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Old 07-13-20, 07:58 PM   #1 (permalink)
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HELP: Stuck shed

My plains garter shed Saturday. Sunday I noticed the very end of her tail did not shed. Long story, but this became an issue when was young and got stuck under the newspaper against the heat mat.

After a few rough sheds right after the newspaper incident she’s been shedding fine for nearly two years until yesterday. I soaked her for 30 minutes Sunday and it wouldn’t come off.

I soaked her another 30 minutes and some of the shed came off. But now I noticed that some belly scales near the tail have some pink indicating there’s blood underneath.

I soaked her for 30 minutes Monday morning and the last bit, wound tightly near the tip of the tail, didn't come off. I was very gentle. I put her in a plastic tub with some damp sphagnum moss and a water bowl for most of today, but the stuck shed wouldn't budge when I had her slither through a wet washcloth.

I put her back in her regular terrarium for the night, and was thinking of keeping her in the damp tub for much of tomorrow, but I don't want to cause scale rot or other issues.

I'm worried the stuck shed is never coming off and she'll lose the tip of her tail. Any suggestions?

Thank you.
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Old 07-14-20, 10:33 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Re: HELP: Stuck shed

I usually "soak" the animal in wet paper towels, rather than water. Then, I use one of the wet towels to grip the moistened skin.
Occasionally, it becomes necessary to use a tweezers to remove knotted up skin.
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Old 07-14-20, 11:09 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Re: HELP: Stuck shed

My only snake that gives me any trouble shedding is my KSB. With him I'll wet a snake bag or pillow case and put him in for a while. He usually gets most of it himself while in the bag, but I've had to help with a few spots, including tail tip. Gently rubbing with a damp towel got it off.

Am I right in assuming this started due to an unregulated heat mat???? Is it regulated by a thermostat now?
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Old 07-14-20, 02:56 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Re: HELP: Stuck shed

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Originally Posted by craigafrechette View Post
My only snake that gives me any trouble shedding is my KSB. With him I'll wet a snake bag or pillow case and put him in for a while. He usually gets most of it himself while in the bag, but I've had to help with a few spots, including tail tip. Gently rubbing with a damp towel got it off.

Am I right in assuming this started due to an unregulated heat mat???? Is it regulated by a thermostat now?
Thanks for the tips everyone, although I've read that a wet pillow case has killed some snakes in the past, so I don't think I'll use it.

No, it was not the result of an unregulated heat mat. About two years ago when she was a baby she slid under the newspaper and got trapped against the newspaper and the glass bottom of her tank where the heater was attached (on the outside of the tank).

The heater was regulated with a thermometer and set to appropriate temperatures, but she was trapped for a day because she was fairly new and I was trying to give her space and thought she was merely hiding in her hide. She was always a reclusive baby.

When I found her a day later her skin was crinkled and she went into an emergency shed. For a few sheds after that the end of her tail would get stuck.

But she has been shedding normally ever since then until this weekend.
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Old 07-14-20, 10:09 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Re: HELP: Stuck shed

Garter snakes can handle some pretty moist conditions. I wouldn't worry about scale rot as long as there is a hiding spot in the enclosure that is dry; as long as the snake can comfortably dry itself off, it should be fine.

I use a gecko sauna for snakes that went through a bad shed. The sauna is just a plastic shoebox with holes poked in the lid filled half-way with slightly warmer than lukewarm water.

For your situation I would consider putting neosporin on the tail tip (the kind with no pain reliever). That may help moisten the area in a way that water isn't, and will help prevent infection.

I typically suggest against removing stubborn stuck shed but if you must do so yourself then I'd go slowly, cautiously, and with tweezers, as was already recommended. Pulling on the skin with your finger, or just allowing the snake to slither through your hand (or cloth) per a normal assisted shed might result in a loss of too much tissue.
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Old 07-15-20, 08:25 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Re: HELP: Stuck shed

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Garter snakes can handle some pretty moist conditions. I wouldn't worry about scale rot as long as there is a hiding spot in the enclosure that is dry; as long as the snake can comfortably dry itself off, it should be fine.

I use a gecko sauna for snakes that went through a bad shed. The sauna is just a plastic shoebox with holes poked in the lid filled half-way with slightly warmer than lukewarm water.

For your situation I would consider putting neosporin on the tail tip (the kind with no pain reliever). That may help moisten the area in a way that water isn't, and will help prevent infection.

I typically suggest against removing stubborn stuck shed but if you must do so yourself then I'd go slowly, cautiously, and with tweezers, as was already recommended. Pulling on the skin with your finger, or just allowing the snake to slither through your hand (or cloth) per a normal assisted shed might result in a loss of too much tissue.

Thank you for the great advice. I have been using a plastic box to soak her but it hasn’t helped remove the last bit st the tip.

Why the neosporin without pain reliever? Is the stuff with it bad? Just curious.

