Iguana Shedding: A Complete Guide to Understanding the Process

In this iguana shedding guide we are going to cover; do iguanas shed their skin, why do iguanas shed and what to expect as an iguana owner. By the end of this guide you will have a better understanding of how iguana shedding works and how you can help them shed easily.

Do Iguanas Shed Their Skin?

Yes, iguanas do shed their skin, a process known as ecdysis. Unlike snakes that typically shed their skin in one piece, iguanas shed their skin in patches. The frequency of shedding depends on several factors including the iguana’s age, with young iguanas typically shedding more often as they grow. It’s normal for adult iguanas to shed several times a year.

The process of shedding helps the iguana to grow, and it also allows the reptile to get rid of parasites that may have attached to the old skin.

Why Do Iguanas Shed?

Iguanas as with other reptilians do not have the elasticity in their skin cells that mammals do, therefore they go through a process known as Shedding.

What this entails is, a new skin is formed underneath the old one, and the older one peels away to reveal it! unlike snakes though Iguanas shed in sections, Maybe a leg arm and back first, then the head and tail…but this is a normal part of Iguana growth and shows in fact that they are growing well and therefore must be eating well.

Below are two pictures depicting Iguana shed.


Signs of shedding in Iguanas

Iguanas, like many reptiles, shed their skin periodically as they grow. The process is completely natural and a sign of a healthy iguana, but it’s important to know what to look for to ensure your pet is shedding properly and comfortably.

Here are some signs that your iguana is starting to shed:

  1. Change in color: Just before shedding, an iguana’s skin will often get a milky appearance or shades of grey, becoming more noticeable over a period of days, until the skin starts actually peeling away. This can be seen throughout the body, but it’s especially noticeable on the head, tail, and limbs.
  2. Less activity: Iguanas can be less active during the shedding period. They might appear more lethargic than usual. This isn’t a reason for concern unless it lasts for an extended period.
  3. Lose of Appetite: Some Iguanas are known to lose their appetite when about to start shedding, whereas others go through it with no problems at all.
  4. Rubbing against objects: Iguanas often help the shedding process by rubbing their bodies against objects. This action helps to loosen the old skin.
  5. Peeling skin: The most obvious sign of shedding is visible peeling or flaking skin. This will usually start in one area and progress over the rest of the body over several days.
  6. Behavior change: Some iguanas might be more irritable or skittish during their shed. They might not like being handled as much as usual.

How to Help an Iguana During Shedding?

Shedding is a natural process for iguanas as they grow, and they can typically handle it on their own. However, there are a few things you can do to help ensure your iguana is comfortable and safe during the shedding process:

  1. Maintain Humidity: Iguanas need a humid environment for a healthy shed. You can mist your iguana’s habitat with water daily or provide a large water dish. Ideally, you should maintain a humidity level of around 70-80% in the enclosure.
  2. Bathing: Regular baths can help soften the skin and assist in the shedding process. Fill a shallow container with warm (not hot) water and gently place your iguana in it, ensuring its head is not submerged. Allow the iguana to soak for about 15-30 minutes. This should be done daily during shedding.
  3. Provide a Rough Surface: Iguanas can use rough surfaces to rub against and help remove their old skin. This could be branches, rocks, or any non-sharp item that the iguana can safely rub against.
  4. Don’t Peel the Skin: Never try to manually peel or pull off the shedding skin, as you could accidentally injure your iguana. The skin will come off naturally when it’s ready. If a certain area doesn’t shed, such as the tips of the tail or around the eyes, contact a veterinarian. They can safely assist with stuck shed.
  5. Regular Monitoring: Regularly monitor your iguana during shedding to check for any complications. If there’s skin that doesn’t shed, it can constrict the growth underneath and cause harm to your iguana. It’s particularly important to keep an eye on the toes, tail tip, and around the eyes.
  6. Veterinary Assistance: If your iguana seems distressed, isn’t eating, or you notice other signs of poor health, it’s best to take it to a reptile vet. Similarly, if there are areas of unshed skin for a prolonged period, seek veterinary assistance.

Do not try to peel off any skin that looks stuck, this can actually cause soreness where it is still joined rather like peeling off sun burnt skin.

Bathing and high humidity is beneficial and the Iguana will also rub the skin off himself on a log or the side of his habitat.

It is important that no shedding skin gets stuck on either the toes or spines as this can have a constricting effect with build up of dead skin actually cutting off the blood supply, keep your eye out for any problems like this and help it come away with either frequent bathing, or rubbing in a little mineral oil daily to the difficult area, this will usually help release the stuck shed.

Filled under: Lizards

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