Actually ALL animals shed, however instead of continually shedding skin cells the way humans and other mammals do, reptiles tend to do periodically, and because of this, when a reptile sheds, it’s quite a show. For snakes, the shed may come off in one long tube, leaving a ghost of the animal behind! For other reptiles, like lizards, it usually flakes off in patches, revealing healthy new skin underneath. Reptiles skin doesn’t grow when the animal does, so it becomes stretched, and eventually it cannot grow anymore, so it becomes time for the animal to shed. Reptiles may also shed to rid themselves of parasites, or to help heal an injury to their old skin. 

 

Younger reptiles may shed relatively often, while in older animals, unless there is an injury, it’s generally not as common an occurrence. 

 

Most of the time, shedding is second nature for reptiles It’s as easy for them to do as it is for us to change socks. But on occasion, they can have some trouble, and when they do, intervention is sometimes needed. 

 

What about shedding problems?

 

Abnormal skin shedding, or disecdysis, is one of the most common health problems affecting pet reptiles. Some species of snakes and lizards shed their entire skin in a single complete piece, while other reptiles shed their skin in patches. In all cases, however, once the process is complete, the reptile should be completely covered in a fresh, new layer of skin.

 

The most common cause of abnormal skin shedding is a humidity level within the terrarium that is too low, or too high. Some reptiles, like the popular crested gecko, require humidity levels to fluctuate through the day, and constant dry or constant humid conditions can cause issues.  Other contributing factors can include the lack of a surface on which to rub, poor health, external parasites, and an inadequate diet.

 

How to help your reptile with a problem shed.

 

You can treat many cases of abnormal skin shedding in reptiles in the comfort of your own home. Spray or soak the animal in warm water  with a shed aid added to the water for 10 to 15 minutes and then gently rub or peel the skin away. If the spectacles have not shed, apply an artificial tears ointment and wait about 10 minutes before gently rubbing them off the eye or lifting them away with a fingernail. If after repeating these treatments over the course of a few days there is no improvement, or if the underlying skin looks red or otherwise unhealthy, take the reptile to a veterinarian.