Shedding in snakes: what are the do’s and don’ts?

Shedding in snakes: what are the do's and don'ts?

One of the most important basics of snake husbandry is to know how to handle problematic sheds. For those new to reptile care, the first thing to mention is that regular shedding of a snake’s skin is a completely normal and healthy process. Just like human skin continually re-generates, snakes shed their old skin to allow for new growth. The difference is that we shed our skin in miniscule amounts every day so it is barely noticeable. The snake on the other hand sheds its skin periodically so that the whole outer layer of its skin comes off in one piece. This scientific name for this process is called Ecdysis but it is colloquially referred to as shedding, sloughing or moulting.

Do

  • Learn the signs that indicate that your snake is about to shed. These are generally the same among all snake species.
  • Check the humidity levels with a hygrometer. Humidity is an important factor to the snake’s overall health and shedding success. Most cases of Dysecdysis can be managed by simply increasing the humidity. Most snakes require an environment of 50 to 70% humidity but always check the specific needs of your particular snake and adjust the humidity requirements accordingly.
  • Give your snake some space. Shedding can be uncomfortable for snakes and can make them feel anxious. Once you have noticed your snake starting to shed, you should minimise your amount of contact with them to only when it is absolutely necessary.

Don’t

  • Ignore the Signs. Indications that your snake is about to shed usually include a loss of appetite, lack of interaction, spending time in its hide or water bowl, milky coloured eyes and dull skin.
  • Ignore any Abnormalities. Most signs of illness will be visible on the snake’s skin. Scales are fundamental to reptiles’ every movement. So if you notice any skin problems check with your vet. Other skin problems in snakes include abscesses, blisters, bloating, parasites and mites.
  • Peel off remaining patches of skin off of your snake, especially around the eyes. Have your vet or a properly trained individual remove these to avoid any damage. Soaking your snake in lukewarm water can help your snake shed if it is struggling.
  • A healthy shed will depend on proper care and nutrition along with the correct environmental conditions. If your snake is not shedding properly, look at your snake’s environment and make the necessary changes. Healthy sheds lead to healthy snakes.

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