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Reptiles/My leopard gecko is having... serious shedding problems.


QUESTION: My leopard gecko has... shed 4 times within roughly the past 3 months.  She's an adult, sexually mature (has been laying infertile eggs), and otherwise seems to be normal.

Also, all of the sheds have been incomplete.  I've always had a little trouble with a few of her toes, but the first of the series of sheds basically she didn't shed anything off of her feet at all, without help (partly my fault, I was away, and didn't make sure her humid hide was moist).  Since then, I've been giving her daily (or more-than-daily) baths, trying to help her with the unshed skin on her feet, as well as very gently going at it with an old toothbrush.

2 of the sheds, she basically didn't shed much at all without help.  She kind of split the skin, then stopped.  The last shed, she basically handled on her own, but there are still a few problem toes that I can't seem to get the last of the skin off of, and I'm worried that the frequent shedding is a sign of something.  I'm also worried about her poor little toes, she's lost... well, part of a *bunch* of her toes, there's only one foot that's basically unaffected, and I think the rest have, like, 1 good toe left max.

Any idea 1. what's going on, and/or 2. what to do about it?

ANSWER: Hello Melissa,

I am sorry your girl has had some tough sheds!
What type of humid hide substrate are you using?  Are the baths helping her retained shed on her feet at all?
You could try some olive or coconut oil & gently massage some of that onto the affected areas to see if that helps out.  
Is the humid hide on the warmer end of the tank also to help release more humidity for her?
What is her diet like?  She could be deficient in vitamins/minerals or even calcium, too.  How often do you supplement her with calcium?
Do you have any pictures of her & the tank setup I could see?
The frequent shedding can be an indicator of nutritional deficiencies.  When I used to keep leopard geckos, I would use a UVB light such as the Reptisun 5 tube bulb, since it is a bit lower UVB output.  I feel that they benefit from some UVB, that it helps their overall health & well being.

Let me know how she is doing.


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

cool side
cool side  

humid hide minus hide
humid hide minus hide  
QUESTION: The humid hide substrate is sphagnum moss.  The baths seem to be helping, but not entirely.

I'll try some oil on the remaining problem toes.

The humid hide is on the warm end.  The diet is home-grown dubia roaches, dusted with calcium every time (with vitamin D, though the stuff I've been using is a few years old, I recently got some newer stuff and am using it mixed with the older stuff, which has more minerals).  She's been eating well, and the roaches get a varied (if occasionally somewhat sporadic) diet, and recently I've started putting some cricket food in the cage where her roaches go, so they'll be a little better gut-loaded when she eats them.

I'm not actually home right now, but I attached some pictures my housemate took.  They aren't the best, but should give you some idea.  The first is the cool side of her cage (including her water dish and half of her roach dish), the second shows the warm side of her cage with the actual humid hide removed (it's sort of a foam cave my father made for me, you can see the side of it being held up).  (I know, I really need to clean out her bathroom corner...)

I don't have a UV light (and... can't really afford one right now, unless it's absolutely necessary), but I have been trying to take her out in the sun occasionally.  Are there any sources of UV light that work in a standard light socket that you'd recommend?

Hello Melissa,

The sphagnum moss is fine.  Be sure to keep it moist daily, I know it's hard to keep it that way all of the time.  I hope the oil helps out her little toes.  
Yes, the pictures came through fine.  Her set up looks fine, she should be happy with everything that way.  If she gets calcium & mineral/vitamin powder several days per week then that should be sufficient for her, nutritionally speaking.
The UVB sources that are screw ins like the regular light bulb type are not real good & can be hazardous on their eyes & overall health.
The Reptisun 5 tube bulb should be $20 or less.  Are you in the UK?
How is she doing today?



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Tracie Kretzschmar


I can answer questions pertaining to health, UVB specifics, overall husbandry care & supplementation, analysis of blood test results, and behavioral problems & handling. I can answer questions pertaining to bearded dragons, leopard geckos, iguanas, uromastyx & ball pythons. I can answer adeno virus related questions in bearded dragons, & then specifically about the testing methods as well. I am beginning an Pogona Adeno Testing Society in 2008 which will help to begin to start some standardization within the bearded dragon colonies of the breeders who choose to test.


I have been working with bearded dragons for over 5 years now, as well as leopard geckos, too. I am currently doing rescues, as well. I hope to be able to educate people prior to them purchasing an exotic pet in order to avoid any health crisis with them.

I have a master's degree in sports medicine & physiology, & 1 year of vet tech schooling, & am currently working on a reptile certification through the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council.

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