Do you wonder if you should be worried about your snake’s shed?
Have you noticed your snake’s skin dulling and starting to peel?
Shedding is something most reptiles do, and some problems may occur.
Instead of panicking, you need to answer the question:
How often do snakes shed?
Most snakes shed anywhere from twice a year to four times a year. Younger snakes will shed much more often to account for quicker changes in size.
If you want to learn more about snakes shedding their skin, this article is for you.
How Many Times A Year Do Snakes Shed Their Skin?
The average number of sheds per year depends on the exact snake species, but it’s usually between two to four times per year.
Younger snakes will shed more often, sometimes every few weeks, as they’re growing much more quickly and must accommodate changes more regularly.
The shed frequency depends specifically on the size, age, and snake species.
However, this table may give you a general idea.
|Age of Snake||Frequency of the Shed|
|Newborn||Once per week|
|1 – 6 months||Once every 2-4 weeks|
|7-18 months||Once every 1-3 months|
|Fully Grown+||Every 3-6 months|
Why Do Snakes Shed?
While it may not be as conspicuous in others, all animals shed their skins.
Even humans gradually replace their skin layers, though this is done over a more extended period.
On the other hand, snakes shed their entire layer of skin in one setting.
This process is called ecdysis.
Snake shedding occurs for a couple of different reasons.
First, the shed enables the snake to accommodate its growing body size.
As a snake enlarges, it generates a new layer of skin.
Once the layer is fully developed, the snake will get rid of the old one.
Another reason is shedding has health benefits.
Snakeskin is home to several harmful parasites which accumulate over time.
Shedding allows them to discard those parasites and start fresh.
How Do Snakes Shed Their Skin?
First, a snake’s skin will take on a hazier, bluer appearance.
Skin dulling is one of the initial signs of shedding.
You may notice your snake’s belly has taken on a pinkish hue.
You will also see the eyes become opaque as the skin surrounding them begins to shed, thereby hindering vision.
Instead of eyelids, snakes have eye caps.
This thin layer of skin is included in the shedding process, and it needs to occur properly so the snake does not become blind.
Once a few days have passed to allow the shedding to progress, snakes will rub their bodies against something abrasive to create the initial tear.
The rubbing allows for the rest of the shed to follow.
This will usually occur in its mouth or nose area, and they’ll achieve this by rubbing against a rough object like rocks and logs.
It will continue slithering out of its skin by crawling through tighter spaces and utilizing traction on the ground.
Sometimes, you’ll notice your snake taking an extra soak in the water bowl, which will help loosen the skin for easier shedding.
During this shedding period, snakes will have little to no appetite, so don’t be overly concerned if your snake is refusing feedings during this time.
Especially while its eyes are clouded over, it may act a bit more defensive than usual, as shedding is a stressful process.
How Can I Help My Snake Shed Properly?
Like mentioned previously, shedding is a stressful process for snakes to endure.
As a pet owner, you should do several things to make the entire process easier for your pet.
First, make sure your enclosure has an adequate number of accessories your snake can use to create the initial tear and facilitate removal.
For this, use items like rocks, driftwood, and plants.
While it’s ok for these objects to have a roughened texture, check the edges to make sure there’s nothing sharp, potentially injuring your snake.
Next, ensure your snake’s enclosure is within the acceptable humidity range.
The water droplets in the air also assist with your snake’s ability to shed, which is why you’ll sometimes see them soak in the water bowl.
If your snake has difficulty shedding or you notice pieces are coming off separately rather than together, you may need to check your humidity settings.
An alternative solution is to create a moist shedding box.
Take any box, like a shoebox, and poke several holes in it for ventilation.
Create an opening so your snake can access the box, and tuck in some moistened paper towels.
This will provide a humid area for your snake to hide and facilitate shedding.
During the time right before and during shedding, your snake’s new skin is delicate and fragile.
Avoid handling your snake to prevent accidentally tearing your snake’s skin.
This could lead to health issues in your pet, like infections.
You may offer your pet food, but chances are your snake will not be interested in eating.
Instead, it would direct its energy towards the shedding process rather than towards digestive processes.
If your snake does show interest in eating, you should feed it smaller meals than usual so it can still save some energy for healing.
Lastly, after the shed has come off, inspect it.
Check your snake to ensure all pieces of the shed have come off.
You especially want to check its eyes to make sure the eye caps have come off, as your snake will be virtually blind if those get stuck in place.
If you notice your snake’s eye caps remain, do not remove them without doing proper research first.
Damage can quickly be done to their eyes during this delicate stage if you mishandle them.
Review resources online to educate yourself before attempting it, or better yet, take your snake to the vet to get it professionally done.
- Aids in removing dry sheds from snakes and lizards
- Conditions your reptile's skin and provides a visible sheen
- Helps keep the skin moist and pliable
Now you understand how often snakes shed, so you’re well on your way to ensuring a safe and healthy process for your pet.
The entire process of snake shedding is fascinating.
Not many animals shed the entirety of their skin at once, making it an important concept to understand as a snake owner.