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Posted by on Mar 27, 2016 in Tell Me Why |

How Does a Snake Shed Its Skin?

How Does a Snake Shed Its Skin?

Shortly after it is born, the snake will shed its skin. It will continue to shed its skin from time to time as it grows bigger. When it is time to shed its skin, the snake begins by rubbing its nose on a rough surface to loosen the skin around its mouth.

As it crawls forward, the snake manages to peel the old skin back from its head to its tail, turning it inside out like the finger of a glove. Only the colorless outer layer of the skin peels off. Underneath is the new skin.

It is not unusual to find whole snake skins, complete with eye coverings, in places where snakes live. Scientists call this process ecdysis, although you may also sometimes hear the terms sloughing and molting.

Snakes shed their skin to allow for further growth and to remove parasites that may have attached to their old skin. As a snake grows, its skin becomes stretched and reaches a point where further growth is not possible.

When that occurs, a new layer of skin grows underneath the current one. As soon as it is complete, the old skin peels away, leaving behind a snake-shaped shell along with any parasites that may have been attached.

Snakes shed their skin quite often. 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 Mark Steins, resident of Tonawanda, Erie County, New York, USA