As we were taking a walk in our community I noticed a shed snake skin in the grass near the sidewalk. The featured image is a closeup side view of the head area. Images were taken with my iPhone 11 Pro with the 6mm lens, 4:3 image format, (Full Frame Field of View equivalent 52mm). I never have seen a shed snake skin before in person, only in photos. It almost has the look of a 3D computer modeling display!
As garter snakes grow, they must shed their skin. Unlike other creatures like humans, a snake’s skin does not grow along its body. Its scales are made of keratin, which is the same protein found in our fingernails. When garter snakes slither along the ground, their scales scrape on rocks, dirt and other debris. This movement is important to help snakes shed their skins. Snake skin usually sheds off in one continuous piece, starting around the lips and ending at the tail.
The young garter snake grow rapidly as they feed on prey items such as insects, amphibians and earthworms. As they grow, they have to shed their skin approximately every four to five weeks. As they mature and grow into full-sized adults between 2 and 4 years old, the amount of shedding declines since they are not growing as rapidly. Mature garter snakes shed a few times each year, due to wear and tear on their scales. In a healthy garter snake, the entire shedding process takes a little longer than one week.
The initial shedding process involves the garter snake secreting a milky fluid that helps separate the new skin from the old skin. A garter snake hides and won’t eat since he is blind when he sheds. When ready, a garter snake rubs his mouth on the ground to help push up the older skin. He then slowly makes his way out of his old skin by slithering along the ground, encouraging the skin the retract inside-out as it comes off in one piece.