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Thread: Retained Shed Indentication and Treatment

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    T. radix Ranch guidofatherof5's Avatar
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    Retained Shed Indentication and Treatment

    A snake with a retained shed usually exhibits some unique signs and behaviors.

    1. Folds in the lateral skin. It sometimes looks "crinkly" on the sides and belly.
    2. The snake will appear stiff and have trouble moving normally.
    3. Breathing trouble-looks like it is taking deep breaths or trying to. It may also open its mouth during these times.
    4. Time in a shed box seems to help (only because the humidity allows the skin to stretch much more easily)

    If not caught and treated in time, I believe the snake can suffers organ damage from the restriction and lack of normal oxygen. So, even if the retained shed is removed the snake may not live long.

    Removing a retained shed can be easy or very difficult. Placing the snake in a warm, humid shed box for 30 minutes will help. Getting the retained shed started is sometimes difficult. I start at the chin, upper lip, corner of the mouth or the cloaca/vent area. Once started you may have to continually wet the snake to keep the shed coming off. Using warm water is best. The most difficult cases may require holding the snake under running warm water. The force of the water will sometimes cause the edge to come up and make it easier to grab and remove. If the shed is started at the cloaca/vent you will have to shed the snake backward. Care should be taken when removing the eye caps.
    In the most severe cases the shed only comes off in small pieces and can take hours to remove.
    Retained sheds are a serious, life threatening situation and should not be taken lightly. This is especially true with snakes under 1 year old.

    Prevention
    This situation can be avoided in most cases if the humidity is kept in a good range (50%-60%). Using large water bowl will help increase the humidity and give the snake/s a place to soak before the shed.


    Please feel free to add additional info, photos, videos, suggestion, observations and treatments.
    Steve
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    "PM Boots For Custom Title" d_virginiana's Avatar
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    Re: Retained Shed Indentication and Treatment

    Is it common that old snakes can appear to have a retained shed, even if nothing is wrong? I've noticed that my oldest snake (12 years this last summer) exhibits some of those signs on a semi-regular basis. So this might be something to address for people with geriatric garters
    I think a lot of it is due to older snakes having difficulty maintaining body weight. His skin tends to get 'wrinkly' and dry very quickly. Since his eyes have pronounced cataracts, it's hard to tell if there is a retained eye-cap or even when he 'goes blue'. He also has arthritis on his tail, and moves more stiffly than he did when he was younger.

    It would be useful to see pictures of retained sheds and eyecaps. I'm glad this thread got started, because that's something I worry about fairly often with Houdini (and now my albino baby, as he's the only one who's ever actually had difficulty shedding).
    Lora

    3.0 T. sirtalis sirtalis, 1.1 T. cyrtopsis ocellatus, 1.0 L. caerulea, 0.1 C. cranwelli, 0.1 T. carolina, 0.1 P. regius, 0.1 G. rosea, 0.0.1 B. smithi, 0.1 H. carolinensis

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    Re: Retained Shed Indentication and Treatment

    Excellent post. I was thinking it was time for something like this.

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    "PM Boots For Custom Title" Light of Dae's Avatar
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    Re: Retained Shed Indentication and Treatment

    Here Is an example of a baby with retained shed.
    100_3470.jpg

    Here I had pulled her head piece off but left behind this...
    100_3476.jpg

    Getting going.
    100_3480.jpg

    I got everything off her and she was much happier.
    100_3628.jpg
    3.2 T.Marcianus, 1.2 T.Sirtalis, 1.0 Zacapu, 1.0 T.Radix
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  5. #5
    Never shed
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    Re: Retained Shed Indentication and Treatment

    Please describe the sort of shedding box you use. I generally use a bare plastic box with water about half as high as the snake's body.

    Water temperature is around 85 degrees Fahrenheit, if possible. If it feels warm to human skin, it is too hot for the snake.

    Removing the retained eye caps may not be possible with small snakes. The eye caps are likely to come off normally with the next shed, especially if the snake is given a humid box. That's been my experience. I've heard of a cobra that built up a stack of 7 or 8 eyecaps before they were removed manually. The eye was undamaged.

  6. #6
    T. radix Ranch guidofatherof5's Avatar
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    Re: Retained Shed Indentication and Treatment

    Steve
    5 awesome kids!
    Emmy, Kale, Molly, Gabby, Hailee
    They are not just snakes. They're garter snakes.
    http://www.youtube.com/user/thamnophis14?feature=mhee

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    Re: Retained Shed Indentication and Treatment

    While the shed box helps by allowing water to soak in and get under the old skin (which helps it separate from the new skin underneath) most of the time you're still going to need to assist with getting the shed started. Once it's started I give the snake a chance to shed on it's own, and assist as needed with trouble spots.

  8. #8
    Adult snake
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    Re: Retained Shed Indentication and Treatment

    One of my milk snakes has a history of retained sheds. I put him in a tupperware with a damp rag and usually he'll crawl all over/under/through it for an hour or two and the shed comes off. Only once have I needed to physically remove some skin.
    Not that Steve, a different Steve

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    Re: Retained Shed Indentication and Treatment

    What type of milk snake is it? I've had people give me milks that had the same problem but within two sheds of getting them, the problem was gone. They tend to have problems when husbandry is less than perfect. Their skin gets thin and weak. But your case sounds like the snake just had trouble getting started. A shed box or moist hide with moss is recommended for kings/milks at shedding time.

    Even if your snake can shed on it's own, it should be thick and strong, and come off in one piece. Always. Anything else is not normal and indicates a health or husbandry problem.

  10. #10
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    Re: Retained Shed Indentication and Treatment

    Sinaloan. I keep the humidity around 50%, which is about the highest I can get in Denver with a glass tank and screen top. Once they grow just a little more I'll move them to a rack where I can get it up to 80% if necessary. The rack was built for royals and the milks are still able to wiggle through the gap right now.

    His shedding problem comes and goes, so I make a point to check on him every day. Usually he can get the head done without much difficulty. Eye caps always come off. I think part of the problem is that he refuses to go in the water at all and he panics if I put him in water, hence the wet rag technique. When I first got him I'd hold the rag in my hand and make him squirm through it and the skin came off rather easily. I'm not sure if he's lazy or just defective :P His sister has never had a problem.
    Not that Steve, a different Steve

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