Dry skin days are awful for me, but my iguana loves it. Do iguanas shed their skin? Better yet, do they enjoy it?
My iguana closes her eyes and allows me to gently peel off the remaining bits that cling to her as she undergoes the molting (shedding) process.
Be aware that in some cases, there are problems associated with shedding. In this article, we’ll find out about whether or not iguanas shed their skin and what you can do to help.
Do Iguanas Shed Their Skin?
Yes. In periodic moments of an iguana’s life, they will need to shed their skin. It will look like thin, crusty pieces and you may help by misting or soaking the areas that are shedding.
This way, they peel off much faster. Unfortunately, there are instances of improper, incomplete or adverse effects from shedding related to:
- Poor handling
Help only if the skin is dangling off or extremely easy to pull off. Forcing the peeling action could create skin wounds that we definitely wish to avoid.
Should I Peel Off My Iguana’s Skin?
Does your skin ever peel off after a sunburn? How does it feel when you peel too much or pull it before it’s ready to fully come off? This is why we should not use any effort to help peel the skin that is shedding off our iguanas.
If the skin is very loose, you can help slowly and gently. The new skin underneath is sensitive and can easily be wounded by ripping it accidentally. Your iguana may enjoy this moment with you as part of your bonding process.
My big guy closes his eyes and lets me take my time. We know that this is a moment we can share together and he trusts me to be careful.
Bonus Tip #1: Sometimes iguana get tired from shedding their own skin. They look for help by rubbing against objects. They may bite at their skin as well. More on iguana bites here.
Bonus Tip #2: Do iguanas eat the skin they shed? The answer to that is also a yes! It is said that eating the peeled off skin gives them energy replenishment after the effort they expel from shedding.
How Long Will It take for My Iguana to Shed?
The skin shedding process can take it time and run its own course without you helping too much. You may feel tempted to pull away at the skin, but please do not.
- This process can take 1-2 weeks and sometimes even longer.
You will notice a slight change in color. The older skin appears dull compared to the fresh, new skin that is sensitive and brighter in color. The more often your iguana sheds, the less noticeable the changes in color seem to appear in my experience.
You can help speed the shedding process by gently soaking in a warm bath around 95°F or 35°C. A 5 minute soak with some gentle brushing with a soft bristles comb could help complete the shedding or reach areas that cause your iguanas to use a lot of their own effort to shed off.
Why Is My Iguana Rubbing Against The Furniture and Other Objects?
Have you seen an iguana, lizard or even a snake rubbing and sliding their bodies against surfaces in your home or in their enclosure? This is because they are looking for something to rub against to assist in shedding off their skin.
They do this in the wild against rocks and trees. Maybe the legs of the table, sofa or walls are helping to provide this same assistance. Iguanas and walls have a strange relationship I explain here.
If you notice your iguana aggressively rubbing against objects, furniture or items in their enclosure, gently mist them to make it easier for the skin to fall off.
You can also discourage this for now if you feel that they are damaging their new skin which is extremely sensitive. You might notice:
- Wounds from previous rubbing
- Mildew stains
- Bites from mites
- Fungus growth
- Blood clotting
If you are concerned about the state of the skin on your iguana, you might want a veterinarian to check it out.
You should be armed with a cream, topical ointment or a better understanding of what to look out for and how to apply these medications with some instructions from the vet. The way, you can assist next time without another trip to the vet.
Do Wild Iguanas Shed Skin?
Yes. Your iguana in comfortable captivity is not experiencing a rare case of shedding. Reptiles like lizards and iguanas alike experience shedding in the wild as well. The high humidity in environments where they are most likely to be found assists in the shedding process.
The added humidity and gentle misting that you can provide in their enclosure will help them as they shed their skin. Try not to help too much in sensitive areas or around their spikes and nails.
Pulling in these spots could cause bleeding or damage to the new skin. Nails or spikes can experience blood clotting when the skin hardens in these areas. Infections can occur as well.
What is Iguana Molting?
Replacing old skin with new skin growing underneath is the process of molting. It happens with iguanas, snakes, lizards and even shrimp in the sea!
Do not expect one satisfying long piece of skin to come off at once like you would with a snake. This is also not an exoskeleton with shrimp or other crustaceans in the ocean that undergo molting.
The molting in iguanas can actually be a little more frustrating for everyone involved. You will see pieces of skin coming off in small patches.
- It could take 1-3 weeks or even longer for an iguana to fully molt.
- This could happen 1-2 times a year or even less when they get older.
Three factors are important when it comes to iguana molting:
- Humidity levels
After 3 years of age, the molting will occur less often. If the humidity levels are not proper, the shedding may not take place, but your iguana may become uncomfortable with this unnatural condition.
The skin may appear cracked or dull without the ability to shed. Add mist, more soaks in warm bath water and increase the humidity. Finally, if the seasons change, you may notice that your iguanas needs to shed.
When Do Iguanas Shed Their Skin?
The time of the year could change, but if you want to know how often iguanas shed their skin, the answer varies. Wait for your iguana to turn into a 1 year old. They probably won’t shed their skin until then.
Once this iguana reaches the juvenile stage, shedding can occur as often as every few weeks. We noticed that in the first two years of juvenile life (about 1-3 years of age) our iguanas were constantly shedding.
It would be one area of the body, then the next. This isn’t like a snake who can shed one long piece of skin. The fragments or pieces come off gradually in one year, then another area begins to shed.
Increasing humidity, soaking in a warm bath and gently misting helps our iguana to shed and expel less energy doing so. The older your iguana gets, the less often they will need to shed.
Adult iguanas tend to shed their skin 1-2 times a year. You may also notice larger pieces coming off at once instead or smaller shards compared to when they were younger.
Tips For Helping Your Iguanas Shed Their Skin
Shedding or molting is a natural princess for iguanas. Let’s not force the issue and overhelping can cause skin wounds infections, clotting around nails or spikes and other skin problems.
I am eager to help my iguana, but sometimes I need to let nature run its course. Here’s how you can help:
- Be patient
- Check the crest scales for stuck pieces of skin.
- Inspect the tail, toes and spike to make sure old skin doesn’t limit blood flow
- Place a water dish in the enclosure to encourage them to soak when you’re not around.
- Increase humidity levels.
- Mist your iguana twice a day
- Add peat moss in a box and place it in the enclosure to increase moisture and humidity.
- Off more warm baths around 95°F or 35°C water temperature.
We use a reptile humidifier in our home which helps a lot. Otherwise the tips above should be a great starting point for your iguana to achieve maximum shedding potential to ease the process.
I find the shedding of my iguana’s skin to be oddly satisfying. I am very tempted to pull off more skin than I should, but my brother always reminds me to back off.
A simple misting twice a day or a couple of degrees increase in humidity levels goes a long way to help your iguana shed their skin. Allow them to take their time and help only when needed.
We hope the tips in this article give you more confidence and assurance that your iguana’s shedding process is safe, normal and appreciated by your kind patience and assistance when needed.
Thank you for visiting PocketPetCentral.com for the best information to help you enjoy the life of your pocket pet companion in a fun, safe & healthy way.