Snakes are legless reptiles that are found throughout most of the world. There are approximately 2,900 species of snakes and although only 600 of these are venomous they continue to have a reputation of being dangerous. This is due to the fact that some snakes have been known to cause death to humans. They are also well known for their scaly skin that looks slimy, but feels a bit like leather. Unlike many other animals that shed skin cells and hair, snakes shed all of their skin in one long piece. Let’s take a look at why they do this.
Why do snakes shed their skins?
A snake will shed its skin many times throughout its life. Before this process begins the snake will stop eating and move to a safe place. The skin becomes dry and the inner surface of the skin will liquefy. This separates the old skin from the new skin underneath and it breaks near the mouth. The snake uses something rough to brush up against and literally crawls out of the old skin!
Snakes shed their skin for a variety of different reasons. The first reason is to replace the old skin that gets worn out and damaged. The second reason is to remove parasites attached to the skin such as ticks and mites. It is also widely believed that snakes shed their skin when they are growing, but some experts do not longer agree with this. A young snake will shed its skin between 4-8 times per year and an older snake usually sheds 2-4 times per year.
Did you know?
At times this molting process can cause problems for the snake. If they shed when the skin is too dry the leftover skin can remain attached to the snake. This is a problem because parasites and diseases are can often be found or breed in old skin. If a section of old skin is not removed it can actually cut off the blood flow, which can cause many problems.
It is possible for an expert to identify a snake by the skin that it sheds.