Retained shed is a very common problem. It is caused by low humidity, or lack of bathing water. Most snakes need humidity levels near or above 50%. Here in the Pacific Northwest that isn’t too difficult to achieve. Unfortunately many people keep their snake in screen top aquariums. Snake Haus does NOT recommend that – In fact, we refuse to use screen top aquariums even when they are given to us for free! That does NOT mean aquariums can’t be used. Visit the Enclosures page to see how we modify glass aquariums to make them suitable snake habitats.
Extra large enclosure can also make humidity difficult to control. Most of our large snake are able to achieve healthy complete sheds by bathing in their large water tubs right after their blue phase. They almost always do this willing on their own and is why we insist on providing large water tubs for every snake here. Unfortunately there are a few that refuse to bath themselves. Those are the ones we often have to work a little harder to maintain good skin health. Watch this video below to see a partial retained shed on Lilith. She hates bath time and occasionally forgets to go into her water before a shed. When she does this Sara has to spray her with warm water and help remove the retained pieces of shed.
Several of the animals at Snake Haus have suffered severe retained sheds that were life threatening. Leonidas and Donovan were the most severe. Both of them were trapped within so many layers of retained shed they could barely move or even open their mouths. The animal must soak in warm water long enough for the skin to become soft. The retained shed does not always come off on the first try. In cases this severe we often have to provide supportive care until they go through another natural shed cycle before removing it.
The video below shows Sara help Donovan out of his retained shed.
Watch poor Rocco finally getting relief from a severe case of retained shed that was many layers thick.
Here you can see a retained spectacle removed for Piccolo.