Do you think I should turn off her basking light for now? I’m afraid it’s just baking the bad shed onto her tail. It’s the only heating source. She’s in a bioactive tank so there’s no sticking a heating on the bottom. I could relocate her to a hospital tank.
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Old 07-16-20, 10:51 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Re: HELP: Stuck shed

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Thanks for the tips everyone, although I've read that a wet pillow case has killed some snakes in the past, so I don't think I'll use it.

No, it was not the result of an unregulated heat mat. About two years ago when she was a baby she slid under the newspaper and got trapped against the newspaper and the glass bottom of her tank where the heater was attached (on the outside of the tank).

A) I'd never heard of a snake dying in a wet pillowcase. How did they die?? Seems unlikely to me.

B) I'm still hella confused how the tail was injured. Being "trapped" under newspaper? I don't get it, what caused the injury? The paper didn't cause the injury, the glass didn't cause the injury, so what did? All that's left is the heat mat
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Old 07-16-20, 11:55 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Re: HELP: Stuck shed

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Originally Posted by craigafrechette View Post
A) I'd never heard of a snake dying in a wet pillowcase. How did they die?? Seems unlikely to me.
This is something I have also heard over the years. Never experienced it myself but I believe its said that the wet pillowcase stops airflow which it def does but idk if it would be enough to actually kill a snake or if it was just an over exaggerated theory.
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Old 07-16-20, 03:06 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Re: HELP: Stuck shed

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Originally Posted by craigafrechette View Post
A) I'd never heard of a snake dying in a wet pillowcase. How did they die?? Seems unlikely to me.

B) I'm still hella confused how the tail was injured. Being "trapped" under newspaper? I don't get it, what caused the injury? The paper didn't cause the injury, the glass didn't cause the injury, so what did? All that's left is the heat mat
I read about snakes dying in wet pillowcases while researching how to remove this stuck shed. I'm not saying I have personal experience or scientific studies to back it up.

Please re-read my post. I never said the heat mat didn't cause the injury when she was young. You asked if it was an unregulated heat mat. I said it was not unregulated.

The heat mat was properly regulated with a thermometer, but because she was trapped under the paper for a full day she was unable to get away and her skin was damaged. She went into an emergency shed and for a few sheds after that the tip of her tail would not shed correctly without additional soaking.

All of that happened about two years ago when I first got her. She has been shedding fine until this past weekend. The tip of the tail became an issue again. This is linked to the injury from two years ago. The heat mat incident is not a recent incident.

I'm not sure how much clearer I can make this for you.
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Old 07-16-20, 10:53 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Re: HELP: Stuck shed

The pain relievers in neosporin (or store brands) are toxic for reptiles. I've recently been to the vet for an animal and was reminded not to use the products so I assume the companies haven't switched to a reptile-friendly medicine.

I would not remove a snake's heat source, especially if it might need to fight off an infection. A reptile's immune system requires external heat sources to work properly.

I went through your old posts. I'm not sure how many garters you have but initially it looks like you housed them in an exo-terra style tank with a sliding lid, newspaper or aspen for substrate, and a rheostat controlling the heat mat. I did not observe any humid hides in the pictures. That combination could have caused a dehydration-related incident, especially with a rheostat (you have to be really careful with those and NOT trust the manufacturer temperature marks). You then made comments about getting a thermostat and moving to a more bioactive situation. Did you ever switch to bioactive?

I don't currently keep garters but if I did then I would go with either a sand/soil/orchid bark mix or cypress mulch for the substrate. Easy to keep moist at depth and hold a burrow, which garters seem to like to do. I'd only keep the soil two inches deep or so it would remain easy to dig out the snake when necessary. Such a situation would likely resolve any future shedding issues.
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Old 07-17-20, 08:09 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Re: HELP: Stuck shed

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Originally Posted by chairman View Post
The pain relievers in neosporin (or store brands) are toxic for reptiles. I've recently been to the vet for an animal and was reminded not to use the products so I assume the companies haven't switched to a reptile-friendly medicine.

I would not remove a snake's heat source, especially if it might need to fight off an infection. A reptile's immune system requires external heat sources to work properly.

I went through your old posts. I'm not sure how many garters you have but initially it looks like you housed them in an exo-terra style tank with a sliding lid, newspaper or aspen for substrate, and a rheostat controlling the heat mat. I did not observe any humid hides in the pictures. That combination could have caused a dehydration-related incident, especially with a rheostat (you have to be really careful with those and NOT trust the manufacturer temperature marks). You then made comments about getting a thermostat and moving to a more bioactive situation. Did you ever switch to bioactive?

I don't currently keep garters but if I did then I would go with either a sand/soil/orchid bark mix or cypress mulch for the substrate. Easy to keep moist at depth and hold a burrow, which garters seem to like to do. I'd only keep the soil two inches deep or so it would remain easy to dig out the snake when necessary. Such a situation would likely resolve any future shedding issues.
Thanks. Yeah, I read about the dangers of pain relievers after seeing your post.

