Shedding problems with Leopard Geckos

Making sure your leopard geckos have the right conditions to shed is extremely important for keeping your leopard gecko happy and healthy, however the majority of owners will face situations where their gecko struggles to shed properly on their own.

For example, even though my male and female leopard geckos are kept in the same conditions, for some reason my male gecko has had a succession of problematic sheds recently.

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Leopard geckos should always have at least one moist hide in their vivarium – personally I make sure mine always have a moist hide in the cool side of their enclosure, and around the time they shed I will also add one to the hot side as well which creates a more sauna-like level of humidity for them.

You can see in the two photos that my male, Charizard, has shed stuck under his eye, and a little bit of rough skin on the top of his nose.

There are several signals which tell me they’re about to shed:

  • They turn very pale
  • They hide away in their moist hide and don’t walk around much
  • They don’t want to be handled
  • They stop eating their food
  • They start rubbing their faces against things to loosen the skin

However, even though I provide two moist hides, and monitor the humidity levels, my male still struggles getting his face completely clear of old skin. I have spoken to other more experienced leopard gecko owners, and here are some of their pieces of advice.

Tips to help with problem sheds:

  • Create a temporary gecko “sauna.” Get a tupperware box, poke air holes in it, add damp moss/ paper towels and put your gecko in it with the lid on so it can’t get out. Place the sauna over the top of a warm (but not hot) heat source – their heat mat would be perfect. Leave for 30 minutes and check on them and see if the skin is looser. Sometimes it will just come off on its own without your extra help. Sometimes you’ll need to leave longer than 30 minutes.
  • Put your gecko in a shallow warm bath. This is good for geckos struggling with belly or foot shedding. Make sure the water isn’t too hot or too cold, and make sure it is no deeper than belly-level. This should help loosen skin along with some gentle rubbing.
  • Shedding aid by Zoo Med – this had excellent reviews on Amazon so I gave it a try. This worked really well for the rough skin on top of my gecko’s head, but it was very difficult to put on the skin under his eye because he just won’t let me touch there without turning away. Other people rub this on their geckos prior to shedding (when the gecko turns white) and have had great results.

Always remember to check your humidity levels in your vivarium, and please PLEASE make sure you always have a moist hide for your leopard gecko! If skin stays trapped on them, it can cause a restriction of blood flow, causing to loss of toes, infection and sometimes death.

Do you have any more tips and advice for helping with problem sheds? I would love to hear them! Comment below.

How to spy on your leopard gecko

When I first got my leopard geckos I had so much anxiety… Why weren’t they eating? Was one gecko hogging all the food? Do they ever leave their hot hide? Are they shedding easily? Do they bully each other?

So many questions I couldn’t answer because of them being diurnal/ nocturnal, and also because they were very shy and tended to hide when I was around.

So my solution? Buy a camera to spy on them, of course!

As you’ll know if you follow my Instagram (@leopardgeckocare) I post a lot of my leopard geckos’ night time activity which comes directly from my “GeckoCam.”

Here’s a bit about the camera I use…

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It’s by Zmodo and called the Mini Wifi Cam. I bought mine from Amazon for £34.99.

IMG_1224It connects to an app on your phone which is called MeShare (iOS and Android), and you can watch a live stream from wherever you are once it’s connected to your wifi network.

My favourite thing about it is that it has a day AND a night mode, so you can see your reptiles even in darkness. It will automatically switch between the different modes based on the lighting conditions.

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My second favourite thing is that it has a motion and sound sensor, so if there is motion or sound, you can instruct the app to alert you whenever there is movement or sound. It will also save a couple of screenshots showing the event that caused the sound/ movement. I switch the sound sensor off, as my leos don’t make any noise, and it just picks up background noise which serves me no purpose.

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Another great feature which isn’t needed for my leos but would be great if you had a dog, for example, is that you can speak into the app and your voice will come out of a speaker in the camera.

I had loads of trouble getting the app and camera connected to my wifi network, but the Zmodo pages were really good at helping me troubleshoot and eventually get it up and running.

 

The app itself is really easy to use, with a nice interface. You can watch a live stream, it will automatically store all motion-triggered screen shots for 36 hours, you can share the camera footage with other people who have the app, etc.

Getting one of these cameras would be great if:

  • you’re worried that your leopard gecko’s aren’t eating
  • you’re worried that there’s bullying happening
  • you go away for a few nights and need to make sure they’re ok
  • if they have shedding issues

My one reservation about these cameras is I don’t know if Infared light can be seen by leopard geckos, and there’s also a small blue light on the front, so I only use this camera occasionally, and I try to avoid shining it into their favourite hide.

