For most first-time reptile owners (and even some more experienced gecko enthusiasts, shedding (ecdysis) is an intriguing process, so no wonder it raises so many questions. But what if your crested gecko is not shedding at all?
If a crested gecko isn’t shedding at all, it probably means that it’s not growing because then there’s no reason for it to get rid of its old skin. A gecko’s growth has been stunted either by incorrect diet, inadequate lighting, temperature and humidity in the tank, or parasites and diseases.
It’s also possible that your crestie has already shed its skin, you just haven’t been there to see it. However, if you’re still worried about your gecko not shedding as it should, there are a few things you could do to help your crestie.
In this article, you’ll find out how often should your gecko shed (and how to tell it’s about to), as well as what are the reasons for it not shedding at all, and what can you do to help.
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What are the reasons for your crested gecko not shedding?
Shedding is a natural process of replacing old and dead skin cells with new ones, so your gecko will usually shed on its own. However, sometimes it may need a little help from you or even from the vet.
As shedding is associated with the growth of the gecko, if your little pet is not shedding it’s most likely because something has stunted its growth.
When it comes to your gecko’s diet, the two most common factors that will affect your crestie’s growth are if it’s not eating enough and if its meals aren’t well-balanced and nutritious as they should be.
What can you do? If you’re not experienced enough, opt for a commercial Crested Gecko diet (CGD) rather than mixing food yourself. You may try different options and see what it likes more.
However, this doesn’t mean you should feed your gecko whatever it wants. Always keep nutrients in mind, and aim to give your pet a well-balanced meal, with a suggested Ca:P ratio (ideally 2:1).
Inadequate temperature or humidity
Low temperature, as well as low humidity, will impact your gecko’s appetite and overall health. The temperature in the terrarium should be within 60 to 80 degrees F, while ideal humidity is 70% for most of the day (but allow the humidity to drop to around 50% for a few hours).
What can you do? When it comes to temperature, you could try to create a “heat gradient” (from 60 to 80 degrees F), so your gecko can hang out where it feels comfortable at the moment.
You’ll need a thermostat to track the temperature, and you may need a heat source (such as a heat mat or a heat lamp) to achieve the right temperature.
To learn more about that, have a look on our article here:
To keep humidity above 50%, make sure you mist at least once a day (ideally once in the morning and once again at night). A digital hygrometer will help you measure the humidity levels.
If your gecko is tired and lethargic, has runny poop (or foul-smelling poop) or is vomiting, it’s most likely infected with parasites. Parasites could cause issues with nutrient absorption in the digestive system, which will affect the growth of your gecko.
What can you do? If you suspect your gecko might be infected, clean the tank thoroughly and disinfect all the tank accessories. That will help prevent reinfection. Quarantine your gecko and have its stool tested by a vet.
Sometimes you may be able to see worms in feces with parasitic infections, but not all of them are visible without the microscope. Laboratory testing is necessary to determine the types of parasites.
The course of treatment will depend on the types of parasites involved. It’s important that you closely follow the instructions for all prescribed medications.
Metabolic Bone Disease (MBD)
Metabolic Bone Disease is caused by Calcium and Vitamin D deficiency. Signs to look for are tiredness, low appetite, wavy tail, soft jaw, curved limbs, shaking and muscle tremors.
What can you do? Mild cases of MBD could be treated by proper diet and environment, but severe cases will need an increased dose of Calcium and Vitamin D3 supplements (but be careful not to over supplement your gecko).
Your gecko might even need calcium injections. You must act quickly if you notice any symptoms. Take your gecko to the vet for an examination and expert advice on supplementation and treatment.
Prolonged stress can suppress your gecko’s appetite and immune system. Other cage mates might be bullying your crestie, or if you’ve recently got your crested gecko, he might need some time to settle and adapt to a new environment.
What can you do? Identify anything that might be stressing out your gecko, so you can remove stressors from its environment. If you want to keep geckos in pairs or small groups, it’s important that you know what works and what doesn’t.
This way, your geckos won’t fight or bully each other (which may increase stress for all present geckos).
Your gecko might have already shed its skin
As mentioned before, it’s also possible that your little reptile has already shed its skin without you noticing it. Geckos are nocturnal animals, so shedding will usually happen when you’re not around. It’s a quick process, and your gecko will most likely eat its skin afterwards.
You may have your gecko for years and never see it shed. As long as your reptile is otherwise healthy, is eating well and is growing as it should, you shouldn’t be worried about missing the actual shedding period.
How often should crested geckos shed?
As shedding is associated with the crested gecko’s growth, the process will repeat throughout its life. How often should your gecko shed will depend on its age, as well as on how fast it grows.
The younger the gecko, the faster it’ll grow, and the more frequently it’ll shed. You can expect your hatchling to shed weekly, while juvenile geckos will shed bi-weekly. Adult ones can take up to four weeks between two sheddings.
|Crested gecko’s age||Shedding frequency|
However, always keep in mind that not all geckos are the same, so your gecko may take a week more to replace its old and dead skin cells with new ones.
How to tell if your crested gecko is about to shed?
The most obvious sign telling you your gecko is shedding are parts or a whole layer of old dead skin coming off, as well as the dull or pale color of its skin.
However, there are a few other signs that might indicate your reptile pet will soon replace its old skin with a new one.
- Reduced activity (even during the night) – Just like other reptiles, geckos also experience loss of appetite during the shedding process. To conserve some of its energy for shedding, your gecko will quite possibly be less active than it used to be.
- Sticking problems – Your gecko might have problems with sticking to terrarium walls.
- Squinting – The skin around your gecko’s eyes will also shed, so once the process starts, you may notice your gecko is squinting more often than usual.
If your gecko is brighter than it used to be or its skin has more patterns, it might have already shed its skin without you noticing it. This is more likely to happen if you have a hatchling or juvenile crested gecko.
How to know if your crested gecko is growing or not?
A healthy crested gecko should gain about 1 gram every month until it’s fully grown (usually in two years). If you want to know whether your crested gecko is growing or not, you should get a gram scale that weighs to the nearest 0.1 grams.
Weigh your crestie (every week or so but don’t expect a huge difference) and keep track of its growth.
|Crested gecko’s age||Crested gecko’s size|
|hatchling||around 2 grams|
|3-month-old crested gecko||at least 3 grams|
|6-month-old crested gecko||at least 5 grams|
|1-year-old crested gecko||8-30 grams|
|adult crested gecko||40-55 grams|
When to worry?
Every gecko grows at its own rate and most geckos grow in spurts so there are a few things to consider before taking your crestie to the vet.
- Does your gecko have smaller parents?
- Have you weighed your gecko on a gram scale for a month, and have you noticed any weight gain?
- Has your gecko been with you for at least 4 months?
- Are you feeding your crestie at least three times a week?
- Do you give your gecko nutritious food, high in protein?
- Is the temperature in the cage between 60 to 80 degrees F?
- Do you mist at least once a day, keeping the humidity above 50%?
If you’re taking good care of your crestie, he eats and poops well, doesn’t lose any weight and seems fine, you shouldn’t be too worried about it not gaining as it should according to growth charts.
Having such an exotic and delicate pet as a crested gecko can be captivating and a lot of fun, but it’s essential that you also understand how much work crested geckos really are.
You may need some time to learn how to take proper care of your reptile, but once you do, you and your gecko will enjoy each others company for many years to come.