There are two parts to the shedding process: the impeding shed stage, and the actual skin-shedding stage.
The impeding shed stage, which is the snake’s preparation period for actually shedding it’s skin, will take anywhere between just under a week to approximately two weeks in length. The younger a snake is, the less time it will be in this stage. For reference, my three-year-old ball python takes approximately one and a half weeks to complete this stage.
The second stage, during which the snake actually physically removes its skin, takes approximately one or two hours at maximum, unless there are complications (which arise due to low humidity). My ball python takes approximately an hour to complete this second stage.
If a snake has had complications with shedding, and has had a bad shed, some or much of the dead skin will remain on the ball python. The remaining skin can stay on the ball python (most frequently the body or the face) for quite a while, and the sooner the old skin comes off, the better. If your snake has suffered from a bad shed, it’s a good idea to help your ball python out by giving him or her a bath in lukewarm water (no soap!) for about twenty minutes. Bad sheds are the result of the humidity in the snake’s enclosure being too low, so if your snake has a bad shed, be sure to increase the humidity the next time the snake is in its impending shed stage. This will prevent bad sheds in the future.
My three-year-old ball python sheds approximately every 2 months. The younger the snake is, the shorter the time between sheds. Each snake is slightly different, so you will need to keep an eye on your pet, watching it’s behavioural and physical changes closely, to make sure you will be able to tell when it is in its impeding shed stage. If you miss the impeding shed stage, likely the humidity in your enclosure will not be as high as it needs to be for shedding, your ball python will dry out becoming dehydrated, and the result will be a poor shed. So please be sure to watch your pet closely.
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