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How Often Do Corn Snakes Shed? (The Signs It’s About to Happen)

How Often Do Corn Snakes Shed? (The Signs It’s About to Happen)

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The purpose of this blog is to share general information and is written to the author's best knowledge. It is not intended to be used in place of veterinary advice. For health concerns, please seek proper veterinary care. In addition, as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Just like our skin regenerates, snakes also get rid of their old skin to make room for a newer, healthier, and brighter layer of skin.

The main difference is that we shed old skin cells daily but in small amounts. It’s so minuscule that it’s barely even noticeable.

On the other hand, snakes go through several sheds throughout the year where the entire layer of skin comes off in one piece.

Keep reading to find out more about this fascinating process. We’ll also answer a common question many snake owners have: ‘How often do corn snakes shed?’

Let’s get started.

Why Do Corn Snakes Shed Their Skin?

During the shedding period, also known as ecdysis, snakes go through a kind of transformation where they wiggle out of their old skin to reveal a shinier, more colorful layer.

More importantly, this new skin fits better and allows for more effortless movement.

Bear in mind that snakes have rigid scales covering their bodies. It’s not as flexible and limber as our own layer of skin.

That unyielding layer of scaly skin doesn’t stretch and grow along with the skin. So, to help keep up with their rapid growth, snakes get rid of their old skin and grow a new one that is a better fit.

Even full-grown adult corn snakes shed their skin. They do it at a much slower rate than babies that are constantly growing in weight and length.

This means that the reasons for shedding aren’t only related to growth. There are other factors to consider as well, including:

  • If the snake has sustained a cut or an injury, shedding helps speed up the healing process
  • Shedding helps remove harmful bacteria or parasites that have collected on their skin
  • Most pet snakes shed more often in summer due to the warm, humid weather, and it’s also when they’re more active

When Do Corn Snakes Shed?

As you’ve seen, shedding for corn snakes, also called ‘red rate snakes,’ is part of their growth cycle.

They don’t wait for a specific time of the year to slough off their old skin. So, it’s not so much when they shed, but why.

This process happens whenever they need a new layer of skin. The main reason is that they’ve outgrown their old skin and no longer have any use for it.

It starts when the snake is about a week old. Then, it continues throughout its life, but at different rates.

How Long Does Shedding Take?

Corn snakes typically take about 4–7 days to fully remove their old skin. During that time, it may be tempting to intervene and lend them a hand. Yet, that can do more harm than good.

It’s also a good time to mention that snakes become easily distressed when shedding. That’s why experts recommend you avoid handling them during this time.

Just keep your distance and give them ample space. In the meantime, monitor their progress to make sure everything is progressing as it should and that they’re not suffering from any complications.

What Are the Signs that a Corn Snake is About to Shed?

You can often sense beforehand when your pet snake is about to start shedding its skin. Here are a few symptoms to watch out for:

  • Cloudy, bluish, or milky eyes, also known as the ‘blue phase
  • Defensive or timid behavior
  • Dull, pale skin and scales
  • Hiding more often than they’re used to
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Sagging under their throat area

How Often Do Baby Corn Snakes Shed?

Because baby corn snakes develop faster than adults, it makes sense that they shed more frequently.

So, expect your baby reptile to shed for the first time when it’s about one week old. Then, they’ll continue to shed once every 4–6 weeks.

That’s almost double the rate of their older, more mature counterparts!

As they grow older, the time between each shed will spread out to about every 6–8 weeks. It’ll continue to spread out even more as they continue to grow and become bigger in size until they shed only a handful of times during the year.

Why Do Corn Snakes Sometimes Shed More Frequently?

Sometimes adult corn snakes will suddenly start to shed more often than before. As long as there are no problems with the shedding process and the skin comes off in one piece, it’s probably nothing to worry about.

It could be that they’re going through a growth spurt.

Another reason is that the weather is warmer and more humid. During this time, snakes tend to be more active. Hence, they feed more often and grow faster, leading to more frequent sheds.

Keep an eye on their general demeanor during and after. If they seem more stressed or agitated than usual, then it could be better to take them to the vet to rule out any health complications.

Do Corn Snakes Stop Shedding?

No. Corn snakes don’t ever stop shedding because it’s part of their growth cycle. It helps accommodate their growing bodies as well as any weight gain or weight loss they may have encountered between each shed.

That said, it’s worth noting that a corn snake’s lifespan is between 10 and 15 years.

As they enter the last phase of their lives, you’ll notice that their growth rate will drop significantly.

During their final years, their shedding rates will also drop, and they’ll only shed about 3–5 times per year.

So, all through their lives, they’ll continue to shed just at different rates depending on their age.

What Are Some Possible Shedding Complications?

As long as you provide the ideal living conditions, the skin should effortlessly come off in one piece. A healthy shed indicates that your pet reptile is getting the proper care and nutrition it needs to thrive.

As mentioned above, shedding usually takes no longer than 7–10 days. If it takes longer, that could be a good time to help your reptile out.

However, sometimes things happen that hinder the shedding process. For example, if the humidity levels in the enclosure aren’t ideal, that could make the process much more complicated.

Remember that corn snakes thrive when the humidity is between 30% and 50%, with the latter being more optimal when shedding.

Also, if the snake isn’t hydrated as well as it should be, it could affect its ability to shed its skin.

So, if you notice that your reptile is struggling or suffering from a stuck shed, there are things you can do to help.

Otherwise, if you ignore the signs, the shed will harden, restricting blood flow to the area. As a result, your snake can suffer permanent damage or severe injuries.

Take a look at a few critical dos and don’ts to ensure a healthy shed every time:

  • Do give the snake a warm bath for about 20 minutes
  • Do add several rocks and tree branches for them to wrap around and help them rub off their old skin
  • Do set up a hide on the warmer side of the tank
  • Do increase humidity levels in the hide to 50% by adding layers of damp moss
  • Do provide a cool end of the tank with temperatures between 72℉–80℉ and a warmer end of 80℉–87℉
  • Do separate the shedding corn snake from its tank mates
  • Don’t handle your snake unless it’s absolutely necessary
  • Don’t pull on a stuck shed, especially around the eyes
  • Don’t leave the snake with a stuck shed for longer than a day or two

Final Thoughts

How often corn snakes shed depends largely on their age. Babies and juveniles shed more frequently to keep up with their growing bodies.

Alternatively, adults shed once every couple of months or so. Yet, it usually slows down as they grow older.

The important thing is to make sure the shed goes smoothly. Sometimes problems happen, but they’re mostly easy to fix.

If these complications continue, however, you’ll need to schedule a visit with your vet as soon as possible.

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