Having a ball python, or any type of snake, for a pet can be a bold choice. While these reptiles look intimidating, snake owners believe that they’re all fuzzy and lovely on the inside, especially if they’re Slytherins.
Still, if you’re a first-time snake keeper, there might be a few questions that you may want answers for. For example, “Why is my snake not shedding?” is a pretty popular one for people with no experience with snakes.
In this article, we’ll provide you with all the information you need to ensure that your ball python goes through a healthy shedding session each time.
Let’s dive right in!
How Does a Snake Normally Shed His Skin?
As a first-time owner, you may not be familiar with the natural process of shedding in snakes. Of course, knowing all you can about this phase is essential to make sure that your buddy is in good health and not having underlying medical issues.
The first thing you should keep in mind about shedding is that it usually occurs every four to six weeks. The interval between sessions depends on your snake’s growth rate, the environment, etc.
Also, younger snakes tend to shed more often than fully grown ones since the former are at the peak of their growth.
Secondly, the way that a snake will go about shedding the skin can tell you a lot about its wellbeing. In healthy snakes, you’ll notice these signs before shedding:
- The eye color will turn to a bluish hue
- The old skin will start to appear less shiny
- The snake will remain in his hideout more often and for longer periods
- Your snake may eat small amounts of food or none at all
- The snake might look for rough parts in the enclosure to rub the old skin against
Besides these symptoms, you must learn how proper shedding appears to be. When a snake sheds his skin successfully, he leaves it in one piece. Sometimes, the skin comes out leaving small patches, but only so few that they’ll easily come off in the next shedding session.
How to Know If My Snake Isn’t Shedding Properly?
A straightforward way to know if your snake is having shedding problems is to take note of the time that passes before he sheds. As we’ve previously pointed out, taking as long as six weeks should be fine.
Yet, if your snake remains for six months without shedding, he might have a medical condition. In that case, your best bet is to take him to the vet to check him and come up with a diagnosis.
But what could cause a snake to not shed for that long? Well, we’re about to find out.
Reasons Why Your Snake Is Not Shedding
Of course, without a vet’s help, you may not be able to identify the exact issue with your snake on your own. Still, to be prepared, here are a few scenarios that may have to do with the snake’s shedding problem.
1 – Improper Humidity Levels
If the environment isn’t right in your snake’s enclosure, it may delay his shedding. Or, having a too high or too low humidity value might lead to incomplete shedding, which is another annoying problem that you don’t want to face.
To fix that issue, make sure that the humidity levels match the requirements for the exact type of your snake. Normally, snakes prefer 50% to 70% humidity. Always use a hygrometer to ensure that the environment is ideal for your little buddy.
2 – Internal or External Parasites
Snakes are prone to internal parasites such as various types of worms and coccidia. Besides that, external parasites, such as snake mites and ticks, aren’t far-fetched either.
These annoying creatures can affect a snake’s health, causing infections, breathing difficulties, and more troublesome symptoms. Because of their negative impact, they could ultimately lead to shedding issues.
What’s even more worrisome about these parasites is that they’re hard to detect since their symptoms aren’t so obvious. For that reason, once you suspect there’s something wrong with your pet snake’s behavior, you should take him to the vet for a physical examination.
3 – Skin Infections and Injuries
While not as common as the previous two causes, skin infections and injuries may be other reasons why your snake isn’t shedding properly.
Oftentimes, infections such as bacterial dermatitis may cause abnormal shedding in snakes. This condition happens when bacterial organisms infect the skin of a snake, leaving patches of darker color along the belly.
Usually, the culprits behind this health condition are:
- Excessive humidity
- A dirty environment
- Inadequate temperatures
- A blend of all these factors
4 – Malnutrition
Of course, as long as your snake has a diet that’s recommended by a veterinarian, his body should function properly. Therefore, if you’re sure he’s being fed nutritious meals and he still doesn’t shed for months, you’ll know it’s another underlying health issue.
If not, you may want to reevaluate the food that you give to your snake. He might not be getting enough nutrition, which may interfere with his normal body functions.
5 – Poor Heating and Lighting
Just like the case with humidity, every type of snake has specific needs when it comes to heating and lighting.
To stay on the safe side, always look up the right temperatures that match your ball python. When it comes to light, know that some snakes love a combination of daylight and nighttime LED lights. Some don’t require as much sunlight as others.
Therefore, it’s important that you do your research on heating and lighting not to compromise your snake’s health.
How to Prevent Shedding Issues in the Future?
Thankfully, it’s quite easy to prevent any shedding problems from occurring in the first place. It all comes down to basic hygiene and a healthy diet after all.
Here are a few guidelines to follow to promote better shedding sessions in the future.
Maintain a Proper Feeding Schedule
To reduce any chances of malnutrition, it’s important that you ensure the quality of your snake’s food. We know that this can be challenging sometimes, especially if your snake refuses to eat a certain type of food all of a sudden.
However, you must stay persistent as snakes tend to be picky eaters. If yours rejects something, change the food or even the feeding time.
Also, remember that baby snakes may be unable to eat after just arriving at your place. They might need to adjust to their new surroundings first.
Give Your Snake a Hiding Spot
Snakes are introverts, and they’re not fans of too much contact with humans or other pets. Your snake’s enclosure must have a hideout where your little guy can chill without being monitored by anyone.
This can help him relax and reduce his stress levels.
You can also build two different hiding spots, making one damp and the other dry so that your snake gets to pick based on his current mood.
Clean the Enclosure Periodically
Proper hygiene is key to keeping unwanted parasites at bay and improving your snake’s overall health. Every once in a while, clean the water bowl, remove any previously shed skin, etc.
Not only should that eliminate skin infections, but it’ll also provide your snake with a clean environment that he’ll enjoy staying in.
Keep Humidity at the Recommended Levels
We can’t stress this enough. Humidity is the most common factor behind a snake’s successful shedding.
If it’s too high or too low, the snake may not be able to shed his skin for a long period of time. Or, he might face abnormal skin shedding.
How to Take Care of My Snake While He’s Shedding?
Once your snake begins to shed his skin in preparation for a shinier alternative, you can always follow a few tips to help him out.
Here’s what you may want to do to make things better for your buddy.
- Mist the cage with lukewarm water to increase humidity levels just a notch
- Place a basin of warm water in your snake’s enclosure
- Encourage your snake to stay in the water for a while, but keep a close eye on him
- Make sure that the snake won’t be fully submerged in the basin
- Put slightly rough objects beside the snake so that he can rub against them
- If your snake struggles with the final stages of shedding, put him between layers of damp paper towels and let friction and humidity do their work
- When your snake is done shedding, provide him with extra water
When faced with the problem of a snake not shedding, you should ask yourself several questions. Is he properly fed? Are the container’s light, temperature, and humidity levels right for your scaly friend?
If you answer with a yes to both questions, there might be other causes for the snake’s inability to shed. It could be a parasite, a skin condition, or an infection.
To make sure you’re on the right path, always take your snake to the vet if he’s taken too long to shed his skin. With proper examinations, you should find out what exactly causes the snake’s shedding issue and work to solve this problem.
I have a bachelor’s degree in Film/Video/Media Studies, as well as an associates degree in Communications. I began producing videos and musical recordings nearly 15 years ago. I am a guitarist and bassist in Southwest MI and have been in a few different bands since 2009, and in 2012 I began building custom guitars and basses in my home workshop as well. When I’m home, I love spending time with my three pets (a dog, cat, and snake) and gardening in my backyard. I also like photographing wild birds, especially birds of prey.