Skin shedding in snakes – everything you need to know from Vet Darren Partridge
July 14, 2023
At Molesey Veterinary Centre, our experienced team of vets and nurses have the knowledge to deal with exotic pets. To celebrate World Snake Day, our Vet Darren Partridge has pulled together information on the process of skin shedding in snakes – why they do it, how it benefits them and how you can assist the process.
To discuss your own snake, or if you have any concerns about skin shedding, contact our team.
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The science behind skin shedding in snakes
Snakes shed their skin to accommodate growth and to also remove parasites or damage affecting their skin’s outer layer. The shedding process, known as ecdysis, happens throughout a snake’s lifetime, with younger snakes shedding more frequently than older ones.
During shedding, the snake’s skin will separate from the underlying tissue. This will come away from their body as one piece, resembling a cast of your snake and the new outer layer of skin will often appear more vibrant in colour.
Signs of skin shedding to look for
Shedding will vary depending on your snake’s age, species and their environmental conditions. A general rule is to expect your snake to shed their skin every few months. As an owner, it is normal to be able to predict when shedding will happen based on your pet’s demeanour. If they stop eating, become less active and exhibit cloudy eyes, shedding is imminent. The reason their eyes become cloudy is due to a build-up of fluid in their body that then helps to loosen their outer layer of skin.
It’s important to know that snakes do not possess eyelids, however they do have a layer of clear scales that cover their eyes – known as spectacles.
Once your snake has completed shedding, you must inspect the shed skins for evidence that the spectacles have also been shed. If your snake has retained their spectacles, then contact our team at Molesey Veterinary Centre who can help to remove them. This must be done with extreme caution as inexperienced owners may remove the entire spectacle, rather than just the dead layer. This will result in corneal exposure and blindness.
How to help your snake
- Ensuring your snake has access to natural materials to rub against to help loosen their skin and maintaining the proper humidity levels in their enclosure both help the skin shedding process.
- Fresh drinking water and a diet that naturally supports healthy skin growth are also essential – our team can advise you on proper nutrition for your snake.
If you notice your snake has been unable to complete their skin shedding, or they seem to be shedding excessively – contact Molesey Veterinary Centre and our knowledgeable team of exotic vets can help to rule out any underlying health conditions which could be affecting ecdysis.
If you own a snake in Surrey and need an experienced team of vets to help with their care, contact Molesey Veterinary Centre today on 0208 979 1384.
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