If you are a Chameleon owner, you may be wondering how long often they should shed as well as ways to help them along (click here to see my best humidifiers for Chameleons to help them shed). Let me explain…
How often will a chameleon shed its skin? Chameleons will shed their skin approx. every 3 to 4 weeks when they are younger than 18 months. As adults, this is expected to reduce to more like every 4-8 weeks.
Now that you know how often they shred let me explain: how long the shred usually takes, what happens if the shed has problems, how you can proactively help the shed go easier and much more…
Why do chameleons shed their skin?
This is to accommodate the growth of their bodies. As I discussed earlier in the previous paragraph Adolescent (younger) chameleons grow rapidly. Therefore, their bodies effectively outgrow their skin.
To continue with this growth their skin naturally has to replenish itself. This is where shedding comes in. As for adults, this rapid growth is irrelevant.
However, just like us humans, they may not necessarily grow in length but, they can gain weight. This weight gain will trigger their body to shed its older skin
How long does the shed process usually take?
You may be wondering how long the actual shedding should take. As you can imagine this can vary significantly. But, in this section, I’m going to explain…
The length of time for shedding varies depending on the species and age. However, to give you a range it could be a few hours or even as long as days.
Later on, in this article, I will explain some of the issues that can happen during a shed which can make this take much longer or even worse, an incomplete shed.
How much do they shed in one go?
So far we have talked about how often and the expected duration of a shed. But, you might be wondering how much of their skin do they shed in one go. Is this likely to be all in one piece or is it typically piece-by-piece? In this section, I’m going to explain…
In reality, the amount of skin that sheds may vary a lot. Some chameleons will lose their entire skin in one whole piece, which looks quite interesting by the way. However, some chameleons will have it peel off bit-by-bit.
One of the contributing factors to this is how well you have cared for your chameleon. In particular, the humidity in their enclosure but, more on this later.
Things that can go wrong during shedding.
Earlier I briefly mentioned that there can be things that delay the shedding process. Sometimes the shed can just take long naturally. But, other times this can be problems that could have been prevented by you.
For that reason, in this section, I’m going to explain one of the common issues that prevent Chameleons from shedding quickly or even worse, an incomplete shed.
One of the biggest issues with shedding is the lack of humidity in the enclosure. The humidity plays a big factor in allowing them to shed easily and quickly. It is important as a chameleon keeper to regulate the humidity in the enclosure.
What can you do to make shedding easier for your chameleon?
So far, I explained that there can be some issues that you may come across during shedding. But there are ways that you can proactively stop this happening.
In this section, I’m going to explain some simple ways that you can help your chameleon achieve a simple and pain-free shedding process.
As discussed earlier, humidity is a big issue. Therefore, you can do simple things like making sure that the humidity is correct. Also making sure that you mist the enclosure correctly.
If you are having issues with humidity because you rely on manually misting the enclosure, you can automate this process to increase the consistency.
Also, there are humidity detection devices that you can use to make sure that the humidity in your enclosure is at the correct level.
What happens if your chameleon is not shedding properly?
If you notice that your chameleon is not shedding properly you may be scratching your head and thinking of ways that you can get around this. For that reason, in this section, I’m going to give you some ways around this.
Firstly, I want to make it clear before we go any further, you should not ever be tempted to pull any excess skin off your chameleon. You may be wondering why you shouldn’t be doing this, right?
The reason is simple. This will cause stress to your chameleon and it’s not a natural way of shedding.
Instead of trying to pull the skin off you should increase the humidity in the tank (higher than normal). Alternatively, you can attempt to spray your chameleon with luke-warm water.
The combination of these two methods will help you ease off that stubborn excess skin. Another thing that you can do provide objects inside the enclosure, such as branches, etc.
The idea is, it can use these to scrape the skin off by brushing against it. However, it’s important to not have any sharp objects there to avoid them harming themselves.
How do chameleons act while they are actually shedding?
During the shedding process, you may notice some weird behavior from your chameleon. To help you understand what is expected and what is abnormal I’m going to describe some expected behavior.
Change of appetite & white spots
Firstly, during the shedding process, you may notice that your chameleon is not eating as regular as normal. In addition to this, you may notice little white spots appearing on its body. These white spots can cause some people some anxiety because they are unsure of what it is. And, some may feel that it is some kind of disease.
By the way, if there is any doubt, always consult your vet to be 100 percent sure. However, I can inform you that this is expected behavior during the shedding process.
If you look closely at these white spots you will see that it’s simply the old skin starting to raise.
Drier skin & weird rubbing behaviors
Other observations during this shedding process is the skin becoming drier, as you can imagine. Obviously this will be the outer skin that is on the way out.
You may also notice weird behaviors such as your chameleon rubbing and scratching itself against branches in the enclosure.
I mentioned earlier that it is important not to have sharp objects in the enclosure. This is the reason why. Because your chameleon may need to use these branches to rid itself of any excess skin.
Therefore, it is important to have smooth branches that will not cause any issues.
Does shedding hurt chameleons?
So far we’ve discussed the process of shedding, how long it will take and how often they should do this. However, you may be wondering if your chameleon is in any sort of pain during this process.
To be perfectly honest, as human beings we can never know 100-percent exactly how a chameleon is feeling.
However, through numerous observations recorded from lizard keepers, it is clear that the process is almost like an itching irritation and a compelling urge to remove the itch.
This is why you will typically see your chameleon scratching and rubbing itself to rid itself of this irritation.
If you think about this logically though, some urgency to remove it is necessary or the shedding process would just never happen.
The special qualities of a chameleon’s top layer of skin.
The top layer of a chameleon skin is quite special. It is partly responsible for the color changes that happen.
As the Chameleon grows this outer layer of skin doesn’t grow, it sheds. And, gets replenished. If
you were to look really closely. When I say close I mean microscopic, you will see that it is a transparent layer that removes itself during the shedding process.