Do Day Geckos Shed Their Skin?
Yes, day geckos shed their skin. This unique feature of most reptiles’ physiology forces the lizards to shed their skin in one go to renew themselves. That’s because, unlike other animals, the lizard’s skin doesn’t expand as gecko grows.
So, at one point, the gecko will outgrow its skin, and the shedding process will begin.
How Do Day Geckos Shed?
When the time comes, the gecko will display visible signs of shedding, both physical and behavioral. In most cases, the reptile will look for an elevated area to prepare for the shedding process. This naturally protective behaviour is designed to keep the gecko safe from predators.
The lizard will be vulnerable during the shedding process since it can’t move much. It will also stop eating for the duration of the shedding.
When shedding approaches, the outer skin layer will slowly separate from the newer, inner one. The reptile’s body will also secrete a fluid between the 2 skin layers, which acts as a lubricant. This way, the skin will fall off easier.
Once the reptile’s skin has dried out, the gecko will be able to remove it with relative ease. It will begin at the nose level with the gecko licking its nose and face incessantly. This will cause the old skin to rupture easily as the gecko keeps licking and eating it.
The gecko will use its mouth and tongue to remove the entirety of the old skin, a process which can take quite the time. Most geckos will also consume the skin since it contains a lot of minerals and vitamins that the geckos need to supplement their fasting period.
It’s also a natural behavior aiming to eliminate all traces of the shedding and prevent predators from catching the gecko’s scent.
How Often do Day Geckos Shed?
The frequency of shedding in day geckos varies based on several factors. These include the lizard’s age, health, and environmental parameters, among others.
Most adult geckos shed once a month, but this period will get longer over the years.
The reason for that is the gecko’s slower metabolism, causing the reptile to regenerate its new skin more slowly.
Why do Day Geckos Drop Their Skin?
Geckos shed in order to grow. Day geckos, like all geckos, keep growing throughout their lives. This means they will need to shed regularly to accommodate their growing bodies.
How Long Does it Take for Day Gecko to Finish Shedding?
The duration of the shedding process varies based on numerous factors. These include gecko species, the gecko’s size and overall health, and any complications that may arrive during the process.
Some geckos shed within one hour, while others may take up to 24 hours or even double that.
Supervise the process more closely if your gecko appears to take a long time to shed. It may be due to some complications like stuck skin or infections. Or maybe your gecko is simply lazier and likes to take its time.
If it’s the former, you may need to assist the gecko to finish its shedding, which is a sensitive and delicate process.
We will discuss the specifics more in-depth shortly.
Signs of Day Gecko Going Into Shedding
The gecko will display clear signs of shedding prior to the process.
- Loss of appetite – Geckos will stop eating shortly before the shedding begins. This isn’t a sign of shedding in itself since it can often signal a health problem or stress. To determine whether it’s part of a shedding behavior or has other causes, always corroborate it with other signs, such as the following 2.
- Discoloring – The day gecko will gradually experience duller colors and a loss of pattern. The skin will become visibly duller and drier as the color pattern loses its integrity completely. At this point, it’s already clear that the gecko is getting ready to shed.
- Apparent apathy – Geckos will remain pretty much motionless as the shedding begins. They will often look for a safe area to retreat to and will even display grumpy behavior in case you’re trying to interact with them.
If your day gecko appears ready to shed, avoid handling them. They are in a more vulnerable state and may react aggressively or wiggle to escape and hurt themselves in the process. Give the gecko its space and allow nature to take its course.
Why do Day Geckos Eat Their Skin?
As I’ve mentioned, there are 2 reasons why day geckos consume their old skin:
- For nutritional purposes, since the old skin contains a lot of nutrients. The skin’s nutritional value is welcome for a gecko that has fasted for quite some time prior to shedding.
- To cover its tracks, since many predators can track the gecko by sniffing its skin. Obviously, this doesn’t apply in the case of pet geckos since they have no predators to worry about in captivity. However, the gecko doesn’t know that and will do what nature has taught it.
It’s important to note that not all geckos eat their skin. Some won’t and will simply discard it like an old coat.
You should remove the skin from the terrarium when that happens to prevent the formation of fungi or bacterial cultures designed to consume any type of organic matter, including dead gecko skin.
How Can You Help Your Day Gecko with Shedding?
Geckos will generally shed without incidents in most cases. However, in some situations, the success of the shedding process will rest on you.
In essence, you too can help the lizard shed its skin safely by:
- Ensuring adequate temperature and humidity – Geckos may need higher temperatures and humidity to ensure incident-free shedding. I suggest increasing the temperature and humidity levels to up to 80% for short periods to help the lizard remain comfortable during the process. You should do the same during nighttime, but remember to bring those values back to normal before going to sleep.
- Providing a stress-free habitat – The gecko requires peace and comfort during the shedding process. Otherwise, complications may arise, and these can actually threaten the gecko’s life.
- Actively aiding with the shedding – In some cases, the lizard’s skin will get stuck and risk getting infected. If it looks like the skin won’t get off easily, try gently rubbing the gecko with a piece of cloth doused in warm water. I cannot stress the notion of ‘gently’ enough. If the skin still doesn’t go off, don’t force it. Instead, gently place the gecko in a sauna-like environment with high humidity (up to 90-95%) for no longer than 15 minutes. Or as long as the gecko can take it. You can even spray warm water onto the gecko’s skin for further assistance.
If nothing works and the skin appears to be completely stuck, I recommend speaking to your vet. The situation may require surgical intervention.
Day geckos shed their skin regularly, and the process is generally seamless with little-to-no incidents. Even so, I recommend supervising your gecko during the process.
This allows you to grow familiar with the shedding technique and learn your gecko’s behavior before and during the entire procedure.
If anything goes wrong during shedding, consider my recommendations. And most importantly, read my other articles that go into more detail in this sense.