Snake Shedding

Snake shedding, also known as ecdysis, is the process where snakes shed their old skin. All snakes must periodically shed their skin to grow and stay healthy. It typically occurs once or twice a year, depending on the species of snake and their age. A young snake will need to shed its skin more frequently than an adult snake because they grow at a faster rate.

When a snake is ready to shed, they will search for a rough surface that they can rub against. This helps remove the outer layer of their skin. The snake will also become sluggish and will usually stop eating before shedding; this is normal behavior. After the outer layer of skin has been removed, the snake will begin to secrete an enzyme that dissolves the rest of the skin. 

During this process, the snake’s eyes become cloudy or blue, a condition known as “blue-eye”. The reason their eyes become cloudy is because the skin has separated from their eyes. After the shedding is complete, the snake’s eyes will return to normal and it will be able to see normally again.

Symptoms of Snake Shedding

Before a snake is ready to shed, you might notice several behavioral changes. The snake could become lethargic and stop eating, and its eyes will appear cloudy or blue. You might also be able to see the outer layer of skin peeling away from the body, which is known as “sloughing”. After the shedding process is complete, the snake will have a new bright and shiny layer of skin.

Diagnosing Snake Shedding

Shedding is usually a normal process for snakes, so it doesn’t require medical attention unless your snake appears to be having difficulty shedding. If your snake appears to be having trouble shedding, or if their skin has turned an abnormal color or texture, contact your veterinarian immediately.

Stages of Snake Shedding

Snake shedding typically occurs in four stages.

The milk-snake cozy in her hideout

Stage 1

The first stage is known as “sloughing”, where their outer layer of skin begins to peel away from their body.

Stage 2

In the second stage, an enzyme is secreted that helps dissolve the remaining skin.

Stage 3

The third stage is when the eye caps are shed and the eyes become cloudy or blue.

Stage 4

Finally, in the fourth stage, new skin is revealed and the snake’s eyes return to normal.

Treating Snake Shedding

Snake shedding is usually a normal process, and doesn’t require medical attention unless your snake appears to be having difficulty shedding or their skin has changed color or texture. If your snake appears to be having difficulty with their shed, contact your veterinarian immediately.

Preventing Snake Shedding

There is no way to prevent a snake from shedding their skin, but you can prevent problems. To prevent shedding problems, it’s important to give your snake a healthy diet and environment. A well-balanced diet that includes plenty of protein will help keep your snake healthy and prepare them for shedding. A humid hide box always helps so that they can properly shed their skin without difficulty.