The beauty of shed snakeskin
Updated: Aug 7, 2019
Snakes are known for the beautiful colors and patterns of their skin, AKA scales. Snakes scales are made up of many of the same materials that our skin and hair are made of, however, the outer most layer of snakeskin is relatively hard compared to ours. As snakes grow, they must shed their outer layer of skin because the old, hardened layer prevents them from getting bigger. In this way, snakes are similar to insects and crustaceans! All of these animals have to molt in order to grow. And just like insects and crustaceans, snakes shed the outer layer of their EYE. How wild is that?! I could wax on about the cool and bizarre things that happen during molting, but I will save that for another day! Depending on the age of the snake and the species, they may molt fairly frequently (a couple times in a month) or just a few times per year.
I’ve been collecting snakeskin throughout my life. I used to have a good spot in my childhood backyard where I could reliably find them. We had an external HVAC fan apparatus that was off of the side of the house and hidden behind some bushes. It was on a small concrete slab that warmed in the afternoon sun. I think one of our resident snakes lived in/near said HVAC apparatus, probably attracted to the warm and secluded patch of concrete. I would check the area periodically and often find a snake shed, sometimes partial, sometimes nicely intact. Occasionally I would also catch one of our backyard snakes (garter snake). On one memorable day I even brought a small snake into the house!
Although I keep an eye out for snakeskin all the time, I see more live snakes here in North Carolina than I see snakeskin! The darker variety of snakeskin that you see in several of our styles of snakeskin jewelry was found in the mountains of Virginia. The lighter variety has been donated by a friend with pet snakes.
Creatively speaking, I love the geometric element naturally in snakeskin. It’s very clear in our snakeskin stud earrings that the individual scales are actually a diamond shape!
If you live here in North Carolina, you can check out all the snake species we have here.
Connect with Nature is a blog series that encourages us to take a moment and notice all the beauty in nature. These posts cover everything from seasonal living, protecting native critters, and fun facts about the animals that live all around us.