Animal Diaries Archive
"Is that snake blind?"
24 March 2006This week's entry will lay to rest one of the most commonly asked questions when wandering through our snake display - "Is that snake blind?".
More often than not, at least one of the 30 odd snakes we have on display in our venomous snake house will have cloudy or 'opaque' eyes, and a very dull appearance resembling an aging dog.
Most people know that snakes need to shed their skin in order to grow, but what they don't often realise is that this process (known as sloughing or shedding) can take up to a few weeks and can be quite a stressful time, particularly to wild snakes. The shedding process (generally once every two months) is essential for snakes' growth and will vary in time and frequency depending on the age and health of the snake. Obviously the more a snake eats, the more it grows - and the more it sheds.
Snakes tend to do the majority of growing between hatching and reaching about their tenth birthday, shedding more frequently and then slowing once they reach their adult size. Interestingly, the shed is sloughed in one piece, with all scales easily visible - making the snake's identification quite easy. During the period when the snake's eyes are opaque, it is virtually blind. This can be a dangerous time when trying to avoid predators. Thankfully, here at Australia Zoo our snakes don't have to worry about predators and are able to relax and complete the process stress-free.