In my early post I was using "rheostat" as "thermostat" because I thought they were the same thing. I thought "rheostat" was the technical term for the reptile devices because I was seeing that word on forums. But the snakes have always been on a thermostat and temperatures were checked with one of those probe thermometers and a temp gun.

I kept both snakes in separate tanks for more than a year because one was several months older than the other and much larger. Both were on newspapers to begin with. Then I moved them to aspen and eventually housed them together.

On newspaper and aspen, I added humid hides when the snakes started going into shed, and never had problems with their sheds. My other garter, an eastern, has never had a shedding issue. The plains had good sheds until the newspaper/heat mat trap incident.

They've been in a bioactive tank for about a year. It has several plants, a large water bowl, a layer of sphagnum moss on the surface in several sections and a cool hide. I mist the moss and cool hide when the snakes start to go into shed. The eastern shed about two weeks before the plains and had no issues.

I noticed that the plains did not use the cool hide or moss at all during her shed cycle this time. Historically, she also does not soak in the water bowl much at all. The eastern soaks often.
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Old 07-17-20, 10:43 AM   #12 (permalink)
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Re: HELP: Stuck shed

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I read about snakes dying in wet pillowcases while researching how to remove this stuck shed. I'm not saying I have personal experience or scientific studies to back it up.

Please re-read my post. I never said the heat mat didn't cause the injury when she was young. You asked if it was an unregulated heat mat. I said it was not unregulated.

The heat mat was properly regulated with a thermometer, but because she was trapped under the paper for a full day she was unable to get away and her skin was damaged. She went into an emergency shed and for a few sheds after that the tip of her tail would not shed correctly without additional soaking.

All of that happened about two years ago when I first got her. She has been shedding fine until this past weekend. The tip of the tail became an issue again. This is linked to the injury from two years ago. The heat mat incident is not a recent incident.

I'm not sure how much clearer I can make this for you.
I'm still not getting it. How does a snake get stuck under newspaper???
And was it just a typo or brain fart or are you mistaking a thermometer with a thermostat. (You said "thermometer"). They're very different things and I don't know how a properly regulated heat mat could cause damage. That's the whole purpose of the thermostat.

P.S. I'm not trying to give you a hard time. I'm genuinely trying to understand
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Old 07-17-20, 01:36 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Re: HELP: Stuck shed

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I'm still not getting it. How does a snake get stuck under newspaper???
And was it just a typo or brain fart or are you mistaking a thermometer with a thermostat. (You said "thermometer"). They're very different things and I don't know how a properly regulated heat mat could cause damage. That's the whole purpose of the thermostat.

P.S. I'm not trying to give you a hard time. I'm genuinely trying to understand
She was a tiny baby. She slithered under the newspaper, got flipped upside down and was stuck underneath it. There was a hot hide, a cool hide, a water bowl and a plastic plant in there. Somehow the collection of everything on the paper made it too tight for her to get out.

How hard is that to understand? I'm not the snake. I wasn't there. I don't know why she was unable to get back out if she was able to get under there to begin with.

After worrying about her I broke down her cage and found her flipped upside down underneath the newspaper on top of where the heat mat was applied. She was stuck there for at least a full day.

The heat mat was properly regulated with a thermostat. That didn't matter because she was TRAPPED 24/7 on top of the heat mat. Snakes don't stay on their heat mat or under their basking light 24/7.

She was a baby. She was the size of a large worm.

PLEASE DON'T MAKE ME EXPLAIN THIS AGAIN.
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Old 07-17-20, 01:42 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Re: HELP: Stuck shed

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This is something I have also heard over the years. Never experienced it myself but I believe its said that the wet pillowcase stops airflow which it def does but idk if it would be enough to actually kill a snake or if it was just an over exaggerated theory.
Hmmmm...that makes sense i suppose, but I can't imagine air flow is completely restricted. And you'd have to leave the snake in there a LONG time
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Old 07-17-20, 01:56 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Re: HELP: Stuck shed

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How hard is that to understand?

Snakes don't stay on their heat mat or under their basking light 24/7.


PLEASE DON'T MAKE ME EXPLAIN THIS AGAIN.
Actually, snakes DO stay on their hot spot 24/7... ALL THE TIME... Whenever digesting and often while in shed, both of which take days or sometimes over a week. All of my snakes through 15+ years have spent consecutive days hidden on their hot spot, most every feeding that's where they digest 24/7.

And guess what? Never a single burn or injury. Why? Because my heat mats are properly regulated.

What so hard to understand is how a properly regulated heat mat can injure or burn a snake. If properly set, your hot spot should be no higher than 90°, probably lower for garters.... 90° CAN NOT physically burn a snake. It's not possible. Your hands are warmer than 90°, but your hands aren't capable of producing a burn. See where I'm going with this???


But don't worry, you don't need to explain again.
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