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Posted by on Aug 10, 2015 in Tell Me Why |

Do Snakes Shed Their Skin?

Do Snakes Shed Their Skin?

A snake sheds its skin several times a year. When a snake grows, its skin doesn’t grow with its body. Instead, the snake grows a new skin underneath the old one. Eventually, the old skin becomes too tight, and needs to come off.

Snakes shed their skin to allow for further growth and to remove parasites that may have attached to their old skin.

To leave their old skin behind, snakes may go for a swim to allow water to loosen the old skin even further. When they’re ready to shed the old layer, they create a rip in the old skin, usually in the mouth or nose area.

The snake begins to shed its old skin by rubbing its nose on a rock or a tree trunk in order to loosen the skin around its mouth. Then, by crawling through rocks and bushes, the snake manages to wriggle headfirst out of the old skin.

The skin frequently comes off whole, turned inside out. Scientists call this process ecdysis, although you may also sometimes hear the terms sloughing and molting. The average snake will shed its skin two to four times per year.

This average varies with age and species, however. Young snakes that are actively growing may shed their skin every two weeks. Older snakes might only shed their skin twice each year.

Content for this question contributed by Kristin Jo Lind, resident of, Cincinnati, Hamilton County, Ohio, USA