Reptiles & Amphibians Pet Snakes
Shedding in Snakes
Lianne McLeod, DVM
Lianne McLeod, DVM
Lianne McLeod, DVM, is a small animal and exotic pet expert with over a decade of experience writing about veterinarian care. After caring for animals in her veterinarian practice, Lianne went on to study biology and research water quality and chronic disease at theUniversity of Saskatchewan.
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Updated on 05/19/20
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Snakes naturally shed their skins on a regular basis, and a healthy shed is important to their general well-being. Although it's perfectly natural, shedding is stressful for your snake. The upside is that you can ease some of the stress by learning the signs that your pet is about to shed and taking steps to ensure that the process goes as smoothly as possible.
Why Do Snakes Shed?
Snakes constantly grow new skin cells and must shed the old ones. While humans continually shed skin cells in small quantities, snakes do it in a continuous sheet. The process is called ecdysis, which simply means molting or shedding an outer layer.
The interval between sheds depends on several factors, including the age of the snake as well as its growth rate and environment. Young snakes that are growing rapidly shed frequentlyevery few weekswhile adult snakes shed less often, sometimes only a few times a year or less.
Signs That Your Snake Is About to Shed
If you observe your snake carefully, you'll notice a few signs that indicate it will soon shed. These are completely normal and are nothing for you to be concerned about:
How to Prevent Shedding Problems
To help relieve some of the stress your snake is experiencing, there are a number of things you can do during the shedding process:
Incomplete or Abnormal Shedding
Incomplete shedding is also called dysecdysis. If your snake doesn't completely shed its skin, it may have a habitat or health problem:
If you need to help your snake shed, be sure you're familiar with safe skin and eye cap removal methods or visit your exotics vet to have it done. In any case, it's best to explore the reason for any shedding problems so you're better prepared for the next shed and your snake stays healthy in the meantime.
If you suspect your pet is sick, call your vet immediately. For health-related questions, always consult your veterinarian, as they have examined your pet, know the pet's health history, and can make the best recommendations for your pet.
The Spruce Pets uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.