How Often Do Corn Snakes Shed? (The Signs It's About to Happen) (2023)

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.

(Video) Corn Snake - The Shedding Process

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.

(Video) Signs of Shedding

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.

(Video) SHEDDING FOR BEGINNERS (Snakes)

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.

(Video) How Often Do Snakes Shed || How often do snakes shed ball || How often do snakes shed their skins

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.

How Often Do Corn Snakes Shed? (The Signs It's About to Happen) (1)

Lisa

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.

FAQs

How do I know if my corn snake is going to strike? ›

Head retracted, neck coiled into 'S' shape: Snake feels threatened and is preparing to defend itself if necessary. May also be preparing to strike at prey. Hissing: Snake is telling you to “go away.” Tail shaking/rattling: Snake feels threatened and is trying to scare away the perceived predator.

What happens before a snake sheds? ›

Just prior to shedding, the snake's skin begins to turn bluish, and its eyes become opaque, hindering vision. Within a few days, the snake will rub its head on something abrasive—like a rock—to tear open the outer layer.

Why is my corn snake shedding so often? ›

Two of the most commonly seen reasons include malnutrition and humidity levels being too high or too low for the species of snake. One of the main reasons snakes shed their skin is to remove any parasites or collected bacteria.

How can you tell if a snake is about to shed its skin? ›

As the old layer of skin loosens, it starts to look dull and colorless. Snakes shed protective layers over their eyes along with their skin, so their eyes look cloudy in the days before they molt.

Will a corn snake eat while shedding? ›

Feeding corn snakes when shedding

Pending shed is also another popular food strike cause. A snake will often hide away during this period which can last a couple of weeks. And it's certainly not uncommon for a corn snake to refuse food. Many will not care if they are about to shed or not, and still eat regardless.

What do corn snakes do when threatened? ›

When threatened, corn snakes may pull their head back, displaying an 'S' shaped neck. If your snake does this, handle them another time. Don't handle after touching prey items without washing your hands well before, otherwise, your snake may bite.

What do snakes do before they strike? ›

You can usually tell if the snake is about to strike by watching their tail. The positioning of the tail is what will eventually give them leverage and more lunging power. The snake will slowly move its tail into a tighter position and may even prop its tail up against something nearby to give it more leverage.

How does a snake warn you? ›

If the tail contacts dry leaves, it sounds like the rattle of a rattlesnake. Snakes warn predators away in various ways. Some snakes inflate part of their bodies or rise up and spread their neck regions to look menacing. Others give off a bad smell, make hissing sounds, or rattle their scales.

What triggers a snake to shed? ›

Put simply, snakes shed their skin because it doesn't fit anymore or because it's old or worn out. When snakes grow, their skin does not, so they outgrow it. When this happens, they shed their outer layer of skin.

Can I touch my snake when it sheds? ›

The complete shedding process can take between one to two weeks. Whilst it can be tempting to intervene and help snakes shed, the best thing you can do is leave them be. Snakes become easily stressed when shedding, so avoid handling during this time and just visually check their progress.

Do snakes stay near where they shed their skin? ›

Snakes don't typically hang around the site where they shed very long (don't worry, I looked), but the sheds themselves have many characteristics that aid in identifying the species they came from. Two of the three sheds were found right outside the entrance to a gopher tortoise burrow.

What are the stages of snake shedding? ›

As we know, snakes shed when they've outgrown their skin, or when they've been injured and they're healing, and sometimes just... when they need a fresh one. Anyway. So the stages of shedding are basically pink belly & dulling, blue, clear, and then shed.

How often should I feed my corn snake fuzzies? ›

Juveniles: For snakes over six or seven months, feed once every seven to ten days. Do this for a couple of years, also going up in prey size with the snakes growth. Adults: For fully grown snakes (those that are two years +) I wait a little longer feeding every 14 to 21 days.

How long can a corn snake go without shedding? ›

Hatchling and juvenile corn snakes can be expected to shed every 4-6 weeks, but adults only shed every 3 months or so. As long as your humidity is correct and your corn snake is well hydrated, the skin should come off in one piece with little to no complication.

What months do snakes shed their skin? ›

There is not a specific time of year when all snakes molt. They can shed almost any time of year. Notably, young snakes shed their skin about once a week as they continue to grow and develop. In fact, the age of the reptile plays an important role in how often it sheds.

How long does it take a snake to shed once it starts? ›

A snake typically remains opaque for about 4 to 7 days after which the eyes become clear and actual shedding takes place 4 to 7 days after that. Snakes shed by rubbing their nose and face against objects in the cage.

