If your local petstore has leopard geckos for sale, you may be wanting to buy one for your child. These are fun little creatures that can be kept in your home and handled--gently--by children. While there is some definite prep work to be had, such as getting the right cage and adjusting to the idea of feeding them mealworms and crickets, another thing you will want to learn about is their shedding process.
Why Do Geckos Shed?
The official shedding process is called "ecdysis," and happens to most reptiles since it's a way for them to remove contaminants and grow. While some reptiles will shed their skin in patches, leopard geckos usually shed their skin in one go. If your gecko doesn't shed, then it may have a nutritional deficiency, not enough humidity in its cage, or another issue.
How Can You Tell When It's Happening?
There is no set time for shedding, but young geckos typically shed more often than adult geckos since they are still growing a lot. When your pet is ready to shed, you'll notice that its color and skin markings will become duller and whitish. If you really want to know when your gecko sheds, you may want to keep a journal and see if there's a trend. On the whole, geckos generally shed every few weeks.
How Can You Help Your Gecko Shed?
A humid environment is key to help your gecko shed. You want a good light fixture, a heating pad for the cage, and most importantly, a hide box. Hide boxes can be purchased at many pet stores and are very important for geckos since they not only help geckos shed, but they are a place where they can rest and retain moisture.
Having the proper setup can certainly help your gecko shed, but sometimes the skin can get tangled in your gecko's toes. If this happens, put your pet in a shallow tray of lukewarm water to help slough it off. If the skin doesn't come off, pet your gecko dry and use a damp q-tip to brush it off. If you just leave the old skin on your gecko, it could possibly constrict the blood flow in their digits.
Do you Have to Clean Up the Old Skin in the Cage?
You can get rid of the old skin if you want, but believe it or not, it is actually normal for geckos to eat their shed skin! This is an instinctual response so that if they were in the wild, they wouldn't leave any trace of themselves to predators, and they would gather some nutritional value from their meal.
For more answers to your questions, talk with a pet store in your area.