Why Is My Leopard Gecko Turning White And Looking Pale? (Explained By Vet Tech)

Why Is My Leopard Gecko Turning White And Looking Pale

Leopard geckos are popular pet reptiles that are well-loved by their owners. These little fellas do well in captivity, are easy to care for, and are enjoyable to watch throughout the day.

Leopard geckos are not only known for their good temperaments but also for their beautiful skin! Leopard geckos are brightly colored lizards with special patterns all over their bodies. Sometimes, you might notice your gecko looks pale. So it’s normal to wonder;

Why is my leopard gecko turning white?

Leopard geckos usually turn white right before they’re about to shed.  This is a normal cyclical process that should clear up in a few days and reveal your pet’s shiny new skin.  If your gecko turns white and stays pale, it could mean that there are problems with its diet, environment, or health. 

For the most part, a white gecko isn’t a cause for concern and is a normal part of their shedding cycle. Let’s talk about what leopard geckos look like most of the time, so you have a baseline to compare them to.

What Color Are Leopard Geckos Usually?

A standard leopard gecko is usually a bright yellow color on top with a white or pale belly. Leopard geckos have black or brown spots all over their bodies and tail, which is where they get their names from. These spots can be placed differently on individual geckos and can help you tell your pets apart.

Sometimes, geckos can have slightly different color morphs. In the wild, morphs aren’t common, but in captivity, they’re desired and sought after.

Some leopard gecko morphs cause striping along the back or unusual body colors. Morphs can also affect how many spots are on an individual gecko ranging from hundreds of spots to less than 10! Many morphs stem from the albino genetic trait.

Are There Albino Leopard Geckos?

In captivity, there are plenty of albino morphs. In the wild, albinism isn’t a good trait to have. Albino animals are usually easier for predators and prey to see. They can’t withstand the rays of the sun and have trouble thermoregulation. Sometimes their vision or other senses might also be impaired.

However, reptile owners love albino morphs and will pay extra for a leopard gecko that looks a little bit different. Albino morphs can have vastly different coloration but are almost always pale.

If you get a pet leopard gecko that is a known albino morph, expect them to be pale for their entire lives.

Why Is My Leopard Gecko Pale?

Unless you have a unique leopard gecko morph, your gecko shouldn’t be pale for more than a few days at a time.

Generally, if your leopard gecko turns pale, it’s a sign they are about to shed.  Shedding in reptiles is a normal process that they all go through.  Although shedding varies amongst species, shedding is the process of a reptile shedding an old layer of skin to reveal a new layer.

They usually start to look dusty, pale, or white and might become less active. During the shedding period, reptiles’ eyes will also turn a milky white because of the fluid that builds up between the old eye covering layer and the new layer.

What Is A Normal Shedding Cycle For A Gecko?

Leopard geckos will turn white just before they’re about to shed their skin. But, leopard geckos have some interesting traits that make their shed a bit different from other reptiles.

Juvenile leopard geckos might shed as often as once a week while they’re growing. Older geckos will usually shed once a month to once every other month.

The shedding process can be tiresome and irritating for your pet and usually take about 1 – 3 days in total. Expect a change in appetite around shedding time. You might notice that they are hiding more than usual and also abstain from food for a few days before the shed and then eat more after the shed.

Another strange thing that leopard geckos do is eat their shed skin. That’s right, the white crispy old layer of skin becomes an easy snack for these lizards. Not only does this help to replace some of the calories your gecko may have lost to shedding, but it would also help to cover their tracks in the wild as old skin can be a giveaway to predators.

How Can You Help Your Gecko Shed Easily?

Sometimes, your gecko might get stuck in its shed. This isn’t a good sign but it’s something that can be an easy fix.

Many of the reasons that your gecko isn’t shedding have to do with poor husbandry. That means they’re not getting the proper amount of food, water, or humidity.  For an extensive list of reasons why your gecko isn’t shedding, read our article about it here.

If your gecko seems like they have pieces of shed stuck to them, you can try to gently rub that extra skin off with a damp q tip.  Be gentle and move slowly so you don’t hurt your gecko.

You can also try giving your gecko a dish or warm water to act as a soak for their old skin. If you do decide to soak your pet, make sure the water is very shallow, as geckos aren’t good swimmers.

Hopefully, your gecko will be back to their normal vibrant color in no time!

What Else Could Make Your Gecko Look Pale?

If your gecko is turning white, they’re probably about to shed.  As we discussed above, shedding is normal and it’s no cause for alarm if you have a pale gecko for a few days.

However, if you notice your gecko turning white and staying white, there might be something else going on. We’ll talk about what other factors might cause your gecko to become pale now.

Reason 1: They Could Be Dehydrated

One of the things that might cause your gecko to turn white is dehydration.

Along with sunken eyes and loss of skin turgor, dull skin is one of the biggest signs of dehydration in reptiles. Leopard geckos that are dehydrated might appear dusty and just look dry overall.

