How Long Should I Wait to Feed My Snake After Shedding?

The shedding process is always fascinating to watch! But once your snake has shed its skin, does that mean it’s feeding time?

So how long should I wait to feed my snake after shedding? After your snake has completed the shedding process, you can feel free to feed it anytime. 

In this article, we’ll discuss why it’s not recommended to feed your snake while the shedding process is taking place. We’ll also give some tips on facilitating a successful shed, so that your snake is able to return to its normal diet as soon as possible after shedding. Finally, we’ll go over the type of meal you should give your snake after shedding and what to do if your snake refuses to eat. 

Why Shouldn’t I Feed My Snake While It’s Shedding?

Generally, snake owners are advised not to feed their snakes while they’re shedding. The main reason for this is because your snake has limited vision when it’s about to shed. You may have noticed that your snake’s eyes appear milky blue or white in the days leading up to a shed.

This is often referred to as being “in blue.” The eye caps your snake develops before shedding actually have an effect on your pet’s vision. They make it hard to see and therefore difficult to feed.

Some snakes owners do report that their pets still eat when they’re about to shed, but this varies from snake to snake. Your pet is an individual, so it’s up to you to observe it and pick up on its habits!

An easy way to decide whether or not to feed your snake when it’s shedding is simply to offer food and see if your pet eats it. If not, no big deal; snakes can go weeks without eating, and you can offer up another meal once your pet is done shedding. 

The important thing to remember is not to offer your snake live prey when it’s about to shed. Live prey is generally discouraged because there’s a chance of injury for your pet, but the odds of your snake getting hurt increase quite a bit when it has eye caps obstructing its vision.

Typically, it’s best to just wait until after your snake has completed a successful shed before offering up a meal. If you have a particularly moody or sensitive snake that shows signs of stress for a couple of days after shedding, give it the time it needs to return to its usual behavior before feeding.

But most snakes will be happy to eat as soon as they’ve finished shedding. 

photo provided by AceMackin Photography

How Can I Help My Snake Have a Successful Shed?

One way to ensure that your snake will feed properly after shedding is to make sure that the shedding process goes smoothly. A successful shed will come off all in one piece, including the eye caps.

An incomplete shed will result in pieces of skin that don’t come off with the rest of the shed, and oftentimes you or a veterinarian will have to step in and help the process along. Here are a few ways to encourage a successful and healthy shed.

Avoid Handling

Before, during, and immediately after the shedding process, you should avoid handling your snake as much as possible. Shedding can be stressful and uncomfortable for some snakes, so it’s best to give them time to themselves without constantly trying to pick them up and handle them.

After shedding, your snake’s new skin will be delicate and can tear easily, so proceed with caution and be gentle if you need to handle your pet at this point.

Eliminate Stress

One thing that can cause an incomplete shed is stress. Stress might not sound like a big deal, but it can have a huge impact on your pet’s wellbeing! A few signs of stress in snakes include:

  • Aggressive behaviors like hissing, striking, and biting
  • Hiding the head
  • Immobility
  • Lack of appetite

In order to prevent stress, the best thing you can do is provide an adequate habitat for your snake. Most stress is caused by some type of husbandry issue. Ensure that your snake’s cage is large enough, that temperatures and humidity are in the optimal range, and that the enclosure is cleaned on a regular basis.

It’s also essential to provide two hides for your snake, one at each end of the enclosure. This way, your snake has a safe and secure place to hide away regardless of whether it wants to be on the warm or cooler end of the tank.

A snake without hides will become stressed very quickly, and this can have an effect on its shedding and overall health. A stressed-out snake not only may not shed properly, but it also might refuse to eat, even after completing the shed.

Increase Humidity

Another way to encourage a successful shed is to increase the humidity level in your snake’s enclosure. Most snakes need a humidity level between 50 and 70%. Around shedding time, feel free to turn it up by a few percentage points. The extra moisture in the air will help your snake’s shed come off in one piece. 

Provide a Moist Hide

In addition to increasing humidity, a moist hide is a great way to add to the moisture in the air and make it even easier for your snake to shed its skin properly. You can create a moist hide by adding wet sphagnum moss to your snake’s hides–it’s as simple as that. 

Add Enclosure Accessories

Along with a moist hide, accessories such as rough rocks and branches make a great addition to your snake’s enclosure. Your snake will enjoy checking out these new accessories, and they’ll also help it shed by providing a textured surface to rub against. This is a method your pet may use to remove its shed or take care of any stuck or incomplete shed skin.

Soak Your Snake

It’s usually not necessary to give your snake a soak to help the shedding process along, but in some cases your pet might need the extra help. Many snakes choose to soak in their water bowls, but you can also fill your bathtub or a plastic storage tub with warm water.

Just be sure not to fill the water too high–it should be deep enough to cover your snake’s body, but not so deep that your pet is forced to try to swim. Never leave your snake unattended while soaking! 20 to 30 minutes in the warm water should be sufficient, and you can repeat the soaks as often as necessary.

What Should I Feed My Snake After Shedding?

After shedding, snakes are typically pretty hungry! You can feed your snake whatever you typically provide it with for a meal, which is usually mice or rats. Be sure to regularly weigh your snake and choose appropriately-sized prey depending on its weight.

This is especially important when your snake is a juvenile and is still developing. Once it’s reached its adulthood and its full size, its weight shouldn’t fluctuate much.

Another tip for choosing prey of the right size is to select a mouse or rat that is no wider than the widest part of your snake’s body. This ensures that your snake will be able to digest the prey properly, and won’t be forced to regurgitate its meal. 

What Should I Do if My Snake Refuses to Eat?

First, if your snake is refusing to eat, don’t panic! Remember that in the wild, snakes often go weeks or months at a time without food–so a couple of weeks without a meal won’t do any damage to your pet.

If you’re truly concerned, be sure to monitor your snake’s weight. As long as it hasn’t dropped more than 10% of its body weight, there’s no cause for worry. If your pet has lost a significant amount of weight or is showing other signs that it’s unwell, be sure to get it to the veterinarian.

However, in most cases, you just need to wait a week before offering your pet another meal. When your snake is hungry, it will eat. Continue to offer up prey on a weekly basis until your pet returns to its regular eating schedule.

Also be sure that you’re warming up prey to about 100 degrees Fahrenheit–if your snake can’t sense its prey’s body heat, it won’t recognize it as food and thus won’t eat it.

Conclusion

After your snake has finished shedding, it’ll probably be pretty hungry and ready for a meal! Some snakes are more sensitive and may need a couple of days to themselves before returning to their regular meal schedule, but most snakes will be happy to eat as soon as shedding is complete.

In order to help your snake shed successfully, there are a few things you can do. First, avoid handling and eliminate any sources of stress. Then increase humidity, provide a moist hide, and add accessories like rough branches to your snake’s enclosure. Finally, you can give your snake a soak in warm water if it’s dealing with an incomplete or stuck shed.

Once your snake has finished shedding, you can feed it its usual meal of mice or rats, being sure to select prey of the right size for your snake’s weight. If your snake refuses to eat, give it a week and try again.

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