How Long Does It Take For Snakes To Shed?

Have you noticed your snake behaving differently well before it sheds its skin?

Should you help your snake shed if it takes too long?

First, snake owners need to understand the entire shed cycle. 

The cycle is more than just the actual molting of old skin. 

It happens consistently throughout a snake’s life, and it takes time. 

So, from start to finish: 

How long does it take for snakes to shed?

Snakes take one to two weeks to shed, going through different behavioral and physical changes leading to molting.

Read on for more details on this fascinating process!

how long does it take for snakes to shed

Why Do Snakes Shed?

There are two main reasons why snakes shed their skin.

Growing

Snakeskin doesn’t expand as the snake grows.

A snake must grow new skin to fit its growing body, shedding the old skin, which no longer fits.

Cleaning

After a while, a snake becomes dirty because of all its slithering around on the ground. 

Snakes are known for collecting and carrying parasites and salmonella.

When a snake sheds, it’s practicing good hygiene! 

The old skin carries any surface bacteria previously living on the snake. 

The new skin is shiny and clean.

How Often Do Snakes Shed?

Depending on the species and age of the animal, a snake will shed anywhere from four to 12 times each year.

The fastest a snake will typically shed is once a month. 

This is relatively common for fast-growing juvenile snakes.

Here’s a quick list of shedding frequency for various species:

  • Corn snakes: once every three months
  • Ball pythons: once in 4-6 weeks
  • Boa constrictors: four to five times a year
  • Rattlesnakes: three to four times a year

How Long Does It Take For Snakes To Shed?

Typically, the entire shedding cycle takes between one and two weeks. 

This may vary depending on the snake’s species and age. 

Environmental factors also affect how quickly a snake sheds.

Stages of Snake Shedding

The snake shedding process is called ecdysis. It’s a stressful process for snakes and their parents both.

If you’re a new ball python (or any other snake) parent, you might get worried looking at your pet reptile going through the shedding process.

But if you provide your snake with the right conditions, it’ll pull through!

The shedding process has four stages.

Let’s look at them below:

Stage #1 Pink Belly and Dull Skin

This is where the shedding process begins. It differs from snake to snake. Some snakes will exhibit a slightly pink belly and lose the sheen on their scales.

You might never see a pink hue on the belly if you have a dark-colored ball python. The more noticeable change during the ball python shedding process is their scales’ dull, almost foggy appearance.

Ball pythons also become pretty shy and prefer spending time in their hide boxes.

Stage #2 Blue Phase

The next, and the more prominent, stage is when your snake’s eyes become blueish-grey. This is due to the fluid buildup between the old and new skin layers.

The milky blue color disrupts the snake’s vision. They become stressed and brutally defensive.

Therefore, it’s best to maintain your distance. Don’t feed your pet snake or try to handle it.

Stage #3 Clearing Up

During the third stage of shedding, your snake’s skin and eyes will become clear again. Your slithery friend is preparing to shed.

A first-time owner might not be able to recognize if their pet is undergoing the shedding process. It’s because they don’t look any different than their usual self – just a tad bit darker.

Stage #4 Losing the Skin

The final stage of the process is when your snake starts to shed their skin. It’s a quick process. If you’re not paying attention, you may very well miss it!

When a snake is ready to molt, it will scrape its face against surfaces to tear a hole. Then, they will rub against the rough surfaces in their enclosure to lose the skin. These include branches, rocks, and water bowls.

This motion helps remove the old skin, revealing a shiny new one underneath. Sometimes, you might find your snake’s shed in one full piece – almost like a duplicate of them!

snake shedding skin

If you keep a close eye, you can identify any shedding problems your snake might face.

After Shedding

After your snake sheds, it will return to being a happy camper. 

Its new, clean, and shiny skin will display incredibly vibrant patterns and colors!

If there were any surface scars or skin scrapes on your snake, they might disappear after a shed or two. 

However, deeper scars will probably remain throughout a snake’s life.

Snakes are often quite tired after they shed. 

They’ll frequently hide out and rest up until they gain their strength back.

Since they were just under a great deal of stress and exerted a ton of effort, snakes also tend to poop more, drink more and are hungry after shedding.

If you’re interested in learning more about your pet’s poop, which is a huge indicator of health, read our post on how often snakes poop as an excellent starting point.

Timeline of a Shed Cycle

Here is an example timeline for a possible shed cycle.

Three to seven days-Skin changes color and gets hazy
-Eyes get cloudy
-Snake experiences reduced vision or blindness
Seven to 10 days-Skin may get even darker
-The snake is ready to shed
10 to 14 days-Eyes clear up, and vision returns
-Snake sheds its skin
14 to 16 days-Snake returns to normal by pooping, drinking, and resting
-Snake eats again

Snake Behavioral Changes Before and During Shedding

Snakes also start acting up when it’s time for them to molt.

They become more agitated and, as we mentioned earlier, extremely defensive. It is because they feel vulnerable and exposed during this stage.

Your snake may also refuse to eat or stay inside their hide box for longer periods. It is normal behavior and nothing to be worried about.

Additionally, shedding can affect a snake’s vision and sense of smell, making them more hesitant to move around or explore their surroundings.

Snakes also prefer soaking in water during shedding, as it can help loosen the old skin and speed up the process.

How Can You Help Your Snake Shed?

Your snake will become moody, cranky, and defensive during its shedding cycle. 

It’s best to respect this desire for alone time.

Avoid handling and feeding your snake or peeling back its skin. 

Premature molting could expose underdeveloped skin underneath, exposing your snake to infections or causing other problems.

There are ways for you to assist your snake if it’s having trouble shedding.

soaking snake for easier shedding
  • Place clean accessories in the cage. These materials, such as logs, should have coarse surfaces but shouldn’t have sharp edges, which might hurt the snake.
  • Provide a shallow basin of water so your snake can soak. The water needs to be shallow because snakes can drown if it’s too deep.
  • Add a shedding box, a humid, and dark place for your snake to hide.
  • Examine the old skin to ensure a healthy shed. Healthy shedding happens when the skin comes off in one piece, including eye caps.
  • If your snake has any remaining skin around its eyes or nose, use damp paper towels to scrub it away. Don’t apply too much pressure, though.

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the Difference Between a Good Shed and a Bad Shed?

A good shed is when the skin comes off in one piece and includes eye caps. A bad shed is when the skin doesn’t come off completely, leaving patches behind.

What Does Incomplete Shedding Tell Me About My Snake’s Health?

Incomplete shedding hints toward a health issue. It could be an infectious disease, parasite infestation, nutrient deficiency, or internal abscesses. You need to talk to your vet.

What Should I Feed My Shedding Snake?

Snakes usually lose their appetite during the shedding process. However, if you feel your snake wants to eat, offer smaller meals than you normally would. You don’t want your snake to spend the gained energy digesting instead of shedding.

Conclusion

Now you know how long it takes for snakes to shed and what to expect. 

While a snake can molt its skin in just a day or two, the entire shedding cycle takes closer to two weeks.

A snake becomes vulnerable during this time because of reduced vision and mood changes. 

Remember, shedding is a healthy and natural part of life for snakes.

As a snake owner, it’s important to respect your pet’s personal space. 

Create an environment conducive to an easy and healthy shedding process. 

Your snake will thank you for it!

Did you find the information in this article helpful?

At Oddly Cute Pets, we want our fellow reptile lovers to have all the necessary knowledge and resources to care for their pets.

If you want to learn more about snake care, check out our other articles on our website.

Thank you for reading, and happy shedding to your snake!

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