Why Do Snakes Shed? A Deep Dive Into The Process | Kidadl


Why Do Snakes Shed? A Deep Dive Into The Process

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Everything about snakes is quite fascinating.

Their skin, their movement, their swiftness. There are many unique abilities that a snake can do, but shedding their skin takes all the points because even though some other animals shed their skin, none of them can do it like snakes.

Doesn't it make you wonder that if no other animals are capable of shedding their skin then why do snake shed their skin? The answer is that they do not fit in the same old skin anymore. While snakes grow their skin, unlike any other animal, does not stretch and grow which is why they become worn-out and old and shed their skin to have new skin. The new skin accommodates the new size of the body with an ample amount of skin layers. This process of shedding the outer layer of skin is called ecdysis. In ecdysis snakes generally shed the outer layer of old skin which is replaced by the new skin cells. This process of shedding skin called ecdysis happens or can happen every month. However, in general, it happens around three to four times a year. Now, this shedding of skin is affected by many factors depending on which the snake shed their skin monthly, bi-annually, or quarterly. These factors are age, temperature, nutritional health, weather, bacteria, and parasites which can harm the snake species in general. Young snakes shed more often than adult snakes. Right before the shedding of the old layer process starts the snake starts looking more blueish. The reason a young snake sheds more skin cells than an adult is that they are still in the growing phase.

The skin layer shedding process is very much visible to the naked eye. Humans can see it happening when the process starts. It is visible to the eyes of humans. These reptiles glisten because of their stay skin which is often is fresh and new with each month or couple of months apart. It is as if we humans change to a new cloth and start glowing. The only thing is snakes' skin is glistening and is natural. Adult snakes shed their skin during the reproduction process, or while giving birth. Though the whole process for a snake to shed skin is a part of the snake's growing process, shedding old skin also serves another purpose, which is it helps in removing the parasites present in the snake's body or skin whether in the outer layer or the innermost layer. This process of shedding skin or the body skin of snake starts with snake rubbing their skin and body against the rock, plants, tree, or any hard surface like these. Then they run the spot with their snout as its easily accessible, after which they can easily come out of their old skin cover by wriggling and rubbing against a rock, plant, or tree. Very few snakes shed their skin in water.

For more interesting facts, you can also check where do stink bugs come from and when do snakes hibernate.

Why does a snake shed its skin?

A snake sheds its skin because the body during the growing process outgrows the old skin. This entire process of shedding skin in reptiles like snakes is a natural process. Animals shed their skin too but they shed it once or twice in their lifetime. The layer of skin shed happens in parts with the rest of the species, but in animals like snakes, it happens once a month or thrice or four times a year that too for the entire body in one go. This natural process is called ecdysis.

The shedding of dead skin also means that the new skin will be formed which will be more fitting to their body growth and the snakes will get rid of the parasites in their outer layer of skin or innermost layer of skin, helping them survive better and be in better health. When the snakes shed their skin they go to a completely isolated area because the new skin covers their eyes and their whole body and they can not see. So they go to hide in nature where nobody disturbs them and then rub themselves against rocks, and rough surfaces which help the skin to come out or loosen up, then they slowly wriggle out of these old scales. These beautifully patterned scales of old skin are used by humans to make accessories and for other commercial purposes.

How often does a snake shed its skin?

The number of times that a snake can shed their skin depends on the breed of snake.

Snakes shed their skin once a month. Many shed it thrice or four times a year depending on their environment, health, weather, and parasite attacks.

How does a snake shed its skin?

Snake Shedding Skin on a human hand in its surrounding.

Snakes shed their skin through a process that is lengthy but beautiful. Since their growing body outgrows snakes skin the new skin is formed which covers their eyes and makes steam opaque for a while therefore they find a nice spot in nature to hide before the process begins.

In the wild, they rub their skin against rough surfaces like rocks, plants, and so on, which loosens the outer skin of the snakes. Then these snakes take out the skin through their snout and wriggle out of the old skin. This helps them to get rid of the old skin, and the new skin in a few days gets space to stretch and their eyes open. The process of shedding also helps them in getting rid of parasites. All animals shed skin but not as frequently as snakes shed their skin.

How to preserve snake shed?

After snakes shed their skin the old layer of skin is left behind and can be found by humans who pick them up for commercial purposes. Snakeskin is beautiful to look at with lovely patterns and markings. The patterns of the layers do not get disturbed by the rub.

Straighten out the skin gently and leave it to dry on cardboard. Once the skin is dried paste it on a ply or a card broad and to preserve it laminate it with glass. It will also act as beautiful home decor.

Can I help my snake shed?

In order for your snakes to shed their skin just give them a space to hide which is covered with rough areas just as trees or rocks or rough walls. Or you can leave others in nature where they will find a spot and shed their skin themselves in natural ways.

In cases where your pet snake is struggling to shed its skin, you can help them by soaking them in lukewarm water. Remember to consult your vet if it gets too complicated. Before the snake sheds its skin it starts to appear blue with eyes that look opaque or clouded. This is because the new skin forms a layer onto the eyes covering them. Since their eyes are clouded before they shed their old skin cells they cannot see well, therefore, try and find a safe place to hide out before the process starts. A snake sheds its skin before and after giving birth.

Do some types of snakes shed more than others?

There are different types of snakes in the world. Some of them may shed more than others.

It has been observed that a young healthy, well-fed snake who is still a juvenile and is growing will shed more than the adult snake. The frequency with which the snakes shed their skin depends on their age, temperature, heath, growing phase, nutritional value, weather, and so on.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for why do snakes shed then why not take a look at when do elk shed their antlers or rubber boa facts?

Chong Lhungdim
Written By
Chong Lhungdim

<p>With extensive knowledge in economics, public policy, and finance, Chong is a highly qualified professional with a Bachelor's degree in Economics St Andrew's College of Arts, Science and Commerce and a Postgraduate degree in Public Policy from the University of Mumbai. Her enthusiasm for research and content writing has led her to develop expertise in various fields of economic and public policy analysis. Chong has experience in research, data analysis, and producing high-quality content.</p>

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