Do Leopard Geckos Need Baths?


As responsible pet owners, keeping our animals clean and healthy is important.  What do leopard geckos need to keep clean?

Leopard geckos do not need regular baths.  They originally come from dry arid regions where pools of water are uncommon. Leopard geckos cannot swim.  Leopard geckos are not built for the water and a typically don’t like being submerged.

That said, there are a few situations where giving your leopard gecko a bath can be helpful and, in some cases, life saving.  Let’s take a look at when your gecko may need a good soak.

Do Leopard Geckos Need Baths

Removing tight or leftover skin from shedding

Like many reptiles, leopard geckos shed their skin as they grow.  Occasionally some bits of skin may be left behind.  For leopard geckos, this usually happens around their toes and can be dangerous if not addressed.  Left untouched, these bits of shed can constrict the delicate toes and cut off blood flow, causing toes to wither and drop off. 

If you see a leopard gecko in a pet store missing toes, this is likely how they went missing.  A soak in warm water can help soften the old skin so that leftover shed may fall off.

We’ll talk about bathing leopard geckos below. For leftover shedding – once in the bath, try gently rubbing the stuck skin and see if the water softens it enough to come off.  If the toes are still restricted after a few baths, consider taking your gecko to a vet that specializes in reptiles or exotics.

Impaction

If your leopard gecko ingests something that obstructs it’s digestive system, it can become impacted.  Usually this would happen with loose substrate or eating something too large to properly digest. 

Soaking in warm water while massaging the gecko’s belly will sometimes dislodge the blockage and allow your leopard gecko to poop.  Gently rub from chest to the base of the tail while your gecko is in the water.

A warm bath daily over the course of several days will hopefully clear the blockage.  If your leopard gecko is still having problems, please consult with a qualified vet.

Unclogging femoral pores

During breeding season, male leopard geckos will secrete a waxy substance containing pheromones from their femoral pores (the “V” shaped slits at the base of their tail.)  They can usually clean themselves up by rubbing against bark, rocks, or something else coarse.  Should these pores become clogged, the area may become red and infected.  This is one of the rare times your gecko may need a bath.

A warm soak should loosen the waxy buildup enough that you can dislodge it with a gentle rub from a Q-Tip or cotton swab. Again, gentle is key; your gecko may be uncomfortable in the water and will probably not like its sore nether regions prodded.

If you’re still seeing the area is red and swollen, you may want a qualified vet to examine your lizard.

How to give a leopard gecko a bath

Though leopard geckos do not need regular bathing, we’ve covered a few times when a bath can be beneficial. So, what do you need to do to give your gecko a bath?

  • Soak your leopard gecko in warm shallow water for 10 to 15 minutes.  A small tub or tupperware container should do the job.
  • The water temperature should be around 95-90 degrees.  Too cool and your gecko’s temperature will drop and the bath may not help at all.  Too warm and, well, no one like to be scaled by hot water.
  • Keep an eye on the water temperature.  If it gets too cool, either end the bath or swap it our for warmer water.
  • Keep the water shallow.  The gecko’s head should be above the water at all times.  Keep in mind that leopard geckos cannot swim.  They also don’t have a membrane over their ears, so if their head  goes under or the water level gets up to their ear, water may get inside.
  • Stay with the leopard gecko the entire time.  It’s best to hold and support it in the water.
  • When bath time is over, pat your leopard gecko dry with a paper towel.

hevanmiller

H. Evan Miller is the founder of the Leopard Gecko Habitat. Like many young boys, he developed an early fascination with dinosaurs, and by extension, reptiles. He’s been keeping reptiles as pets since he was a kid (we won’t count the decades) and enjoys sharing his enthusiasm, experience, and knowledge on the topic. You can read more about his ongoing adventures with science, technology, and a couple of curious kids over at https://STEMtropolis.com.

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