Helping your reptiles with their shed
Different reptiles have different habits when it comes to shedding, but it will be at least once a year and is a very important step for your pet's health. As they shed all of their skin at one time, it can be itchy and very irritating so it is important to check they are not having difficulty. If they are, there are a few ways you can help them out to make it an easier process for them!
Sheds can vary between different species (snakes, lizards, turtles, etc.) so make sure you check the specific requirements for your reptile. If you're unsure, check out our advice sheets, like our Bearded Dragon care guide, Royal python care guide and Leopard Gecko care guide.
Provide them with a rough surface
As the shed can get itchy, it is best to put a rough surface in their housing so they can satisfy the itch and also remove and old skin which isn't coming off on its own. There are many things you can choose, some of which you probably have already. Things like rocks, branches, vines and any rough surfaced decoration would be perfect and can be picked up at a relatively low cost.
Keep the humidity up
Obviously, humidity is a very important part of any reptile housing but it is a particular priority during a shed. The main cause of problems with shedding is lack of humidity. Every reptile has requirements when it comes to humidity levels in their tank, usually with a range of values. In this time, it is best to keep the levels towards the higher end which will usually increase further during a shed so make sure you know what is best for your reptile. Read our Humidity Guide for a bit more information.
If you find it difficult to keep the humidity levels high it is probably worth creating a humid hide using a plastic container or a hide you have already and some sphagnum moss. The sphagnum moss creates extra moisture which provides the humidity you need.
Give them a Bath
If your reptile is having a particularly bad time, you can resort to giving them a bath. This can loosen up their old skin so it will come off easier. Make sure the water is tepid or mildly warm and if it is too warm it will be bad for their health and also keep the water levels very low to avoid drowning. After the bath, make sure you dry them properly with a towel and also place them underneath the heat lamp.
If you would rather not put them in a bath, you can use a spray bottle and spray warm water on their bodies where the old skin is. This will have the same effect as a bath.
Take Extra Care
You need to make sure your reptile is receiving the care and nutrients they require, especially when they are shedding. If they do not receive the nutrients they need, they will have a more difficult time. Make sure they have access to clean water, the right kind of food and multivitamins and change any old food or water which has been left in the tank.
Help them out
If there is excess skin in difficult places on your reptile, such as eyes or feet, it is ok to help them out and pull it off. If it has shed properly it will pull away with ease. If there is any resistance, leave the skin alone and let it come away naturally.
Things you shouldn't do
- It is not necessary to purchase any moisturising sprays from a pet store. You can achieve the same effect by using a spray bottle with warm water.
- Do not handle snakes pre-shed. They may be unable to see and will bite if startled.
- If you notice any bodily fluids (pus, blood, etc…) on your reptile, contact a vet immediately.