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Snake Shedding Skin Pictures and Words

Alice sheds her skin - February 2003

This is a special page of Corn Snake pictures - kept separate from the rest of the main Snake Picture Galleries, because it is devoted to Alice, my female corn snake, who shed her skin recently.

Described and shown in pictures, here is the whole process of a snake shedding it's skin, from the first signs of pre-shedding mode to a final picture of Alice with her brand new skin.

It all started around 10th February 2003, when I noticed Shaggy and Alice both sitting very quietly one afternoon. I particularly noticed them because of the way they had arranged themselves, face to face, as it were. The second picture was taken quite sometime later, to show just how little they had moved... This is one of the first signs of them going into shedding mode and as with most other things lately, Shaggy and Alice do things together... Another clue at this stage was that their skin colours were beginning to get darker than normal. I would have taken a web video of it but my current fast broadband connection hadn't been put up by the time this took place.

Corn Snake Picture
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Corn Snake Picture
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A couple of days later and it was obvious - the three pictures of them below here show them both still curled up together under the rear 'hide' in the viv and that the colour of their skins has changed dramatically - you can also see Alice has blue/grey eyes in the left hand picture.

This is due to the oil secreted by the snake, under it's old skin, which helps the old separate from the new. The eye of a snake, as you may know, never shuts - they have no eyelid like you or me. Instead, they have a transparent scale over the eye, just like a window; and this scale, like all the others, is shed when the snake sloughs off the old skin...

The other two pictures, on the right, were taken a couple of days later - the oil has mostly gone and Alice's eyes have now cleared again and her skin colour has become a bit more like normal. But now Shaggy's are definitely blue; he is pretty well blind at this stage - only vaguely able to see movement in front of him - hence, one of the reasons snakes can get a bit tetchy or easily upset when about to shed their skin.

Corn Snake Picture
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Corn Snake Picture
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Corn Snake Picture
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And so to the actual shedding... Five days after the previous pictures, Alice woke up, did a huge yawn to stretch the skin around her jaw and became very active, moving about the viv for the first time for over a week. In the picture on the right, you can see she is vigorously rubbing her nose up against the black side wall of the viv, to break the old skin away from her upper lip. The picture is a little blurry because she was moving quite fast and wouldn't stop - sorry!
Corn Snake Picture
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Corn Snake Picture
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After wriggling around some more, here you can see Alice has got the skin peeled away from the top of her head and has squirmed her way in underneath Shaggy, down near the left front of the viv, by the green water dish. Next, she pushed her chin along the chippings to break the skin away from her lower jaw. At this point I lifted Shaggy out and put him in another viv to keep him out of the way while I was taking these pictures.

So the next picture is a couple of minutes later... Alice has now headed off round to the rear right area of the viv and is starting to get the skin peeled off down her back - the skin coming off inside out as it peels back. She now moves forward slowly and steadily, so the skin doesn't break. Notice also, the bright colours of her neck as it emerges from out of the old skin.
Corn Snake Picture
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Corn Snake Picture
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As she moves slowly forward, the skin stays still, so after a while, her tail disappears down the mouth of her old skin.

On a technical note, these pictures were taken in bright indoor lighting with no flash. I resized the pictures in my photo editing software but made virtually no adjustments to colour etc. Looking at these pictures I am satisfied that what you are seeing is a fair representation of reality. However, on different monitors and using different browsers to view web pages, colours will obviously vary a bit, but even so, you will easily see the difference between Alice's old and new skin.

Corn Snake Picture
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Meanwhile, back at the other end, Alice has made her way through the hide at the rear of the viv and has moved along to the left end and doubled back again - the skin still staying stationary as she eases herself forwards and out of it. Bear in mind, she has to travel at least twice her own length from start to finish when shedding her skin. And being around 40 inches long, that means 80 inches of moving - more than twice the length of the 36 inch viv.
Corn Snake Picture
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Corn Snake Picture
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Conveniently for me taking pictures, Alice now started to slide up and over the hide near the front of the viv. The first gives you a fairly good view of her eye - they are just like the button eyes on a teddy bear. The other picture, looking down on her, gives you an idea of her colours right after shedding.
Corn Snake Picture
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Corn Snake Picture
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Corn Snake Picture
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About twelve minutes after starting, Alice is now very nearly finished shedding her skin - just the last couple of inches to go.

Alice relaxing a few minutes after the strenuous effort of shedding her skin. Compare her colour now with how it was when her eyes were blue - quite a difference!!!
Corn Snake Picture
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Corn Snake Picture
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And finally, to finish off, a picture of the old discarded skin, which came off in one piece except for the last six inches or so, where it broke once.

And so that is it - I have finally got some good pictures of one of my snakes shedding it's skin on the site for you... Many people have been asking about it, so now you can see how it happens. I hope you find it interesting and informative. One thing you can't see in the pictures is the peculiar wriggling motion snakes make where the skin is actually separating from the body - it's a kind of rippling of the muscles. You'd need to watch a video clip to see that - or else, hey, get your own corn snake: then you'll see!!!

You might be wondering why I have no pictures of Shaggy shedding his skin - because, as you can see in these pictures, he was at about the same stage in the shedding process as Alice was.

Well, being the crafty old thing he is, he shed his skin later that same night, long after I'd gone to my bed - so he's evaded the camera yet again!!! Ah, well... :-)

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Gallery Two
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Gallery Fourteen
Gallery Three
Gallery Six
Gallery Nine
Gallery Twelve

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