in the wild, they do not want to let predators know where they’ve been. Does this seem a bit unappetizing? Sure! But to fully understand the process behind shedding and why it happens for leos, keep reading.
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Why Do Leopard Geckos Shed Skin?
The body of a leo is always growing. When your leo’s body gets bigger, the skin is shed because he or she has outgrown it.
You will find that shedding is a very common thing among leos. They shed every two weeks or so, sometimes once per week. If you are raising a young leopard gecko, you will find they shed at a faster rate than adults as they are growing so rapidly.
Don’t be alarmed when you see the shedding take place. It may look a bit weird, but your leo knows what he’s doing. You will find that there is no set schedule for this, but you will know when it is happening. It looks almost like your leo is removing a rubber glove from his body.
Some geckos take just one hour to shed this skin; others can take up to a whole day to get the job done. You will notice the skin looks a bit dull and white. It’s normal!
Eating Habits During Shedding
You may also notice that your leo eats very little during this time. It is also normal, and he will eat very little before and after the act of shedding. Once more, this is normal.
It is also where the eating of the shed comes into play. Once your gecko eats it, he will have a full belly and thus lots of energy to go with it, too.
If you notice that your leopard gecko is not eating even one week after the shedding is over, or seems to be losing weight, schedule a vet visit right away. These often come with other scary symptoms like blood in the waste matter, acting lethargic, and more.
Your goal is to make sure you monitor your leo closely during this period because you want to make sure that they are only avoiding eating due to shedding.
Other reasons a leopard gecko might stop eating include having too low of temps in the habitat, contracting a parasite, or being impacted. They may also be stressed out for some reason.
The wrong lighting, a wrong tank setup overall, can even hinder a Leopard gecko from growing as we explain in this article!
Can I Help My Gecko During Shedding?
Do not peel the dry skin off your leopard gecko. It looks like and seems like an easy and helpful thing to do for your reptile, but you should allow the process to happen naturally.
However, after one day of shedding, you may help your gecko along. After all, keeping this on his body can lead to dead toes, rot of the tail, and blood flow restriction.
You can use this shed spray to help your gecko shed his skin and then gently rubbing it in. Some leo keepers might suggest a bath to help your gecko along-this is not necessary as geckos do not generally require baths.
Moisturizing before you pull off the skin is essential to make it easier.
We use Zilla Shed Ease as our go-to spray for our leos that need a bit of help when shedding. For instance, we have a female leo who has a difficult time shedding, and the spray soothes and gets the skin off in a timely fashion.
One of our other leopard geckos tends to gather skin around the toes, so this solution does excellent with helping him get rid of that excess skin. After we use this solution on the geckos, it only takes a damp q-tip or a gentle pull with tweezers to remove this skin.
Having the Right Hides
One of the ways you can make shedding easier on your gecko is to make sure you have the right hides. You already know about warm hides, cool hides, and humid hides.
The very last one is critical in making sure your leo has an easy time shedding.
If your humid hide is lacking, read up on how to make it sufficient now. You may hear this referred to as a moist hide.
A humid hide is nothing more than a box that is filled with a moistened substrate. Your leo uses this as a sauna of sorts. He sits in there while shedding to get moisture to the skin.
The ideal humidity for the leo in his moist hide is 70-80%. At this rate, shedding becomes much easier.
You should place the moist hide in the warm part of your tank. This way, it will stay warm, and your leo will be more inclined to go inside. You should also invest in an under-tank heater to keep the hide moisturized.
If this is not possible, get yourself a ceramic lightbulb for the top of the tank.
Setting Up the Hide
Some ideas for your moist hide are the following:
- Use a plastic hide such as a fake rock to create a moist hide
- You can also use reptile caves bought at pet stores or online retailers
- It serves as a place to keep your gecko moisturized and also escape when feeling stressed
The substrate of your leopard gecko hide is also essential. Some ideas include the following:
- Paper towels
- Coconut fiber
- Sphagnum moss
Paper towels are great because they are cheap, easy to replace, and you don’t risk your leopard gecko getting constipated as a result of eating the substrate, such as what happens with sand. On the other hand, they are not the most natural approach for geckos.
Coconut fiber is an excellent choice because it is natural, and geckos love to dig in it. However, they can become impacted if they eat it, and it may become moldy. You have to keep a close eye on it if you use this substrate.
Sphagnum moss is naturally antimicrobial and cheap and is SUPER at holding moisture. On the other hand, it can be hard to find at some local pet stores, and you may have to order it online.
We find paper towels to be the best choice, but it is all about what you and your gecko find to be the most comfortable.
The act of shedding is normal, and you should not be alarmed when your leopard gecko goes through it.
Your job as the keeper is to watch your gecko closely and make sure he is acting normal during the process and offer some help if the skin does not come off ultimately after a day or so.
Keep the moist hide in good condition, and you will find that the shedding process gets a lot easier!