Why Do Snakes Shed Their Skin? Find Out Why & How It Works

Why do snakes shed their skin? Featured

Ever stumble upon something strange and you couldn’t make out what it was? It kind of looked like an imprint or a skeleton of a snake? If you have, then you have stumbled upon a place where a snake has shed its skin and you were looking at a snake’s old skin.

I have lived in wilderness areas most of my life and have seen my fair share of snake skin. I will say that it never gets old to see where a snake shed their skin and to have a close-up glance of what a snake’s old skin looks like.

It is just a unique sight to see and a fascinating process when snakes shed their skin.

Did you know that all animals and even humans shed their skin? Yes, humans do just like all other animals. We shed our skin, just different than the way snakes do.

One of the main differences is that we don’t leave a trail of skin cells behind that look like an imprint of us. I’ve always wondered how snakes did that, so I did my research. Read on to see what I found out.

Why do snakes shed their skin?

All animals shed their skin. Unlike humans who shed their skin constantly, snakes shed their skin periodically. A snake’s skin doesn’t grow as it grows and the skin becomes stretched over time.

A new layer of skin grows underneath the older layer to allow the snake to shed the old skin with no issues once the snake begins the shedding process. The scientific term for this process is known as ecdysis.

Ecdysis also includes a variety of insects, lizards, and arthropods. Most people use the term shedding when referring to snakes, but it isn’t uncommon to hear people refer to it as molting and skin sloughing.

Not only does skin shedding allow the snake to continue growing it helps remove any parasites that will be left behind with the old skin. So it is a win-win for the snake.

It gets a brand new layer of skin to allow it to continue growing and it removes any hitchhikers by leaving them behind with the old skin.

What makes humans different from snakes is that we continually shed our skin every day. In fact, we shed millions of skin cells every day.

Snakes only shed their skin periodically and that is why it comes off in such a perfect shape or imprint of their body.

If you think about it like humans outgrowing their clothes, then it may make more sense to you. A snake’s skin is like its clothes.

It has to get new clothes every so often because it outgrows old clothes, and maybe to update its style as well. 🙂

All kidding aside, snake shedding is a fascinating process to me.

How long does it take for a snake to shed its skin?

The way a snake sheds its skin is a very unique process, to say the least. Before a snake gets ready to shed its skin, the skin of the snake begins to turn a bluish color and the snake’s eyelids become glazed over making it hard for the snake to see.

After a few days (or weeks in some cases), the snake will find a rock or a branch (something rough) to rub up against its head to tear the old skin so it can start to wiggle out.

Once the skin has been torn, the snake will continue rubbing up against rough objects like rocks and branches to slither out of its old skin.

This isn’t a smooth process as the snake has to slither out of its old skin by peeling it back. It doesn’t just crawl out, the snake has to peel out of its skin much like how you would peel off your sock to make it inside out.

So when the snake’s old skin finally comes off, it is inside out like the sock would be.

This process could take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks before the snake has finally removed the old skin. The length of time it takes just depends on the size of the snake and the environment in which it is.

How do snakes shed their skin?

How often do snakes shed their skin?

It just depends on the age of the snake and what species it is. Some snakes can shed their skin every few weeks and others may only shed a few times per year.

Since juvenile snakes will continue to grow a lot over time, they shed more often. As the snake continues to get older, the growth process will slow down and so will the skin shedding.

Although the process slows down because the snake will continue to grow less, the snake will continue shedding for most of its life.

What is snakeskin made of?

As it relates to skin shedding, the top layer of a snake’s skin is mostly made up of keratin. This makes the snake’s skin impossible to grow as it grows because keratin is just dead material and won’t grow with the snake.

Before a snake begins to shed its skin, it produces a lubricant underneath its outermost layer of skin to help in the shedding process. This is what makes a snake’s eyes look glossed over when it is about to begin the shedding process.

Do snakes stay or come back to where they shed their skin?

It isn’t uncommon to see a snake come back to where it shed its skin. However, this isn’t necessarily an intentional act to come back because of the skin it left behind. Instead, it may just be a place where the snake feels comfortable being.

When a snake sheds its skin, it can be very vulnerable because the process can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks.

The snake is more likely to do this in a place where it feels the safest. So it wouldn’t be uncommon to see a snake revisit this area to find shelter.

This place may be a place where the snake finds protection, cover, and food – among other things. If the snake was there once, there is always a chance it can frequent that area or come back to that area where you found the snakeskin.

What other animals shed their skin?

All animals shed their skin. Reptiles do it a little differently than we humans do. We are constantly shedding our skin every day (gross, right) and reproducing new skin cells in the process.

The issue with a snake’s skin is that it can’t shed its skin constantly like us. Snakes, among other reptiles and insects, have to do it periodically to remove the old skin cells.

You won’t notice your skin cells falling off your body because it is happening all the time at a consistent rate. But a snake only gets to remove its skin periodically, causing its outer layer of skin to be shed from its body fully intact, which is such a spectacular sight to see in person.

Final Thoughts

What a fascinating process! I know I’ve said this before but it is an amazing thing. I only wonder what it would be like if humans shed their skin like that.

What do you think? Would it be gross? Let me know what you think by leaving a comment down below.

I hope I’ve given you the answer you were looking for. There are so many amazing things that happen in nature as you can see from reading this article.

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