Right after a snake sheds is one of the times they look their best. Any little injuries to the old layer of skin will have been shed away and the fresh new skin will be bright, clean, and have your snake looking gorgeous. Naturally, you’ll want to handle your snake when they’re looking so good.
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.
In some cases, such as when the shed is not complete or your snake is injured from shedding, handling is not appropriate. Here’s what you need to know about how to tell when your snake is finished shedding and ready to be handled and when handling may not be a good idea.
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How Soon After Shedding Can I Handle a Snake?
Typically, you will be able to handle a snake as soon as it is completely finished shedding. You’ll know when your snake is done shedding and ready to be handled when it comes out of its hiding place where it has been shedding and seems to be looking for interaction as normal.
All of the shed skin will be off of the snake. The new skin will be soft and the color very bright. This is the time when many people like to photograph their snakes since the colors are sharper and clearer now than at any other time.
Keep in mind that it is a good idea to feed your snake before you handle it after a shed. Snakes typically don’t eat while they are shedding, and shedding takes quite a lot of energy. Therefore, your snake will likely be very hungry as soon as it is finished shedding.
A hungry snake may be more likely to behave irritably with you or even mistake your hand for a food source, so feed your snake and give it time to digest after a shed before you handle it.
Here’s how a snake looks and behaves during and after shedding:
When Not to Handle Your Snake After Shedding
Generally, you can handle your snake as soon as they’re done shedding and have had a meal. However, there are some instances in which it is not appropriate to handle your snake even when shedding is complete and a meal has been consumed:
- If they have any retained skin. If your snake has retained skin, you may need to assist them in removing extra skin or eye caps and address your husbandry so that your snake doesn’t retain skin again in the future.
- If it has injuries from shedding. Sometimes when skin comes off, it may cause injuries to the underlying tissue which may need to heal or be addressed by a veterinarian before you handle your snake.
- If your snake is particularly sensitive to handling. Most snakes don’t mind being handled after a shed, but some snakes seem to be a little bit more sensitive to handling in general and may be more reactive to being handled when they have fresh new skin.
Find Out If You Can Already Handle Your Snake After Shedding
Can Snakes be Handled Before They Shed?
Before your snake sheds is not the time to handle it. The cap over the eye becomes foggy as the skin detaches, which impairs your snake’s vision. Your snake will be nervous and sensitive to being handled during this state of partial blindness.
Furthermore, snakes tend to become a bit irritable before they shed, which may make a bite more likely. As soon as you notice your snake’s skin become foggy and especially when you notice the eye cap become clouded, you should not try to handle your snake.
Most snakes go under a hiding place to shed, making it even clearer that they would not like to be handled. However, snakes don’t always seak cover during a shed.
Your snake may stay out in the main enclosure in order to rub against things in the environment to help itself shed. Whether your snake is hiding or out in the main part of the enclosure, don’t be tempted to handle it before it sheds.
How Long Does Snake Shedding Take?
Snakes may start to slow down for a week or two before shedding begins. Shedding itself typically takes from a week to two weeks, although some snake’s skin sheds completely in as little as a couple of days.
Wait an Appropriate Amount of Time After Shedding to Handle Your Snake
While it can be tempting to pick up your beautiful snake as soon as shedding is finished, it’s best to provide your snake with a meal and give it time to digest before you handle it.
Provided your snake has had an opportunity to eat and digest, there’s no reason that you can’t enjoy handling your gorgeous snake once their shed is complete.