Proper hydration is incredibly important in keeping your leopard gecko in tip-top shape  There are two things you’ll want to focus on in order to keep your gecko hydrated: humidity and water.

Balancing humidity is important for all pet reptiles. Reptiles come from all over the world and should be kept in an environment similar to their natural ones.  Leopard geckos come from dry desert climates but still need the right relative humidity to function.

Your leopard gecko’s tank should be anywhere from 30% – 40% in relative humidity.  You can ensure that the humidity stays at this level by using a hygrometer inside of your gecko’s enclosure.

If your gecko’s tank is too dry, it’ll likely become dehydrated. During shedding, your gecko might require even higher humidity. You can offer your gecko a shedding box that is dark and enclosed. This box will be more humid naturally and your pet might choose to go in there everything their skin turns white.

The other way to prevent dehydration in your pet gecko is to provide them with fresh clean water at all times. You can do this by putting a small shallow water dish in your gecko’s tank. Even if they don’t drink the water, make sure to refresh it at least every other day.

Hopefully, by keeping your leopard gecko well hydrated, you won’t see any skin dullness other than during the shed.

Reason 2: They Might Be Too Hot

If a leopard gecko is too hot, it’ll dry out and become dehydrated. Obviously, a dehydrated leopard gecko is a pale gecko and isn’t necessarily in the best health.  Luckily, it should be pretty easy to keep your gecko from getting too hot.

As we mentioned above, leopard geckos are natural desert dwellers, and they like it hot. But, if their enclosure is too hot, they won’t be able to escape the heat and will quickly take on that dusty appearance.

Your gecko’s enclosure should have a nice temperature gradient from about 77F – 90F. Ideally, one side of the enclosure is cooler while the other side has a basking area. This ensures that your gecko has room to move if they need to cool down or heat up. It should never get much hotter than 90F in your gecko’s enclosure.

If you find that it’s getting too hot in your pet’s enclosure, try switching up your heating method. Maybe you should be using a ceramic heat lamp instead of a heating pad, or vice versa.

The most important thing is to always monitor the temperature in your pet’s space. Thermometers are easy to buy for reptiles and should be checked regularly.

Being too hot is a fast track to a dehydrated leopard gecko that turns white and pale.

Reason 3: Their Diet Might Be Bad

The third cause of a pale leopard gecko might be a bad diet.

Diet is super important for the health and wellness of leopard geckos. Leopard geckos are natural insectivores and rely on the nutrients found in bugs to keep them healthy.

Not only is the frequency and amount of bugs you feed your leopard gecko important but so is the type of bugs you feed your gecko.

Bugs like mealworms, roaches, and crickets are great diet choices for leopard geckos. These bugs are usually the right size and harness for your little lizard to digest.

However, bugs like wax worms aren’t nutrient dense and might cause your gecko to look overweight and pale.  It’s important to gut load your bugs before feeding them out to your gecko.

24 hours before feeding time, you should give some food to the nugs you bought for your lizards. You can buy preformulated bug foods that are packed with vitamins and minerals.  As the bugs eat this food, they become packed with good things for your pet.

If you don’t gut load your bugs before feeding your gecko, they might not be adequate nutrition. Over time your gecko may become pale and weak.

Besides the quality of bugs, the amount and frequency of bugs are important for your gecko’s diet. The amount and frequency can usually be figured out by looking at your gecko’s size and weight.

Check out our chart below to see if you’re feeding your gecko the right amount of bugs.

leopard gecko feeding chart

Reason 4: They Could Be Sick Or Stressed

The last thing that might explain why your gecko is turning white is an illness or some other stress to their body.

Just like people, reptiles can become pale and dehydrated when they’re not feeling well.  Like other reptiles, geckos are prone to many common illnesses that are usually a side effect of poor husbandry.

Leopard geckos can contract metabolic bone disease (MBD) from a lack of calcium and vitamin D in their diets.  Metabolic bone disease not only causes a bit of discoloration in a gecko but also causes its bones to become soft and spongy.  This eventually leads to multiple fractures and a poor quality of life.

Illnesses like respiratory infections can also cause dullness in the color of a reptile’s skin among other more serious issues. Parasites may dehydrate your gecko and also cause a paling of the skin.

Obviously, all of these illnesses or imbalances can cause your gecko to become stressed and unhealthy overall.

If you do think your pet has contracted one of these ailments, it’s a great idea to take them to a veterinarian as home remedies won’t solve these issues.

Final Thoughts

Though some leopard geckos are sought after for their special pale morphs, most geckos aren’t naturally white. As with many other reptile species, your pet gecko turns white, it’s almost always a sign that they’re about to shed!

However, if your gecko turns white and stays white, you’ll want to make sure they’re not too hot, dehydrated, or sick and that its diet is on point.

Hopefully, we’ve helped you understand why your pet gecko becomes pale every few weeks and you can enjoy watching the shedding process from this point onwards!