Ecdysis (or shedding) is the process of removing the old outer layer of the skin, either in pieces or all at once depending on the species (including the eyes). This process begins when the new keratin layer has formed under the old layer of the skin.The production of proteinaceous lymph fluid initiates between the new and old layers causing the skin to appear dull and the eyes of snakes to develop an opaque blue hue. Often enzymes are produced to help the process of the skin lifting away. After shedding fluid is reabsorbed. If the entire skin does not shed a condition known as dysecdysis develops. The reasons for an unsuccessful shed may be because of disease, dehydration (which causes too little fluid to be produced), scars on skin surface or lack of abrasive surfaces upon which to remove skin as reptiles will often rub against hard surfaces such as rocks to aid them in the shedding process. Unshed skin eventually becomes dry and over time cause strictures which compromise the blood supply to the extremities. If this happens appendages may become necrotic or infected and may fall off or cause septicaemia. Regular bathing and soft but abrasive damp surfaces may be needed to aid shedding and any underlying diseases attended to.
©2014 Cat Read