Can I hold my corn snake every day? ›

Tame snakes can be handled daily as long as they haven't just eaten, are shedding, or show stress signs. However, there are instances when you shouldn't handle your snake for a day or a couple of days.

Should I feed my snake before it sheds? ›

During shedding, most snakes will refuse food and if fed, they sometimes regurgitate the item. Whilst feeding dead food items to your snake during this time won't do it any harm, we recommend waiting until after it has shed to avoid wasting food items.

Can you handle a corn snake before feeding? ›

Wait 24 hours before handling and because Corn Snakes are crepuscular, feed your corn snake at the last part of the day. A water dish is also necessary, and the water should be kept meticulously clean. Snakes often defecate in their water, and when this happens, the waste should be cleaned immediately.

What do corn snakes like in their tank? ›

Corn snakes need to be kept in a temperature of 75 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit, which is pretty easy to achieve with a warming lamp set over the tank. The tank should have a "warm" zone (82 degrees) and a cool zone, with a hiding area available in each zone. Your local pet shop will have a selection to choose from.

How do you bond with a corn snake? ›

Hold your hand in front of your snake's head so it gets used to you. Snakes recognize things by smell, so your snake needs to get comfortable around your scent. Try holding your hand about 3–4 in (7.6–10.2 cm) away from your snake's head so it can smell you.

What do corn snakes like to do for fun? ›

Snakes aren't playful in the way dogs and cats are, but they do like some toys. Your pet will appreciate having some different things to explore. Some good examples of this would be cork rounds, log decorations, and rock caves. Driftwood pieces and accessories can also be fun for your serpentine buddy to climb.

Where do snakes hide before they strike? ›

"A favorite hiding spot for snakes is underneath objects like rocks, logs, and leaves. This helps them stay hidden and also keeps them protected," experts from lawn care and pest control company The Turf Doctor tell Best Life.

How do snakes show anger? ›

A snake that is feeling aggressive may warn you with a hiss,” states Dr. Hoppes. “This can occur when you are forcing your attention on the snake, and if you persist, they may strike out. Typically snakes hiss or coil when they are feeling hostile, but most pet snakes are not aggressive animals unless threatened.”

What do snakes do when they are hungry? ›

Snakes will let you know when they're hungry. They will start prowling their enclosure and their tongue flicks will increase in frequency and number.

Can snakes hear you talk to them? ›

Can snakes hear us? Our study further debunks the myth that snakes are deaf. They can hear – just not as well as you or I. Snakes can only hear low frequencies, roughly below the 600Hz mark, whereas most of us can hear a much wider range.

Can your snake recognize you? ›

Some snake owners feel as though their snake recognises them and is more eager to be held by them than by other people. However, snakes don't have the intellectual capacity to feel emotions such as affection.

Can snakes tell if your scared? ›

It is a myth that snakes can sense fear in humans. However, since snakes have an extraordinary sense of smell, they might be able to sense a difference between a relaxed human and a fearful human. Snakes do not respond to fear in humans unless they feel threatened by unpredictable human movements.

How long after a snake's eyes turn blue will it shed? ›

Final Phase

After around two to four days of being stuck in the blue phase, your snake's skin and eyes will begin returning to normal. Don't worry -- you didn't miss the shedding of his skin. He's simply entered the final phase before that old skin sloughs off.

How not to hold a snake? ›

To avoid making your snake feel stressed, you should gently scoop them out of their enclosure, placing one hand near their head and the other under their tail to try and support their whole body as much as possible. When you hold them, you should always be supporting their weight rather than clutching onto them.

How long should I leave my snake alone after shedding? ›

You can handle it immediately after a shed. You don't have to worry much about it, after the snake has shed. The hands-off period occurs before the ball python sheds — not after. When the snake first starts to go “blue,” it will start hiding more than usual.

How long can a snake go without eating? ›

Snakes can generally last around two months without food, however, wild snakes can go without fresh water for months or even weeks. Snakes in captivity shouldn't be restricted water intake for longer than a week.

Why is my corn snake hiding? ›

Snakes have relatively poor long-range eyesight and are therefore stressed in the open spaces of most cages. Therefore, most nocturnal snakes (like corn snakes) instinctively stay hidden for most day-lit hours.

Do snakes stop eating when they shed? ›

Molting is the most common cause of loss of appetite: your snake may stop eating when it's about to molt or shed its skin. 1 In addition to premolt anorexia, look for your snake's skin to become very pale and dull and its eyes to look blue and milky. It may not eat for a week or so before and after it molts.

Do snakes get bigger when they shed? ›

Snakes are able to grow when they shed their skins. The new skin is stretchable and allows for a larger body size than the previous skin. Younger snakes should shed more frequently as they are in a more rapid growth phase.

