Currently set to Index
Currently set to Follow

Do Crocodiles and Alligators Shed Their Skin?

Do Crocodiles and Alligators Shed Their Skin
Crocodile on land

Yes, alligators and crocodiles shed their skin or scale. While snakes and geckos shed their entire skin, alligators and crocodiles shed scales, sometimes one at a time.

Crocodiles and alligators are reptiles, and all reptiles shed their skin or scales. Like other animals, healthy crocodiles and alligators will shed their skin on a regular basis. Some crocodiles and alligators will rub themselves against rocks and trees to remove the dead skin.

What happens when crocodiles and alligators shed their skin?

Crocodile running on grass
Crocodile running on grass

When crocodiles and alligator shed their skin or scales, new ones form. Because of this, their skin becomesthicker. As they get older, the skin also becomes denser and stronger.

The skin of crocodiles and alligatorsis too strong that they are resistant to many things. Some even make the claim that they are bulletproof, which is a myth.

Both crocodiles and alligators have skin that is durable. It is why there are many crocodile and alligator farms now. These people are leather producers, and they use croc and gator leather for upholstery, bags, and other products.

Related Article: Do Crocodiles and Alligators Stop Growing?

Why do crocodiles and alligatorsshed?

Both these animals shed their skin because it is part of the biological process. Skin sheds because the animal grows, and new skin forms to protect the animal.

When crocodiles and alligators shed, they are giving way to a new scale. This new scale will eventually become harder, and the alligator will have a stronger skin.

Crocodiles and alligators grow into big sizes, as so do some snakes. The old skin has to go, and new ones have to cover the body.

Humans also shed skin, and new skin takes over. Like many animals, the new skin becomes dull as the animal gets older. In humans, the skin fails to produce new layers, and it is why skin becomes wrinkled.

Like humans, alligators can suffer from wrinkling skin. In alligator farms, wrinkling happens if the alligator suffered from a rapid weight loss. Alligators will also develop wrinkled skin because of improper diet.

Related Article: Do Crocodiles Have Webbed Feet?

Do crocodiles and alligators get skinned alive?

Saltwater Croc

It depends, there are many alligator and crocodile farms that treat these animals inhumanely. In these farms where people have bad animal practices, the gators are skinned while they are alive.

The details by which this process goes are too graphic to describe. There are videos exposing how these animals are butchered and skinned for their leather.

This is not to say that all crocodile and alligator farms are run by bad people. There are those that comply with animal rights protocols.

Humane leather manufacturers treat crocodiles and alligators with respect. It means that they do not skin crocodiles and alligators alive.

Related Article: What Color Are Alligators Eyes?

Some of the humane ways to skin crocodilians are:

Captive-bolt pistol

It is a kind of gun that immediately destroys the brain. On some occasions, the butcher may follow through with a subsequent method to ensure that the animal is dead. The second method is called pithing.

The captive-bolt pistol method is the acceptable method. It ensures that the brain is already dead, and therefore the animal is no longer conscious.

Shooting

Cuban Crocodile

The second method is shooting. They use an appropriate caliber of bullets to kill the crocodile or alligator. Death by shooting in the brain is quick and humane.

To execute the animal, the shooter must be in close proximity. It ensures that the shooter has little margin of error. The correct way to shoot the croc or gator is through the skull, in the middle part of it.

Some companies advocate the injection of drugs like pentobarbital. The thing is that if they do this, the meat is no longer fit for human consumption. The alligator farmers also cannot dump the meat in landfills, as the chemical is toxic.

Related Article: Do Crocodiles Sleep?

Did dinosaurs shed their skin?

Yes, dinosaurs also shed their skin when they were extant. Most people associate crocodiles with dinosaurs, but this is not exactly correct.

Dinosaurs and crocodilians share the same ancestor, the archosaur. However, birds are closer in evolutionary relationship to dinosaurs than crocodilians.

Recent fossil discovery showed some dandruff fragments. These fragments allowed scientists to have a glimpse at how the early giants shed their skin.

Along with plumage, the fossil had 125-million-year-old flakes that weresimilar to modern birds. What it tells scientists is that the dinosaurs also shed skins in small pieces, not as other reptiles like snakes do.

Related Article: Where Do Alligators and Crocodiles Go at Night?

Do crocodiles shed skin?

Siamese Crocodile
Siamese Crocodile

Technically, no, crocodiles do not shed skin. Crocodiles havescutes, and they must rub their scutes on rough surfaces to make them fall.

Crocodiles have horny plates, and they are like bony armor. These things are called scutes, and unlike other reptiles, crocodiles do not shed scutes.

So, just to be clear—there is a difference between skin and scutes. A scute is a bony armor that does not shed. However, both crocs and gators still have skin, and it is the skin that sheds.

Do all reptiles shed their skin?

Yes, all reptiles shed skin as they mature. All reptiles shed skin in one way or another. The most popular type of shedding is that of the snake, as snakes shed their entire skin.

In all reptiles, improper shedding can occur if the reptile is host to mites. Improper shedding can also lead to dermatological problems.

So, while crocodiles and alligators do not shed skin as snakes do, they do shed skin in part. Similarly, turtles shed skin in pieces.

All reptile shed their skin because they are growing. Unlike humans, the skin of reptiles does not grow. New layers form, and the new layer eventually has to take over the old skin that the reptile has outgrown.

Summary

Crocodiles and alligators shed skin, but not in whole. What they do is shed their scales in part or in pieces. As they do this, they give way to stronger patches of scales, making their skin more resilient.  Crocodiles shed their skin regularly. However, people do not see this often because they may do this underwater. Some alligators and crocodiles rub themselves against trees and rocks to get the old scale off.

Skip to content