As part of our care routine at Zoology, there are a number of animals that receive intermittent baths. These baths are fairly short and consist of the animal sitting in shallow water. We like to add in a special reptile electrolyte mixture and reptile skin conditioner to promote healthy skin and easy shedding.
Snakey, our 16-year-old Ball Python, doesn't mind a soak as long as the temperature is just right. When bathing our reptiles, we test the temperature of the water on our wrists (not unlike a baby bottle) to ensure that the water isn't too warm. Even though reptiles are often called "cold-blooded," we prefer to use the scientific term exothermic. Exothermic animals are those that rely on external heat sources to maintain homeostasis, unlike mammals and birds, which are endothermic and produce their own body heat.
Sometimes, when reptiles shed their skin, fragments of old skin can become stuck or caught. The retained shed can result in infection and restricted circulation to the tails and toes. In extreme cases, this can lead to the loss of limbs.
The causes of retained shed are many, including improper humidity, genetic disposition, and underlying medical conditions. If a reptile frequently has retained shed, we recommend making an appointment with an exotics veterinarian.