Leopard Gecko Shedding Problems

Updated on February 6, 2013

Leopard Geckos are extremely popular reptiles to keep as pets. These reptiles are easy to care for and live for a long time, up to 30 years in captivity. However, these geckos are a bit notorious for losing toes due to shedding problems. The skin around the toes does not shed, and therefore dries out. As it dries, the skin tightens around the toes and begins to act like a tourniquet, cutting off the blood supply to the toes. Eventually, the toe dies from the lack of oxygen carried by the blood and the toe becomes gangrenous and falls off. Infection can result from this.

As many of you leopard gecko owners know, it is easy to tell when your gecko is going to shed. The skin color will start to dull, almost beginning to look smokey a day or two before shedding is to occur. When the leopard gecko is in this stage, it is important to give your gecko a variety of tools to make a complete shed.

I recommend offering a large, shallow water bowl filled with warm water, and I believe placing moist moss in a hideout are the best opportunities for your gecko to make a complete shed. The moist retreat will provide additional humidity for the gecko to allow the shedding skin to peel off the fresh skin cleanly. The gecko is rather good at getting the body skin and leg skin off cleanly. The toes, however, will need the warm water bowl to help loosen this skin. The toe skin is difficult for the gecko to remove because they cannot get a good bite on the skin to peel it off. They do not want to bite their toes and licking their toes is not a habit they have. The warm water gets in between the shedding skin and new skin and more often than not, the toe skin falls off. If the skin does not fall off, there are some methods you can do to help peel the skin off the toes.

The first thing to try is to take your leopard gecko and place him in a large, deep container with a shallow amount of warm water and mineral oil. The oil is thinner than water and has an easier time getting in between the shedding skin and the fresh skin. The oil will then act as lubricant to allow the skin to peel off. Since the gecko will be walking around, the gecko will be the mixer and make this process successful. However, you may need to intervene. Keep the gecko in this bath mixture of water and mineral oil. Take a cotton Q-tip, dip it in mineral oil, and use the Q-tip as a peeler. Massage each toe, trying to work the shedding skin off.

There is another method that is a bit more difficult and requires patience and skilled hand/eye coordination. Keep giving your leopard gecko warm water to soak in. The warm water will rehydrate the skin, making it soft and plump. Take needle nose tweezers and carefully pinch a piece of loosened shedding skin and slowly pull the skin off. I cannot emphasize how important it is to be gentle and slow. Leopard geckos are hardy, but they do have sensitive skin. The goal is to make the skin as soft as possible before trying this.

Lastly, a realistic view. I want to put this here because I feel if I did not, I would not be giving the whole truth. In the wild, leopard geckos are found missing toes due to shedding problems. Do not beat yourself up if you are unable to remove the shedding skin from your gecko's toes and the toe falls off. It does happen, but when you notice that the toe has fallen off, be sure to keep the wound clean so it can heal without harming your gecko further.

If you have any comments, questions, or want to add to my list of what has worked for you, please post here. Best of luck to all leopard gecko owners.

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    • profile image

      Autumn 

      78 minutes ago

      my gecko has a swollem foot..the skin is stuck on it...he has been bitting at it making it bleed...help please

    • profile image

      Bailey Riggon 

      7 days ago

      I was thinking of the last time my gecko shed an it’s been months maybe even years Dow’s anyone know why this might be he it pretty old now.

    • profile image

      Aspect 

      2 weeks ago

      My little geck Pan here shed while I was on vacation, so I was unable to offer him a moist place to shed. Now, he has some skin stuck on his lower mandible/jaw,a me I can't seem to get it off. Any suggestions? It's been on there for at least 24 hours I would say.

    • profile image

      KennaKeg54 

      4 weeks ago

      I have just noticed my geckos issue. The skin on his foot is a crusty brown and very hard. Right above it is like a red blister and above that dry skin. He isn't walking on it either. I don't know what to do

    • profile image

      Britain 

      5 weeks ago

      I have had my leopard gecko for about a year and a half and I have yet to see him shed. And my female has shedded multiple times. What is going on that I haven’t seen my male shed at all not even a little.

