The purpose of this blog is to share general information and is written to the author's best knowledge. It is not intended to be used in place of veterinary advice. For health concerns, please seek proper veterinary care.
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Geckos, and especially leopard geckos, are among the most popular pet reptiles. They’re easy to care for, docile, and can live up to 20 years, which makes them great family pets.
But you might be perplexed if your gecko doesn’t look the same. Does this mean that there’s something wrong with it?
If you’re asking: why is my leopard gecko pale, you’ve come to the right place. Keep on reading to find the answer to your question and learn more about your favorite pet.
Why is My Leopard Gecko Pale?
Keeping an eye on your pet leopard gecko will help you detect any changes that might indicate that there’s something wrong with it.
And one of them is paying attention to its color and appearance.
But if your leopard gecko turns pale, it’s usually nothing to worry about.
This is part of a natural process that all geckos go through, which involves shedding old skin to reveal a new layer of fresh skin.
A leopard gecko is covered with a rough layer of scales that covers the skin and protects the animal from losing moisture.
When the gecko grows, these scales don’t fit and a new layer of scales grows underneath. These new scales are loose to provide the leopard gecko with room to grow comfortably.
Before shedding the old skin, the leopard gecko will turn pale as the old scales separate from the skin and are about to fall off. This usually happens a couple of days before the gecko starts to shed its skin.
Young leopard geckos shed their skin once every month because their bodies grow too fast.
When they get older, the shedding process slows down because geckos’ bodies don’t grow as fast. As a result, their bodies might turn pale every couple of months or so as they’re about to reveal a new layer of scales.
Can a Leopard Gecko Turn Pale But Not Shed Its Skin?
Turning pale is considered normal as long as your leopard gecko starts shedding its skin within a few days.
However, if the gecko turns pale and doesn’t reveal a new layer of scales, you should be concerned because this means that there’s something wrong.
Here are a few reasons why your leopard gecko might be turning pale but doesn’t shed its skin.
The temperature inside the enclosure can change the way your leopard gecko looks.
When the temperature increases beyond 30 degrees Celsius or 86 degrees Fahrenheit, the leopard gecko will lose more moisture through its skin, which eventually makes the gecko look pale.
You need to keep the temperature within the adequate range by installing a thermometer inside the enclosure.
When the temperature is too high, you should turn off the heaters inside the enclosure to keep the leopard gecko cool and comfortable. You should also make sure that the enclosure isn’t kept in direct sunlight, as this can hurt your pet gecko.
You can also spray the enclosure with cool water and use a fan to circulate the air and lower the temperature.
It’s crucial to check your leopard gecko’s diet if it’s turning pale without shedding its skin. A change in the gecko’s color can indicate a problem with the food it’s getting.
When you don’t feed your leopard gecko well, it starts to show signs of discoloration because it’s not receiving the necessary minerals and vitamins.
You should provide your leopard gecko with live protein foods such as mealworm and crickets. The diet should be balanced to cover your leopard gecko’s nutritional needs.
For example, crickets are high in moisture, while mealworms are high in fats. Your gecko’s diet should combine both to make sure that it’s properly fed.
You should also make sure that you’re providing live food of adequate size. Putting bigger crickets in your gecko’s enclosure doesn’t mean that they’ll get more food.
The bug or insect shouldn’t be bigger than the gecko’s head. Otherwise, it won’t even try to feed on it, and your leopard gecko will end up malnourished.
Make sure that you’re providing your leopard gecko with food according to its age. For example, a younger gecko needs about 5 to 7 small crickets every day to stay nourished, while an older one needs about 7 large crickets every other day.
Dehydration can be the main reason why your gecko leopard is pale.
Geckos get most of their water from the food they eat, but they still need access to water, especially in hot weather.
Your leopard gecko will lick the mist droplets off the walls of the enclosure when it feels thirsty. You can also set up a bowl of water, where it can lap it like a cat.
A shallow bowl of water is a great addition to your leopard gecko’s home because it can also sit in the water to regulate its temperature and cool off.
Spraying the walls of the enclosure with water can even promote shedding if your leopard gecko is struggling with getting rid of its old skin.
There are lots of reasons why your leopard gecko might be stressed, and this stress can make it turn pale without shedding its skin.
Your leopard gecko might be stressed because you’ve just brought it home from the store. This environmental change can make the gecko uncomfortable for a few days until it gets used to its new surroundings.
Having more than one gecko in the same enclosure can be the reason. Leopard geckos, especially the male ones, are highly territorial and will often attack each other.
Geckos of both sexes will attack one another and cause stress if one of them is bigger or older. This also happens when there isn’t enough space for multiple individuals to live and have access to food and shelter.
Some leopard geckos are aggressive by nature, so you need to keep an eye on their behavior. If you have a bully in the cage, it might be a good idea to separate it from the rest of the group.
