How Does a Snake Shed Its Skin?

As a snake grows, its skin doesn’t grow with it, so the snake has to shed its skin every now and then, and grow a new one. Some snakes shed once or twice a year; others shed as much as six times in one summer.

As the time for shedding grows near, the snake’s outer layer of skin grows dull and colorless, while a new skin is forming underneath that outer layer. When the new skin is fully formed, the snake secretes an oily substance that loosens the old skin from the new layer of skin.

Then the snake rubs its jaws against a rock or a piece of wood until the skin near its mouth cracks open. The snake works its head out of that crack, then squeezes its body through a narrow rock crevice or a forked branch.

As the snake squeezes through the opening, the old skin catches on the sides of the opening, permitting the snake to crawl forward right out of its skin. The snake usually leaves behind its discarded skin in one piece!

About Karen Hill

Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist. Born in New York, her work has appeared in the Examiner, Yahoo News, Buzzfeed, among others.

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