Do you check the discarded skin when your snake sheds? You should, especially if you notice that your snake has cloudy eyes. Check the shed skin to see if the scales that cover the eyes, called eye caps, are present.
Cloudy eyes during snake shedding
Many snake owners notice that their exotic pet gets cloudy eyes while shedding. This is a normal part of the scales over the eyes sloughing off with the rest of the skin. Cloudy eyes are only a problem if they remain after the rest of the skin is completely shed. When the scales over the eyes do not come off, the snake has retained eye caps. The eye cap is a thick piece of skin that covers the snake’s eye to keep moisture in and dirt out. Just like the rest of your snake’s body creates a new layer of skin, so do the eyes, and that means the older layer needs to go.
What you should do about retained eye caps
Whatever you do, don’t get rough with your snake’s eyes. Be gentle, and do not try to use any sharp objects or tweezers to pull off the eye caps or surrounding skin. If the following steps don’t help, take your snake to an experienced reptile veterinarian to prevent damage from removal, or infection from retained eye caps.
To prevent retained eye caps in the first place, make sure you provide enough humidity in your snake’s habitat. An overly dry environment makes it more difficult for a snake to shed its skin. If your snake already has retained eye caps during a shed, follow our tips on helping your exotic pet to shed its skin. Providing extra moisture to the skin can help.
You can also try wrapping scotch tape around your finger, sticky side out, and VERY GENTLY touching the tape to the corner of the eye closest to the nose. Then carefully rock the tape across the eye, back towards the other corner. The eye cap should come up with the tape.
Other possible causes for cloudy snake eyes
Occasionally, cloudy eyes are caused by something other than normal shedding or retained eye caps.
Blocked nasolacrimal duct
The nasolacrimal ducts are where snake’s excess tears drain into the mouth (similar to how our excess tears drain into the nasal passages and into the nose). If the ducts develop a blockage, excess tears cannot drain and instead fill up the eye cap, which distends and looks swollen. The distended eye cap may also appear cloudy.
Another cause behind cloudy, swollen eyes is infection. The infection could result from complications of blocked nasolacrimal ducts, or other eye problems that cause fluid buildup and swelling. Blocked ducts and infections must be treated by a vet.
If you’re not sure whether your snake has a retained eye cap or a more serious problem, feel free to talk to our snake experts at The Tye-Dyed Iguana for more information.