How Often Do Snakes Shed?

snakes-shed Credit: Sylvain Cordier/Photolibrary/Getty Images

Adult snakes shed between four and eight times per year. However, their activity level, habitat temperature and feeding frequency and amount affect the frequency of shedding. Additionally, young snakes that are rapidly growing may shed more often.

Before shedding, a snake may have a period of inactivity that lasts from one to two weeks. During this time, it may become defensive, hide more or stop eating. These normal behaviors may be a response to the snake's inability to see properly.

When the process begins, the snake's eye caps loosen in preparation for being sloughed with the rest of the skin. The eyes, then, take on a cloudy, bluish appearance, and the snake may experience reduced vision. As the rest of the snake's skin loosens before shedding, it may begin to look dull and hazy, and the skin on the belly may have a pink tinge.

Once ready to shed, the snake seeks rough surfaces to help it rub off the skin. If healthy, it should have no difficulty shedding its entire skin, including the eye caps, in a single piece. Thus, skin that peels away in pieces may indicate sickness, malnutrition or a lack of humidity in the environment. A veterinarian specializing in exotic animals should evaluate pet snakes exhibiting these signs.