What is Ecdysis and Dysecdysis?

What is Ecdysis and Dysecdysis?

Ecdysis is the shedding of skin.

Dysecdysis is the incomplete or improper shedding of skin.

Not all animals shed their skin. Reptiles are a good example of animals that shed their skin. Reptiles include turtles, tortoises, snakes, crocodiles, alligators, and lizards.

They shed their skin as they grow.

The frequency of shedding skins varies from species to species, temperature, humidity, nutrition and growth rate. 

Turtles shed their skin in pieces. They will slough skin on their neck and legs as well as slough old scutes located on the carapace (top shell) and plastron (bottom shell).

Lizards, as with turtles, shed their skin in pieces instead of one piece. Some lizards eat their sloughed skin. In rapidly growing lizards, shedding may occur every two weeks. 

Snakes are a bit different when they shed their skin. Most snakes shed their skin in one piece, except for giant snakes that may tear their skin. During the shed, snakes usually do not want to eat. When ready, snakes will look for a rough object, branch, or rock. They rub against the object to start the shed. Once the shed starts, snakes will continue rubbing against the object to slowly pull the skin off, just like a human unrolling a sock on his or her leg.

Healthy growing snakes typically shed at least once a month. The average length of time it takes to shed skin completely is 7-14 days.

Dysecdysis, the Improper or incomplete shedding of skin, may occur because of mites, humidity, malnutrition, dermatitis, or trauma.

Photographer: Martina Nicolls


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