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

      Cameron 2 weeks ago

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

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      Brayden 7 weeks 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

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      IhazaGecko 2 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

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      Geckos 4 life 3 months ago

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

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      Natasha puddy 5 months ago

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

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      5 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?

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      Kayla 5 months ago

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

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      Brigitte Henson 7 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

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      LIZZARDS 8 months ago

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

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      Ellie 8 months ago

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

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      Fossil The Gecko 8 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.

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      Hunter 9 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?

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      Covertavp 13 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

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      Siren 14 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

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      yoyo 15 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?

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      Frapple 15 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.

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      Allicia Murphy 16 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

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      Carter Andreason 17 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?

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      Chandler 17 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

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      Kaylee 20 months ago

      I never held my Leo because he always bit me and screamed so I let him be. But when I picked him up today after he just got done shedding I put him on the floor by me and him arm and leg on the same side looked twisted. I don't know what to do. If I should take him to be looked at or something. can rubbing on things during shedding cause the twist? What do I do??

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      paula 21 months ago

      I've a 16 yr old called izzy it's just shed it's shin and got a red sore on her back leg by her bum what shall I do??

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      Logan 21 months ago

      My gecko has loose skin all over and on the toes, I do not want to try anything in case that I endure pain, please help

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      Jan 2 years ago

      My gecko has white crusty stuff on the tips of some of the toe nails. Why and is there something I should do about this?

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      Hat 2 years ago

      Could I use olive oil instead of the mineral?

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      Tracie 2 years ago

      My leopard gecko lost some toes

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      Reptile Joe 3 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.

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      Jodh 3 years ago

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

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      Reptile Joe 4 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.

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      Sherri1976 4 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