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What are Dysecdysis?

How often a snake sheds its skin is usually around once per month. There are many factors that can affect this process and younger snakes will often shed more often than older members. This shedding is known as the snake being in the blue, so named because during this time the reptile’s eyes have a cloudy or bluish tinge.

Shedding their skins is a natural thing for a snake to do, but sometimes improper or incomplete shedding can be related to care and nutrition.

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Symptoms of Dysecdysis in Snakes

When your snake is about to shed its skin there are a few tell-tale signs that you can see prior to the event.

  • Skin becomes dull and lifeless looking
  • Appetite loss 
  • Eyes have a bluish tinge
  • Eyes become a bit cloudy 
  • Behavioral changes
  • Nervousness
  • Reduction in vision
  • It takes about three to four days when the eyes will become clear again and your snake will shed its skin 


Dysecdysis is when the shedding skin sticks to your snake’s skin and refuses to come off leaving dried patches of old skin on the new skin. 

  • Usually the skin slides off in one whole piece including the eye caps or spectacles and looks like an inside out stocking 
  • If the eye caps don’t come off with the skin, you may have to assist with the removal
  • Skin shedding is a normal part of a snake’s life 

Causes of Dysecdysis in Snakes

Dysecdysis can be caused by several different reasons. 

  • Dehydration could be the cause and trouble with skin shed is a symptom of that
  • Increasing the amount of water available to drink will promote better health for your pet
  • It could be caused by mites or bacterial infections of the skin which will need attending to from your reptile specialist
  • Poor nutrition or bland diet may be one reason, check to ensure that the diet is meeting the needs of your snake
  • Trauma caused to your snake – too much handling or inappropriate handling may be the reason 
  • Malnutrition – not enough food for your snake
  • Dermatitis which may need checking by a veterinarian 

Diagnosis of Dysecdysis in Snakes

This condition is one that you and the veterinarian will be able to see visually, as it is hard to miss the clumps of dried old skin clinging to the fresh new one. Even snakes in the wild have problems with this from time to time, and often the next shedding will correct the condition. Around the time of shedding your snake may feel a bit grumpy so don’t try to handle the snake too much. Provide rough pieces of timbers and stones and create a moist shedding box with damp moss inside, where your snake can creep in through an entrance hole and crawl through and out the other side. 

The moisture of the moss and the roughage will help to remove the leftover skin. Never try to pull the loose skin off physically, or you may injure your friend. A check over by a reptile veterinarian will help ensure that there are no other causes of this condition. They can also advise on diet and humidity needs for your pet.

Treatment of Dysecdysis in Snakes

To assist your snake in removing the skin you need to soak the snake in warm water. This requires monitoring and careful measurement of the water as snakes can drown. If your snake is one of the larger variety, you may need to wrap it in a wet towel. The dampness will soften the skin and your snake can use the texture of the towel to rub off the shedding skin. Take care to examine the skin and make sure the eye caps come off along with the skin, retained eye caps can cause loss of clear sight for your snake, and may become infected causing eye problems. Never try to pull off the shedding skin as it will cause injury to the new skin. Be sure to have your reptile veterinarian show you how you can remove the eye caps or spectacles as they are known by, so no injury to the eyes is made. If the spectacles don’t come off, then the veterinarian may need to use other procedures to remove the retained eye caps. Further treatment, such as blood work, may need to be done if the overall health of your snake is in question. 

Recovery of Dysecdysis in Snakes

Preventative measures should be put in place to ensure your snake has the right requirements for a healthy life. Ensuring your snake’s environment is the right humidity for the species will help, and check your snake’s diet with a qualified reptile veterinarian as your pet may be lacking some vital nutrients that is not fulfilling its needs. If lack of humidity exists, you could try a gentle spray of water onto your snake to moisten the skin which will assist with shedding. Snakes needs 50 -70 % humidity to feel comfortable, so make sure the enclosure is set to the right temperature and humidity requirements. Check the temperature of the enclosure, to ensure it’s not too cold. Proper management of your snake’s cage is vital for its health, removing uneaten food, droppings, shed skin, and other waste. Keeping the cage clean is best for the health of your friend.