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!
Table of Contents
Why Do Snakes Shed?
There are two main reasons why snakes shed their skin.
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.
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.
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.
The Shed Cycle
Known as ecdysis, snakes’ shedding cycle is a regular but stressful part of life.
Pre-shedding refers to anything during this cycle before the snake physically molts.
A snake’s behavior may change two weeks before it sheds.
Your snake may hide more often than usual and get defensive.
It will probably lose its appetite and not want to eat.
It may also soak itself in water.
A snake also experiences physical changes before it sheds.
First, its skin will become dull, and its belly will turn pink.
After a few days of showing these initial symptoms, a snake’s skin will begin to change color and get darker.
As the fluid builds up between its old and new eye caps, its eyes will become cloudy.
Depending on the species, a snake’s old skin may keep getting hazier as time goes on.
The snake’s cloudy eyes will dramatically reduce its vision, which is one of the main reasons it frequently hides and loses its appetite.
If you want to learn more, read our post about snakes with cloudy eyes.
The actual skin shedding is the quickest part of the whole cycle.
If you’re not paying attention, you may very well miss it!
Shortly before a snake sheds, its eyes will clear up and regain much of its vision.
When a snake is ready to molt, it will scrape its face against surfaces to tear a hole.
It will pull back the old skin by slithering through tight spaces and continuing to rub against coarse materials, eventually peeling off the entire skin inside-out in one, long piece.
#3 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
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 while it’s 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.
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!