Don't cast me aside... Shedding in snakes.
Updated: Aug 8, 2021
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A snake’s shed is the act of removing the dead top layer of skin and scales.
Head, tail and mid body shed skin of an Inland Taipan, Oxyuranus microlepidotus.
The top layer of snake skin is known as the epidermis. Just like in people, this consists mostly of keratin and is structured in layers. The outermost layer is shed off to allow the snake to grow. This includes the brille or spectacle (more commonly referred to as the eye cap or scale).
Before a snake will shed the top layer of skin, the layer below has begun to harden, allowing the snake to become more resilient to injury. This is characterised by a noticeable difference in the snake’s colouration. The top layer becomes a lot duller than normal. A milky blue fluid is formed and begins to separate the two outermost layers of skin from each other. This is referred to as ‘in blue’ or ‘opaque’. Right before the snake is ready to slough, the blue fluid is re-absorbed. The lack of lustre in the scales will remain until the snake shed the outer layer of skin.
Common Tiger Snake, Notechis scutatus scutatus 'ïn blue' and with no lustre to the scales. This snake was a few days off shedding.