Home Exotic Pets Why Is My Leopard Gecko Pale?

Why Is My Leopard Gecko Pale?

by Lucy

Leopard geckos are considered to be one of the first domesticated lizard species and they are still very popular reptilian house pets. It’s little wonder that animal lovers the world over adore these creatures, as leopard geckos are not only cute and friendly, but also come in a variety of beautiful color mutations and morphs. 

However, caring for a reptile is a far cry from caring for a hamster or puppy. If you’re a first-time reptile owner, some reptilian habits and traits can leave you scratching your head.

So, why is your leopard gecko pale? If your leopard gecko has gone pale in color, it’s nothing to worry about; they are most likely about to shed their skin. Shedding is a natural process leopard geckos go through as they grow out of their old skin in order to make way for new skin.

Throughout this article, you will learn about how often your leopard gecko sheds their skin, and why your leopard gecko is turning pale. We’ll also explain some ways to soothe your reptilian friend during their shedding process.

Why Do Leopard Geckos Shed Their Skin?

Most reptile species shed their skin, and the process is also known as sloughing. Your leopard gecko is no different and will repeatedly shed their skin throughout their lifetime. Now, the leopard gecko has a rough outer layer of scales around its skin. These scales provide a protective barrier for the reptile. 

However, these scales also serve another function, as they help retain body moisture. But, the scales fit the outer layer of skin, and as the reptile grows, the gecko has a need for new skin to fit into.

In short, your leopard gecko has outgrown their old skin, and so the old skin will shed away, and a new layer of skin will grow to fit your pet. It’s the same as needing a new set of clothes when you outgrow your old ones.

Now, sloughing is a natural process for leopard geckos and underneath the old layer of skin is a new set of scales that grow as the previous shed comes off. Shedding is something that most reptiles experience throughout their lives.

How Often Do Leopard Geckos Shed?

Young leopard geckos grow at a much faster rate. Your pet will reach adulthood at 12 months of age and can grow up to 120 grams. When your pet is young, the shedding will take place every few weeks. The process does slow down as your gecko reaches adulthood. 

However, it is possible for even animal behavior experts to make generalizations about the time frame involved in the shedding process. Sometimes the shedding may be closer together, and other times you might start to wonder why your pet is taking so long to shed its old skin. In general, an adult leopard gecko loses its skin every 4-6 weeks.

How Can You Tell That Your Leopard Gecko Is Ready To Shed?

The most apparent indicator of sloughing in leopard geckos is when the vibrant color of your gecko’s skin goes pale. The skin will become white and take on a milky appearance as the time for the old skin to come off approaches.

The color of the skin may wane for a day and a half before the shedding actually happens. Now, in most circumstances, shedding occurs quite smoothly. 

But, the change in its skin color isn’t the only thing affected by the process of sloughing. Your gecko might show some changes in behavior as well as attitude.

Growing new skin is hard work, and it takes a lot from your tiny friend. So, your leopard gecko might not be as energetic or friendly as usual. Your gecko may even be lethargic and aggressive. Furthermore, most geckos tend to eat little or no food during the process of sloughing.

How Can You Help Your Leopard Gecko To Shed Its Skin?

While it is true that sloughing is a natural process, occasionally your reptilian friend will not shed the whole of their old skin, and there will be shreds of shed stuck to the toes, tail, or lower body. 

There are specific steps you can take to make the experience as easy as possible. Moisture and humidity can help your gecko shed quickly and all at once. Furthermore, as your gecko is undergoing behavioral changes during sloughing, allowing your pet some space is also an excellent idea.

1. Moisture

Most vets that deal with exotics or reptiles recommend that you should have at least one cool and one warm hide in your gecko’s enclosure. But, when your pet is shedding, it would help to add a moist hide too. If there isn’t enough space in your leopard gecko’s tank, you can simply add a few damp paper tissues to serve as a moist hide. 

Some reptilian lovers even place sphagnum moss inside their pet’s enclosure to provide a moist place where your pet can stay while it sheds its skin. You can use a spray bottle (such as this one) to mist the enclosure so that your pet can enjoy the dampness.

2. Dark And Damp Hiding Spots

Leopard geckos do tend to withdraw into themselves while shedding. Most leopard gecko owners vouch that their pet prefers dark hiding spots. So, you can place your gecko into a smaller enclosure and place the tank in a dark yet breathable area. 

3. Minimal Physical Contact

Your gecko will avoid company as much as they possibly can during their shedding process. If you force your presence on your pet, they might show aggression. It’s best to let your tiny friend have some space and let them get on with shedding. Remember that your reptilian pal will turn back to their original cheery self once the shedding is complete.

4. Rough Objects

In the wild, leopard geckos tend to use the bark of trees to rub themselves against to help with shedding. It is essential that you provide some rough stones, branches, or pieces of decor that your gecko will be able to rub against. But, it is vital to keep in mind that whatever you place inside your gecko’s enclosure must be rough, not sharp.

5. Offering Favorite Treats

Leopard geckos and many other reptiles are known to eat less when they are shedding. But, you can make the experience a little less painful by offering some of its favorite treats to entice it to eat. Leopard geckos are crazy for a succulent mixture of worms and gut-loaded crickets.

What Can You Do If Your Leopard Gecko’s Skin Gets Stuck?

It is possible that your gecko will not shed their skin in one go and will occasionally have remnants of it stuck to their tail or toes. As mentioned earlier, as natural as the process may be, it is also one that extols much of your pet’s energy. If your lizard has extra shed stuck to their toes, then you will need to help them remove the skin gently.

Extra skin that sticks around the toes of your gecko can restrict the flow of blood to their toes. In certain circumstances, the restricted blood flow can even cause your gecko to lose their toes. It is essential that you remove the shed. 

The ideal way to remove the skin is to simply pull the skin away gently. Remember, the operative word is gentle. However, there are times when the shed is quite stuck. In this case, a soak for your gecko in a shallow, warm bath will go a long way to loosen the shed from your gecko’s toes.  

Also, you can make use of cotton swabs to gently rub away the shed. Once again, you have to be particularly gentle when you try to rub away the shed, or you may wind up hurting your gecko.

Final Thoughts

Leopard geckos do lose their vibrant colors for a few days when they go through the process of shedding. But is it a cause for concern? Hardly, as shedding is a perfectly natural phenomenon among most reptiles. 

There are certain measures that you can take to help out your gecko when they are shedding their skin. Geckos like to be on their own, preferably in some damp and dark spot where they can lose their old skin with minimal effort. You can provide optimal moisture and humidity levels in your gecko’s enclosure to make the sloughing process easier. 

You can let your beloved pet be on on their own, but do keep a close eye if there is any leftover shed that might still be attached to your pet’s tail or toes. If you do find flaky bits of the old epidermis around the toes of your gecko, you need to make attempts to gently remove the skin yourself or visit the nearest vet that can help you with the task.

Up Next: How Fast Do Leopard Geckos Grow? – Growth Guide

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