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About the shedding process - Iguanas will shed their skin much like other reptiles, except that it sheds in pieces instead of in one piece. Basically, they will shed everything on the outside of their bodies except for their eyeballs. Dealing with shedding is a regular event with iguana owners. Shedding is completely normal and it’s usually a sign of good health and proper care.

How often they shed - Depending on the age and size of the iguana, it will shed anywhere from many times a year to only once a year. Sometimes they may even seem to be shedding constantly year round. Different areas of the its body will shed at different rates as well. Usually, the faster an iguana is growing or even a particular body part, the more often it will need to shed its skin.

How to tell when an iguana is ready to shed - An iguana's skin will begin to turn dull in appearance before it’s ready to shed. The color will usually be a hazy shade of the normal color of that area. Fresh, new skin is usually shiny and brightly colored. The photos on this page are perfect examples of what it will look like when your iguana is ready to shed. Notice the dull and hazy coloration of the shedding skin. You can also see that there is often a sharp and obvious line between the skin that is getting ready to shed and the nearby skin that is not.

Soaking to help shedding - Regular soaking, bathing, misting and proper humidity will aid in the shedding process. If it seems to be ready to shed an area of skin, a long soak or can sometimes trigger it to start shedding. For more on soaking, refer to our Bathing, Soaking & Misting page.

Picking and pulling off skin. There are many ways to help an iguana shed. Picking any loose skin off is a good idea and it is sometimes necessary. When picking or pulling off loose skin, it’s important to be very careful and not pull or tear any skin that is being stubborn. If it doesn’t come off with little or no effort, it’s not ready to be shed. Some areas of skin, such as the spines, toes, eyelids and other areas may need help, and aiding in the removal of these areas can be helpful as well as healthy.

Lubricants can be helpful in aiding the shedding process. Applying a small amount approved lubricant and rubbing it on any stubborn areas of skin is very effective. This can be done once to a few times a day until the stubborn area sloughs off. Lubricants that work well include KY jelly and mineral oil.

Problem Areas - Owners should keep a close eye on their iguana's spikes, toes, and tail tip during each shedding cycle. These areas often have difficulty shedding, and layers of old skin can build up if left unattended. These layers of old skin will eventually constrict and cut off the circulation to these areas of the body, cause the death of tissue and loss of the spike, toe or tail tip. In addition, once this type of tissue death sets in (dry gangrene), it can travel up the tail or foot and move into healthy tissue. It is important to inspect these areas of your iguana carefully on a regular basis and remove any remaning dead skin after each shed. Rings of dead skin on the toes, especially on baby iguanas, can be tricky to spot, but because they can do a lot of harm, it is worth taking a close look.

Reptile Skin Shedding by Melissa Kaplan is a very good page that tells all about how to deal with the shedding process with iguanas and other reptiles as well.

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