SHEDDING (ECDYSIS) IN SNAKES
 
1. What is shedding?

·         Shedding is the replacement of old skin with new skin. It is a necessary part of growth and wound healing.

·         Younger reptiles will shed their skin more often (every few months) while older reptiles may only shed once or twice a year.

2. How do snakes shed their skin?

3. What is a normal shed?

·         For several days prior to a snake shedding, the skin may become dull in colour and develop a blue tinge as the top layer of skin starts to thicken. This is most noticeable on the spectacle covering the snake’s eye. During this time the snake may become more aggressive or seek shelter under a rock or log. The eyes will then clear and the skin is sloughed several days later.

·         The snake will probably choose not to eat during this period.

4. What is an abnormal shed (Dysecdysis)? Is it a problem?

·        Failure to completely shed the old skin in one piece.

·         Failure to shed normally may lead to skin infections under the unshed skin.

·         Abnormal shedding can be illness related such as external parasites, dermatitis or malnutrition.

5. What causes an abnormal shed?

·         Incorrect temperature for that snake species.

·         Inadequate humidity for that snake species.

·         No rock or log provided for the snake to rub against.

·         Inappropriate daylight length, 10-14 hours per day.

·         Illness or disease.

6. How to help assist an abnormal shed.

·        Humidity should be between 35-75% depending on the species.

·        Place a shallow dish of water in the enclosure near the heat source.

·        Spray the enclosure and reptile with water twice a day during the

            shedding process to help create humidity.

·        The preferred body temperature (PBT) of your reptile should also be maintained during this period.

·        If your reptile is experiencing an abnormal or incomplete shed do not attempt to remove it yourself. Scales are easily removed with the skin and could result in the animal bleeding which may lead to infection.

·        Seek advice from your reptile veterinarian.

 

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