Why Do Snakes Shed Their Skin

Snake anatomy -

Why Do Snakes Shed Their Skin

The snake species has always been very surprising and often compared to aliens; they are endowed with extraordinary powers 👽. They can change their skin regularly. This process is essential for general health. Usually, the owners of reptiles seem stressed when it begins to mute. Several signs are showing that the snake's skin is ready to shed. Therefore, it is essential as a snake owner to understand and know how to react to this natural phenomenon. This is why we have decided to create this article. 

snake shedding

1. What's molting?

For reptiles, molting is a natural phenomenon. It's most visible in Ophidians, 🐍 such as snakes. It's often referred to as a skin change in snakes. It's is not entirely true. 

The skin of the reptile is made up of 2 layers, as in mammals: the epidermis and the dermis. The molt occurs in the epidermis in the snake. 

Germ cells replace the keratinized cells that make up the outer layer of the skin, called the horn. Between the old and new horn circulates a liquid, the lymph, which will gradually separate the 2 "skins" from each other. It's why, visually, we have the impression of seeing a snake losing its skin. In reality, it renews its epidermis.

snake shedding

2. So why do snakes shed their skin?

There's nothing weird about this process. All creatures shed their skin during their life. Even humans shed their skin almost every day without realizing it. It's is what will be particular from one animal to another. some will shed their skin naturally without knowing it, and others will have to go through several stages before it can be detached from their body.  

Snakes are continually creating new layers of skin cells. As a result, they have to get rid of their old ones. This process is called ecdysis. This simply means the shedding or separation of an outer layer. 

serpent shedding his skin

Several factors will influence the interval between the snake's shedding. The age and growth speed. A snake that proliferates will mutate weekly. The environment also changes the frequency of shedding.

Unlike us, the skin of reptiles, such as snakes and lizards, is not elastic. Composed of scales welded together, their skin needs to renew itself to allow the body to grow. Indeed, during the growth process, which is lifelong for a reptile, it becomes too small for the animal's body and must, therefore, be changed regularly.

Imagine, at the age of 30, wearing the same clothes you wore when you were born! Unimaginable, isn't it? 😅

When the snake is young and growing, molts are more regular than when it gets older. A young snake will molt about once a month while an adult snake will only molt 3 to 4 times a year. 

python shedding skin

3. Signs that your snake is about to molt...

When it begins to molt, your snake will change its behavior: 🤪

  • Your snake will refuse to eat. However, this rejection may also hide other diseases. Care should be taken to ensure that it is not a symptom of another pathology. 🤒
  • Your serpent may be hiding more than usual. 
  • Your snake will change color. It tends to become milkier white. It's the first visible sign. The eyes have a modified hue, and during this opaque phase, your snake is almost blind. It is not recommended to handle it because he is less receptive.
  • The Ecdysis liquid will allow the regeneration of the epidermis and the separation of the old from the new. 
  • Before any skin separation, your snake will regain its original eyes and skin.
  • He's also going to try to soak himself in the water...
  • Your snake will look for a rough surface in its Terrarium so that it can remove its skin. He'll rub it until he has a new coat. It can then be handled again without worry.

👉 If you've already picked up all these signals, then you must be an expert with snakes! That's why we have created a snake jewelry collection for the lovers of serpents! 

snake blind eye during molt

4. How long does a snake shedding take?

As a general rule, your snake will shed its skin between 7 and 14 days. Depending on the species, it will take more or less time. Removing the skin is a reasonably quick act in itself. However, there is a whole preparation for molting. This preparation is visible in the behavior of the reptile. Also, the duration of a molt depends on other factors such as age, nutritional status of the animal, body and Terrarium temperature, and humidity. In the first few months of its life, a young snake can molt up to once a month.

serpent shedding process

5. What to do in case of a lousy molt?

Sometimes the shedding of your snake doesn't happen as planned. There can be several causes:

  • The first reason is technical. To molt, your snake must have optimal conditions. Poor grazing conditions. Your snake's Terrarium has too much or too little humidity. Its temperature is not ideal, or it doesn't have enough water... All these elements can influence the molting process...
  • Your snake may have a skin infection. Parasites may also interfere with its molt. Burns caused by the heating of its Terrarium is also possible. In any case, this time, a veterinarian will have to be called to identify the cause. 

When faced with shedding retention, do not hesitate to hydrate your snake's skin. By moistening it, it will peel off more easily.

You can also give him a lukewarm bath in a plastic box in which you have put some warm water. You will leave the snake in it for about 30 minutes, keeping an eye on it to avoid drowning, or you can put a decoration (stone, bark) on it. This allows the snake to rest while in the water. If the molting remains have not gone away by themselves, wipe your snake with a cloth and try to remove everything.

⚠️If a scale near its cornea is not gone, moisten a cotton swab with warm water and gently apply it to the snake's eye to remove it.⚠️

snake shed molt

6. Snake molt is a reliable indication of good health

A snake's molt is a good indicator of its health and maintenance conditions.

The snake's exuviae must be in one piece and turned over. Pre-corneal scales (located on the eye) should be present on the exuviae. If these scales do not remove properly, it can eventually interfere with your snake's vision, become infected, and cause the loss of the eye.

snake shedding skin

7. To summarize

  • Molting is a natural phenomenon observed in reptiles and arthropods. They shed their old skin to make a new one.
  • A molt is essential for growth.
  • When the snake is young and growing, he will shed about once a month while an adult snake will molt only 3 to 4 times a year.
  • Several signs can warn you of a snake's coming shedding.
    (loss of appetite/white-eyes/change in behavior)
  • The molting period takes one to two weeks.
  • The shedding itself is very fast, taking only a few minutes or even hours.










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