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SNAKE SKIN – THREE LAYERS OF PROTECTION

The first and clear outer layer of skin is shed (molted) as the snake grows.

The second layer is composed of many overlapping, protective “keeled” scales.

The third layer of skin is thick and contains the pigment that gives the
snake its pattern.

Prior to shedding, the snake will look very dull or grey due to a milky liquid between the old and new layers of skin. This appearance is most noticeable as a grey or whitish colour in the spectacle scales that cover the eyes. The snake will begin shedding by rubbing its head against hard objects until the
dead skin splits. As the snake moves, the skin is gradually peeled from the body. The old skin will be left behind after shedding. Once the shedding process has finished, the snake will appear shiny and clean. Massasaugas may shed their skin one to three times yearly, depending on various factors affecting their growth (age, food availability, and temperature).

A keeled scale is one that has a raised ridge along the scale’s mid-line, giving the snake a rough or textured appearance.

 

 


 


 

Snakes often begin to shed their skin by
rubbing their face against a hard surface. As
the snake moves along the ground or hard
object, the skin will be pulled off.