As corn snakes grow, like other reptiles, they shed their skin. When you’re unfamiliar with corn snake shedding, you might not recognize what’s happening at first.
Seeing your snake shed for the first time is an amazing experience, although you’ll be lucky to catch them doing it since they usually shed at night. Either way, it’s a fascinating part of nature and not something you’ll get from any other pet.
This guide will look at corn snake shedding process from start to finish. This includes the corn snake 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 you can do to resolve them.
- 1 A Complete Guide to the Corn Snake Shedding Process
- 2 Corn Snake Shedding Problems
A Complete Guide to the Corn Snake Shedding Process
Snakes shed their skin as they grow. Their skin as isn’t stretchy and pliable as ours, 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.
If you didn’t know, 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 not about that. It’s about shedding when they need to because they’ve outgrown their skin.
As we said, 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 in your snake’s enclosure should be reasonably steady throughout the year.
That being said, if the temperature and humidity in your 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 makes them shed more quickly.
This Evergreen Pet Supplies Humidifier is perfect for corn snakes that need a humid environment for shedding. Click on this link to read the latest reviews or check the pricing.
Once your snake gets older, it will grow more slowly. At this point, they’ll shed once every few months. Again, this will be the same throughout the year and depends far more on your snake’s feeding patterns than the weather.
Before they start to shed, you’ll notice many behaviors which act as clues that they’re getting ready. First, your snake will begin to hide, more than usual. Then they’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.
Their colors will also turn a darker, duller shade than they usually are. This phase will last for three or four days, after which they’ll clear up.
This is where you might expect them to shed for the first time. But it’s not.
After the end of the blue phase, your snake will return to normal. Their 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 they’ve shed their skin, but you can’t find it. No—this is normal. Within a few days of the end of your snake’s blue phase, they’ll start to shed their 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 will notice is that your snake becomes more active. This is a basic instinct that helps them shed their skin faster (because if they sat still all day, their skin would never shed).
They’ll also start rubbing their head/jaw against things, including the wall of their vivarium and any rocks or sticks in their environment. This is to encourage a small hole or tear in their skin, which they can then quickly ‘grow.’
Once they’ve made this hole, it won’t take them long to shed their skin if you keep them in the right environment. The main factor behind a successful shed is humidity.
If the air is too dry, their skin will cling to them and won’t come off. Corn snakes typically shed at night, which is when they’re most active anyway. It’s therefore common to miss seeing your snake shed.
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.
How Long Does It Take for a Snake to Shed Its Skin?
From the very beginning until the end of the process, it takes about six to nine 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.
1) Corn Snake Shedding in Pieces
Your snake’s skin should always come off in one piece. If it comes off in patches, this means that 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 their skin. Alternatively, you could try a couple of 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 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 much softer. They’ll then have a much easier time getting rid of it. For best results, increase humidity before they start to shed.
2) Corn Snake Shedding Too Often
Let’s say your snake used to shed once every two months, ever since you brought them home. That’s perfectly normal. You would expect them to start shedding less often as they get older.
But what about if they start shedding once every month, instead? Because this isn’t normal behavior, you might be concerned, but there’s no need to be.
It’s generally down to one two reasons:
- Your vivarium may be warmer and more humid in the summer months.
- Your snake may feed more in summer because it’s more active. This can make them grow more, and therefore shed more often too.
Long story short, your snake is probably going through a growth spurt. This isn’t a problem, and you should see the spurt tail off when the weather gets colder.
3) Corn Snake’s Eye Caps Won’t Come Off
The final issue that you might encounter is when your snake seems to have shed completely, but they haven’t. You can tell by taking a look at the discarded skin.
You have to 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 leaving this on can cause complications.
These two parts are the most difficult for your snake to shed. If your snake’s eye cap doesn’t come off, don’t worry. It doesn’t present any serious risks.
Your best bet is to leave their eye be because if you try and get rid of it manually, you can cause much more damage to your snake’s eye than you’re trying to prevent.
If their tail tip doesn’t come off, this can cause significant complications. Like we’ve said, 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’s left. Either use the towel trick we mentioned above, create a moist hide or invest in a high-quality tank humidifier (by clicking on this link.) These techniques will make the skin softer and help them shed from tip to tail.