As the popularity of keeping snakes keeps steadily increasing with each year that goes by, we keep seeing more and more questions from the community relating to keeping a pet snake and offering the pet snake the best possible care. We have seen a large number of people specifically reaching out and asking about snakes eating their own shed recently so have decided to make this the topic for today’s video.
We wanted to publish our own article on if snakes eat their shed or not as we have seen a wide range of incorrect replies to people asking this question on social media. Our hope is that we will be able to help as many of our readers as possible who have a snake that has just shed as some of the advice we see on social media is flat out wrong.
With us usually seeing a number of different questions about snakes eating their shed from the snake owning community, we have decided to cover them all in this article and add a table of contents below. This should compile all of the required information in a single place for our readers while allowing you to quickly and easily navigate the article as required via the table of contents below.
Do Snakes Eat Their Shed?
Snakes do not eat their shed and the majority of snakes tend not to care about their shed once they have managed to get it off their body. It is very common for a wild snake to shed and then travel many miles away from it without ever thinking about it again as it serves no further purpose once it has left its body.
You have to keep in mind that many wild snakes will have various parasites on them too with one of the reasons that reptiles shed being as a way to get as many parasites off them as possible. It is not natural for a snake to hang around its shed once it has discarded it and in the wild, it would only increase the chances of the parasites on the shed making their way back onto the snake’s body.
We have seen some people new to keeping snakes mistake the shed around their mouth from their normal shedding as leftover shed after a snake eats some of its already discarded shed. It is highly likely that any shed near your snake’s mouth is from the shedding around their mouth that isn’t quite ready to come off by itself yet and is not leftover from a snake eating some shed.
What Animals Eat Shed Snake Skin?
There are no documented cases of animals consistently eating snake shed but there are multiple types of squirrels that have worked out that they can chew up snake shed and then lick their fur to apply the scent of snakes to themselves. It is believed that this is not only to mask their own scent but to try and trick smaller snake species into thinking that there are larger snakes in the area too.
This behaviour has been seen multiple times by the California ground squirrel and rock squirrels with it seemingly being a consistent behaviour. The effectiveness of chewing up snake shed and then trying to make their coat smell like a snake is questionable though and make do little to nothing but it is interesting that some animals have evolved to a stage where they are able to apparently come up with this theory.
You have to keep in mind that snake shed is essentially dead skin so there really is minimal nutritional benefit to it. Due to the shed being so dry, it will usually start to quickly break down too leaving little to nothing for animals to eat that offers them calories or nutritional benefit within a month or so.
What Do Snakes Do With Shed Skin?
The majority of snakes simply don’t care about their shed skin and will pay it no further attention as it offers no benefit to them and in some cases, if a wild snake has parasites, actually presents a potential threat. Once the shed has been discarded, it is rare that a snake will intentionally interact with it again in the wild but a pet snake may crawl over it due to space limitations in its enclosure.
In some rare situations, a pet snake may appear to attack of fight with its shed with some people believing that this is due to the snake thinking that its shed is another snake in its enclosure. We feel that this is more likely the instinct of avoiding its shed due to the risk of parasites kicking in and your snake signalling that it wants to be as far away from its shed as possible even if there are no parasites present.
If you do keep pet snakes, you can usually remove the shed from your snakes enclosure as it is discarded without issue. Some snake keepers will keep the shed from their snakes, especially their very first shed but others will simply put them in the bin and get rid of them so it depends on you and what you want to do.
That brings our article going over if snakes eat their shed or not to an end. As we have covered above snakes do not eat their shed and there really is no real need to with most snakes never paying their shed any more attention once they have discarded it.