Snake Shedding Problems
The Back Story
From personal experience, dealing with a snake that has issues shedding can be a pain! When I purchased my ball python Prada (pictured right) from a not so experienced keeper, I was told that she sometimes had problems shedding. When I first got her home I realized she had slightly wrinkled eye caps which is a sign that she had retained them from her previous shed. After doing research on how to deal with this issue, I've learned a few tips and tricks.
The Common Problems
The main reason snakes do not shed well is due to their environment. Most snake keepers understand that snakes need to be kept warm, but don't understand that correct humidity levels are important as well. Getting shedding issues under control will ensure your snake is living a healthy life in the proper environment. It also seems as though snakes with shedding issues are also prone to developing other ailments. Some snakes will shed in pieces, retain eye caps, tail tips or around their cloaca.
How to Help Get The Shed Off
- If your snake has retained shed right now, I would first soak him in warm water. Depending on the size of your snake, you can use a plastic storage container, or even your sink or bathtub. Keep the water temperature around 75F-80F. *Remember that snakes will usually defecate in water. Be prepared for that, and thoroughly disinfect your bathtub or sink after soaking your snake.* While you're soaking your snake, you can use a washcloth to gently rub the shed off of him. Usually the retained eye caps will come off as well. However, if the shed refuses to come off of the eyes, I recommend you consult an experienced reptile veterinarian or reptile keeper.
- There are commercial shedding "lotions" on the market that help ease the retained shed off of your snake. Though I can not personally recommend any one product, many people use them quite successfully. Each product have their own directions based on the formula.
And Most Importantly, Prevention
- The most important thing you to do to help your snake shed easily is to keep your cage at the proper humidity level. In most cases you can simple mist your cage every few days. You can also use a reptile fogging/misting machine. These can be homemade, or store bought. Store-bought machines can be quite expensive. If you really have trouble keeping the humidity at the proper level, you may consider switching caging. One housing option that is superb in keeping correct humidity is the use of D.I.Y tubs.
- Keep your snake well hydrated. Always have fresh water in your snake's enclosure. If you can realistically provide a water dish big enough for your snake to soak, by all means to do. Snakes seem to also benefit from occasional soaks in water. You can actually overdo soaking, and cause more harm than good. Limit soaking to once a week or so.
- Providing a humidity hide is another excellent way to prevent bad sheds. A humidity box allows your snake to regulate how much moisture they need. Though the humidity box needs to be humid of course, this does not mean wet. If the substrate is wet it can cause illnesses such as scale rot.
Shedding problems can be a real headache, but with the proper knowledge, prevention and housing, it can easily be solved.