You should also think about the setup of your enclosure. Leopard geckos are nocturnal animals, and too much noise or light can make them extremely stressed.
All these stress factors can make your leopard gecko become paler. In some cases, it might turn darker.
The color of your leopard gecko can become paler because of several diseases. These diseases can directly affect the skin color or might make your gecko too stressed that it changes its color.
Malnutrition and lack of essential nutrients can cause the leopard gecko to turn pale because of Hypovitaminosis A. This is a condition that’s characterized by impaired shedding, which leaves the skin with patches of old skin.
When the gecko isn’t healthy, its body assumes that it should start to shed its skin. Unfortunately, this process doesn’t continue until the new skin has been revealed, and the gecko will look pale.
Mouth rot is another serious condition that changes the look of your leopard gecko.
This is an infection that affects the gecko’s gum because of stuck food particles. When left untreated, the infection will cause your gecko to become sick and might eventually die.
During the coldest months of the year, the gecko will go through a process of brumation.
This is the equivalent of hibernation that mammals go through when the temperature drops.
Even though the temperature is controlled in a leopard gecko’s enclosure, it’s vital to lower the temperature during the winter months to create a simulation of natural habitat to help the gecko live through its natural annual cycle.
When a leopard gecko goes through brumation, it becomes less active and doesn’t eat much. It hides for weeks and might turn pale before or during the process.
Before this period, you should limit your gecko’s access to food, so it can have time to clear its digestive tract. You should also turn off heat sources to help the gecko sleep throughout winter.
What Should I Do If My Leopard Gecko Turns Pale?
Keeping an eye on your pet gecko is important, so you can detect any behavioral changes.
In most cases, turning pale shouldn’t be alarming, but if it’s accompanied by a change in behavior, like excessive aggression or loss of interest in food, you should pay more attention.
Here’s what you can do if your leopard gecko becomes pale.
- Wait for a few days. The shedding process usually takes several days to begin and complete.
During this period, it’s best to wait and make sure that your leopard gecko is adequately fed to help it with the shedding process.
- Shedding the skin can be a stressful time for your leopard gecko, so it might go into hiding. It’s recommended just to let your gecko be because it’ll be extremely stressed and might even become a little bit aggressive.
- Minimize handling your gecko while it’s about to shed its skin. Even though your leopard gecko doesn’t mind being carried during the shedding process, it prefers to be left alone.
- Continue to care for your leopard gecko as usual without touching it. During this period, the gecko can be extremely sensitive to touch, and it might attack you if you get too close.
If you have to touch your leopard gecko, be very gentle. Make sure that you only touch it if it’s absolutely necessary.
- Keep the enclosure damp and dark during the shedding process. Avoid putting the enclosure in direct sunlight and turn off any UV lamps.
These can further dry your gecko’s skin and make it even more irritated.
- Mist the enclosure with cool, not cold, water as the extra moisture will make your leopard gecko feel more comfortable throughout this transition.
- Make sure that there’s a special spot where your leopard gecko can isolate itself. Geckos prefer to hide until they’ve shed all their skin.
If there’s no space to hide in the enclosure, you might consider moving your leopard gecko into a smaller one.
- Provide your leopard gecko with enough food, even if it doesn’t eat it. The leopard gecko is likely to lose its appetite during the shedding process, but it soon recovers and starts eating normally.
- After shedding the skin, don’t remove it from the enclosure. The leopard gecko will feed on its skin after shedding it because it’s packed with healthy nutrients, so you should leave it in the enclosure.
- Give your leopard gecko time while it’s shedding its skin. In most cases, the process can take up to 24 hours, or even a little bit more.
- Removing the skin too soon is wrong, but if your gecko is unable to shed all its skin after 24 hours, you might want to help it out by gently pulling the old skin away.
- Pay attention to the skin around the toes. Even if your gecko can shed its old skin on its own, getting rid of the tight skin around the toes can be a little challenging.
If the gecko seems like it’s struggling with freeing its toes, you need to help it push the old skin away as it can restrict the blood circulation.
- Allow the leopard gecko to sit in a bowl of warm water for about 30 minutes if it’s taking more than one day to shed all the old skin. After that, use a pair of tweezers to gently remove the excess skin.
- Make sure that there are some rough objects inside the enclosure to help your leopard gecko shed its skin. It will rub itself against branches, stones, and rocks to reveal a new layer of skin.
- If you feel that the skin is stuck and you can’t help the gecko remove it, it’s a good idea to visit the vet.
A leopard gecko turns pale as it’s about to shed its old skin to reveal new skin that suits its growing body.
In some cases, the gecko will turn pale but won’t shed its skin. This can be caused by a change in its diet or its health condition.