Histological changes in the epidermis of snakes during the sloughing cycle


  • Department of Life Sciences, University of California, Riverside, California, USA.

  • (With 3 plates and 8 figures in the text)


The histological changes which occur in the epidermis of snakes during the sloughing cycle have been studied. The results are based mainly on material obtained from Elaphe taeniura and are supported by observations on material from nine other genera. The sloughing cycle is divided into six stages. The regions of the epidermis and the histological changes occurring in each stage are described. Each region is named and the nomenclature applied is homologized as far as possible with the terminology used by earlier workers. It is suggested that the liberation of the old, outer, keratinized epidermal generation at sloughing is effected by the destruction of a single layer of living cells by the possible protcolytic action of immigrant eosinophil granulocytes.