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Abnormal Skin Shedding in Reptiles

reptile-shedding-skinOne of the most common health issues that affects pet reptiles is disecdysis, also known as abnormal skin shedding. Skin shedding is a normal process during which the outer layers of skin either come off in patches or all together in one contiguous piece, depending on the species in question. Once the shedding process is complete, it should result in a reptile with a new outer layer of bright healthy skin.

When your pet reptile has a shed that is incomplete, pieces of skin remain attached to its body, typically around the tail, toes, or near/on the surface of the eyes. This unshed skin can be dangerous, acting like a tourniquet resulting in tissue death or leading to infections under the retained patches. If the unshed skin is on the eye, it can affect vision.

The most common reason for an abnormal shed is low environmental humidity levels. Other factors that can contribute include illness, parasites, poor diet, and a lack of an area to rub on to help remove the skin. You can diagnose disecdysis by closely examining your pet, but research and veterinary attention may be needed to uncover its cause. You should be familiar with a reptile’s nutritional requirements and what type of environment is most conducive to its health and well-being before acquiring a new species.

In uncomplicated cases, abnormal shedding can be dealt with at home by the owner. Treatment includes soaking or spraying the reptile in warm water for about 15 minutes. Once this is done, gently rub the skin’s surface to peel away any unshed skin. If the eye is involved, apply artificial tears and allow ten minutes to pass before gently trying to wipe away the retained covering. Keep this treatment up for a few days, if no improvement occurs in this time make an appointment with your veterinarian.

Prevention is key when it comes to abnormal skin shedding. Be sure to maintain the proper levels of humidity in your reptile’s enclosure with a terrarium humidifier and provide a bath for soaking . You can also provide a reptile cave with a moist layer of moss at its bottom to provide a special area with higher humidity levels.

Do some research before purchasing a reptile so you know exactly what your new pet will need to stay happy and healthy.

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