How to Treat Stuck Shed

Ever open you enclosure to check on your snake and it looks like they had a confetti skin party? In the ideal situation your snake all in one piece, however in the winter and drier areas your enclosure may not be able to provide the right humidity for this to occur. It happens to the best of us, don’t worry.

Obviously you will need to find a way to increase your humidity to help this from happening in the future, possibly by adding another water bowl under the ceramic heat emitter or changing your substrate to something that will hold humidity better like, coco bedding. Proper humidity levels should be kept at around 70%

With all that being said there are a few things you can do to help your little friend with removing what is left of their shed.

  1. Leave them alone and let them try and get the rest of it off on their own, once you have increased the humidity (if it is only a small amount of stuck shed.) If there is any stuck shed along the head or around the eyes you are going to have to do something about it.

  2. With cases of larger amount of stuck shed you will need to make a humid hide box. This consists of a locking container with one or two air holes with an inch of lukewarm water (80-85*) and either paper towels or hand towel. You need a container large enough for your animal to be able to move around and rub up against the paper towels or hand towel to help remove the stuck shed. Re check your animal after 20-30 minutes to see if shed has come off. If there is still stuck shed, rewarm water and repeat. Be sure to watch your animal the entire time it is the humid hide for any possible problems.

  3. If you have an animal that is too large to fit into a humid hide you can also use a damp pillow case. Wet the pillow case with warm water (80-85*) and place your animal inside and tie a knot in the end ( don’t go crazy you will need to be able to untie it) then place the pillow case in the enclosure or container in a warm area and so they don’t roll away. Recheck after 20-30 minutes. Again supervise your animal during the process.

  4. In cases of extreme heavily stuck shed or several layers of stuck shed you will need to soak your animal. I know, i know before you crucify me this is the best way to remove layers of stuck shed and rehydrate your animal. Dehydration along with poor husbandry is the culprit in these cases. You will need a locking container with a few air holes, add 2 inches or enough to come up slightly on the sides of container of warm water (80-85*). Place animal inside. This is stress for the animal so you must keep a close eye on them when you are doing this. Keep animal in a warm room also while soaking. After 30 minutes check to see if the stuck skin has started to loosen. At this point you can try a damp cloth to see if the skin come off easily. Do not rub aggressively to remove skin, you can cause damage. You may need to repeat this process a few times to remove all the stuck skin.

  5. Stuck Eye caps!!! This also caused by bad husbandry and dehydration. Another reason could be parasites like mites or bacterial infection of one or both eyes, trauma/injury. In these cases of infection, trauma/ injury it is best to consult a vet on proper treatment. If left untreated your snake my loose the eye.

    • A snake with retained eye caps will have a sunken in appearance or grainy/cloudy look to the eye, check the recent shed to see if the eye caps did in fact come off before trying to remove possible stuck eye caps you could cause severe damage to the eye

IF YOU DO NOT FEEL CONFIDENT ENOUGH TO DO THIS WITHOUT DAMAGING THE EYE A TRIP TO THE VET IS ALWAYS THE BEST COURSE OF ACTION.

  • The best way to remove stuck eye caps is again soaking the animal in a few inches of warm water for 30 mins (again always supervise will doing this) then with a wet q-tip GENTLY rub across the eye to see if you can get the eye cap to come off. you may need to do this for a few days and of course increasing the humidity of your enclosure and make sure to provide plenty of fresh water.
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When they have stuck shed I always simply wipe them with a wet cloth with some medium warm water. I use those cloths that are made for wiping baby spit and are made of the same material they make towels from ( sorry I don’t know the English word for them). Just wet them and squeeze them enough that they are not dripping water anymore but are still really wet. Then I let the snake slide through them. When a piece stays stuck just hold it on the stuck part for a few minutes. If the water gets cold I just wet them again with warm water. For me it works like magic. Within 10 minutes all the stuck shed is gone and they seem more fine with this than with bathing ect. I even use this on the blue tongue skink’s toes. I never had several layers of stuck shed so mayby bathing is then really necessary.