Boa Constrictor Shedding
Contributed by Patrick Rave

Shedding is a normal part of life for boas. Unlike mammals, which constantly shed to accommodate growth and renew cells, snakes and other reptiles shed their skin all at once at certain intervals. Young, growing snakes shed often while adult snakes tend to shed less often. The exact rate at which they will shed often depends on their diet and how often they’re fed, as well as individual factors.

When your boa is ready to shed, its skin will take on a slightly saggy texture, particularly around the head and neck. This is normal. However, skin that remains saggy in the head/neck region after shedding may be an indication that the prey items you have been offering are too large.

About 7-10 days before shedding, the boa’s eyes will become opaque and a milky blue-white color as part of preparing to shed the old skin. Beware that during this time the snake is unable to see almost at all, and will be more likely to exhibit defensive behaviors such as striking. When you see your boa “in the blue,” bump up the humidity to 80-90% to make sure the old skin is able to come off in one piece.

Your boa may also lose interest in eating, so if that is the case, wait to feed until after it has shed.

Once your boa does shed, do a quick examination to check for stuck eyecaps or stuck skin on the tip of the tail. If you’ve found some stuck shed, you may soak the boa to help remove it all the way. Place the snake in a bin with shallow, warm water for a couple hours. You can keep the water warm by sticking a thermostat-regulated heat mat underneath the bin set to 85°F.

If your boa frequently experiences trouble while shedding, this is a good indication that the enclosure humidity is too low. When accompanied by other symptoms, it may mean that your snake is sick.

Boa Constrictor Shedding - boa in blue
Contributed by Simon Smallhorne

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