Are you attempting to learn even more about your boa constrictor and their natural bodily processes?
Do you think your boa constrictor is getting ready to shed?
Shedding is a natural process your boa will go through several times per year, but as an owner, there are many things you need to keep in mind.
One question you might have, especially if you are new to owning a boa, is:
How long after a boa constrictor sheds can you handle it?
Handling during shed week should be minimal and only occur when necessary. Handle the boa just after their shed is complete, but you should be very gentle as the new skin is delicate. Before and during the shed is the critical time to avoid handling, but we also recommend delicate handling directly after.
Keep reading this article for what you need to know about your boa constrictor and shedding.
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How Long After A Boa Constrictor Sheds Can You Handle It?
As boa constrictors, along with every other snake on earth, grow, they shed their skin because their body has gotten bigger.
The new skin accommodates the growth, where the old skin could not.
Shedding is a natural process for your boa constrictor and knowing how to handle the animal during this time is very important for owners.
While handling before and during the shedding process should be restricted to emergencies only, handling after a shed is an option for you, and the snake right after a shed is complete.
In fact, you should handle the snake to look it over after the shed, looking for any stuck-on pieces of shedded skin.
You will need to be very careful and practice gentle handling as their new skin is more delicate, but you don’t need to avoid handling altogether.
Why Avoid Handling Just Before And During A Shed?
After a shed, handling is fine, but you need to be very hands-off just before and during the shedding process.
Right before your snake starts going into a shed, they will start hiding more often, their eyes will get cloudy, and their skin tone will turn a darker color.
They might also stop eating, a normal part of the shedding process.
We call this “being in the blue” or the “blue phase.”
During this process, the animal will feel more vulnerable because they develop the opaque layer over their eyes, making them appear cloudy.
This layer makes seeing very difficult for them, and if you make attempts to pick them up, they will get very stressed out.
They are unable to see what is happening or picking them up.
All of a sudden, they are being lifted, and it freaks them out.
If I were blind, I’d get stressed when being handled too.
During this time, your snake might also be more aggressive because they cannot see and might mistake you for a predator.
Once the boa constrictor has shed their old skin, their eyes will no longer have their cloudy color, and the animal has their vision back.
This allows you to start to handle them almost immediately after the shed is over.
All in all, it is just best to avoid handling your boa constrictor unless necessary when they start showing signs of going into a shed and during their shedding process.
How Often Does A Boa Constrictor Shed?
There are no hard and fast rules for how often boa constrictors shed their skin because many factors go into the shed’s frequency.
The most important thing to look at is the growth rate of the boa.
Growth rate is partially dependent on the animal’s age, but it is also affected by how much you, as an owner, are feeding your boa.
Young snakes shed more frequently than their adult counterparts because the growth rate for hatchlings and juveniles is much faster than a mature boa.
Hatchlings shed nine times a year, depending on their feedings.
As the boa grows, the longer the period between sheds will be.
On average, an adult boa constrictor is likely to shed four to five times per year.
This amount is in the normal range for a well-fed and cared for boa constrictor.
Why Did My Boa Have A Bad Shed?
The shedding process usually takes approximately five days, but sometimes little skin pieces may remain.
The skin does not come off in one piece.
Shedding problems usually mean there is a problem with humidity levels or hydration issues.
Sometimes a snake will have shed problems because of a severe mite infestation, so regular checks of your boa must keep this from happening.
Once you catch the mites, you will be able to treat the issue.
You absolutely should not ignore it when your boa has a shedding issue.
First, correct any environmental issues causing a bad shed and treat any parasitic infections, then remove any skin pieces still attached.
Use warm water and soft towels to help loosen the skin, but never make attempts to peel it off directly.
Putting your snake in a bath for a good soak will also help to loosen those pieces.
Check out our detailed guide on how to bathe a boa constrictor.
If the skin doesn’t come loose, contact your veterinarian.
They will not only help with the problem but look for any underlying issues causing an incomplete shed.
Now you know how long after a boa constrictor needs to shed before handling it.
Shedding is a natural process all snakes will go through multiple times each year of their life.
As an owner, it will be up to you to properly care for and handle your boa constrictor just before, during, and directly after they go through this process.
Don’t handle just before and during a shed, but once the animal sheds, it’s OK to go back to your regular handling routine; just do so gently.