Exotic Animal

Why Do Reptiles Shed Their Skin?

Apr 27 • 2 minute read

If you have a reptile, it will shed its skin at some point. This process happens whether you have a snake, turtle, lizard, or another type of reptile. By providing the right conditions and care, you can help the process go smoothly for your pet.

Reptiles shed their skin for several reasons. Since their skin does not grow, shedding allows young, growing reptiles to shed skin and grow new skin. This process also allows their skin to accommodate weight gain or loss and helps maintain healthy skin and scales.

How Do Different Reptiles Shed Their Skin?

Shedding works a little differently for each reptile. Snakes, for example, shed their skin all at once. Shedding happens about two to four times yearly for mature snakes, with younger ones shedding as often as every two weeks. Turtles shed their skin in pieces and sometimes shed the outer layer of their shells in parts. Most lizards also shed their skin in parts, but some, including the alligator lizard, shed their skin in one piece as a snake does.

How Can You Support Healthy Shedding in Your Reptile Pet?

It can be challenging to understand how you can encourage healthy shedding in your pet. The following are some ways you can encourage healthy shedding:

Avoid handling your reptile during the shedding process.

As your reptile sheds, it becomes less able to gather and process information such as sights and sounds. They may become irritable and aggressive, so avoid handling them during the process unless necessary.

Maintain proper humidity levels.

Invest in a digital hygrometer to gauge the humidity level in its housing system. In general, humidity below 35% dries the skin out and makes shedding difficult, and humidity above 70% can lead to skin infections.

Provide a humidity box if needed.

Make a plastic enclosure with damp sphagnum moss for your reptile to spend time in. The entrance should be just big enough for it to enter.

Make sure your reptile has enough water.

It can become dehydrated, so make sure it has easy access to a water dish. Provide a small dish it can sip from or a tub big enough for it to soak in.

Provide accessories to help with shedding.

Give your reptile some objects to rub its skin against. Smooth, clean driftwood or rocks with no sharp edges work well.

Check your reptile when shedding is complete.

Reptiles can sometimes have trouble with pieces of their skin getting stuck around areas like their toes or tail. If this happens, put them in their humidity box or let them soak in shallow, lukewarm water.

Help Your Reptile Stay Happy and Healthy

Shedding is an important process for your reptile. It needs the right conditions and cares so it can successfully shed. Afterward, check your pet to be sure it doesn’t have pieces of shed skin that are stuck. If you have any questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to reach out to your vet for further guidance.

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