    • profile image

      GekoLover 

      7 weeks ago

      I have a question regarding my geko, I am a first time owner and have researched thoroughly on the species. My geko however has skin on his nose that will not peel off or shed. I have tried warm water and it has not worked. It works for his toes however. I am afriad to use the mineral oil and water for his nose. Whenever i go to rub the side of his mouth he pops it wide open. I don't know if he is showing he doesn't like it or not. The rest of his skin has shed except for that area. Please help

    • profile image

      Jessica 

      7 weeks ago

      So my leopard gecko is kinda bleeding in her back from her shedding. What should I do!?

    • profile image

      Danielle 

      2 months ago

      My leopard gecko recently lost a couple of toes from stuck shed skin he sheds his skin twice a week and is a large gecko I am concerned as the shed skin that come off was pink and he hasn't eaten in 6 weeks since he lost a couple of his toes and he has a moist hide and refuses to go in it and he still has stuck shed I've tried coconut oil and bathing him too and don't know what to do

    • Reptile Joe profile imageAUTHOR

      Reptile Joe 

      3 months ago from Illinois

      @Quincyisdabest: Soak her in a small amount of water and gently put warm water on the stuck shed until it becomes more loose. Then gently use your finger to slide the skin off. If you gecko is super skidish, I would worry about a tail drop, but most leopard geckos tolerate some tail handling. My gecko at times gets shed stuck on the under side of his tail. I soak him and then rub my fingers until it just comes off. Hope that helps.

    • profile image

      QUINCYISDABEST 

      4 months ago

      what do I do about a bit of skin stuck on her tail? I'm too afraid to pull it off, she might drop it

    • profile image

      gecko lover 

      4 months ago

      hey thank u

    • profile image

      Geckos4Ever 

      4 months ago

      Thank you so much

    • profile image

      Ellie 

      5 months ago

      Leopard gecko Just shredded yesterday I don’t know if this relates but one of his eyes is shut? Should I be worried?

    • profile image

      Cameron 

      6 months ago

      What do you do if your leopard gecko loses a toe?

    • profile image

      Brayden 

      7 months ago

      My gecko has just shredded its skin a week I need a half ago but it's tail is red like it's new skin fell off

    • profile image

      IhazaGecko 

      8 months ago

      this happened to mine and now he has stubby toes :(

      but now i know how to keep it from happening again thx

      bout he still has some on his feet and he is not tame enough to let me get the rest off i think its painful for him any tips

    • profile image

      Geckos 4 life 

      9 months ago

      My leopard gecko lost a couple of toes, but I couldn't figure out why. This really helped, thanks!!!

    • profile image

      Natasha puddy 

      11 months ago

      My gecko is looking dead he not eating at all so lifeless what can I do

    • profile image

      11 months ago

      One of my leopard geckos is terrable at shedding his tail came off and his toes are starting to fall off. Can he die from losing all his toes?

    • profile image

      Kayla 

      11 months ago

      This information has been very helpful!!!! I really recommend taking a look at this because it's going to help you out!

    • profile image

      Brigitte Henson 

      14 months ago

      My leopard gecko has old skin on his leg that's cutting right through his leg. I don't know what to do

    • profile image

      LIZZARDS 

      14 months ago

      can you help how to set up the heating part? plz

    • profile image

      Ellie 

      14 months ago

      Very helpful information, just ordered some mineral oil. Thanks!

    • profile image

      Fossil The Gecko 

      15 months ago

      My gecko Fossil is acting strange. He keeps rubbing up against his rock hide like he's shedding, but he's not shedding. It might be because of the outside heat or that we set off bug bombs (I covered up the tank though). Has anyone else had this problem. I'm a bit worried because I've already lost a gecko and I don't want to lose another one.

    • profile image

      Hunter 

      16 months ago

      I was away for college and when I was going back home, my sister told me that my leopard gecko shed today. When I finally saw my leopard gecko come out of hiding, I saw that 3 of her toes has already turned black from excess shedding! What should I do now? How should I care for her wounds?

