Are you concerned about shedding problems in your Savannah monitor? Understanding how and why they shed their skin can help you avoid common husbandry mistakes that result in problems with shedding.
Savannah Monitors experience a natural cycle of skin renewal every 4-6 weeks as they shed their skin in patches. A healthy monitor will complete the process in 1-3 weeks. Moisture, proper nutrition, and proper habitat conditions are essential for the successful shedding of their skin.
In this article, we will discuss everything you need to know about Savannah monitor shedding. With our guide in hand, you’ll be able to ensure that your monitor gets through each shedding cycle without problems.
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Savannah Monitor Shedding Basics
Reptile skin does not grow along with the body; therefore, all reptiles must shed their old skin regularly to reveal the new skin underneath.
How Often Do Savannah Monitors Shed?
Younger monitors shed more often than older ones since they grow faster. A juvenile Savannah monitor can complete two sheds within the same amount of time that an adult completes one.
Shedding happens every 4-6 weeks, and a healthy monitor will complete its shed in 1-3 weeks. If the shedding process takes longer than this, it could be an indication that there is something wrong.
Savannah Monitor Shedding Behavior
Your monitor’s behavior will change a day or two before it starts to shed. It is likely to get cranky during this time.
Decreased appetite and decreased activity are observed, its skin will become duller with a grey cast to it.
The Savannah monitor sheds its skin in patches. All the old skin is shed, including the skin over the eyes, nostrils, and ears.
The monitor will rub itself against objects in its enclosure, which helps to dislodge the old skin. The skin over the eyes (the eye caps) is often the last bit to get shed.
How To Prevent Shedding Problems In Savannah Monitors
The most common cause of dysecdysis, or improper shedding of reptile skin, is improper reptile husbandry.
This includes factors like low humidity, poor nutrition, improper heating and lighting, insufficient cage furniture, and handling during shedding.
High Humidity Is Critical When Your Savannah Monitor Is Shedding
Although Savannah monitors originate from a relatively dry region, they do need a decent amount of humidity in their habitat.
Daily humidity levels in their enclosure should be between 40-60%, and during shedding they need even more than this.
When the new layer of skin starts to grow, a very thin layer of fluid will form between the old skin and the new. If the humidity is too low, then this fluid layer will not form properly and shedding problems will ensue.
Higher humidity during shedding can be achieved by providing “microclimates” within their habitat. This means smaller areas where they can go to get wetter when needed.
The most obvious of these is a water source deep enough for them to submerge themselves for soaking.
Unfortunately, not all habitats are large enough to have a full-size soaking pool in it at all times and other methods must be used. For example:
- Bathing – taking the monitor out of its enclosure so that it can soak in a bath sounds like a good idea, but must be balanced with the damage that might be done by handling it during shedding. Make sure you don’t rip off any loose skin.
- Damp hiding area – fill their standard hide area (or one placed in the habitat for this specific purpose) with damp sphagnum moss. This way they will have a high-humidity micro-environment to go to whenever they need it.
- Misting – this is a very effective and inexpensive way to provide your Savannah monitor with the extra moisture it needs. Use a spray bottle to mist your monitor’s entire habitat with water twice a day, once in the morning and again later in the day.
Avoid Handling Your Savannah Monitor During Shedding
Savannah Monitors should be handled as little as possible during the shedding process. This is because the new skin is very sensitive and can easily be damaged if handled during this time.
Handling your monitor during shedding can result in the old skin being pulled off before it is ready, which will damage the new skin underneath.
Provide A Proper Diet For Your Savannah Monitor At All Times
Shedding is always stressful for Savannah monitors, even those who are very healthy and have the best of care. If a monitor’s dietary needs are not being met, then they will enter the shedding cycle at a disadvantage.
Many resources that state that poor nutrition is a cause of dysecdysis in reptiles, but few go into further detail about how this happens exactly. The best approach is to make sure that the Savannah monitor is always fed an appropriate diet.
Proper nutrition at all times will help your Savannah monitor avoid shedding problems as well as other health issues
Keep Your Savannah Monitor’s Habitat Temperature And Lighting Optimized
Failure to meet your Savannah monitor’s temperature and light needs creates stress, which in turn affects its health. This interferes with its ability to carry out normal body functions such as shedding.
Savannah monitors have specific habitat requirements for heating and lighting. If they are kept too cold, or if their lighting is not appropriate for their needs, then this can affect the shedding process.
Enclosure temperatures should be between 85-95°F, with a range of temperatures within the habitat. A basking spot should be provided with a temperature of 100-110°F that the monitor can bask in for short periods.
For lighting needs, a full-spectrum reptile-safe bulb should be used. The lights should be on for 12-14 hours per day.
Provide Plenty Of Cage Furniture For Your Savannah Monitor To Rub Against
When Savannah monitors shed, they need to rub their skin off against hard surfaces. This is why providing plenty of branches and other furniture for them to rub against is so important.
These items should be rough and heavy enough so that the monitor can rub against them without easily moving them. Large pieces of wood or branches and rocks are good choices.
It’s also important to provide more than one piece of furniture so that there are multiple options for the monitor to choose from. This will help it find the ideal surface for removing its shedding skin.
How To Tell If Your Savannah Monitor Is Having Shedding Problems
Shedding problems are obvious – pieces of dry, dead skin that do not fall off within a reasonable amount of time (more than three weeks).
Sometimes the skin forms bands around the toes and tip of the tail, causing constriction which can result in permanent damage to these areas if not removed.
Since the normal shedding cycle is 4-6 weeks, and it takes 1-3 weeks to complete a shed, it may seem that your Savannah monitor is always shedding!
If you are not sure if your monitor is shedding all of its skin in one cycle, consider taking regular pictures of it over time for comparison.
If the same patch of dry skin is still present after three weeks, you may need to do something to help your pet.
How To Relieve Shedding Problems In Your Savannah Monitor
Retained skin is always easier to prevent than to treat. Following the steps above will help minimize the chances of shedding problems in the long run.
But changing husbandry practices now is not going to fix the immediate problem of retained skin. So what is the best way to help this process along?
The first thing to remember is do NOT pull the dry skin off! This will cause your monitor pain and possibly permanent injury to its skin.
The dry, dead skin needs to be softened. This can be accomplished by soaking your monitor in warm water (77°-85°F) for at least 30 minutes, followed by gentle rubbing with a gauze sponge without pulling. Do not force the skin off.
If a long soak is not possible, a humidity chamber also works. One example of this is a small aquarium with wet towels in it, an under-tank heater and a light cloth over the top to increase humidity levels.
The humidity chamber must be monitored closely to ensure that it does not get too hot, since there is no option for the Savannah monitor to move itself to a cooler area.
The best way to avoid shedding problems is to make sure that your monitor always has a proper habitat and diet. This will help prevent stress and keep it healthy, which is the best guarantee against shedding problems.
By following the tips outlined in this guide, your Savannah monitor can stay healthy and happy during its shedding cycle.
If you do run into problems, do not hesitate to consult an experienced veterinarian who will be able to provide further advice and treatment options as needed.