If you are looking to get a fully scaleless ball python (Python regius), you may be wondering about the snakes. The scaleless ball python is the super or homozygous form of the co-dominant scaleless head gene.
Since they lack scales, you may be wondering: Do scaleless ball pythons shed?
Scaleless ball pythons do indeed shed their old skins. All snakes shed and scaleless ball pythons are no exceptions. They can have shedding problems since their old skin tends to roll up and get too tight for the snake to crawl out of.
Why Snakes Shed
Snakes shed their old skins in order to grow. A snake’s skin can only stretch so far before the snake has no more room to grow. Since snakes do not have terminal growth, they keep growing their whole lives.
This means that their skin will eventually get too tight. Shedding is also part of how a snake heals injuries. A snake with injuries or burns will typically shed more often to help heal the wound.
Snakes do not just shed their scales, they shed a layer that covers the entire body. Scaleless snakes still need to shed their skin in one piece.
A snake in shed will have the fluid build-up, separate the old skin, and then the snake will rub its snout on rocks, sticks, or other surfaces to loosen it.
Once the facial skin is loose, the snake will crawl out of the snake. The old skin will be left behind. Since they crawl out of it, the skin will be inside out.
Everything you need to know about caring for Scaleless Ball Pythons in captivity:
Read our Scaleless Ball Python Care Sheet (Complete Guide)
In a normal ball python, most shedding problems are caused by low humidity. Since they need fluid to build up to separate the old skin layer, a dehydrated snake or one in a dry enclosure can’t build up enough fluid for smooth separation.
Areas like the head, tail and eye caps are the most commonly retained. You may see pieces of skin left along the body as well if the skin didn’t stay together.
Scaleless ball pythons can have shedding issues even if they have good humidity or even had access to a soaking pool. It isn’t uncommon for the skin to roll over itself much like the neck of a balloon.
This can form a tight ring. If it forms before the thickest part of the snake, the snake can get stuck because it can’t move the skin further.
Since scaleless ball pythons also typically lack ventral scales, they can have trouble crawling. This can contribute to the shedding problem. If you have a scaleless ball python, you need to keep up on humidity.
They need a humid hide and also a large water dish that will allow the snake to soak. Scaleless ball pythons also tend to shed more often.
This is partly because they are prone to injury. You will need to monitor your snake when it is in shed so you can be sure that it is fine.
How to Help Your Scaleless Ball Python Shed
Your scaleless snake will need slightly higher humidity than any scaled ball pythons you own. You should also offer a humid hide filled with damp sphagnum moss on the warm side.
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This means it may be a good idea to offer 3 hides, one on each end and the humid hide.
You will also want a larger water dish to give the snake the opportunity to soak. You need to keep a closer eye on your snake once you notice it go into blue.
This is when its eyes look cloudy. You will also notice that it seems to be a duller color. At this point, check your snake more often to see when it starts to shed.
If you are lucky, your snake will get its skin off in one piece. Check the skin to make sure that it is in one piece. If it isn’t or you cannot tell, check your snake thoroughly.
The eye caps and the tail tip are common areas to be stuck. Your snake can also be trapped in the skin if it rolls up. If your snake is having problems with stuck shed, you can place your snake in the same container you put it in when you clean the cage.
Fill it with warm, damp paper towels and let your snake sit in these for about 15 minutes to see if it helps loosen the old skin.
If the skin rolled up and got caught, you could use safety scissors meant for cutting off bandages or your hands to carefully rip the band.
You can then help roll off the rest of the skin. Be sure to go slow and feel the snake’s skin. If it is smooth, the skin was fully separated and you can take it all off without a problem.
If it feels sticky, the skin was not separated. Leave your snake alone since you can cause injuries if you force the old skin off.
One interesting thing about a scaleless ball python’s shed skin is that it will be completely smooth since there are no scales to give it texture. Many people who have handled the shed skin noted that it feels like a latex balloon.
Scaleless ball pythons do indeed shed. They may need more help, but this can depend on the snake. Keep up on humidity and watch your snake closely.
A stuck shed can injure these snakes very badly so they may need more help than other ball pythons in your home.
If you keep up on their care and offer extra humid hides and plenty of chances to soak, your snake should be healthy.
If you have a scaleless ball python, please leave your experiences with them below. If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment.