Snakes don't have eyelids at all. Instead, they wear eye caps (or glasses), which have specifically modified scales that shield their eyes. The eye caps normally fall off during a regular shedding cycle. However, they can often remain attached, producing in a condition known as retained eye caps, which can hamper vision and potentially cause infection if left untreated for many shedding.
What Are Retained Eye Caps?
Scales covering a snake's eyes that do not break off during shedding are known as retained eye caps. This condition can affect any snake, although it is more common in snakes who are hungry or dehydrated.
Symptoms of Retained Eye Caps in Snakes
The eye caps of your snake's shed skin should be intact, which means there should be no holes where the eyes formerly were. If there are eye openings, they may have fallen away separately from the remainder of the snake's skin or been preserved.
- Empty eye holes in the shed skin
- Cloudy eyes on your snake
- Refusal of food
Check the eyes of your snake to discover if they are clear or clouded. Clear eyes typically indicate that the eye caps have shed, however cloudy eyes in one or both eyes might suggest that the eye caps have not shed. However, other disorders might cause hazy eyes, so see an exotics doctor with reptile knowledge.
Unusual uneasiness and hostility while approaching your snake are behavioral symptoms connected with retained eye caps. Snakes with impaired eyesight may be unsure about their environment, causing distress. Your snake may also refuse to eat because it is too scared. If your snake has an illness or other health problems, this might impact its behavior and hunger.
Causes of Retained Eye Caps
A lack of humidity in the snake's cage is a typical cause of retained eye caps. Dehydration may harm your reptile's health in a variety of ways, and it can also contribute to other shedding issues.
- Dehydration, due to low humidity or an insufficient water source
- Bacterial infections
Especially if the eye caps have been kept through numerous shedding, your veterinarian may recommend a visit to remove them so they don't compromise your snake's eyesight or lay the scene for infection.
Another alternative your veterinarian may suggest is immersing the snake in gently warm water many times each day. Ensure that the water is just deep enough to cover your snake's body, and keep an eye on it to prevent it from flailing or drowning. The weakening of the retained skin may let your snake shed its caps after a few days.
Some snake owners use tape to remove the eye covers. Take a piece of transparent tape and gently but firmly place it into the snake's eye cap if you feel comfortable doing so. Slowly pull it away from the tape, and the cap should stay in place. However, proceed with caution since this approach might damage your snake if the tape clings to its scales or if you apply it on an eye that does not have a retained cap.
Infections or mites must be treated with medication prescribed by your veterinarian.
Prognosis for a Snake with Retained Eye Caps
Even if their eye caps are kept for a few sheds, most snakes are alright. If human removal is required, loosening or taping the caps will solve the problem and allow the snake to resume its usual routine.
After removing its retained eye caps, the snake's surroundings and nutrition are the most important determinants of its health. Appropriate humidity and temperature, sufficient room, and a nutrient-rich feed customized to your snake's species are all essential for its health and pleasure.
Preventing Retained Eye Caps
Maintain correct humidity levels in your snake's enclosure to prevent partial shedding (or dysecdysis). The majority of snakes like a humidity level of 50 to 70%. Misting your tropical snake on a regular basis can help it keep the moisture it needs to shed properly.
Make sure your enclosure is clean and free of blunt objects to prevent infection or harm to your snake's eye area.
Feed a well-balanced meal that includes plenty of water. You may also offer with a "shedding box" by placing a moist paper towel in a well-ventilated box. The microclimate within produces an ideal shedding environment.