As corns grow in size, they shed their skin to accommodate their growing bodies. There are some clear signs to recognize when a shed is about to start, and ways you can help the shedding process in corn snakes along.
Hatchling corn snakes will shed their first skin after approximately 7 days. As they grow larger, they’ll shed once every few months. The time between each shed will increase as they get bigger in size.
We’ll look at the corn’s shedding process from start to finish. This includes the blue phase and what behavior you can expect when they start to shed. We’ll then take a look at some common corn snake shedding problems and what can be done to safely resolve them.
Table of Contents:
- 1 Corn Snake Shedding Process
- 2 Corn Snake Shedding Problems
Corn Snake Shedding Process
Snakes shed their skin as they grow. Their skin isn’t as stretchy and pliable as human skin, so they have to shed old skins regularly as they get bigger and longer. And, since snakes never stop growing, they continually shed throughout their life.
Snake shedding is identified by several names. These include ecdysis, molting, and sloughing. Each of these names means the same thing.
What Time of Year Do Snakes Shed Their Skin?
Snakes don’t wait until a particular time of year to shed. It’s about shedding when they need to because they’ve outgrown their skin.
A hatchling snake should shed within a week or so. This won’t take any more or less time whether it’s early or late in the year. That’s because the temperature and humidity of your snake’s enclosure should be reasonably steady throughout the year.
That being said, if the temperature and humidity in your corn’s vivarium aren’t constant, then snakes do tend to shed more often in summer. That’s because they can grow faster and become more active in warmer, more humid weather. This causes them to shed more quickly.
Once your corn snake gets older, it will grow more slowly. At this point, it’ll shed once every few months. This will be the same throughout the year and depends far more on your snake’s feeding patterns than the weather.
Before it starts to shed, you’ll notice many behaviors that act as clues that it’s getting ready. Your snake will begin to hide more than usual. Then it’ll go through the ‘blue phase.’
Corn Snake Blue Phase Description
The blue phase is part of the period before your snake sheds. It’s called the blue phase because your snake’s eyes may turn cloudy or blue.
Its colors will also turn a darker, duller shade than usual. This phase will last for three or four days, after which the eyes will start to clear up.
After the end of the blue phase, your snake will return to normal. The eyes will clear up and return to their natural color. Your snake’s dull scales will brighten up again.
You might be tempted to think that your corn has shed its skin, but you can’t find it. This is normal. Within a few days of the end of your snake’s blue phase, it’ll start to shed its skin. This phase is the same whether your corn snake is a hatchling or a full-grown adult.
How Does a Corn Snake Shed?
The first thing you’ll notice is that your snake becomes more active. This is a basic instinct that helps corn snakes to shed their skin faster. If they sat still all day, their skin would never shed.
It’ll also start rubbing its head/jaw against items, including the wall of the vivarium and any rocks or sticks in its environment. This is to create a small hole or tear in its skin to get the shedding process underway.
Once it’s made this hole, it won’t take them long to shed its skin if your snakes living environment has the right level of humidity.
If the air is too dry, its skin will cling to it and won’t come off. Corn snakes typically shed at night, which is when they’re most active.
Your snake is likely to be more temperamental at this time, so it’s advisable to keep your corn snakes separate. This is always the preferred approach for a variety of reasons anyway (fighting, cannibalism, mating, etc.)
How Long Does It Take for a Snake to Shed Its Skin?
From the beginning until the end of the process, it takes about 6 to 9 days for your snake to shed. This includes the time when your snake initially starts hiding more than usual, through the blue phase and their increased activity, all the way through to the final shed.
Corn Snake Shedding Problems
Shedding doesn’t always go perfectly. Three main problems can occur with shedding. These are that your snake can’t shed their eye caps and tail tip, that they shed in pieces, or that they try to shed too often.
Shedding in Pieces
Your snake’s skin should always come off in one piece. If it comes off in patches, then the humidity in your snake’s environment is too low.
If this is the case, you will notice your snake rubbing its face against the glass or plastic of their vivarium. This is to encourage the skin to peel away.
If you notice your corn snake shedding in pieces, increase the humidity in your snake’s tank. You can do this either with a ready-purchased humidifier or by providing more water in your snake’s environment.
Having a small ‘pond’ area is a good idea. Your snake will ‘bathe,’ which will loosen the skin. Alternatively, you could try these DIY remedies:
- Take a lidded container, and cut an entrance hole into it. Fill it with damp moss, or failing that, damp paper towels. Let your corn snake sit in the container until their skin either comes off or softens up enough that you can help it off. This is called a moist hide.
- Hold a damp towel in your hands, and let your snake slither through it while you hold him.
These techniques will make your snake’s skin softer. It’ll then have a much easier time getting rid of it. Increase humidity before they start to shed.
Shedding Too Often
Let’s say your snake used to shed once every 2-3 months, ever since you brought it home. That’s perfectly normal. You would expect it to start shedding less often as they get older.
But what about if it starts shedding once 1 month, instead? Because this isn’t normal behavior, you might be concerned, but there’s no need to be. It’s typically down to these two reasons:
- Your vivarium may be warmer or more humid in the summer.
- Your snake may feed more in summer because it’s more active. This can make it grow more, and therefore, shed more often.
Your snake is probably going through a growth spurt. This isn’t a problem.
Eye Caps Won’t Come Off
You can tell by taking a look at the discarded skin. Look for the snake’s eye caps, which are like small, dark discolorations in the shed. You should also look for their tail tip because this can cause complications.
These two parts are the most difficult for your snake to shed. If your snake’s eye caps don’t come off, don’t worry. It doesn’t present any serious risks.
Leave their eye caps alone. If you try and get rid of it manually, you can cause more damage to your snake’s eye.
If their tail tip doesn’t come off, this can cause complications. Your snake sheds because they outgrow their skin. If the tail tip stays on, this can cut off blood flow to the tip of the tail. If this happens, it may die and drop off.
Even worse, this can cause necrosis or infection that may kill your snake. Keep an eye out for this if it’s your albino corn snake shedding. Unfinished sheds are more difficult to notice on these snakes.
If either problem occurs, you should use humidity and moisture to help your snake shed whatever is left. Either use the towel trick, create a moist hide or get a tank humidifier. These will make the skin softer and help your corn snake shed from tip to tail.