Having a crested gecko as a pet is nothing if not a fantastic experience. The crested gecko was thought to be extinct until it was rediscovered in the 90’s. Since then, they’ve only risen in popularity as much as population. Adorable, friendly, handleable, and sticky, what’s not to love about these little reptiles?
However, there are some strange things that come with owning any reptile, and shedding is one. Many first time reptile owners find this to be a fascinating and strange process, and it’s no wonder there are so many questions circulating the internet.
How often do crested geckos shed? If you have an adult crested gecko, then your pet is likely to shed as often as once a month. It is a natural process known as ecdysis, and it happens more frequently when your gecko is still growing. A young crested gecko may shed about once every 2 weeks.
Furthermore, you might never find the skin that your gecko has shed as they happily eat the skin after the shedding is complete. As most geckos are nocturnal, your crestie will probably shed during the night.
The entire process of ecdysis takes no longer than 15 – 20 minutes. It quite frequently leaves a lot of pet parents quite curious. Well, you have only to read on to find out about your crested gecko’s shedding practices and how you can best accommodate them during the process.
Why Do Crested Geckos Shed?
As mentioned earlier, ecdysis is a natural process that most reptiles, domestic or wild, experience. Tthe crested gecko has two layers of skin – the epidermis and the dermis. Shedding in reptiles occurs when the outer part of the epidermis separates from the new, inner layer of skin.
The inner layer is known as the dermis. It is in this layer of skin where new cells are continuously generated. These cells are packed with keratin, and the keratin protects the skin and prevents water loss.
The keratin runs out once the cell is fully grown, spelling the end of the cells. This is when your crestie begins to shed. But, unlike humans, most reptiles shed skin all in one go, and your crested gecko is no exception.
However, you may sometimes find your pet losing its outer dead layer of skin in pieces, particularly around the toes and tail. In such a circumstance, this may be a sign that you should increase the humidity in their tank. If it does’t come off on its own, you may also have to help them out by gently rubbing the dry skin off.
How Often Does A Crested Gecko Shed?
You must understand that all geckos, even from the same species, may have different shedding cycles. Many reasons can cause your reptilian friend to shed more or less.
However, the crested gecko’s shedding depends more on their growth rate than on anything else. A hatchling growing rapidly will shed its skin weekly as it outgrows its epidermis. As it grows into a juvenile, your crestie will shed around once in a fortnight. Once it has hit adulthood, they’ll only need to shed around once a month as their growth slows down.
After the shedding process is complete, your geckos will eat up the dead skin to make up for the nutrients they lost during the shedding season. If your crestie lost its skin all at once, then you have nothing to worry about.
But, if your reptile seems to have skin that breaks apart from different areas of its body and still has some stuck to its skin, then you must remove that skin. If you allow the skin that has been shed to remain stuck to the toes, then after too many sheds, their blood flow will become restricted and cause their toes and the tip of their tail to fall off.
If stuck shed is happening often, make sure you’re checking on the humidity in your gecko’s enclosure. It should be around 50-60%, and even up to around 85% when you mist their enclosure. The moisture not only helps keep them hydrated but allows their dead skin to slide off easier and in one piece.
Causes For Abnormal Shedding
The medical term for abnormal shedding is called dysecdysis. Healthy skin shedding is an absolute must for your reptile. The most common problems crested gecko owners come across during this process are either stuck shed or excessive shedding.
Here’s a list of some of the causes of abnormal shedding in crested geckos. After all, your pet’s very survival depends upon a normal shedding schedule.
1. Inappropriate Habitat Conditions
When you provide a home for your reptilian friend, one of the first things you need to do is provide two separate areas for your gecko. Your gecko needs a low-temperature space where they can cool off, but also a warmer area with enough humidity to allow your gecko to soak up the moisture in the air to shed properly.
2. Underlying Health Conditions
If your gecko is suffering from a parasite infestation or is ill, it will not have the required strength to complete a proper shed. Unfortunately, crested geckos tend to shed more when they are sick despite their inability to do so, and there will be excess skin attached to your pet.
The excess of skin may further aggravate your crestie’s condition. You may want to seek the advice of a local vet.
3. Reproductive Cycle
Female crested geckos do commonly shed a couple of days before they start egg-laying. Your female crestie will need extra nutrients for the egg-laying process.
As mentioned earlier, geckos eat the skin that they shed, making up for some of the loss of the nutrients during ecdysis. However, you will still have to make sure that your reptilian friend is getting a proper diet to overcome the distressing trial of laying eggs.
4. Improper Diet
Crested geckos are frugivores which means that in the wild, a crested gecko feeds on many different types of fruits. But, you will have to provide extra nourishment for your domestic gecko.
Many animal lovers have found caring for a crested gecko in captivity to be a challenge. The fruits that you buy for your pet from a grocery store are high in sugars and far less in vitamins and minerals than the organic version.
How To Tell If Your Gecko Is Not Shedding Normally
Most reptiles have textured skin. It isn’t easy to tell when it is time for them to shed. Your crested gecko doesn’t have textured skin, so it will be pretty obvious when your crestie is about to shed. Furthermore, their color will be noticeably duller when it is time for ecdysis.
But, there are other telling signs when your reptile is about to shed:
- Reduced Activity Level – It is general behavior that reptiles experience loss of appetite when they shed. As they require some extra energy to shed, you will notice that your gecko is less active, even during night time to conserve some of their energy.
- Squinting – Geckos do shed skin around the eyelid too. So, your reptilian pet will have to put up with quite a bit of squinting when it undergoes ecdysis.
How To Help Your Crested Gecko Shed
Ecdysis is a stressful time for your crested geckos, but there are a few things you can do to help your little buddy out. There are many techniques that you can apply to aid your gecko to overcome the difficulties of shedding quickly.
As you already know, geckos have a reduced level of activity when they are shedding. So, it would help if you provided a dark, safe and secure environment for your pet when it’s time for them to molt.
It also helps to keep a higher level of humidity within the tank when your pet is shedding. The more humid the tank, the more moisture your gecko will receive, and the easier it will get for your pet to shed its skin. Just make sure to always check your gecko’s tank for signs of mold growth that could be dangerous for your pet.
Keeping a moist box with a wet towel in the tank will certainly prove to be a cool place for your gecko to rest and shed with moderate ease.
Your crestie will eat less during its shedding process, so it’s a good idea to remove the food bowl from the tank too. Crested geckos eat about once every 3-5 days. Leaving extra food in the hopes that your pet will be enticed to eat more isn’t sensible. Ripe fruits and vegetables are a playground for bacteria and parasites.
Removing extra skin that is stuck to your pet’s body can also be helpful for a gecko that isn’t shedding all the way in one go. Not that you should never use any amount of force to pull off the shed skin that is still attached to your crestie’s body.
Using a tweezer to remove the skin gently is an intelligent move. You can soak some paper towels in warm water, place them in a container, and allow your gecko to rest in it for some time. The removal of shed skin from the toe and tail area becomes more manageable this way.
It’s fascinating to have a crested gecko as a pet. You’ll undoubtedly spend many hours simply in awe of their uniqueness. But, keeping a pet as delicate and extraordinary as the crested gecko can mean that you will have to up your responsibility.
It may take a while to get the hang of how to best provide for your reptile, but the more comfortable you make your pet, the stronger your bond will be.