What's the difference between molting and shedding? ›

Shedding VS Molting

Molting is the routine “shedding” of the outer covering of an animal 1. But instead of changing for the season, molting often prepares an animal for a new stage of growth. And in contrast to casual shedding, molting is more intense and often creates a vulnerable time for the animal.

What does shedding feel like for a snake? ›

For snakes and other reptiles, the new skin grows under the old one. Snakes shed this skin all at once, while for lizards it falls off in pieces. Not for a healthy snake. However, it is extremely uncomfortable and very itchy.

Can I hold my corn snake after feeding? ›

Don't handle your snake after feeding it.

Give your snake time to digest its food. Handling it while it's digesting can cause regurgitation and other problems. Make sure to wait two days after feeding time before handling your snake. In addition, avoid handling your snake the day that you feed it.

How often do corn snakes need to drink water? ›

container that is separate from their home. As a general guideline, feed your snake after it has defecated. Corn snakes need water every day, but most people probably will not see their snake drink. A corn snake should be housed in at least a 20-gallon tank with a secure top, as they are known to be escape artists.

Should you feed a snake in its cage? ›

Spoiler: No. People feed their snakes in different enclosures for two reasons. The main concern is that a snake will go into "feeding mode" when you open and reach into their usual enclosure if they are fed in that same space. Then, once the enclosure's open, they may bite you after mistaking you for prey.

Can you hold a corn snake after shed? ›

You can generally handle a snake as soon as they're done shedding, although it is very wise to provide them with a meal and allow them to digest it before handling, since they may be hungry and irritable after going without food for some time during their shed.

How long can a corn snake live as a pet? ›

Lifespan. Corn snakes may live up to 15-20 years in captivity.

How long does it take for a corn snake to start shedding? ›

Like any other reptile, corn snakes shed their skin regularly as they grow and age. Hatchling and juvenile corn snakes can be expected to shed every 4-6 weeks, but adults only shed every 3 months or so.

Can I feed my snake while its shedding? ›

During shedding, most snakes will refuse food and if fed, they sometimes regurgitate the item. Whilst feeding dead food items to your snake during this time won't do it any harm, we recommend waiting until after it has shed to avoid wasting food items.

Does a snake shedding mean its growing? ›

Put simply, snakes shed their skin because it doesn't fit anymore or because it's old or worn out. When snakes grow, their skin does not, so they outgrow it. When this happens, they shed their outer layer of skin.

When should I move my corn snake up to fuzzies? ›

When to feed pinkies and fuzzies to corn snakes. Snakes will have different weights at the same age, depending on the diet given where you made your snake purchase. For me, if I have a young or hatchling corn I feed pinkies up until the corns weight is around 25-30g. I then move up a feeder size to fuzzy.

Can you touch a snake while shedding? ›

The complete shedding process can take between one to two weeks. Whilst it can be tempting to intervene and help snakes shed, the best thing you can do is leave them be. Snakes become easily stressed when shedding, so avoid handling during this time and just visually check their progress.

How long do snakes hide before shedding? ›

A snake typically remains opaque for about 4 to 7 days after which the eyes become clear and actual shedding takes place 4 to 7 days after that. Snakes shed by rubbing their nose and face against objects in the cage.

How often should I mist my corn snake? ›

Corn snakes do not require misting or a humid hide to have a good shed. However, if they get stuck shed or they don't shed in one piece it's best to mist and provide a humid hide then. After a few days, your snake's eyes will return to normal and a few days after that the shed will happen.

What do corn snakes like to hide in? ›

Hides. Corn snakes need at least 2 hides: one on the warm side, and another on the cool side. Even though they're rather curious and active, they still need a dark, safe place to snooze during the day. You can also provide an additional humid hide on the warm side, packing with damp sphagnum moss to be used as needed.

Should I soak my corn snake? ›

Corns enjoy relaxing in the water. It softens and loosens the skin before the shedding process begins. Exposure to water can also assist with removing infestations, such as ticks and mites. Corn snakes should spend about 15 minutes soaking in a warm bowl of water.

Can you touch your corn snake after shedding? ›

You can generally handle a snake as soon as they're done shedding, although it is very wise to provide them with a meal and allow them to digest it before handling, since they may be hungry and irritable after going without food for some time during their shed.

How do you grab a corn snake? ›

Handling a corn snake
  1. Gently lift them with one hand underneath the snake near the head and another hand nearer the tail, but never grab them.
  2. Safe handling is around 10 to 15 minutes - any longer and their core temperature will drop too low.
  3. All snakes may bite under stress or if they smell food.

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