Under the Skin of Snakes

One of the many fascinating facts about snakes is that they shed their skin on a regular basis. They are not the only creatures to do this but they are unique in that their skin comes off in one piece. This natural phenomenon is also a good indicator as to your snake’s health, and here our exotics enthusiast, vet Stephanie Greenwood tells you what to look out for.

Also known as ecdysis, shedding of the skin happens throughout a snake’s life, although the frequency will decrease the older it gets. Young snakes may shed their skin every two weeks, while older snakes may get down to twice a year.

An incomplete shed (dysecdysis) may be indicative of poor health, nutrition, or improper lighting, temperature or humidity, so if you’re in any doubt do call 01562 883621.

Signs of an upcoming shed

Changes in behaviour can include:

  • decreased appetite or activity
  • hiding
  • nervous or defensive behaviour

Physical changes can include:

  • skin becoming dull
  • eyes turning cloudy or bluish

A snake’s vision will not be so good in this period and it may become unpredictable and aggressive. Do not handle your snake during its shed.

Incomplete shedding

The first thing to do if your snake doesn’t fully complete its shed is to check with our vet Stephanie Greenwood that’s it’s not due to an underlying medical cause. Otherwise, you can normally help prevent it from happening again by monitoring the humidity and providing a shedding box lined with damp moss or paper towels. Do not try to peel away skin yourself.

Remember, a healthily-shed skin is the sign of a healthy snake, but to be on the safe side, we’re always here to give your exotic pet a thorough check-up.

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