Snakes don’t shed their SKIN! They shed their shed! Wait what?
Commonly referred to as “a snake shedding its skin” this phrase is not all that accurate at all. In fact, a snake does not shed its skin at all, they shed a layer of skin which isn’t even skin anymore it’s well …shed! So yes to phrase it more accurately, they shed a layer of shed! Don’t worry they keep their skin after shedding, it just ends up looking more beautiful, colorful and vibrant after they shed!
Varying with age and species, on average snakes will shed their skin once every two to three months. Younger snakes tend to shed more often, because they are growing faster. As a snake ages the growing process slows down and they have the need to shed less often.
Did you know that snakes aren’t the only ones to shed their skin, even a variety of insects, arthropods and lizards do as well.
Why do they shed?
Unlike mammals, when a snake grows, their skin cannot grow and stretch with them so when they outgrow their skin, they simply shed off the smaller outer layer and a new larger one is underneath.
Do they shed for their whole lives? Yes, snakes never stop growing but the growth process slows down to a crawl when are older and therefore they may only shed once or twice a year at that point in their loves.
How do they shed?
When a shake is in the process of shedding, there are a couple of things that stand out:
The snake will seek out a water source and soak themselves, sometimes for days at a time. Their eyes will also turn a cloudy shade of blue! This indicates that the outer layer of skin can no longer grow, and its getting ready to detach itself from the new layer of skin underneath. Once the blue in the eyes clears up, then you know they are ready to being shedding!
When they are ready to shed, they will fub their noses on hard surfaces to puncture the skin, once the old skin layer has been broken, the snake slowly inches its way through the old layer until it’s completely removed. If you ever find or a snake skin in the wild, you’ll notice that it’s usually inside out and in one piece.
The deserts of South America are home to the most notorious of all snakes – the Western Diamondback Rattlesnake.