Shedding skin is a natural and necessary part of a corn snake’s life. As corn snakes grow, their skin does not grow with them, so they must periodically shed the outer layer and reveal a new layer underneath. The frequency of shedding depends on several factors.
The shedding process for a corn snake takes 6-9 days from start to finish. Here are the steps:
- The snake’s eyes will become cloudy or blue and their colors will appear dull. This signals the start of the “blue phase”.
- 1-2 days before shedding, the eyes will clear up. This means shedding will occur very soon.
- The snake will seek out rough surfaces in its enclosure to rub against to help remove the skin. It may also soak in its water dish frequently.
- The snake will slither out of its old skin, turning it inside-out in the process. Often the snake will also defecate after shedding.
- Over the next 12-24 hours after shedding, the snake will usually stay hidden while its new skin adjusts and its vision returns to normal.
Frequency and Age
How often a corn snake sheds depends on its age:
- Hatchlings and juveniles will shed every 4-6 weeks since they are growing rapidly. Their shedding frequency may be as high as once every 10 days when very young.
- Subadults and young adults will shed every 6-8 weeks as their growth starts slowing down.
- Mature adults over 3-4 years old will only shed every 2-3 months.
So as a general rule, younger corn snakes will shed more often than older adults. Expect hatchlings and juveniles under 18 months old to shed at least once a month.
Signs of Shedding
Here are the signs that your corn snake is about to shed its skin within the next 1-2 weeks:
- Dull, dark, or bluish colored skin
- Cloudy or blue colored eyes
- Hiding more than usual
- Not eating
- Increased soaking in its water dish
Once the eyes clear back up, be prepared for the snake to shed its skin within a couple days.
Care During Shedding
It’s important not to disturb your corn snake while it is shedding its skin, which will cause it stress. Here are some tips:
- Do not try to handle or touch the snake during this period
- Maintain proper temperatures and humidity
- Provide extra water by changing it daily or providing a humid hide box
- Check that the shed comes off in one complete piece
- Examine for any remaining stuck shed after 24 hours and provide a humid soak if needed
By following these guidelines and letting the snake shed in peace, you will minimize any issues with incomplete shedding. In summary, corn snakes are frequent shedders when young but slow down as adults. The shedding process takes 6-9 days and you’ll notice signs like blue eyes and dull colors when it’s about to happen. While shedding it’s best to leave the snake alone aside from providing extra humidity. With good husbandry, corn snakes should have no issues with shedding as they grow.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are answers to some common questions about corn snake shedding:
How can I tell when my corn snake will shed next?
Look for signs like blue eyes, dull skin, hiding more than normal, and not eating. Once the eyes clear back up the snake will shed within 1-2 days.
Why is my corn snake not shedding properly?
This condition is called dysecdysis. It is usually caused by low humidity but can also indicate dehydration, poor nutrition, or other health issues.
Should I help remove stuck shed skin from my corn snake?
No. First, provide a humid hide box for 12-24 hours and see if that loosens the skin. If not, then give the snake a 15-20 minute soak in shallow warm water. Stuck shed can then usually be gently rubbed off with a wet cloth without pulling hard.
How can I raise the humidity for my corn snake?
Use a hygrometer to monitor humidity levels. Ideal range is 40-60%. Provide a humid hide box with damp moss or sphagnum moss. Mist the enclosure daily avoiding the heat source, or use a humidifier if ambient humidity is very low.
Can I feed my corn snake while it is shedding?
It’s best not to offer food for a few days before and after shedding since most snakes will not show interest in eating during this time. But if your corn snake still readily accepts food during the shedding process, it’s fine to continue feeding as normal.
Shedding is a natural part of a corn snake’s life that enables proper growth and development. By recognizing the signs of impending shed and providing for the snake’s needs during this vulnerable period, you can help ensure a clean and complete shedding process. Be sure to adjust humidity, temperature, and handling appropriately while your snake sheds its skin.