    • profile image

      Covertavp 

      19 months ago

      Ok so my gecko just shed and 1 of his toenails or something ripped off and his toe is bleeding I don't know what to do

    • profile image

      Siren 

      20 months ago

      ok i need help ASAP!! my leopard gecko shed today and the tip and underside of her tail is now bleeding?? what shouldi do?? plz let me know at my gmail PuffkittyAj@gmail.com

    • profile image

      yoyo 

      21 months ago

      i am going to take care of an abused african fat tailed gecko. it has lost both of his back feet because its first owner hasn't taken care of it right. they are still bleeding .. what can i do to reduce the pain and to make it heal faster?

    • profile image

      Frapple 

      21 months ago

      I've been reading around all over, and I'm not sure this is the place. But I have to start somewhere. I was given my Leo about 2 months ago. I was told he was about 3 years old. He is just over 9" long and looked fairly healthy. I got on a regular feeding routine. I received him because the previous owner said he kept forgetting to feed him. So I fed regularly after doing my research. He is beefy now. I've even been afraid that he is fat. Either way, I haven't seen even a hint of a shed. Well one night he did look a little dry or dull in his color. But the next time I saw him he was back to full color. I gut load my crickets and dust em. Two hides, warm and cool. I have thermometers and a humidity gauges. Everything stays from what I've read in good ranges. But no shed. So do they stop shedding when the hit a certain size? Or am I doing something that's helping prevent a shed? Thanks for reading and giving me any ideas.

    • profile image

      Allicia Murphy 

      22 months ago

      My Geico has an entire hand missing its fingers but all of his other fingers remain it doesn't look like he's been shitting at all I've had him for year and I have not once seen him shed anything and only one hand is missing all of its toes is it still normal

    • profile image

      Carter Andreason 

      23 months ago

      I went on a week long scout camp and my mom took care of my reptiles while I was gone but Rockey (my albino chocolate leopard gecko) had lost a toe. Last night I looked at it and it was pretty healed up...however this morning he had shed all peeled up so I helped him peel it off but when I looked at his hind right foot (where he lost the toe) and his toes were all bloody and scared like he bit it...I know they have excellent night vision but is it possible that he missed a cricket and bit his foot on accident? Do you think it is a shedding problem? I put some. Neosporin on it...I know what I am doing though and I remember spraying the peats moss last night but what whould you recommend so it doesn't happen again?

    • profile image

      Chandler 

      23 months ago

      My lizard has the white build up on his toes and is bum is a little red is the bum a problem if it is how may I fix it

    • Reptile Joe profile imageAUTHOR

      Reptile Joe 

      4 years ago from Illinois

      @Jodh: Sorry about the late reply. If your Leopard Gecko has eye shed stuck on, the best thing to do is to warmly mist his eye area two to three times a day. Force the gecko to lick the water from its eyes. I have done it before and it worked like a charm. In a few short days, the gecko licked the cap right off.

      Now, if it is skin stuck on the lid of the eye, you can take a warm, wet Q-tip and gently roll it on the eyelid and see if you can gently roll the skin off. Again, you may have to mist the eye a couple of times for the skin to soften up. Hope this helps.

    • profile image

      Jodh 

      4 years ago

      Plz help my leo has eye cap things and I can't take him to a vet what should I do

    • Reptile Joe profile imageAUTHOR

      Reptile Joe 

      5 years ago from Illinois

      @Sherri1976, I apologize for not reaching you sooner. I usually receive an email when I have a comment on my Hubpages, but I did not receive one from you. Please send a picture to ReptileJoey at gmail dot com. I will respond immediately with your next steps.

    • profile image

      Sherri1976 

      5 years ago

      I need help, I rescued an abused leopard gecko that has a foot with acsess skin, looks like an improper shed. this skin has made him start walking on what i would call the ankle area. I am uncertain on how long he has been like this since I just got him today. He doesn't seem to be indistress by it, I just would like to know if and what I can do for him before this skin causes the foot to fall off( lack of blood flow is what I fear

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