Dealing with Shedding Issues in Crested Geckos
Crested Geckos are a hardy species of gecko from the tropical island of New Caledonia. They have become one of the most popular pets in the reptile hobby due to their ease of care and calm, friendly demeanor. Though they are generally hardy and easy to care for, some owners come across a few health concerns with their Crested Gecko. One of the most common issues with Crested Geckos is shedding issues and stuck shed. We will be discussing the common causes of stuck shed, how you can safely help your gecko, and potential changes you can make to ensure your gecko will have a healthy shedding experience in the future.
Unlike snakes, Crested Geckos do not shed in one complete piece. Instead, their shed will begin coming up from the tip of their nose, and they will rub against objects in their enclosure to loosen the shed, and then pull pieces of their shed off with their mouth and eat it. Their shedding cycle seems to come on quickly, and typically is complete within a day or less.
You may notice your gecko becoming more dull, feeling rough to the touch, or losing their “stick” and not being able to climb as efficiently. Just before they are about to shed, it may look like they are wearing a loose skin suit.
Do Crested Geckos Eat Their Shed?
Since Crested Geckos consume their shed, they may not eat the day of or for a few days after shedding since their stomach is full of shed skin.
You may notice a strange poop in your gecko's enclosure that looks unusual. It is likely white in appearance and may even appear slimy. This is the shed skin that has passed through your gecko’s system and is not a reason for alarm.
Crested Geckos are so efficient at the shedding process that you may not even notice them shedding at all!
It is very normal to not even notice your gecko going into shed or even in the process of shedding. Since Crested Geckos are crepuscular, they will typically go through the process of shedding overnight when you may not even realize they have shed! The whole process can take less than 30 minutes start to finish. Do not worry if you do not see your gecko shedding. If your gecko seems to always be free of shed and you never notice them in the process, it means they are efficiently completing the process while you are away and you likely have the ideal husbandry to allow them to do so!
You may notice small pieces of shed around the enclosure following a shedding cycle. This is completely normal. Geckos will sometimes rip pieces off and miss eating them, and typically do not pick up and eat dropped shed pieces. As long as the pieces are not stuck to your gecko, it is completely fine
Stuck Shed/Poor Shed on Your Crested Gecko
From time to time, you will notice that your gecko was not successful in removing all of their shed. If this is not a recurring issue for your gecko, it may not be cause for concern. However, if your gecko is frequently needing help removing stuck shed, it is important to examine your husbandry to figure out what could be causing the issue.
Both too low and too high of humidity can cause shedding issues for Crested Geckos. Adding additional rough textures into your gecko’s habitat such as cork bark may help them loosen and remove shed. Identifying and correcting the issue will help ensure your gecko will shed properly in the future.
To learn more about proper humidity cycles for crested geckos, check out our Complete Humidity And Hydration Guide For Crested Geckos.
Hatchling and juvenile Crested Geckos are most at risk for having issues removing their shed. Unfortunately, if they are not assisted promptly to free stuck shed, especially on toes or tails, they have an increased risk of losing toes or limbs due to the shed causing restricted blood flow.
Removing Stuck Shed | Creating A Humidity Chamber
To help a Crested Gecko with stuck shed, you can make a humidity chamber / sauna. To do this, use a deli cup or tupperware container with poked air holes and add paper towel or sphagnum moss moistened with room temperature water. Crested Geckos are heat sensitive, and using water that feels warm to us (a warm blooded species), will be incredibly hot to them (a cold blooded species).
For this same reason, putting your gecko in a room with a hot shower and steam can be incredibly dangerous as the temperatures in the room can easily exceed 80ºF and cause heat stroke.
You may choose to add a piece of cork to the container, as some geckos will work the shed off on their own with increased humidity levels and a rough surface to walk on. Allow your gecko to sit in this container for 15-30 minutes until the skin has softened and is more easily removed from the skin. Use a dampened cotton swab to work the stuck shed off of the affected areas. Using a rolling motion will oftentimes grab the shed and gently remove it. Ensure shed is removed entirely from the legs, feet, and tail as these areas are most likely to suffer from restricted blood flow.
To learn more about Crested Geckos and their care, check out our Ultimate Crested Gecko Zen Guide! A comprehensive, over 100-page guide, all about crested geckos and their care!