If you have a snake in your classroom, here are some facts about shedding of the skin, or ecdysis. All reptiles shed their skin, and snakes can shed their skin as much as once per month. Snakes shed in one big piece from nose to tail over the course of 7 to 14 days. Shedding is necessary for growth in reptiles and snakes and can be affected by your care of the snake and its nutrition.
If you notice your classroom snake’s skin becoming dull, eyes turning cloudy or “bluish” and an increase in nervous behavior, your snake is about to shed. After 3-4 days the eyes should become clear again and you’ll want to make sure your snake has various surfaces like rocks or branches to rub against. During the shedding period the snake should not be handled and probably will not want to eat. Once the skin is completely shed, remove it from the enclosure and check to be sure it was a complete shed, including eye caps!
There are many causes for an incomplete shed, which can be diagnosed by a reptile veterinarian. One common cause of an improper shed is humidity levels in the enclosure. Of course, optimal humidity levels vary depending on different types of snakes, but most require 50 to 70% in their environment. Improper nutrition can also be a culprit in an incomplete shed, as can skin conditions, trauma or too much handling. A reptile veterinarian or pet professional can help you determine the best conditions in which to keep your snake so that it can shed properly.
This is an amazing process to observe in the classroom, and a great learning experience for your students.