It’s a beautiful spring day and you and your best friend decide to celebrate by taking an adventurous hike in the woods. As the sunshine streams through the treetops, you walk along the trails, enjoying the smells of the plants and the sounds of the birds in the air.
As you approach a log blocking the trail, you notice something strange at the base of it. It looks almost like a snake…but not quite. What could it be? As you inch closer, you realize that it’s a long piece of snake skin!
After you canvas the area to make sure there are no real snakes nearby, you pick up the snake skin and examine it more closely. You can see the impressions of the scales and the designs they make. You start to WONDER…why do snakes shed their skin?
The simple answer is that snakes shed their skin because they are just like all other animals. All animals shed their skin — even you! In mammals, especially humans, this is an ongoing process that’s rarely noticed.
Skin shedding in reptiles is different. Instead of an ongoing process, reptiles shed skin periodically. Snakes are even more unique, because their skin usually comes off in one piece. If you’ve ever seen a snake skin, you know it looks like the snake just slithered right out of its skin, almost like taking off a sock! Scientists call this process ecdysis, although you may also sometimes hear the terms sloughing and molting.