Have you tried using cameras to spy on your pets? Comment below 🙂

Re-homing your reptile – UK

Due to their long lifespans, many people take on the commitment of owning a reptile but cannot foresee circumstances in the future which may mean they can no longer care for their beloved pet.

Whether it’s a house move, ill health or children growing tired of their pets, there are many people left stranded with a reptile that they can no longer keep.

I just came across a link on PreLoved for reptile rehoming/ rescue in Basildon, Essex (United Kingdom) . The ad reads:

We would very much like to offer a personal and friendly home for any unwanted reptiles, Whether it be you can longer care for them or you are no longer wanting to own your reptile, We would love to offer them a kind, loving, forever home!

We have had many years of experience keeping and caring for a wide variety of different reptiles and other exotic pets.

http://www.preloved.co.uk/adverts/show/117130838/reptile-rehome-rescue.html?link=%2Fclassifieds%2Fpets%2Freptiles%2Fall%2Fuk%2Ftarantula%3Fpage%3D2 

If you know anybody needing a new home for their reptile, please share this with them.

Other options for unwanted reptiles are:

  • Selling on sites such as Preloved, Gumtree, Facebook Marketplace, eBay etc
  • Finding a local pet store, or reptile specialist
  • Contacting breeders in the area

 

The lazy way to spot-clean your leopard gecko’s vivarium

Vivarium set up

Leopard geckos are super easy to clean, as the only regular cleaning you need to do is a spot clean of their droppings, and then do a full clean every few weeks. But I’m never going to pass up the chance to make the tiny task of spot cleaning even easier…

This is by far the best tip I have come across when it comes to caring for my geckos, and I’d like to give full credit to the YouTube page of LeopardGecko for sharing this amazing hack.

As leopard geckos tend to do their business in the same place every time, it’s easy to anticipate where all the mess will be (mine love to do it in their cold hide).

You simply lay a piece of kitchen roll there, and when it’s time to clean, you remove the kitchen paper and replace it with a new one!

I keep some dog poo bags by my vivarium, put the litter in bag, and then dispose. It’s so quick and hygienic!

Here’s my step-by-step guide in photos…

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1. Locate old piece

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2. Replace with new one (I make sure it reaches up the walls so it catches everything!)

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3. Place hide back on top

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4. Dispose of poop!

Review: Exo Terra feeding dishes for leopard geckos

Part of the regular diet I feed my leopard geckos consists of mealworms and dubia roaches; the benefits of these two insects being that they can’t climb smooth surfaces, so if my leos don’t eat any, I won’t have strays crawling around the vivariums.

Therefore, one of the important things I look for in a feeding dish is that they are escape proof- tall and smooth enough that the critters can’t escape.

I bought two Exo Terra dishes; one slightly shallower one (because I find my geckos are more interested if they can easily see wriggling insects) and a deeper one with two handy compartments.


Exo Terra Shallow Feeding Dish

Image result for exo terra feeding dish

Let’s start with the shallower one. It looks great (see photo below for how it looks in my vivarium)! Very natural with a lovely rock-like texture around the edge, but unfortunately, as soon as I put the mealworms in it, they were over the edge and crawling across the vivarium floor. I didn’t even attempt to put the roaches in as they’re much smarter and quicker. They would have escaped and hidden within seconds so I saved myself the trouble.

Having said that, I really do like the look of this dish, and didn’t want to get rid of it, so I tried it out as a water dish for my baby leopard geckos, and it’s perfect!

It’s shallow enough that it doesn’t pose a danger to baby or juvenile geckos, and my lazy leo seems to like treading across it instead of walking around it, so I’m hopeful this habit will keep his feet nice and moist around shedding time and prevent old skin from getting trapped around his toes.

Summary:

  • Very shallow – Mealworms and dubia roaches can easily escape
  • Would be great for non-live food, or for a shallow water dish

Here it is in my vivarium. Sorry that the photo was before I put any water in, but I chose it because you can spot my leo spying on his new dish 🙂

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Exo Terra Dual Compartment Feeding Dish

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Now moving onto the dual-compartment dish – again it looks great with a natural rock-like texture, and also is much deeper so I was hopeful that it would prevent any escapees.

When it arrived, it was smaller than I expected, but this isn’t a bad thing. It doesn’t take up a lot of space in my vivarium, and it means I can pile in quite a lot of mealworms on top of each other in the larger compartment. I find when there are more worms in a dish, the more there are, the more they move, and the more they move the more interesting they are to my geckos. Does anyone else find this?

When I tried putting my dubia roaches in this, I had a little more trouble. When I only put the very small ones in the dish, it was fine, however after watching them for a while, some of the larger ones were able to piggyback on top of other ones and get over the edge, so sadly it didn’t pass the dubia roach test!

In the smaller compartment, I have used this to keep my calcium powder in, and I’m very happy. I’m sure the two compartments could also be used for food and water, or two types of reptile food, but I find that it great for keeping the calcium in, and it is very space-efficient in my vivarium.

Summary:

  • Great size, and great multi-purpose dish. It doesn’t take up too much space yet successfully holds quite a lot of mealworms
  • Doesn’t keep my dubia roaches from escaping

 

Where to buy:

I bought my dishes from Swell Reptiles and Blue Lizard Reptiles – yes they’re also available on Amazon but I prefer to support independent businesses 😉

Which substrate for leopard geckos? Pros and cons.

One of the most confusing and stressful parts of planning your leopard gecko’s enclosure is knowing which substrate to buy. I have used several of these, so I am going to list the pros and cons of each type below.

It is quite well known that loose substrate (such as sand) can cause impaction when ingested, which is fatal to leopard geckos, yet it is so commonly used because pet stores push the product due to its high profit margins, and also because it will ensure return customers every time the sand needs to be replaced.

Even though I knew the risks, I’m ashamed to say I was pushed into buying sand initially by a reptile pet supply owner, and I felt too uninformed to push back. After all, who was I to argue with a ‘reptile expert’?

I am going to start with my favourite substrate which I currently use – vinyl (yes – just the type you’d put in your kitchen)!


Linoleum, tiles, slate and vinyl
RECOMMENDED

lino

Pros

  • Doesn’t cause impaction
  • Very easy to wipe clean
  • Mimics natural habitat of leopard geckos
  • Conducts heat well
  • Easy to source
  • Easy to cut to size
  • Geckos won’t get toes caught
  • Looks good, lots of styles to choose from
  • Doesn’t wear out
  • Doesn’t harbour germs
  • Geckos won’t get toes and teeth caught

Cons

  • Usually have to buy a minimum quantity therefore…
  • …slightly more expensive than other substrates
  • Doesn’t absorb smell of gecko droppings

* I will sell the remainder of my Vinyl flooring to anyone who needs it! Please visit my Etsy listing here


Reptile Carpet

carpet

Pros:

  • Doesn’t cause impaction
  • Cheap
  • Easy to source online
  • Easy to cut to size
  • Conducts heat well
  • Looks natural

Cons:

  • Geckos can get toes and teeth caught
  • Doesn’t absorb the smell of droppings
  • More difficult to wipe clean
  • Can harbour germs
  • Needs to be replaced frequently

Paper towels/ kitchen roll

kitchen

Pros:

  • Doesn’t cause impaction
  • Very cheap
  • Readily available almost anywhere
  • Easy to replace
  • Geckos won’t get toes and teeth caught
  • Great for housing babies on

Cons:

  • Doesn’t look particularly nice
  • Can go soggy quickly in a humid vivarium
  • Doesn’t absorb the smell of droppings

Sand (and other loose substrates)
NOT RECOMMENDED 

sand

Pros:

  • Cheap
  • Readily available in most pet stores
  • Easy to sieve droppings out
  • Absorbs smell of droppings
  • Geckos won’t get teeth and toes caught
  • Various colours

Cons:

  • The leading cause of impaction in leopard geckos – this can cause them to die
  • Messy – sand can get everywhere if you’re not careful
  • Uneaten insects can bury in it
  • Has to be replaced quite frequently

 

Meet my leopard geckos!

It seems logical that my first post should be about my two pet geckos, so let me introduce you to Charizard and Nim. 

I have wanted some leopard geckos since childhood, and since I bought my own apartment at the beginning of the year, there is nobody stopping me from keeping reptiles and their live food in my home!

At the end of July I decided I was ready to buy them, so I did all my research (or so I thought – there was still so much to learn!) bought my vivarium and equipment, and found a great breeder on Gumtree, who was happy to talk to me on the phone, answer any questions etc. We then arranged for me to go and meet her the next day to see the geckos. I initially only wanted one, but fell in love with two of them, so I left her house with two baby leos.

Here’s Charizard (yes, I named him after a Pokemon). He was born on May 13th 2017. I’m not an expert on Leopard Gecko morphs, but after reading online I am quite confident that he’s a tremper albino, or something similar. He looks a little more pale than usual here as he was about to shed his skin.

Baby leopard gecko

This one is called Nim, she was born on June 13th 2017, so is exactly a month younger than Charizard, and I think she could possibly be a mack snow morph. If anybody knows about morphs, I’d really love to know what they both are.

Reptile hide